I didn’t make this stuff up!
People far more wise than myself came up with this…. “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of My brothers and sisters, you did for Me.” Matthew 25:40
Many of you are signed in and watching this website on a regular basis. Some have commented to me that they are “amazed” at what we are accomplishing here in Ghana.
Frankly, I am amazed too… as I have little to do with the success. What we are doing here is really in God’s hands. Speaking of hands, I have shared with friends that I think what we do here is much like looking at the hand. The front of the hand (the palm) is all the steps that we take. The pushing, pulling and pleading we do to get our work done here.
The back of the hand is the Lord’s work, the Plan… His guidance and support. One (side of the hand) doesn’t function without the other. I can push, pull and manipulate all I want, but if I am not aligned with God’s Plan, I might as well be Sisyphus, perpetually pushing a rock uphill.
Some of you know that I have been dreaming of a school here in Ghana for years (since 2010). I know that this is in God’s plans as I see that whenever it looks impossible, some miracle occurs! Friends have joined me in a search for the right land site for this school. Logically, this means the land must be affordable, located in or near the poorer neighborhoods for meeting the needs of the poor and suitable for building a 2-story building safely.
In the meantime, the price of land has doubled. The illiteracy rate has increased from 60% to 64%. And most of my funds are dwindling – due to inflation as well as the decision to retire (living on a fixed income). Time is of the essence.
Two months ago, I attended St. Joseph the Worker in Medie and the new pastor, Father Billy approached me and said “I have 6 plots of land (approximately 1.5 acres) and I would like you to build a school”.
Father Billy was assigned to St. Joseph the Worker three weeks earlier and as the priest assigned to this very poor parish, he was given the assignment to build a larger church (as so many people are moving from Accra to the area, increasing the church population). He was also told to build a school.
When Father Billy approached me, I knew that this was part of a larger Plan. He introduced me to the Archbishop and with the blessings of both the Archbishop and the Director of Catholic Education here in Accra, I began to realize my dream for the children of Medie.
Here in Ghana, there is a decision a Roman Catholic school must make. The proprietor must decide whether to be a Public school or a Private Catholic School. At first glance, the decision seemed a no-brainer.
A Public R/C School is run by the Ghana Education System. The government pays for the teachers’ salaries and tuition cannot be charged. (Tuition is not charged, however there are fees for uniforms, books, supplies, etc. which makes attending school prohibitive for the poor).
However, the danger in turning over the control of the school, the education, the selection of teachers and equally important, the maintenance of the school may or may not be worth the savings involved. Many if not most Public schools here are in poor condition. Some have electricity. Some have available water. Some have crumbling walls and some have roofs that are caving in, forcing the students to study outside the classroom. Maintenance is ignored.
Catholic schools here have a powerful record of excellent education as do Catholic schools everywhere. Many parents appreciate the quality of the education as well as the discipline. Statistics here indicate that in most cases, 100% of the children in Catholic schools pass the required government tests. The standard of education generally exceeds the basic requirements.
Keeping the school Private, the proprietor can choose the best teachers, bring in teachers from outside of Ghana if available and maintain the quality of the buildings.
For the record, religious lessons can be taught in either Public or Private schools systems. All schools here teach a morals & ethics class weekly. The government would not stand in the way of religious classes and would encourage this education.
I believe that most people think that the Church has so much money they can dig deep and financially support a school. Here, the Church leaves this to the parish to raise the funds. And, we are a very poor parish.
So I am praying. I know that God will provide. But does God write checks? Not exactly. He moves through others to faithfully support His Will.
I know that this message may turn some readers off. Many feel charitable as long as religion is not involved. Some may even be offended. I know this because I have received scathing messages from readers who are offended that we include our religious beliefs in our work.
Ghana is a very Christian country. For the smaller percentage of Muslims here, there is a respect for each others’ faith. When events occur here, they always start and end with a prayer and all are included. Of course, Muslims are welcome to attend our school. I must admit that in the U.S., I was conditioned to keep my Faith close to my heart, silent in public and prohibited in many situations. I must be careful not to “offend” others with any significant expression. I didn’t realize how oppressed I was until I came here.
If I say “good morning, how are you today?”, I am answered “By God’s Grace, I am fine.” It is wonderful to acknowledge to others that without God’s Grace, I may not be here at all!
Again, I am praying. I have asked for help from friends and those who check into my website. Some of you may be averse to donating the building fund of a school that teaches Christianity. Some may have other reasons for not donating.
But I am asking anyway.
If you can donate $5, $50 or $500….or even $5,000 (!) it would be so appreciated.
I had a civil engineer inspect the land. Because of the size of the plots, we will be building a 2-story building to support a total of 700 students. I believe the cost for the initial 6 classrooms and a kitchen for 150 students will run about $50,000. That would be Phase 1. Phase 2 would include 6 more classrooms and a computer lab (by God’s Grace!). Ultimately, there will be a Phase III and a Phase IV. How exciting!
In the meantime, Joy2theWorld continues to empower women through micro loans, addressing many of the issues women face including health, sanitation and education for themselves and their children. This fight against illiteracy and the resulting poverty is a battle we cannot ignore. People are suffering.
For the record, Father Billy has since been expanding the Church, making room for all those parishioners who must sit outside and peer in the windows to attend Mass. At Mass, he asks the parishioners to donate a bag of cement or a plastic chair. It is amazing to see how the poor contribute to their parish. Some come to help build, some come with food for the workers. I am so inspired!
Most of us have more things than we need. Some of us have luxuries that can’t even be dreamed of here. So I ask you to look in your hearts for a contribution to the education of children here. Your donation can make such a huge difference here.
Some have asked me why I came to Ghana. Some ask why I didn’t just stay in the U.S. and “make a difference” there. Well, that is probably suitable for another posting. But here, it takes so very little (financially) to make such a huge impact.
More important to know is that for me, working here is a privilege and an opportunity.
Please, look into your hearts and see if you can help us here. Help both sides of this hand… our own and God’s. Thank you.