I have some friends that are doing a very commendable thing this Christmas. Rather than eating and drinking too much, in sync with the traditional Norwegian Christmas celebration, they have chosen to spend both money and time on something better. One of the members of the household worked as a voluntary worker at an orphanage in the village of Darmang, north of the capital Accra in Ghana earlier in 2011. You will not find the village on any maps, not even Google has passed it by with their street view, as its tiny and largely goes unnoticed.
I does have an orphanage and a “school” – and this is where young people from various countries come to work for free to help out. I write school in brackets, as there are no trained teachers there and the aid workers do most of the teaching, but it is better than nothing. Unfortunately, the children have very little school material like books, pens, paper and the like.
When the son of my friends went there, he and the other young people collected money from their respective families and dug a new well for the orphanage, saving them hours of walking to get good water every day, they built sanitary toilets for both boys and girls and by doing so reduced the probability of disease, bought new cribs for the babies, mattresses for the older children, pens, crayons and paper for the children to use at school etc. Even on a very slim budget they were able to do a lot, as money go far in Africa. Have a look at the below pictures and you can see some of the things that were built. To the left are the original “toilet” and the two other images show the exterior and interior of the new ones. Quite an improvement, I would say.
Anyway, back to Christmas 2011. This family has decided to travel down to Ghana and bring clothes, toys and other things that children need that they have collected from friends, family and neighbors. The children at the orphanage has nothing or very little of everything, so anything children between birth and 12 years old would need is being collected. In addition they are accepting donations for the purchase of school supplies, mosquito nets, medicine, band aids, shoes or other things they are lacking. All the money collected will go to the children. The family is paying their own trip, room and board out of their own pocket and there are no administrative fees of any kind.
They have a plan to try to support one of the children at the orphanage on a long-term basis too – hopefully more than one, but it depends. There is a 1-year-old girl at the orphanage, as seen on the picture to the right, that has Sickle-cell anemia, a disease that is not that uncommon among Africans, and demands constant follow-up from medical personnel. At the moment this girl is not receiving any real treatment, something that will result in a much shorter life span and chronic pain and discomfort. Their plan is to try to transfer money regularly to see to that she is taken care of. If they are not able to establish some system where several persons pay a small amount on a monthly basis, they will cover this themselves – but that will reduce their ability to help all the other children. You can read more about Sickle-cell anemia here and here.
They will be leaving Norway for Ghana on the 19th of December 2011, celebrating Christmas at the orphanage and will make sure that the children have a great Christmas meal – just like most of us are used to.
If you have money to spare and/or want to contribute – please go to their homepage for more information. This page is in Norwegian only, unfortunately – but it does give you the possibility to practice your Norwegian 🙂 You can also read it through google translate here.
If you are a Facebook user, and quite frankly – who isn’t, you can enter the event they have set up or go to the Facebook page they have set up – in English. It’s open for all, so feel free to invite your friends in on this project. There is information on how to pay from outside Norway into the project’s Norwegian account available on all the before mentioned pages.
As I understand it, any amount is welcome!
Those of us that are fortunate enough to be born in the rich part of the world, and have quite pathetic problems like obesity and laziness among youth, should take a step back from time to time, and look at the big picture. In the great scheme of things, many of our problems are minute compared to not having parents, not having food, not getting any schooling, living in a country with little or no security, having no hope for the future. Even though we can not save the world by helping a few kids in a country we have never been or even heard of, you can help a few children improve THEIR world, making them better equipped to save themselves and their own people and country. In my view, all the little things amount to all the big things – and when you change the little things – you are helping in making the really big changes.
Please consider setting aside an amount for something other than yet another unnecessary Christmas gift this year, give it to someone who really need it instead.