Friday, October 1, 2010

Delivering shoes in Ghana

At the center of the world I found myself at Egyam Children’s Foundation of Hope. This is just outside Takoradi, Ghana, which is the largest city closest to where the equator and the prime meridian intersect.

The three-year-old facility is located down a long muddy unpaved road and houses 55-orphaned children from the ages of 2-18. They also take care of 20 children from the surrounding villages.

On our second day in Ghana we brought the children about 80 pairs of shoes, toothbrushes, dental floss, and toothpaste we had collected from the shipboard community. The shoes we brought consisted of mostly sneakers, flats, and some flip-flops.
Without shoes the children can’t walk to school. Some children walk 3 km to school everyday. Fortunately the orphanage is located down the street from the school, but the roads are bad especially in the rainy season.

In Ghana, most of the people wear flip-flops. They are cheap, easy to wear, and breathable.

In the streets of Ghana men, women, and children carry everything from small vending machines to bowls full of rice on their heads. Carrying around all of that weight and trying to balance it on top of their heads is hard enough, but doing it with unstable shoes is where the challenge lies. But the country has so much poverty that flip-flops are the only kind of shoes a family can afford. Most of the shoes are worn out and covered in the red dirt that covers the roads in Ghana.

Ghana was the first country that the Fall 2010 Semester at Sea students were confronted with poverty at every turn. The shoes we delivered were only “a drop in the bucket.” There is a lot of work that needs to be done to help clean up the streets and promote prosperity, peace and preservation.

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