28 Kids and a Dog Named Gospel


This past weekend, I went to a local orphanage, about 2 hours away. One of my friends had been there before. It was out in the country and was a very nice facility.

In Ghana, there are many orphanages, most run by churches or nonprofit type organizations. They are small and almost always have a name like Bright Futures, Kinder Paradise, Save Them Young. This one was called Least of These Children’s home. It was started by an American woman who later turned it over to locals to run, but still provides funding through an organization called Trips with a Mission.

The orphanage was a very nice building – new with lots of flowers. Flowers are is rarely seen here.

The home had 28 kids and when they came back from church on Saturday (they are 7th Day Adventists) and saw us on their porch, we heard a ‘yaaaay’ cheer come from the tro-tro (mini bus) that brought them home.

They came running and hugged the people they had seen visit before. The people who ran the home said it was no problem for us to spend the night there, which we had hoped. Typically of Ghanaians, they were so hospitable and said they were sorry they didn’t know we were coming and hoped we weren’t waiting too long for them.

The kids were just so great. We all sat on this big giant couch set they had in the living area and they sang songs and snuggled with us. They are all well taken care of but are starved of individual love and attention, like you see in any orphanage.
We brought balloons, which were a big hit, and face paints, and bubbles. They were thrilled with all of these things, and were a joy to be around. They were polite and well behaved, like all kids in Ghana.

One woman who came with us, Sarah, liked to draw and once the kids found out about it, they were fascinated.

I made friends with a little girl named Esther who was around 9 years old. She was very very quiet and wouldn’t talk, until I asked her to show me her bed room.

Here’s after I got her to smile.
Each child sleeps in a room with four others, in bunks in a bright, clean room, with little cubbys for each to put their own things.
When I asked Esther to show me her own things in her cubby, she started talking and taking out her small posessions: a little night gown, a few pieces of clothing, and a purple christmas stocking someone had sent her.
She carefully unpacked the Christmas stocking and showed me everything in it: little wooden tic tac toe game, two combs, two headbands, and a few other things. She very carefully put everything back in her cubby and covered it with a towel. I was reminded that kids like this are very concerned with their own things since they have so little.

We ate a nice meal and played with the kids all afternoon and evening. The kids, even the littlest ones, sat so quietly and ate their meals, with no prompting, and no mess. We ate with the girls on their floorand dining room.
And the bigger ones got to eat with us big kids, below…

They watched a Nigerian christian children’s songs dvd. All the kids knew all the words, so clearly they had watched it many times.

That night we slept in an unused girls room in bunk beds — more spacious than our cabins on the ship. The power went over overnight and thus did our ceiling fan — so we sweated a bit.
The girls’ bathroom – very nice.

Esther carried around my bottle for me. We all have these water bottles from Mercy Ships we use.

And of course, on weekend trips, you can’t drink the local water, so we bring and buy when we go.

The next day, the kids were up early doing their own laundry. They are responsible for their own, and they do it all by hand, as everyone does in Ghana. Here they sit, with tubs of water, scrubbing with bars of soap. Those clothes were sudsy! Because the power was still out, they had to carry buckets of water up from the water tank. People here survive without power easily.

Sarah demonstrating the way local women carry babies. This little guy was named Prosper, and was one of the most cantankerous spoiled children ever. The other kids were very patient with him. His grumpy face here is typical.

Esther waiting for water to brush her teeth in the morning. We had no running water so water had to be brought up.
They introduced me to their dog, a sweet thing named gospel. He seemed ordinary until I saw the kids loving all over him and him just taking it. They fed him the leftover dinner the previous night, and I saw that they took good care of him. Here he is, with the kids being sure that he smiles for the camera : ). I think every one of them had a piece of him.

Esther and I played pretend dinner with little rocks as rice, a flower bud as a fish, flower petals as vegetables, little paper balls as fufu, and other delicious pretend fruits, all served up on a big leaf. We used small leaves as pretend spoons and an old tin can as our stove where we ‘cooked’ our soup. This brought back memories long buried of my childhood playing pretend.

Here she is eating of our our delicious meals:>>

They passed out some M & Ms that we brought them — each child got about 3. They sucked on those things and made them last. Esther carefully put them in the hem of her dress and held on to them. She carefully took one out and broke it up into four bits, then offered it as part of our pretend meal. I told her they were all for her. She took the last one ( a blue one) and rubbed her lips with it, giving her a blue smile. Then she finally ate it.

We went on an expeditionary trip through the Cassava field. It was just tall enough that the kids could go underneath the leaves.

We discovered a pineapple growing there. Did you know they produce only one fruit a year? But you can plan the tops and a new plant will sprout up from the ground.

When we left that afternoon, I gave them some leftover candy canes I had and a big bag of candy for later use sent to me by my cousin. At the end there were some tears from some of the kids, and my little friend Esther, who quickly went back into her shell when she knew I was leaving.

It was heart breaking but I’ll never forget them waiving to us as we walked away down the dusty lane to the main road. They were waiving and smiling each time I turned around. I blew them kisses and waived again until they disappeared over the curve of the lane’s hill.

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