Saturday, February 11, 2012

Ghana Project Update

Hi Friends! Here is an update about the funds raised for Ghana's trafficked children. Let me know if you have questions. JD wrote this but you can always contact me as well with questions.

Earlier in 2011, we learned about the scourge of slavery in Ghana, specifically on Lake Volta... children being sold into slavery and forced to toil endlessly at the hands of their slave master, often losing hope of ever seeing freedom again. 

We also learned that there are organizations dedicated to not only negotiating the rescues of these children, but also of providing for the children once they are freed from slavery.  A child can not be rescued without a future being secured for them.

Our goal was to offer financial support to increase the resources available to rescued children so that the maximum amount of children can be rescued and given the best opportunities possible. 

When we spoke to PACODEP to assess what would be the most effective way to realize our goal, we were told that their initial 3 classroom unit built at the Village Of Life was at max capacity, and that more classroom space was their greatest need.  They explained that more classroom space would help provide an education to more rescued children.

At the time, that seemed to us to be the most effective way to expand the available resources so that more children could be effectively rescued.

Touch A Life Foundation, a ministry focused solely on the needs of trafficked children, is currently supporting 28 of the 38 children at the Village Of Life.  They have worked alongside PACODEP for several years to collectively address the issues of child trafficking in Ghana, as well as the provision and support for rescued children.  TAL currently also supports 47 children in their temporary facility in Accra.  We spent time with these kids as well during our time in Ghana.  

(Photo by Touch A Life)

When Touch A Life contacted us at the end of September, we discussed the needs of the rescued children and the heart of our mission/goal.  They offered to help us implement these changes and also offered to match the donated funds to help us meet our goal.  We accepted their offer, based on their extensive experience, their integrity and transparency, as well as their ability to help us meet our goal.  The funds were transferred over to them at the end of October. 

In order to ensure our funds would be handled with the highest possible degree of responsibility and transparency, TAL conducted a thorough review of the current resources for trafficked children at the Village Of Life. 

Key points of their review, including but not limited to:

·  An additional two classrooms have been built adjacent to the original three classrooms at the Village Of Life, bringing the total classrooms to five.

·  Only 8 of the 28 rescued children sponsored by TAL at the Village of Life are receiving an education.  The majority of the children currently educated at the village of life are from the neighboring community.  Note:  We understand that there is a benefit to educating trafficked and non trafficked children together, and that there is great value in providing education to the community’s children.

TAL concluded that since roughly only half of the rescued children currently in Kete Krachi are receiving an education at the Village Of Life, there is sufficient classroom space for trafficked children at the Village Of Life within the five existing classrooms.

By comparison, all 47 formerly trafficked children in TAL's care in Accra are currently supported, sheltered, rehabilitated and educated by Touch A Life. 

In 2012, TAL will be transferring the 47 children from Accra to a permanent facility that is being established in Kumasi.  This facility will provide for up to 100 children in TAL’s holistic rehabilitation and care program, more than doubling their current capacity to provide support to rescued children.  Since there are well established schools in close proximity to the new Kumasi facility which will provide integration to the children with local non-trafficked children, no funds would be needed for constructing classrooms.  Instead, funding would be focused on the housing and care of the children, as well as furthering the rescue operations on Lake Volta.  This will make a tremendous impact in the effort to abolish child slavery practices in Ghana.

While classroom space is still an integral part of the program at the Village Of Life, with the classroom space already having been expanded to five classrooms, there is currently ample space for trafficked children to receive an education at the Village Of Life.  This ultimately changes the needs for the resources we have raised.

After much time spent in prayer, discussion and research, our team realized that in order to serve the best interest of the trafficked children, it is imperative that we reconsider our initial plan to simply expand classroom space at the Village Of Life.  We owe it to God, to the donors, but most of all, to the trafficked children, to protect the best interests of the trafficked children in Ghana.

We have carefully come to a decision that we feel will serve the best interest the children still awaiting rescue, as well as the children currently rescued.   Since both PACODEP and Touch A Life agree that their goals is to do what’s best for these trafficked children, this decision will meet both PACODEP and Touch A Life’s goals while still maintaining the integrity of our mission -- to provide expanded resources to the trafficked children in ways that would help further the abolishment of child slavery in Ghana.

Out of the funds raised currently held in trust by TAL, $5,000 USD will be provided to PACODEP, to join the $1,000 we have already provided to them prior to our travels for construction materials.  These funds will be used by PACODEP to provide the construction and labor for one additional classroom.  This will help raise the amount of classroom space from the original three to a total of six.  This classroom will be equipped with sewing machines and other resources that can be used by the older children currently residing at the Village Of Life to gain necessary skills for successful employment. 

