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Ghana see change

Rachel Bonnetta, CCFC ambassador, shares her experiences visiting our programs in Ghana

By Rachel Bonnetta
Television host & CCFC ambassador

I just spent 13 days in the beautiful chaos that is Ghana, Africa. It was a big trip for this 24-year-old girl who was transplanted from the small town of Orono, Ont. to the busy streets of New York to work as a TV sports personality. I was afforded the travel opportunity when I become an ambassador for Christian Children’s Fund of Canada’s (CCFC) Community Rise program. It took a year of planning (I’m a busy gal), a 10-hour flight and a 10-hour drive, but we made it. I was nervous; Africa didn’t seem overly inviting, but I had a lot to learn.

On the first day, we travelled three hours to a local health clinic provided by CCFC. Before this clinic was built, pregnant women in surrounding communities would give birth at home. When complications arose, they would walk 48 km to the closest hospital — a journey many of them never completed. While we were there, approximately 50 women were waiting for their babies to get immunization shots; it’s a simple task that had once been a nightmare. I met the women and the children, but it wasn’t until I stepped into the delivery room that my heart sank. This clinic is the biggest gift many of these women have ever received, but they need so much more.

I can’t tell you how thankful they were to have this clinic. I can’t tell you how thankful I was that they had this clinic, but it’s simply not enough. I spoke with one mother who had her child slung around her back, as many do here to free up their hands for work. She didn’t speak English, but she could say “We need help.” Those were probably the most powerful words I’ve ever heard.

Next, we visited a community that had just received a clean water source. Our emotions took a 180. Children were everywhere, and they were SO happy to see us. We pulled out our cameras and started snapping, slowly realizing many of them had never seen their faces in a photo before. We took pictures, showed them, and they went wild — giggling, running to grab their friends to show them what they had discovered. The children held our hands and stared at our skin. At one point, I sat with 15 children, none of us spoke a word; we just looked at each other curiously. I was thinking: how is it that these children who have absolutely nothing seem like the happiest people in the world?

Three of my friends from New York accompanied me on this trip, and that first night we started a ritual of reflecting on the events of each day. That first night we agreed we had had the greatest day of our lives.

Our trip continued, with each day carrying many of the same emotions and similarly eye-opening experiences as that first day. We met incredible people, saw truly incredible things and learned so much about Ghana. We also saw the need for Community Rise, the method of monthly online giving to a community that I came here to learn more about. I saw my monthly gift at work.

Before leaving for Ghana, someone told me people go to Africa to wash their eyes. I remembered that every day of my trip; upon returning to North America, I see everything crystal clear. I want to thank CCFC for inviting me on this journey. It’s equipped me with experiences that have helped me see the world through different eyes. It’s changed my life.

Watch videos from Rachel's trip: