I found out more information about the Freedom Center today that I wasn't really aware of before. They work to rescue kids out of the fishing trade, but ultimately, their goal is to reunite children with their parents. They seek out the parents, ask for reunification and discuss ways to make that happen (without the children being sold again). Sometimes, it means the parents ask for City of Refuge to take their children for a short while they go to job training or find a suitable place for the children. Sometimes it means that the children are placed back in the home the parent immediately and provided with with monthly support. So, while many children have been rescued so far with the work of City of Refuge, they currently maintain 14 children in their home (with hope for more either through social services or with future rescues).
We discussed options for the school and Stacy was excited to let me know that we are going to go full-force and start the school in October. We'll be moving out of Tema then and building the school while we rent homes in a local village. The school will be an "American standards" school as Stacy and John have discovered that some of the Ghanaian standards are no reasonable and cannot be followed through on. We'll be looking for curriculum and perhaps working on our own (especially with Social Studies and perhaps Bible). I'm excited to be starting right away! In fact, I'll be meeting with another local teacher here (she's from CA, but is teaching at an International School in Tema) tomorrow for lunch. We'll be discussing curriculum and standards, and what it would look like to start this school.
But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start from the beginning! Yesterday's flights were all really close to one another, so I didn't have much time to call or anything in between flights. I flew out from San Jose yesterday morning, after much craziness packing and repacking into my suitcases. I think I wrote about that yesterday in the airport. Then, I made it into Denver with enough time to grab a sandwich and load onto the next flight. I flew into Washington/Dulles with a little more time to spare and grabbed a convo with Yona and my Mom before flying out. Last night's flight was good. 10 hours on the plane, but it wasn't terrible. I sat next to an empty seat, but the lady two seats over was very nice. She is also a teacher (her name is Phyllis) and she travels in the summer different places to volunteer. Amazing! So, it was cool to chat with her and get to hear about her previous Ghana experiences. I was able to sleep (thanks Tiffany Timmings for the eye covers--so helpful), so I came in to Accra feeling pretty good.
I was a little nervous about customs, but it was a breeze. John and Stacy picked me up from the airport and we took off for home. It was so nice to be greeted so energetically (Welcome Home Sister!!!). As soon as we got to the Tema house, I got to meet all of John and Stacy's kids. They have 3 of their own and 3 adopted children (siblings of John's from Nigeria). From youngest to oldest, they are: Justice (almost a year), Caleb (almost 4), JJ (6), Miracle (8), Paul (11), and Rosemary (12). They also have a housekeeper named Helena, but they call her by a nickname (can't remember it right now). The kids are full of energy and I loved my time with them. It was very fun getting to know them all.
Right away, we discussed coming up with a different name for me because most people here don't understand the name Autumn. To them, it sounds like Adam. For Ghana, the people have nicknames for the day that they were born on. We looked up my birthday, and found I was born on a Friday. Therefore, my nickname would be Afi. So, the kids will either call me Auntie Autumn or Miss Afi.
After spending a little time at home, we took off for the Freedom Center. Here in Tema, the houses do not have addresses. Instead, they are known by which community they are in and which part of which community. So, John and Stacy's house is in community 3 (I think) and the Freedom House is in Community 5. I got to meet the 14 kids that live there and the house parents. They also have a full-time social worker that works with them and is also kind of their office manager. The kids are so cute and they were definitely curious about the new white girl, especially the little ones. Little Portia became my new best friend.
Tonight, we had a delicious meal--chicken, rice, and some kind of yummy, spicy sauce. Afterwards, we went on a walk to a local store. They don't have any dairy products here, but they do have some frozen yogurt type things that you can buy that they make here in Ghana. They sure are yummy! The kids got really excited about the video camera during the walk, so we'll probably have to place some boundaries on my stuff. I definitely had some sticky fingers this afternoon while they were searching through all the stuff in my room! Funny!
I will continue to post here as often as I can. I'm excited about what's ahead and know that God is going to do big things during my time here.
Please pray for wisdom as I meet with different people this week and we look into the best options for the school in the future.
Sending my love back to the States!