What travelling to Ghana taught me
CCFC’s Bonar Bell shares his top five learnings from a week-long visit to CCFC’s program areas in Tamale, Ghana
By Bonar Bell
CCFC’s communications manager
Ghanaians love soccer
Soccer is a favourite pastime in Ghana. As I exited the airport, two billboard-sized displays were broadcasting the English premiere league game. Heading into Christian Children’s Fund of Canada’s (CCFC) program areas, I could see soccer building strong, engaged communities. I attended a school league girls’ match in one of CCFC’s program areas. The game — played between girls aged 12 to 15 — was attended by most of the community who cheered, screamed and yelled out calls, coaching from the sidelines. When the winning goal was made, fans rushed the field, cheering the winning team. It was breathtaking to see such enthusiasm for a young girls’ soccer game.
Different religions work together
As we made the 10-hour journey from Accra to Tamale, the view slowly changed from one of churches to mosques. The Northern Region of Ghana — where CCFC works — is primarily Muslim. CCFC works with children of all faiths, and Islam is no exception. In these program areas, Muslim and Christian children play, learn and share meals together irrespective of religious affiliation. It gave me chills to see love, respect and inclusion at play; replicating this behaviour worldwide is possible, even in the most difficult of living conditions.
Children love to smile, have their photo taken and hold your hand
How amazing it is to have a child simply hold your hand — showing trust and love. Now, imagine this: in every community I visited this week a different child grabbed onto each of my fingers, walking alongside me wherever I went. The only time my entourage would release my fingers was when I pulled out my camera, inviting a free-for-all where children flocked to get their photo taken. Screams of joy, laughter and smiles surrounded me, until I was overpowered and pushed to the ground! Such bliss, I felt pure joy rolling around on the dusty road.
Communities can thrive with the proper resources
Great things are possible with very little resources. I visited many communities that have been transformed by donations made through CCFC. Often, these communities wouldn’t have schools, clean water or health clinics if it wasn’t for the support. I also noted a link between child sponsorship and CCFC’s new Community Rise™ giving method whereby fixed monthly donations support health, water or educational projects. While child sponsorship provides resources for children to attend school, get medical check-ups and access clean water, what happens when there is no school in a village? What if the nearest medical clinic or water point is 10 km away? By providing resources to community projects, CCFC is expanding its impact and giving children a real chance for a future.
Happiness is a way of life
Whenever I met someone, I would ask “How are you,” and the answer was always “fine.” I asked a man in the market about this. “In Ghana, we are fine, no matter the situation,” he explained. “My mother could die, and I would be fine. My father could die, and I would be fine. In our culture, we are happy in all circumstances, because we know it is out of our control.”
If only we could all learn something from these five Ghana-isms — I know I have.