I’ve been thinking about this post for several days and it is still a daunting and important task to me.

There are seven children that are under David’s care at the Center. Seth, Samuel, Mark, Charity, Ernestina, Gifty, and Edwin. Edwin is 13 and the oldest of the bunch. When David first started the project and had only little kids who all met in the very house we are living in now, Edwin used to come on his own accord and help to teach the younger children because he wanted to go to school so badly. (In Ghana children must pay for their school uniforms and other school supplies, so if they cannot afford these charges than they cannot go to school) When David went to see Edwin’s home, the conditions were such that David asked Edwin’s mother if he could take Edwin to live with him. She was so greatful that she gave what she could, some land for a farm, so that Edwin could have a better chance. So now, Edwin lives in the Center and goes to the school that David has started, where he doesn’t have to pay school charges and is given food.

The first time I met Edwin, I knew he was one of those rare children that you hope to meet in your life. He is so kind and caring; so thoughtful and constantly aware of others around him. He is very driven and although he is quiet at times, you can look at his face and know that he is constantly thinking and taking things in. I don’t think I have ever met a 13 year old boy who is so eager to learn either. Yesterday, Sarah Rebecca Pat and I set up a library in the Center and when Edwin saw it his eyes just lit up and he had the biggest smile on his face. I’m constantly entertained and inspired by Edwin and his spirit…but as wonderful as the time I spend with him is and as much as I look forward to seeing him everyday, every time I see him I get sad…it’s that saddness that sits in your stomach. The other day when we were up at the school working with the children and Edwin was helping us translate to the younger kids, I turned to Yolanda and said something like, “Edwin is so great” and as soon as she responded I had to walk away because I started crying. I was just so overwhelmed. here is a kid with so much potential and desire and drive, trying to learn at a school with underpaid, uncertified teachers (some who are younger than me) with out-of-date text books, no walls, and not enough food in his stomach. And yet he does everything he can to learn and to help those around him. It just makes me so mad and frustrated…what can I do to help him? How can I convince someone who hasn’t met him that he’s worth the investment…how can I give him a chance? Even if we get a school built, and David is able to pay good teachers to come…what good will it do? Edwin is one of the best English speakers among the children and his reading level is still at a first or second grade level….it’s just a constant struggle. On one hand, who am I to say what success is or isn’t or what a “good life” would be….and Edwin is not alone…there are so many bright kids in this village…

I guess what I’m trying to talk about is the daunting task that this whole project, that this whole expereince has become. You can’t help but get attached to these kids…they are always at our house, they want to help, to learn…kids swarm around us to listen to stories of work on their English or just to get a hug….and we do what we can…but we leave in 10 days and then what? Another group of people that come into their lives, who have futures and other advantages at home and who leave…and these kids go back and try to learn and push themselves. Even when they do get through David’s school, they have to figure out how to pay for the school fees to continue at the government JSS and these kids are in David’s school because they can’t afford those fees. It’s an uphill battle and I hate that I’m leaving them to fight it alone.

But we’re not stopping our project when we leave here…we are going to do more research and write grants and try to find some American or International NGOs to set the school and center up with. We’re also going to to try to find some pen-pals for the children to have and work on their English with…but I can’t help but wonder if it is enough..I can’t help but worry that they will feel abandonded…that they were a fun vacation for us, but that was it.

I asked Edwin if he realized that now he had lots of sisters and a brother in America…he said he understood…I hope he really believes it.

This expereince has been so much more than I expected and so different as well. Fun is not the right word…this trip has been inspiring, humbling, frsutrating, hot, difficult, enlightening and so many other things. The things I will take most though are the times with the kids and all that they have taught me…especially Edwin. When I let go of all the bigger questions and hurdles that I can’t possibly solve myself and let go of my Western ideas of what success and happiness look like, what I hope for Edwin is that he understands that he is an amazing person and that we all believe in him and his intelligence and maturity. I hope that he can work in a bank, which is what he wants to do, and that he is able to continue to push himself. I hope to stay in touch with Edwin and see what he ends up doing. He is just such an inspiring person and I feel so lucky to have met him.

Edwin is 13 and lives in the Center, he is one of seven children under David’s care. These kids have all won us over and I hope we can find the funding to complete the projects which we have talked with them about. At the very least we will leave here with them having new beds, matresses, mosquito nets, a place for their things, and a new rec room with books games and mats. I wish we could leave them with more…hopefully they know we won’t forget them.