Chorkor Part 2
If you haven’t read Part 1 of this post, please do. Our work in Chorkor could happen anywhere. Helping a school, providing food in a community, looking for ways to overcome poverty. Anyone could do it anywhere. But we aren’t doing it anywhere. We are doing it in Chorkor.
Prior to this trip a team of people helped raise money for a project called, Food for Thought. The goal is to have a feeding program at this school in Chorkor. Since we know the children will learn better if they are fed, it’s part of the goal of improving the education being offered at this school. The school is a “community school”. The primary reason for the existence of this place is for safety from the dangers in the area (see Part 1), mostly related to obvious dangers of a nearby ocean. There is no tuition fee to attend the school, there is a cost for uniforms, but some children come without uniforms.
The children, ages three to seven, walk to school, some a long way. I think it is fair to say that all of them are underfed, but for some there is the added complexity of being hungry and walking a long way. Or being hungry and ill. Having energy to learn is a barrier when they walk through the door. We hope providing food will improve their ability to learn.
The school is called Deliverance. The building doubles as a church on Sundays. The building has very little stability to the overall structure. There are large gaping holes and missing boards in the walls. The roof doesn’t stand a chance in the rain. A rainy day equals no school. It is hot. Only an intermittent breeze from the ocean offers relief from the heat inside of this building holding up to 120 children. My camera and I found a small vertical break in the wall where we stood to reverse the effects of overheating, though the fix was very temporary for both of us.
So there we were. In Chorkor. In Deliverance School. Bringing supplies to start a kitchen. Plates, forks, spoons, cups, large pots and large serving spoons, a gas tank, a burner… The items were presented to the school. The school did a dance presentation for us. It was amazing to see the people gathering to see what we were up to. Then our Ghanaian lead stepped forward to say a few words. I listened carefully, but I wasn’t hearing words. I was just feeling. I was feeling what he was saying. And what I felt was that he was placing these children’s needs in the hands of God. He spoke in a way that gave them hope. Hope for food, hope for learning, hope for a future. I felt small. I wondered how I ended up here. Who am I? How did I get here. Really, was I going to be a tool to help these kids have hope? Indeed I am only a tool. Anyone who thinks I have the strength, resources, energy or time to do this work is sadly mistaken. I have no time, I have no energy, I have no resources that I call my own. And strength… leave me to my own vices and I would nap all day, but those who hope in the Lord shall renew their strength. So that’s all I have, hope. Hope. Hope in the Lord. Without it I have nothing. So I hope in the Lord every moment to have the strength, energy, time and resources to do this work, His work. Please don’t ask me, “How do you do it?” I don’t do it. I just have hope. It took me several hours, if not an entire day to think through how shocked I am that God trusts me to do any of this. The next day the children actually got to eat a meal. I wasn’t there to witness it, but they brought me pictures. I was totally moved looking at the pictures of the kiddos sitting in front of those plates. It wasn’t about being happy for them to have food, though I was happy about that, but it was about hope.
We have plans to continue to work with this community as a whole. This school is a small part of what we believe will happen there.
As I mentioned, my children are from Chorkor. So visiting Chorkor is an opportunity to learn about our children and the life they lived before God allowed us to care for them. I don’t know that I feel comfortable writing a lot about that -partly because it’s pretty emotional for me, partly because I am not prepared to explain it to my children if they read this, and partly because I don’t yet know what I am to learn from this community, but I know it’s something big. This is a fishing community. Someone taught these men to fish. You know… give a man a fish feed him for a day, teach a man to fish feed him for a lifetime… there is something to be learned about that, and for me it’s not as obvious as it looks. I’ll wait for a while. When I “get it”, then I will talk about it. Until then I am just a student.
We do visit many homes in the community in Chorkor. We take rice, oil and toilet paper. Yes, toilet paper. Again, I don’t have words to add to that, however, think of the dignity of these people. I sigh. What else can I say. Think of it for a moment, just think of it. We bring the items we bring because it is what is suggested to us by those who know the community best. I don’t really know more about why we bring toilet paper, but I certainly didn’t feel in any position to say that we shouldn’t take it. Imagine, if you had three wishes and one was to have toilet paper. I am not sure if this sounds funny in some way. Like 3rd graders find humor in potty talk. But frankly it’s disturbing to me. For those of you who are reading these blogs to learn a bit about the culture I have another tip here. Often people ask me what to take, and then call and ask if a pink dress is okay, or brown shoes, or used shoes, or an item they have never used. Take what makes sense. Don’t worry about colors and shininess, just think about practicality. Durable clothing, durable shoes (used or not), functional items, and a little bit of fun. If you wonder if you are bringing the right thing, ask yourself if it’s as useful as a roll of toilet paper, ask yourself if it maintains dignity, if it provides hope. In general I doubt the color has much to do with the functionality or need for the item. Maybe that’s not a helpful tip, maybe it is.
Chorkor is a place where hope is waiting to get in. There is something about this place that moves my heart. I hope to have more to share about this place in the future. More to say about the work to be done and hopefully testimonies about the work being done. Please contact Project Global Hope if you would like to be a glimmer of hope in this community.
We plan to return to Ghana in October or November of 2011. Part of our work will be here in Chorkor. Please consider joining us on a trip to Ghana.