The remaining $24,000 of the funds raised will be used by TAL to establish the Kumasi facilities  as well as to further the rescue operations on Lake Volta.  Full accountability and transparency of how these funds are used for the Kumasi facilities will be readily provided by Touch A Life.

Any concerns or questions as to the distribution of these funds or how this decision was reached, please feel free to contact Touch A Life or our team, at

Please note that I will be in Cameroon until the end of February, and will be unable to respond until my return.  

Friday, January 6, 2012

Getting to know me: 25 facts

I will get back to blogging about human rights soon. Promise! I was thinking the other day that I am sure there are people who read this blog who don't know much about me. So I am going to tell you all a bit about myself. So today, here are 25 facts about me.

1) Repetitive noises bother me... a lot
2) My favorite color is orange
3) I started dating my husband when I was 14 and we got married when I was 18 and him 19.
4) I have 2 darling boys who will be 6 and 3 pretty soon. They are amazing and fun and quirky and SO different from one another.
5) I don't like most fruit because of their textures but I abhor bananas. ick!
6) I have never lived alone. I went from my parents home, to a college roommate to being married.
7) I dropped out of college to have a baby and it was the best choice I could have made.
8) I am going to go back to college and getting a degree the first chance I get though :)
9) We don't plan on having more biological children and hope to adopt someday to expand our family
10) Dealing with chronic illness is something that I am only learning to accept and handle with grace. It has taken a long while to get here and it is always a challenge moving forward. But I do hope to always push myself to reach my goals even through any illness I am dealing with. It is all about attitude is my motto.
11) We take our kids to a local grocery store with an attached coffee shop on saturdays for a breakfast of grocery store bakery donuts, milk and coffee. Super inexpensive but one of THE family highlights of our week.
12) I would love to go to NYC and see a broadway production.
13) I have only lived in the midwest... like seriously, my whole life. I love the midwest for its kind people and hospitality but can't wait to explore different parts of the country.
14) My favorite Christmas gift ever... was a dishwasher the 2nd Christmas we were in our house. <3
15) On my right wrist, I have a tattoo. My husband didn't want me to get one because he doesn't like them. I decided to get one anyway and I love it. I got lots of grief about not listening to Kyle about it but he respects my right to make choices concerning my own body so it's cool. It is a heart with my husband and sons' first initial in it. Kind of abstract and always reminds me of them.
16) Some of my hero's include: Jesus, Somaly Mam, Desmond Tutu, Amanda W. (she is very well know :P)
17) I strongly believe that we can end slavery across the world in my lifetime.
18) Blue hair is awesome. I want blue hair again! Yes, I had blue hair in the past...
19) I am dragging my near 6 year old to see Beauty and the Beast with me when its in the theaters again. It is my favorite movie and my husband won't be my date. I don't even care if I have to buy him a $10 bucket of popcorn to make him stay still... he is my date for this movie :)
20) LOVE sports. Our family is really into football and baseball but I like basketball. I play softball and volleyball and love to cycle and run.
21) One of my goals in life is to be invited to give a TED talk. I hate public speaking and I have to do something very significant but I figure I can do anything if I really put my mind to it.
22) I would love to visit Ireland above all other places.
23) Ghana is my home in many ways and I can't wait to go back.
24) We are moving this summer and don't know where to yet.
25) I can't read and listen to music or tv at the same time. Does not work.

According to my best friend an edit is required. So I will give you a bonus fact instead of deleting a previous fact:

26) I am never late. Like... ever. It makes me have serious anxiety to be late.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012: One Word

I have been waffling between several important words to me to figure out what one word I need to tackle this year.

I love the idea of the word FINISH because I have loads of things I have started that I need to run with this year and be committed to seeing them through.

PATIENCE has also jumped out at me several times since we are in waiting limbo for so many big life decisions lately.

But I kept mulling over those ideas and neither seemed to really convict me. Because the things I don't finish I continue to work on and toward and life will happen how it happens so whether I am patient or not will not speed up the results.

But I have felt very convicted by one word in the past week.

So my word for 2012 is going to be Forgive

I am going to seek to forgive myself even more for things and forgive others more often and more quickly this year.  I will try to own my mistakes so that I am easier to forgive and admit them so I can repair damage in relationships before they are irreparable. I will extend grace to others when they do the same for me. I will forgive my children quickly and seek to teach them with grace and love when they make mistakes.

So here's to a year of Forgiveness