Monday, March 18, 2013

One Child's Trash is Another Child's Treasure

Barely worn sandals, quickly out grown sneakers, a holiday dress worn once: what we carelessly discard can be of great value to a child who has so little. 

The children aof Future Leader's Underpivileged Children's Center waving to my friends back in America. I had just bought some candy for the kids from the woman in the photo. She sells items from a scrap wood structure in front of the center.

This morning as I was leaving for my dental check up I decided to grab a picture of "my kids" in Ghana to show my dentist, I had an idea up my sleeve. I know they are not literally "my kids" but with my own children Alexandra and Stephen practically grown and on their own, I still have more love and mothering to give so the kids at Future Leaderes are my chosen beneficiaries. Like any good mother, I am concerned about my kids dental health. Knowing that many of the poor children in Ghana have never even seen a toothbrush, I asked Dr. St. Louis if he had any to donate. I not only left his office with a box of toothbrushes and toothpaste for the kids but with promises of future clothing and shoe donations from the receptionist and hygenist too. It is heartwarming to see how willing people are to help when they hear about truely needy children.

So, after the dentist, I hit the gym. I got on the eliptical machine, set the program and picked up my phone to check messages. There, to my surprise was a "Hi" from Billa in Africa! I was used to waiting weeks for him to reply to emails because of the constant power outages and internet failures he has to live with and now there I was, chatting with him real time at the gym! Across an ocean which was a world apart, my smartphone in a fitness center in snowy Virginia to his old computer in an open air school in dusty Ghana. ......."Yes, they could use the toothbrushes." (Note to self: contact more dentists for donations)..."Yes, they could always use more clothes and shoes so should keep collecting." ( Note to self; Get the word out that I am still taking donations.)

So here it goes, I am getting the word out by blog that I am collecting new and gently used children's clothes, shoes and backpacks for the children at Future Leaders Underprivileged Children's Center in Ghana. Call or email me and I will be happy to come and pick them up. Summer clothes are best, it is Africa. Here are some pictures from one segment of my last donation trip.

When my friend Ingrid Singer saw this picture that I took of her daughter's old back pack in the hands grateful Abu, she decided to spread the word to her daughter's third grade class.
I was blown away to come home and find all of these donations from Mrs. McNeill's class at Waples Mill school. From elemenatry school kids in America to elementary age  kids in Africa, how sweet.
My son Stephen and his girlfriend Shannon helped me sort the donations by age and category; shoes, backpacks, girls clothes, boys clothes etc.
I brought 6 huge bags of donations to the UCC but it is never enough for the growing group of needy kids. There are over 150 kids there now.
 The unpacked bags filled Billa's office.
Little Alfred was one of the first to get new clothes and shoes because of his good behavior at school. 

The children made a sign to thank Mrs McNeil's 3rd grade class at Waples Mill Elemantary School in Oakton, Virginia. I tried to have a sample of each type of donation in the picture. After the photo was taken they turned the goods back in and had to wait for their end of term party where items were given out one at a time in a very orderly fashion. You can see more pictures on the Future Leaders Facebook page. The kids were so excited and all agreed to come to school and work hard in order to receive a reward of a pair of shoes, a backpack or a new item of clothing for their hard work. I was very impressed with how much their reading and English had improved since my last visit. I can't wait to go back and see how they have grown.