I Beautiful Lake, Ugly Stories! Volume 2 | Number 5 | May 2014

Volume 2 | Number 5 | May 2014
Beautiful Lake,
Ugly Stories!
I
am writing to you from Kete Krachi, a
town located along the shores of Ghana's
Lake Volta. I am visiting with a good
friend of mine, Jason Hackmann. When one
stands on the shores of the lake and casts his
or her eyes across the expanse of water, it is a
beautiful sight to behold! As we traveled on a
small canoe across the water to visit some of
the islands on the lake, we were welcomed by
a beautiful sunrise, calm waters and the cool
breeze as we soaked in the tranquility and
the beauty of God's creation of the
surrounding landscape. But that was short
lived. We soon came across other small
canoes with children paddling hard and
working hard to catch some fish. They were
dirty and looked skinny and malnourished. In
their eyes were a combination of fatigue and
sorrow. I even saw one child completely
naked. I also saw a small boy wearing a
UNICEF t-shirt. It was such an irony that this
boy who has been deprived of his childhood
and an education was wearing a shirt bearing
the name of the United Nations Children and
Education Fund that promotes the exact
opposite of what he was engaged in. Sadly,
that was not the only irony. In the space of
two hours, we saw more than twenty children
working to catch fish on the lake. The sight of
these enslaved children was an ugly contrast
to the beauty of God's creation. The presence
of the children was an epitome of ugly stories
of cruelty and inhumanity in the midst of
God's providence and lavish provision. It was
like witnessing death in the midst of
abundant life.
Many children in Ghana are working as
indentured servants. This is especially so on
the many islands on the Volta Lake. The Volta
Lake is one of the largest man-made lakes in
the world. It was built in the 1960s when a
dam was constructed on the Volta River at
Akosombo (in the Eastern Region of Ghana)
to provide hydro-electric power to the nation.
To date, the Akosombo Hydro-Electric Power
Station is the largest producer of electricity in
Ghana. Some of the electricity is also
exported to Togo and Burkina Faso. When the
dam was constructed, the waters of the lake
expanded to cover a very vast area of land,
thereby creating many islands on the lake.
Many trees were also submerged in the
waters of the lake. The mainstay of people
living along the banks of the lake and on the
islands is fishing. Owing to poverty, some
parents give up their children to serve the
fishermen who fish on the Volta Lake. There
are several different stories and reasons
given for why and how a child becomes an
indentured servant. However, the bottomline is poverty - abject poverty.
The Beautiful Volta Lake
Ugly Sight: Slavery at its Most Undignified
Continued on Page 3
USA
P. O. Box 670394
Dallas, TX 75367
Tel: 817-523-4419
Tel: 817-677-8647
[email protected]
GHANA
P. O. Box GP 18169
Accra, Ghana
Tel: 233-24-431-3404
Tel: 233-20-823-2585
thevillageo[email protected]
OVERSIGHT
Village of Hope is under
the oversight of
the Elders of
Springtown Church of Christ,
Springtown, Texas, USA
and
the Elders of
Vertical Centre Church of Christ,
Community Six, Tema, Ghana.
MINISTRIES
Hope Children’s Village
Hope Training Institute
Hope Christian Academy
Hope Christian Hospital
Church of Christ School
Hope College
Hope Farms
Church of Christ at Village of Hope
Ayawaso Church of Christ
Evangelism
Church Planting and Strengthening
A Word from Debby Hayes
Be Bold and Courageous
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be
discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9. These are the
words of the Lord to Joshua as he was about to enter the Promised Land with the Israelites after
they had wandered in the desert for 40 years. The people had to be worried and scared about
what they would encounter in this new land, but they chose to rely on the Lord. About 10 years
ago, I was asked to take a trip to the Village of Hope with my oldest daughter and a team from my
church, the Germantown Church of Christ. I was excited but also REALLY scared and anxious to
travel that far from my home and wasn't really sure what I was getting into. I had to trust that God
had put this opportunity in front of me, and He would be with me and help me to be bold.
Debby Hayes (left, in a pose with Georgina
Nanor - house parent) and her family have
been friends of Village of Hope for many
years. She worships with the Germantown
Church of Christ in Germantown, Tennessee.
