Tag Archives: Ghana

Orphaned Orphans

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It has been 7 months since I was in Ghana. I will fill you in on some of the not-so-heartwarming details of my work at Adullam. I am also looking for a current link to Adullam, someone who can provide me with current news and feedback. If this is you, please email me.

Regarding current events there: I have no real news. I am in touch with Eric Gaetin, the boy who lost the use of his legs due to medical malpractice, whose father then pronounced him “cursed” and who kicked him out of his home and reduced him to begging in the streets to survive. Eric has received funding through various sources of mine for the last 6 months of his schooling – but the funding has run out, not due to lack of willing donators, but because there is simply no way to safely get the money to him, or to any of the orphans, for that matter. Because we are no longer physically present in Ghana, there is simply no way to get money to him without most or all of it getting lost along the way. I will confess, even the last funding we received for him thanks to the generosity of an American friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous, by the time it reached Eric’s hands, it had been reduced from $250 USD to less than $150. There were various explanations provided for this, including Black Market “conversion fees”, but in any case, that money had gone directly from my husband’s hands to a pastor’s hands to Eric’s hands. With myself and my husband not present and with a more or less nonexistent functional infrastructure and corruption at every bend, trying to send funds to Adullam orphans in Ghana is a futile task, as far as I can tell.

You would think that creating a charity more or less overnight in a 3rd world country, with a very tight deadline for the fundraising and the Christmas caper involved, would prove to be a difficult task. Although I had spotty internet at best, no phone communication and limited time and resources, it proved exceedingly easy to generate international interest and support for my “Project Obruni Elf”, as we ended up calling it, and generous donations flowed in from many unexpected sources. The amount of support and goodwill and generosity generated by this project was extraordinary and heartwarming, and  a true testament of the basic goodness of humanity.

Truth told, the biggest challenge was ensuring that the funds raised actually made it to the orphans – and yes, also to some of the staff – in a tangible, meaningful and direct way. I did not share the gory details at the time because I didn’t want to speak ill of anyone on this forum, but I will tell you now: the founder of the orphanage had been using donations meant for the orphans for years to support her own drug addiction. She is gravely ill and not right in the head anymore. The staff at the orphanage had gone without any pay for over 10 months when I was there. Donations from other sources had been intercepted by her and used by her and never made it to the orphanage or the orphans.

In order to make sure the moneys I raised in excess of the donations used for the children’s Christmas gifts did not get intercepted or used by the orphanage’s founder, we had to get very clever and find one or two individuals whom we knew we could trust. We used a bank account that the founder did not monitor. I got it done, but it was not easy. I was also advised that any future contributions to the orphanage should be in material form such as medical supplies or food or clothing, etc., since the money would end up being used elsewhere for things its donators would have shuddered at.

I am saying this now, because based on the limited information I do have, I fear things have gotten worse since I left. I do not know any no effective way to enforce the law or fight corruption in Ghana. I met people who had not been paid by their employer in over 12 months, and whose employer was driving around in a brand-new BMW. They continued working for him in the hope that one day they would be compensated again. A thread of a hope, and all they had. There is no recourse for injustice there. The system is simply too corrupt. There are no advocates for justice that they can turn to. I could tell you stories about encounters I had with police and government officials trying to intimidate us into giving them large sums of money for no reason except that they expected it because it is their way. (We were more clever than they were and they never succeeded, so there!) It is what it is: a game that is played for short term gains which destroys any chance of creating true viability for anyone.

The people of Ghana are beautiful people. I have traveled extensively throughout the world and have never been treated with more generosity, open-heartedness and warmth than I was by the people of Ghana. Sadly, their system is so very broken, and most likely still founded, at least culturally, on the same premises as that evil institution known as slavery, so they have no recourse when things go wrong. And so, things tend to go terribly wrong, because there are no effective advocates for making sure things go right.

If there is anyone who reads this who has an opportunity to visit Adullam, I would be extremely interested to hear from you. The bright side of this coin is the children of Ghana. To this day, I remember them as the brightest, most clever, extroverted and interested children I have ever had an opportunity to interact with. They take care of each other and they are grateful for what they do have. They are eager to learn, they earnestly value their education, and they are filled with life and joy and hope for a bright future.

I want to know who is looking out for them. Who is their advocate? Who is working in their best interest, rather than for their own personal agenda? Tell me. I want to know.

The magic of the blogging universe — bringing people together

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Recently, I was contacted by someone who had stumbled upon this website as a result of a Google search for “Adullam Orphanage”. This person emailed me to let me know that she was very much enjoying the photos and stories being posted about the orphanage, as she had volunteered there some years back. She recognized many of the faces of the children and commented on how much they had grown since she had last seen them in person.  She also let me know that she had donated mattresses and sheets for the school 2 years back (a bit of a pity to see how quickly they deteriorated). Due to a car injury, she has been under doctor’s orders to not travel, so this blog became her window to seeing a place that she missed and that meant a lot to her.

