Have you ever been someplace where you open your eyes and you are instantly in love? My name is Samantha Bauer and I am sixteen years old and this has happened to me. This past December I traveled to Ghana, a small country in West Africa, with eight other students and two faculty members from St. Mark’s School. This summer Beth Pezzoni, Stephanie Osei, Claire Eun, and I are going back for two months, and want to spread awareness of what we did and how everyone can help.
When my family, friends, or teachers ask me how I liked Ghana, I do not know how to respond. The trip is indescribable, and words will not do it any justice. It was the most eye opening experience I’ve ever had.
At Sankofa Mbofra Fie, the name of the school and orphanage where we worked, the children were genuinely happy, even though they had very little to their name. The sixteen kids who lived in the orphanage slept on bunk beds with two-inch thick mattresses and no bedding in small, musty rooms, yet they still had brimming smiles when we drew pictures with them while sitting on the cement floor of one of the bedrooms.
These children made the most of the little they had. Most of them had only two outfits to wear, and almost all of their shoes were a few sizes too small. Boys wore girl clothes, and girls wore boy clothes. When they had water, they would share the small amount of it amongst two or three kids and every kid there would willingly share a small bowl of rice with anyone who wanted some.
The kids, age two to nineteen, did their own laundry every weekend, found ways to entertain themselves without technology, and most importantly, they all looked out for each other. The older kids gave the younger ones shoulder rides when walking from the school to the orphanage because it is a long walk for a little kid. When a toddler started to cry, kids as young as six or seven would pick him or her up on their backs and carry the child around until he or she stopped crying. A few days after we left, the orphanage ran out of money, so they were unable to buy food for the kids on Christmas. While skyping with some of the older boys, they all said with smiles on their faces that they would proudly give up the small portions of food that were left for the younger kids to eat. The fact that the teenagers were willing to give up their food and not eat on Christmas day for the sake of the younger orphans made me realize how we take so much for granted. Although these children do not have parents to look up to or take examples from, they are indisputably some of the kindest, most openhearted people I have ever met.
Seeing the children everyday being so happy did more for me than I think we did for them. They taught me that I do not need seven pairs of shoes in the newest style to be content. All they need are each other to be pleased. It is a life lesson that I learned from them, and makes me appreciate everything I have so much more than I did before. I cherish my family now and try not to ask for anything that I do not need because I already have so much. I learned that money truly cannot buy happiness; happiness comes from loved ones and being loved.
“One of the most exciting aspects of our trip was providing the children with the donations that we had gathered prior to the trip. They received clothes, toys, books, and school supplies. Hysteria broke out in response; something small and trivial to us, such as soccer ball, was indispensable to them. I’d like to thank everyone that contributed to our fundraising efforts. Sankofa is eternally grateful.” (Beth Pezzoni)
Any amount donation would be of the utmost appreciation. The children and David will be so grateful of you for your generosity. Out of the 13 teachers at the school, five came from government schools, where they were paid $100 a month regularly. Every month that David can’t pay those five teachers their 50 dollar salaries, he creates a greater chance of them leaving Sankofa. The school and orphanage combined need $1500 a month for food, teachers’ salaries, and water. If you take a minute to think about this: you might be willing to spend 300 dollars on a dress, a suit or an iPhone, but if you donated that 300 dollars, you could pay for a week of food for all 16 orphans. Even a small donation of 6 dollars goes a long way; it pays for two – three days’ worth of food for a kid.
To make a donation, please click on the link to the right.
I hope find it in your heart to donate to these amazing children. It would literally mean the world to them. Thank you so much.