At that time the Village of Hope had three homes where house parents and about 60 children
lived. Hope Christian Academy was newly started and classrooms desperately needed books
and supplies. There were not enough teachers for the number of students in attendance. Our
team ended up working at the school every day not knowing until we got there what grade or
subject we were going to teach. It was a great challenge, but it was truly rewarding to see the
enthusiasm of the students who were so eager to learn. We also met some extraordinary adults
who were working to give hope back to abandoned and destitute children. The biggest impact
was made on us by the children themselves, who despite their past circumstances were full of
grace, joy and love.
When I think about the children, it is easy to be bold and unafraid. It is easy to be courageous. The Village of Hope is a place where hope is promised, parents
are promised, an education is promised, a home is promised, love is promised, and a place where Christ's love is displayed every day is promised. It is a
Promised Land for these children, and it is easy to catch a glimpse of the way our eternal Promised Land will look when visiting this place.
It is impossible for me to write about the Village of Hope without mentioning the relationships with the children. One of the children that I met that first year was
Jennifer Agbenowosi. She was 13 at the time, a little bit shy, but she was imaginative and a hard worker. I taught a poetry class that year, and she wrote some
beautiful, thoughtful poems. I have been able to travel several times to the VOH and have seen Jennifer grow and mature into a beautiful, caring Christian
young lady. This summer I hope to see her graduate from Ashesi University in Ghana. Another relationship that I cherish is with Bernard Ampomah, a young
boy I met in 2006. We ended up reading books every evening, playing countless games of war (he almost always beat me!) and talking and laughing. On
subsequent visits, we continued to get to know each other, he kept beating me at cards, and we even watched the World Cup games together. The last time I
visited, Bernard helped my team evangelize in a village and translated for my group. He is growing into a mature young man of God. My family has
sponsored him for a number of years, and he is like a son to me. There are many other children and adults that I have built relationships with over the years.
One of the reasons that I feel so strongly bound to the Village of Hope is the connection I feel with the people there. We are half a world away from each other,
but each time I visit, it feels like a great homecoming.
Since that first trip to the VOH, there has been so much unimagined growth there that it is hard to fathom. Bold men and women of God have stepped out in
faith, and God has given the increase. What started as a spark has exploded into a fire of opportunity for not only the orphaned children at the VOH, but also
for the surrounding communities. There are 10 homes with house parents serving over 200 children, houses for the staff and guests, and a large church
building. Hope Christian Academy serves the children at the VOH and children from nearby villages as well as from areas farther away and is the top school
in the region. Hope College, a high school, has been built, and it also serves the children from the VOH and surrounding areas. Hope Christian Hospital with
a doctor, nurses and staff serves the VOH and patients from far and wide. The VOH owns farmland which produces some of the food that the VOH uses to
provide the dietary needs of the children. Besides the Village of Hope campus, other ministries include the Hope Training Institute for vocational training as
well as the Church of Christ School in Nkwatia. Certainly these accomplishments have been mentioned in many past newsletters. But they cannot be
mentioned too much, because in these few short years, God has created a great work that will have far reaching consequences for His Kingdom.
It is easy to get comfortable in the life we Americans lead, but God doesn't want us to be comfortable. Strike out of your comfort zone, be bold and unafraid for
Him who gave us and gives us everything. If you can't make a trip to the Village of Hope, support it in some other way. Get involved in a ministry that
challenges you. Tell someone else about the amazing God we have that provides for us in every way.
2 Timothy 1:7
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”
-Debby Hayes
Page 2 | Herald of Hope | May 2014
Continued from Page 1
Some parents give their children out to be indentured servants
because they are unable to feed their children. Instead of
helplessly watching their children die out of hunger and
malnutrition, they give these children to the fishermen, called
'masters', who promise to give the children food and also train
them to grow up to become fishermen. The 'masters' also
sometimes promise to pay the parents some money every year
for the work done by the children while serving with the
'masters'. These 'masters' sometimes pay as low as the
equivalent of twenty U.S. dollars ($20) a year to the parents.
Scenes from the Volta Lake
At other times, parents may owe someone an amount of
money and be unable to pay their debt. A 'master' will then pay
the debt for the parents and in return be given a child of the
parents to serve as an indentured servant. These children who
work as indentured servants work for many long hours each
day - sometimes as long as 18 hours out of the 24 hours in a
day, and then it begins all over again. They eat once a day.
Having two meals a day is considered a luxury.
What works are the children engaged in? They mend broken
and torn nets that are used for fishing. They are also used to
cast the nets into the lake and to retrieve the nets hours later.
