Saturday, 2 January 2010
2010 .....Lets remember the children of Ghana....
I pray that in 2010 -every Ghanaian child will matter [not just to their immediate family members but to Ghana as a whole] I am upping my game with regards to Charity work in Ghana -this year....I found the following articale so inspiring..it is an eye opener...x
Title: Fashionista Gemma Green went from Liverpool's Cricket to help in Ghanaian village By: Dawn Collinson Dated: Sep 23 2009
*SITTING amongst the immaculate rows of Paris Fashion Week, Gemma Green was surrounded by the very best that money can buy.
But it wasn’t until she spent five weeks as a volunteer in a Ghanaian orphanage that she truly appreciated what it was to have nothing at all.
“They have no money, no clothes and they don’t know where their next meal is coming from, but these kids are so happy,” says Gemma. “After being with people who have such an incredible amount of wealth I was just blown away by what I saw.”
With a keen interest in fashion, the 28-year-old spent five years working as an assistant at Cricket. A French graduate, she accompanied owner Justine Mills on buying trips and to shows in Paris.
“It was an amazing experience, absolute luxury, but then I went from Egyptian cotton sheets to no sheets at all - just a mosquito net - and it was fabulous.
“I’d seen women fighting over where they sat for designer shows, but at the orphanage no-one’s clothes were even their own. If there was a bag donated they’d empty it out and someone would get a T-shirt one day and then it would get washed and someone else would wear it the next day.
“It gives you a very stark sense of perspective.”
Gemma, from Walton, left the fashion business almost two years ago when her son Leon was about to start primary school.
She decided it was time for a change of direction and enrolled at John Moores University on a teaching course.
“I’d been on a tour of Ghana last summer on holiday and seen quite a bit of the country,” she explains, “and JMU were keen on students doing voluntary work with kids so that gave me the incentive to go back.”
Gemma got in touch with a small agency called Global Crossroads who arranged her stay at the orphanage based near Accra.
When Leon finished school for the summer, he stayed with his dad while Gemma went to Africa.
“My first day was hard, we were staying in a volunteer hut and it was bunk beds and an outside toilet,” she recalls.
“You had to draw your own water from the well to get washed in and it was always cold, so it was really back to basics, but it didn’t take long to adjust and once you see the children you forget about yourself.”
The orphanage had about 75 youngsters when Gemma arrived but she says police were dropping them off on a weekly basis and that number increased to more than 100.
“One kid was found wandering the streets, another was on a rubbish dump and another little boy was found in a river and had gone deaf as a result of what he’d been through,” she says. “Police would come and the mother of the home, an amazing woman called Madame Naomi Amaoh, would just have to find another bed and another three meals a day.
“Because she wasn’t part of a government organisation she wasn’t getting any funding so she was tirelessly campaigning and raising money.
“ And the chances of any of the children being adopted are really slim because there’s a bit of a stigma attached to it in Ghana.
“If you adopt then to their society it symbolises that you’re barren so it’s like a social embarrassment. Once the kids are there then they’re pretty much there for life. Babies have a fleeting chance of finding a new home but for older children there really isn’t any.
“The children were there for a number of reasons; some had parents who had died, others had mental problems and some were just so very poor that they couldn’t look after the children anymore.
“Then there were the abuse cases, like the little boy whose mum had been in hospital so his dad was looking after him. He’d not fed him so the boy stole the equivalent of about 12p to buy food. The dad lost his temper and stabbed him in both legs and battered him with a stool. He was only 10 and he had to be carried into the orphanage and my heart just broke that anything so horrific could have happened.
“He was such a pleasant little kid and I said ‘Hello, my name is Gemma’ and he actually spoke English because he’d been taught it at school.”
Most of the volunteers were English or American and they have kept in touch with each other since their time at the orphanage ended.
Now, says Gemma, they are determined to put their experience to continuing good use by raising funds back home.
“I found it so hard to leave the children, I remember crying on the flight and on the Tube because I really wasn’t ready to leave,” she says. “I didn’t want to just be another volunteer who came and went, I wanted to make a real impression and be so much more than that. So, if I couldn’t be a fixture, then I wanted to do something positive and raise money.
“There’s a school on the premises of the orphanage at the moment, but the social services have said that isn’t allowed and unless it’s moved they will close the whole place down. The school has paid for materials and a workforce, but they need to find a piece of land to build the school on so me and the other volunteers are trying to think of ways to raise enough for a deposit for the land.”
Gemma says she’s desperate to go back to Ghana, but accepts that her studies will probably delay a return until next summer.
“But in the meantime we’re determined to get the money out there,” she says. “I can’t walk away from it now.”
**To help Gemma with fund raising for the orphanage, contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org [Credit: www.liverpoolecho.co.uk]
****I will get in touch with Gemma to find out the name and address of the Orphanage –so that we can help. Check out Global Crossroads at: www.globalcrossroad.com