I arrived in the capital of Ghana, Accra, where my training took place. I learned about African culture, had traditional drumming and dance lessons, language lessons (Twi), learned how to cook Ghanaian food and how to hand wash clothes, had the concept of a bucket bath explained to me and learned about my project placement - The Mampong Babies Home.
The Mampong Babies Home is an orphanage in the village of Mampong which was established by the Anglican Church in 1967. The Babies Home cares for children who have been orphaned, often when the extended family cannot cope. It is a horrible fact that one in ten children in Ghana die before reaching their fifth birthday. Young lives are fragile and if the primary caregiver is no longer around, the child's chances of survival are slim. The Mampong Babies Home works to keep these children alive, giving them food, medical care, love and a home until they are old enough to be re-united with extended family or placed into a family.
I worked in the home twice a day. In the morning the volunteers helped the staff get the fifty five children up and washed, dressed and fed, and get the older children ready for school or pre-school. The pre-school is on site and the school (also established by the church) is next door. We also washed and changed the sheets on the cribs and beds as well as played games, sang songs and gave medicine to the children. In the afternoon shift we gave the children their dinner and fruit, fed the smaller babies and had bath time and getting ready for bed. The children all had mosquito nets to help avoid malaria, which can be deadly for children.
Despite the poverty which I witnessed, the children and the people are very happy and full of love. The kids eyes light up when they see you and run up for a hug or to ask you to play a game. They desperately crave attention and love. The ladies in the home work so hard but just do not have enough time to give each child much attention. So much time is used fanning a fire to cook food or boil water, or hand wash all the clothes, diapers and bed sheets and toys. That is why volunteers are so important to these homes and schools. The simple things we take for granted, such as food, diapers and clothes, are so important and much needed in these orphanages. My luggage contained mostly clothes, toys and school materials for the children. These are so easily obtained and inexpensive in our culture, but not for these people, and were much appreciated. In my time there we bought diapers and baskets to organise clothes and cloth diapers. We also washed and repaired toys which had seen better days.
It was difficult to witness such needless poverty, and painful to think that these babies have no mother, no toys, limited food, a restricted education. We really do not appreciate how lucky we are.
And yet the people I met are appreciative of what they have, they have such strength in their spirit and unquestionable faith. The children are so full of love and wonderment. A simple game means the world to a baby in Babies Home. A cuddle and a song makes them smile so brightly. As a volunteer I found so much pride in watching a child learn to play, to walk those first steps holding my hands, to curl up for a nap after I fed them, to watch him/her fall asleep looking happy with a teddy bear I’d given them, in the new clean clothes I had brought.
I learned so much from the people and children in my time there. I learned so much about myself. I will never forget my experiences in Africa, and hope to return someday to help out again. For the time being, I will send as much as I can to the home, clothes, supplies and hopefully money to improve conditions there and perhaps even employ more staff to care for the children. I urge everyone to make that change - find a charity or organization and give what you can. The benefits are indescribable. Not only for the person you help, but for yourself.
*If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and make that change*
The Mampong Babies Home
PO Box 151