Sometimes when the canoes used to fish develop cracks, water
seeps through the cracks into the canoe. The little children who
are not strong enough to cast a net are the ones who scoop the
water out of the canoe when they go on a fishing expedition on
the lake. By far, the most dangerous work these children do is
that whenever the fishing nets get entangled in the stumps of
the trees that have been submerged in the lake, they are
compelled to dive into the lake to disentangle the nets. They
have to stay in the water for several minutes to disentangle the
entangled nets (without any protective gear). Most times they
resurface after successfully accomplishing their mission. But,
sadly, sometimes, after diving into the lake to disentangle
fishing nets, they never show up again. On such occasions
sorrow fills their other colleagues. When one interviews these
children, they say their greatest fear is that one day when they
dive into the lake to disentangle or retrieve a net, they will
never resurface. They dread being asked to dive into the water
but when they are asked to do so, they have no option but to
comply.
They are too well aware of the consequences of disobedience severe beatings and refusal of food. Some of them bear on
their bodies the marks of brutal beatings and abuse. They are
beaten if they do not wake up on time for the next fishing
expedition (after working for 18 hours the previous day). They
are beaten, when they resurface out of the water, if they fail to
disentangle the nets. They are beaten upon the least offence
and for the flimsiest of reasons.
None of these children attend school. Call them what you may child laborers, domestic servants, indentured servants, etc.
The truth of the matter is that they are SLAVES. Even in the
twenty-first century and in this millennium, slavery is going on
and these children are slaves. They live miserable and
wretched lives. They feel unwanted and unloved. Their lives
are dejected. The world has forgotten and rejected them. May
the LORD help us not to do the same.
Servant of the LORD,
Fred Asare.
Hold Hope High!
Editor’s Note:
Since 2006, Village of Hope has been caring for eighteen
children who were rescued from the Volta Lake. They were
rescued by a non-profit organization called Partners in
Community Development (PACODEP) and sent to Village of
Hope for care and education.
May 2014 | Herald of Hope | Page 3
Let’s Get to Know More...
Benedicta, Chelsea, Blessing and their brother Anis were faced with destitution when their father, the family’s
sole breadwinner, passed away. Unfortunately, their mother was helpless due to a very critical mental
condition. The children’s relatives left the burden of taking care of the children on their aged great
grandmother who passed away two years later, leaving the children in the care of no particular
person. They were tossed here and there until their preacher, having a big heart, decided to adopt
Benedicta and Chelsea. Blessing and Anis went to their aunt who was already taking care of their
mentally ill mother. Eventually, all who tried to take care of the children were not able to
provide their basic needs because of their own family situations. The children, being young
and fragile and needing care, were on the verge of being left to the dangers of the world.
That is why the preacher applied for help from the Village of Hope where the children
were welcomed with love and open arms.
Evans and Ernest are the youngest of six siblings who lost their parents
between 2010 and 2012. After their parents’ deaths, their oldest brother, a
27-year-old amateur carpenter became father and mother to his younger
siblings. Although he tried hard, his inexperience and his very low income
were taking a toll on the upbringing of the children. The church of Christ at
Boete, Obuasi in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, had noticed the young man
and the situation that he was in. Finally, it was decided that an attempt
should be made at bringing Evans and Ernest to the Village of Hope to
save them from potential danger and give them hope and a new family.
Theophilus and his two little sisters were exposed to poverty very early
in their lives. Their father, a photographer, became ill and all the family’s
resources were spent taking care of him. He is still not well and requires
money that the family does not have for surgeries to help him walk and
work again. The children’s mother has also been ill for a long time. Out of
frustration and a need to survive, the mother left with her daughters to
go and live with her relatives, leaving young Theophilus alone with his
father to run errands. After a while, Theophilus’ father realized that,
although having the little boy around meant having someone to help, it was
not in Theophilus’ best interest. This is what led to the father appealing to
Village of Hope to admit Theophilus and give him an opportunity to develop
properly. Theophilus now has new parents to take care of him.
