So today I will share with you my 'ah ha' moment.
|Helina and Joan|
We settled into work, but not for long. There was an AGM in a town about an hour and half drive from here and we had been invited to attend. This was clearly for the 'white factor' however whether you agree or not the reality is that parading us out at the AGM would improve the status of the credit union so off we went. Now AGM's in Ghana are not like AGM's in Canada. First off they last like 5 hours! Moses promised us that we could try and sneak out after an hour...yah because we really blend in well...no one will notice us at all. But he was true to his word and after about 90 minutes we were on the move again. As we left our hosts graciously provided us with lunch to go. Chicken and rice. Now when I first met my partner Heidi she told me that if in doubt we could always eat the chicken and rice and I went yah okay. I didn't understand that I would be literally be eating a piece of fried chicken with a mound of rice for one at least one meal every single day that we were here. It is a staple.
|All the schools have uniforms included in their fees|
Armed with our chicken and rice we all piled into the truck. We had picked up a couple of CUA reps for the trip and one of them needed to stop and check out some work that was suppose to be getting done on a building along the way. We turned off of the highway and entered into what was clearly a poorer area. Instead of huts or block buildings these people were living in shacks, and there were children playing in the dirt that were not dressed in their school uniforms.
|Mom taking her kids to school, look close to see the baby|
Heidi and I were waiting in the truck with our lunches on our laps thinking what are we going to do with this food. It is too hot to keep it and eat it later. We looked up and saw four little kids dressed only in rags sitting in the shade of a building. We looked at each other and then called the children over and handed over our lunches to them. We didn't say anything to each other we just looked at the smiles on those little face and looked at each other, sometimes there are just no words that can express how you feel.
As we drove away we could still hear the squeals of delight from one of the little girls and see her jumping up and down in the rear view mirror. This was both heartwarming and heart breaking at the same time. It felt good to have been able to actually do something. But the knowledge that what we had handed out of our truck window so carelessly was of such value to another human being was gut reaching. As we drove back to the credit u
nion I was torn, was the work that we are doing here really adding any value at all, or where there other things that we could be doing that would add more value for these poor little lost children.
I settled back into work but my heart wasn't in it. I was reviewing loan files and flicked through a couple of files before I finally focused on what I was looking at. The application in front of me was for 300 GH CD's approximately $150 Canadian dollars. For school fees. The next application was for the same, this one to a single mom with 5 kids, 300 CD's to be paid back over the quarter so that she could send her children to school, I starting flipping through the pile and was faced with another and another and another.
There is a great need in Ghana, and I know that other than a full belly tonight, what I am doing today will not help those four small children that I shared my lunch with today. But it will help the ones that can now go to school because someone could get a loan to pay their school fees. And this is what I can do, I CAN help these credit unions survive so that they can help families send their kids to school.
There will be others that come and make a much bigger immediate impact in the lives of these amazing people than I. Doctors and nurses volunteering their skills and time. Aid workers with food and clothing. But this program has offered me the chance to share my skills, while not as impressive as some, still enough to make a difference. Together we are stronger. If we all do what we can, be that what it may, we can help this nation move from poverty to prosperity.