I tagged along on one of Ken's business trips to London last week. I loved it there and spent the days immersed in art museums. But, as usual, wherever I go, Ghana is never far from my mind. Even though I didn't find anyone to practice speaking Twi with I was able to talk on the phone with Karen Tooley of the Future leaders UK. She is a teacher in Birmingham, England and spends a month in Ghana each year. She was able to give me more insight into Billa and confirm what I already knew that he is an amazing honest, entrepreneurial man who is using all his energy to help others.
By the end of the summer we had staged 78 boxes of donations at the storage unit waiting to head to Ghana including; 8 sewing machines, 2 computers, chargers, adapters, text books, reading books,school supplies, shoes, clothes and more....
My son Stephen (in the orange VTech t-shirt) joined us to bring another load of books and school supplies to the storage unit in Woodbridge, the last stop before we load everything on a shipping container going to Africa. Then he was off to start his second year at Virginia Tech. He really enjoyed meeting Daniel. Stephen went to Ghana to visit his sister Alexandra for spring break of his senior year at Oakton High School. When I asked him what the best part of his trip was, he said "Meeting Billa and hearing his story about starting a school for needy children under a mango tree". That was one of the things that inspired me to make my first trip to Africa. That, plus the fact that I missed my daughter and wanted to see her life in Africa.
Before I headed off to London, my friend
Jill Wagner and her children Emma and Ben came over to help me sort through all the bags of lost and found clothes I had picked up from various Fairfax County public schools. The bags of light weight clothes got a pink stripe of duck tape on the outside to indicate that they were going to Ghana. I also put a bright pink stripe on all of my boxes in to the shipping container so that everything going to the children's center could be easily spotted when the container is opened in Ghana.
The heavy clothes and winter coats got a blue stripe on the bag. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them until I met some women from Sudan while I was picking up donations at Wolftrap Elementary. Just last night those two women picked up 8 huge bags of really nice winter coats that will be going to refugee families arriving from Darfur who have no winter clothes for their children. These coats were really nice. Now a child has one less thing to worry about when arriving at a new school in a new county. He or she will be warm and look cool in a new North Face jacket or Abercrombie sweat shirt. I think it is an interesting circle because it was in a history class at Oakton high school where this all began. My daughter became fascinated by Africa, Darfur in particular and she knew that one day she would go there. I never would have dreamed that I too would go to Africa and make helping children there my life's mission. Life is funny. I think it is so beautiful how our children enrich our lives in ways we never expect. If we encourage them to find themselves and follow their own path in life they may end up showing us a new path to follow in our own lives when that chapter of motherhood is over. Thanks Alexandra!
My easels is calling my name so I am off to paint now. :)