Richmond and Eric, the youngest of four siblings, have just joined the Village of
Hope family after being exposed to poverty and hardships that boys their age do not
deserve to experience. Their father passed away in 2010 and their mother was accused
by the extended family, without any proof, that she was responsible for her husband’s
death. The family constantly and consistently harassed the widow and her children until
they fled from the family home. What she could afford as a new home was one room for all
five of them. She became a peasant farmer during the farming season and a beggar for the rest
of the year. Her oldest son, only 16, dropped out of school to become a mason. Her second son,
after finishing ninth grade, could not go to high school. Richmond and Eric, being the youngest,
were the most vulnerable, often hungry, unkempt and helpless. Today, they live with other boys in the
CDH Home on the Village of Hope campus where they receive care from new parents, have started
school and eat every day.
Page 4 | Herald of Hope | May 2014
... about the New Children
A social worker’s visit to Moses’ home revealed a very dirty boy. Moses had, in fact, just returned with his
blind father to their one-room shelter from a day of begging. The smelting heat was a stark reality in the
small, windowless room they call home. Since Moses was very young, his mother had deserted her blind
husband and her three children. Moses’ sister Sandra then came to live at the Village of Hope to
reduce the responsibility on the father who was working hard to take care of the children. Two years
ago, Moses’ father lost his job and things took a turn for the worse. Through his efforts, his oldest
daughter finished high school but Moses was left to the mercy of the elements. The
environment in which he was growing was not conducive for a child. His father was
distraught about the condition of his family and his inability to provide the necessary
guidance for his son who had become a school dropout. Therefore, it only made sense
that Moses be brought to join his sister Sandra at the Village of Hope to give him a
safer environment in which to grow and thrive.
Amos is the fifth of the six children his parents have to cater for with their
meager incomes. Raising the children has become difficult since both parents
are not meaningfully employed and lack marketable skills.
Amos’ father lost one of his legs some years ago when a cancerous wound
destroyed most of it and eventually made an amputation the only option.
In order to provide for his large family, he continued with his subsistence
farming activities for some years, using his crutches for support.
However, as he is growing older, he has begun to find it very difficult to
work because he is not as strong as he used to be. His wife tries hard to
provide food for her family of eight but she is also growing older and
cannot work as much as she used to in her farming activities. The
children, by virtue of their ages, are not capable of helping their mother.
Poverty is creating a very unstable home environment for the children.
There is no way of knowing where the next meal is going to come from
and formal education is totally missing from the lives of Amos and is
siblings’ weekly schedule.
It is against this background that Amos’ mother expressed her fears for
her children’s future development. Because of the desperate needs of
others and the limited beds available, Amos is the only one of his siblings
now living at the Village of Hope so that at least one member of the family
will have better opportunities for physical and spiritual growth and, in the
long run, break the cycle of poverty that the family is living in.
Benedict’s parents were involved in a road traffic accident in 2012. His father died
and his mother, who was coming back home after going away to have a baby, was
seriously injured. His mother's condition eventually improved but she could not
actively continue in her petty trading and could hardly feed the family. Benedict’s father’s
relatives refused to support his mother, claiming falsely that she killed her husband and
should, therefore, be left alone to cater for her children. They also refused to cooperate with
her to acquire the letters of administration required to claim her husband's benefits. Benedict
could no longer be kept in school because his mother was unable to pay for his fees. Out of
sympathy, Benedict’s mother and her children were allowed to continue to stay in the police
barracks because her husband was a police officer. However, they could be ejected at any time and this
would only make their situation worse. Village of Hope, therefore, had to come and rescue Benedict and
provide him with education, safety and training for a hopeful future.
May 2014 | Herald of Hope | Page 5
Choosing the Path of Sacrifice
Felix and Regina came with their son, Nana Antwi-Boasiako and
their daughter, Maame Durowa. Nana and Maame are also
making a huge sacrifice by sharing their parents with 18 others,
although currently, they are probably oblivious to this fact. We
pray that through this sacrifice, these two children will grow up
well and be blessed like others before them who allowed and
are still allowing others to call their parents “Mama” and
“Dada”. Please pray for strength and patience for the Nimako's
as they take on this new role and adapt to the various changes
that their family must go through. Also, pray for our existing
house parents: George & Cynthia Arthur; Daniel and Matilda
Adu-Poku; Victor and Victoria Agbeko; Emmanuel and
Georgina Nanor; Emmanuel and Margaret Akoto; Ebenezer and
Irene Ayisi; Martin & Vida Boakye; Rexford and Juliet Asumeng;
Samuel and Betty Afriyie; and all their children.
