There are few things more rewarding in life than to give the gift of laugher, excitement, and pure joy to children and see the radiant smiles on their faces as they play on a playground that none of them could have imagined they would ever see. Our recent travel team to Ghana had that experience; and the reward was indescribable.
Give Hope began ministry in Ghana last July. Through a partnership with pastor Emmanuel Ameyaw, Give Hope is helping to provide training for pastors in the remote northern regions of Ghana, and also helping to support Sowers Academy—a kindergarten through 8th grade school in the village of Medie just outside the capital city of Accra. In the past year, Give Hope has invested in Sowers Academy by building walls and installing gates to provide a secure compound for the school, drilling a well to provide clean running water for the children, and constructing a new latrine and septic system to provide sanitary restrooms for staff and students.
With the school secured and the basic sanitary needs met, the next opportunity to pursue was building a playground for the children. We worked with an organization called Kids Around the World that takes playground equipment from parks and schools in the states that is being replaced, refurbishes the playsets, and then ships them around the world to be used by organizations like Give Hope, who can effectively deploy the equipment to schools and communities in developing countries. Because of the ministry of Kids Around the World, we were able to build this playground for a quarter of what it would cost to purchase a similar set in the states. And the beauty was – it was already in Ghana!
The project to build the playground was not easy, nor for the faint of heart. Being only 90 miles north of the equator, the temperatures in June hovered in the high 90’s and the humidity increased the intensity of the sun on your skin. The work required more physical labor than skill as the playset was already fabricated; it only needed to be assembled. However, before the playground could be bolted together it needed to be anchored in the ground, which meant the team needed to dig over 40 holes in the ground, each about 4 feet deep and 2 feet wide. The hardpacked clay soil would not yield to a shovel or posthole digger but required picks to chip away at the rock and clay an inch at time. For two days our team of ten, joined by several of the older children from the school, dug holes, placed equipment in the holes, and then dug more holes. Was it worth it? All you have to do is go back and watch the videos of the first time the children were allowed to use the equipment and everyone on the team would say not only was it worth it, but we would gladly do it again.
This playground not only brought joy to all the children who currently attend Sowers Academy, but along with the secure compound, water, and latrine, Give Hope has added immense value to the school, which increases the appeal for parents. There are several options for schools in the area, but Sowers Academy is the only one that blends a Christian curriculum and a strong gospel message with traditional academics. Many of the students who attend Sowers come from households that are Muslim or follow animistic tribal religions. The investment Give Hope has made in Sowers Academy is a short-term investment in the quality of education, and an eternal investment in the lives of these children and their families. It’s hard to find anything more rewarding than that.