Part 2 of a Series entitled American University Ghana Trip
– A post by Matt Porter
The SOS Village in Ghana was surrounded by a sense of calmness. The Village was situated in a naturally beautiful forest area that seemed peaceful and very quiet. As our group of 21 students exited the bus, the first things that I noticed were the buildings. We had been told before we arrived that the Villages were constructed to look geographically and culturally appropriate, but its relevance did not really hit me until I arrived.
The buildings fit perfectly into their surroundings and the Village did not appear at all out of place in the larger Ghanaian community. As we were seated in the patio area, the director explained to us in detail the process of the SOS Village and how they come to receive children. The patience of these women was something to marvel at because, although her explanation was interesting, it was hard not to pay attention to the children who had started to trickle in.
The children easily grabbed the attention of the group once we started to interact. They were wonderfully friendly and immediately started to hold our hands and insisted on being carried or played with. The children also loved having their picture taken and were able to convince group members to give them their cameras– even against the insistence of our professor that we not do that unless we wanted numerous photos of the ground. The children’s excitement was matched by our group and I think out of any day of our trip, this was the day the most pictures were taken.
As we toured the facility we were able to see how these children were cared for. We visited each of the Village’s homes and met with each house SOS Mother individually. Even with all of the excitement of the children and scattered attention of our group the SOS Mothers were very calm and explained in great detail what they did. The SOS Villages school was the most properly used school we saw during our entire trip in Ghana. The books were numerous and clearly used and the computers were kept in an area with fans. We were able to observe some of the older children studying for their finals and I was surprised by how focused the class was in comparison to what I remember middle school being like. We also were able to see the medical facilities that the village had to offer. What I found most surprising about it was not that it was well stocked with supplies and properly managed but that it was open to the rest of community outside of the SOS Children’s Village, as is the school.
I did not realize it at the time, but the SOS Village seemed to be the exception of how orphans were treated. During the rest of our trip I grew more frustrated as I realized that there were many more children who were not going to have the opportunities that the children in that SOS Village did. However, that visit was the most enjoyable and uplifting part of the trip. During my trip to Ghana, it was often heart breaking to see the projects that had not worked or those that were still being underserved by development work. I did not feel that when I visited the SOS Village. That Village, and the SOS Moms and children in it, just felt very calm, happy, and loving.
Throughout the upcoming weeks, SOS will be posting blogs and photos from Dr. Heckel’s students about their experiences visiting an SOS Children’s Village and Ghana on this site. Bookmark this site or subscribe to this blog’s RSS feed to read more stories about Professor Heckel’s class and SOS Children’s Villages in Ghana.