Regina & Felix
F
elix and Regina Nimako have joined the Village of Hope
family as house parents. With the admission of new
children into the orphanage comes the need to have more
people to take care of these children and guide them as they
grow. For this reason, the search for house parents began last
year (2013) and by the time that the children were ready to
come into residence, we had found Felix and Regina. The couple
now lives in our newest children's home – CDH Home. Their
interest in the development and welfare of children is genuine
and we sincerely hope that they will stay on to nurture the
children in their home to become responsible, hardworking and
God-fearing adults who would be of benefit to their families and
to all of society.
Family Photo: Felix, Regina and the Children of CDH Home
There are 82 students in the Hope
Christian Academy 9th Grade class and
16 in the Church of Christ School 9th
Grade class. They are all writing the
national exam in June.
PLEASE KEEP THEM IN YOUR
PRAYERS as they take mock exams
and prepare for their first major exam.
We are still raising funds for two buses for the
Church of Christ School at Nkwatia. Please mail
your checks to:
VILLAGE OF HOPE
P. O. BOX 670394
DALLAS, TX 75367
Indicate the purpose of the check on the memo
line with the words “School Bus.” THANK YOU!
Page 6 | Herald of Hope | May 2014
Spring Medical Missions
T
he people in the rural areas of Ghana often do not have
immediate access to specialist medical care. In fact, in
very deprived areas, general medical professionals are
also hard to reach when people are ill. That is why Hope
Christian Hospital exists, to make sure that, beyond taking
care of the medical needs of the children and staff of Village of
Hope, medical services are also immediately available to the
people in the communities that surround us. Hope Christian
Hospital also reaches out to the villages in many different ways
including partnering with medical mission groups periodically
to provide free general and specialist consultation, treatment
and medicines to those who have the need.
3
4
7
8
Pictures:
7. Matilda Adu-Poku and Alex Parham at Ayawaso “Eye Department”
8. Dorian Lain Sees a Patient at Ayawaso
Every year since 2004, in March, the Farragut church of Christ
in Knoxville, Tennesse, sends a group of medical professionals
and support staff with medicines and other equipment, to
come and join the staff of the hospital to serve the people in a
particular area. This March, the team spent the first day
serving at Ayawaso, where Hope Training Institute (our trade
school) is located. After waking up early to leave the Fetteh
campus at 6 AM to get to Ayawaso on time, you can imagine
the team's disappointment when they found only a handful of
people waiting to be treated. Little did they know that at the
end of that day, they would have taken care of 367 people!
They came back home to the Fetteh campus exhausted but
fulfilled.
The remaining three days were spent serving the people of
Fetteh: 182 people were seen on that first day at Fetteh; 231
on the second day; and 257 on the third and final day.
Therefore, after four days of consultations, extractions,
glaucoma tests, prescriptions, etc., 1,037 patients had been
served by the team. We are certain that a few other people
were taken care of who did not make a stop at the registration
desk.
It was a short but very successful week where the love of God
was demonstrated to those in need of care and we are grateful
to the Farragut Spring Mission team for making it possible.
1
2
5
6
Pictures:
1. Don Mabry & his Sister Darlene Bennett at work in Fetteh
2. George Arthur & Martin Boakye at Registration Desk at Ayawaso
3. Kaleigh Lain Interacts with a Boy
4. Alex Peasah-Koduah (Medical Director) Attends to a Little Girl
5. Rhonda & Brian Lain Test Eyes at Ayawaso
6. Mary Hyatt, Paul Phelps, Colby Phelps Manage Medicines at Ayawaso
We d s A b
e
n
u
t
ena
Fo r
On Saturday, March 15, we
traveled to Sebrepor (near
the port city of Tema) to
support our son Fortune
Bulley in his marriage to his
sweetheart, Abena. It was
quite a family reunion! The
Voices of Hope sang their
hearts out at the wedding
reception. Please pray for
the newlyweds.
May 2014 | Herald of Hope | Page 7
SPONSOR
A Child
TODAY!
Page 8 | Herald of Hope | May 2014
Here is what your monthly gift
of $100 can do:
- Feed a Child
- Clothe a Child
- Educate a Child
- Provide Healthcare for a Child
- Give Parental Care to a Child
Why don’t you join us today?
- We will assign you a child.
- We will give you information
about that child.
- You will have the opportunity to write
to your beneficiary and get to know
them personally.
- For further enquiries please email us:
[email protected]