My name is Autumn Buzzell and I live and work in Ghana, West Africa with City of Refuge Ministries. Here, I run our school, Faith Roots International Academy, and get to be a part in rescuing and the healing of children who have been trafficked into the fishing trade, orphaned, abandoned, and those who just need a little extra loving. What an amazing gift this life is!

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Friday, July 6, 2012

What Brings About Life Change

We have had our friends, the Grupe family, here this past week and it has been such an amazing blessing to have them here.

Kika has been helping in the preschool classroom.  Talking with her about different ideas of how to improve our preschool program, ways to train our teachers, ways to encourage a different language system (not local language, but positive language) in the classroom.  She has been an ABSOLUTE blessing and I am so glad that she came.  She has such a valuable set of tools to help us with our programming here.

And Kailey has been making friends with all the kids.  They are loving time playing with her!  And she has been an incredible support to her dad's project.

Andrew has been here working on a documentary video of sorts about our programs here and what we are doing to help answer the questions of trafficking and orphan care here in Ghana.  He works hard and I'm fairly certain that he'll be able to have the entire video completed before he is even leaving the country.  So impressed with his skill, gentleness in his approach with the children, and care regarding the issues.

Today, I was preparing some of our kids for interviews tomorrow.  We interviewed DK earlier in the week and DK struggled with answering the questions and he was really quiet about his experiences.  We decided that it would be best to prepare students for the questions ahead of time and then work on the interviews during the weekend.  Hopefully if they are more fully prepared with the questions and answers, we'll have a better response.

We are working on interviews for Robert, Dora, Mary, and Abigail.  As I sat down with Abigail, she was open about her life, but I think that it is still difficult for her to verbalize much of what she went through.  She was moved around...sold several different times...and I think she was struggling to remember what happened when.

Dora and Mary were so funny to interview.  Dora really struggles with maintaining seriousness for any length of time, so talking about something serious (as her past was), just doesn't happen right now in her level of developement.

Mary, on the other hand, was quite interesting to talk to.  She told me about how she was taken in the night to Togo and how she didn't want to go, but her father was given money so she was taken away.  She talked about her life fishing there, caring for children, and the abuse that she experienced. 

And when I talked with Robert, well, he brought tears to my eyes.  Robert talked about going to the farm everyday during his time in Boafri in the Volta region.  He didn't remember his parents and lived with his uncle for the majority of his life.  When his hip was injured in a football collision, he had to relearn how to walk.  Once he learned how to walk again, he couldn't farm any longer, so for the first time in his life, at the age of 13, he began to go to school.  He was in school for less than one year before he was brought to live with us here at City of Refuge Ministries.  He said that every night, he prayed to God that God would rescue him and provide a way out for him.  He said when Daddy Joe and Mr. Boewah came to pick him up, he knew that God had answered his prayers. 

I got to thinking about how far he has come academically.  One year of school in the Volta region and then moving to Tema, to a private school there, and then his second year of school was the one he had with me here last year.  This is his third year in school, and I've seen so much progress.

I began to complement him on his hard work and how far he has come.  But, Robert stopped me and said, "It's because of you Auntie Autumn".  Tears filled my eyes as he explained that before I came, he struggled and struggled to understand anything in school.  While school can still be a challenge for him, he has made progress because someone believed that he could do something more!

He told me that when he was in the village, he didn't have any ideas for what he wanted to be when he grew up.  His life was day in and day out...farming.

And today, Robert has this gentle heart...the heart of a pastor and a dream of a future.

I'm so proud of him. 

It is moments like these when I understand that though change doesn't come easily, it is so worth it.  Changing ONE child at a time...it is so powerful!

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