About a week later, another person contacted me, who had also found this blog while looking for Adullam on the internet. She told me that she is in fact in the process of adopting a 7 year-old girl from the orphanage! She shared the girl’s name with me and I was able to find the girl and send some photos of her to her prospective new parents. It turns out that these photos were the first they had seen of their prospective daughter wearing girlie clothes! I was able to put a smile on someone’s face with the photos we took that day. What a treat to be able to do such a thing for someone so far away, who is bound by ties of love to Adullam.

I am currently out of the country so my posts will be less, but I do hope to continue the Kinky Foo-Foo project into the future. It is such a pleasure to work with children, as they are so very generous with their love and affection.

CHILD LABOUR

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The youngest child at Adullam Orphanage. His young teenage mother died giving birth to him.

Parents are fond of putting their children into child labour. Because of poverty some parents are fond of not working but putting their child into this kind of act. The children rather fo in for rugs, teenage pregnancy. Oh Mother Ghana, what a bad habitat we have.

-By Sandra Amoah

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Street scene, modern-day Kumasi

“Obuasi” means: Under the Stone.

This is because Obuasi came into being with the Anglo-Gold Ashanti mine located here. There was no town here before the mine appeared. That is why no one is really “from” Obuasi. Because it is a mining town and many people spend their time deep underground mining for gold, its name means under the stone.

“Kumasi” stands for: If you Kill One Thousand, One Thousand Will Come Back.

Background: Kumasi is less than an hour’s drive from Obuasi. Since 1695, Kumasi has been the capital city of the Ashante Region, about an hour’s drive from Obuasi. With a population of over 1.2million, it is the second-largest city in Ghana (the largest being Accra). Kumasi is a very special place for the Asante people, as it was here that Okomfo Anokye received the Golden Stool from the heavens, the Golden Stool being the embodiment of the Asante nation’s soul as well as a symbol of the Asante Union (Asanteman). To this day, the Asante Kings (Occupiers of the Golden Stool) are buried here, in a mausoleum. They are buried sitting on their thrones, in sort of a mummified state (or so I was told — although I have seen the outside of the mausoleum,  I will never be permitted to see the inside of it). I have also been told that in the past, when an Asante King died, 100 people were beheaded to accompany him into the afterlife. Nowadays, only one person is beheaded to accompany him, usually another inhabitant of the Royal Palace. To this day, the Royal Palace still houses professional beheaders (executioners) as well as its own private prison.

The motto of the Kumasi, and indeed, the Asante people is “Na kum apim-apim Be Ba”. It means: “If you kill one thousand, one thousand will come back”. The porcupine is a symbol of the Asante people, because just like the quills of a porcupine, “na kum apim-apim Be Ba”. The Asante people do not believe that death is the end of life. They believe that when your body dies, you are reborn into a new human body.

According to my friend Kojo Danquah,

“The motto of the Kumasi people was founded when they went and fought with the Fanti. The Ashanti were defeated, so a woman named Yaa Asantewaa, the Queen Mother of the Ashanti, organized a war again, and the Fanti were defeated at the Kumasi Fort. Most of the land of Fanti was captured by the Ashanti Kingdom.”

The Queen Mother Nana Yaa Asantewaa

The Queen Mother Nana Yaa Asantewaa is the stuff of legend in Ghana. The war she led against the British and the Fanti was the last major war in history led by an African woman. On March 28th, 1900 at a gathering of chiefs at the Kumasi Fort, Governor Arnold Hodgson, an Englishman, demanded that the Golden Stool be brought to him so that he might sit on it. None of the chiefs present denied his request. Apparently, it was at this point that the Queen Mother Nana Yaa Asantewaa stood up and declared war with the following words:

“Tomorrow, ghost widows will get husbands”.

She then turned to the Asante chiefs and told them:

“Now I have seen that some of you fear to go forward to fight for our king. If it were in the brave days of, the days of Osei Tutu, Okomfo Anokye, and Opoku Ware, chiefs would not sit down to see their king taken away without firing a shot. No white man could have dared to speak to chief of the Ashanti in the way the Governor spoke to you chiefs this morning. Is it true that the bravery of the Ashanti is no more? I cannot believe it. It cannot be! I must say this: if you the men of Ashanti will not go forward, then we will. We the women will. I shall call upon my fellow women. We will fight the white men. We will fight till the last of us falls in the battlefields.”

Her speech inspired the men to fight and roused them into action. For months they fought with great bravery. But then over 1400 British reinforcements arrived in Kumasi. On May 17th, 1901, Nana Yaa Asantwaa and other chiefs (Nana) were sent to live in exile in the Seychelles Islands, where the Queen Mother spent the rest of her days until her death on October 17th, 1921, as a result of a chronic toothache.

Words of the Ashanti

Deaf Girl Dancing

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Deaf Girl Dancing

I really enjoyed this girl’s dancing and so I decided to shoot a short video of her. As the other kids join in the fun, you can hear them yelling “Obruni!” a few times as they vie for my attention.

I found out about an hour later that the dancing girl is completely deaf, and has been so from birth. She does not speak a single word. It took me this long to figure it out because her body language was so expressive, I did not experience a communication barrier with her. The better part of an hour went by before I finally realized she did not use words to communicate! So here she is: