Hometown: Adelaide, Australia
VIDEO: Blessed Bright Future Project
Why should you be the IVHQ volunteer of the year?
I originally went to Ghana thinking I would spend a few months with the children of the Blessed Bright Future Orphanage where I would help a little. It only took me a few hours to realise that the home needed a lot of assistance and I felt compelled to do something. While I was there I set my sights on purchasing the home a vehicle to transport the kids to school each day, ensuring they did not need to walk 3 km to school each day. I achieved this goal and was able to present the home with the vehicle on Christmas Day, 2013.
Just before leaving I hired a Mama (an integral part of any Ghanaian home) to help with all the day-to-day duties. This filled a real need for the home; they had been without a Mama since the passing of the Orphanage’s founder, Mama Peace. Already, these two projects have made a huge difference to the lives of the children. But this is just the start.
Before leaving Ghana I committed to Mr Amin (Mama Peace’s husband), that I would help fulfil Mama Peace’s vision of building a new home for the children. Having seen the standard of other orphanages in Ghana, I realise this is a huge task, but it’s a task I’m committed to and excited about. I know how much it will change the lives of the children at Blessed Bright Future now, and into the future.
Since returning I’ve traded in my corporate wardrobe for steel capped boots, working a casual driving job to pay the bills. The rest of the time I’m working on the plans to bring Mama Peace’s dream to life. In September I will return to Ghana to continue the work on this project.
How will you use the award money for your project?
There are a number of projects I hope to complete. I would use the money in the following ways:
$5,000 – Water supply for farmland
Part of the plan to make the home more sustainable is to purchase land to plant crops on. To help ensure the land is sustainable, the plan is to build a water pump to use during the dry season, sustaining crops all year round.
$3,000 – Land
My intention is to purchase 10 acres of land for the home. This will not only help sustain the home all year round with fresh produce, but will also be able to provide excess produce which will be able to be sold at local markets, bringing in extra cash flow.
$2,000 – Health
Many of the health issues faced by the children could be prevented. Some of which comes down to education. I would like to hold some educational workshops for the kids in sanitation and the prevention of malaria. Malaria is a huge concern; while I was in Ghana 15 of the 56 children fell victim to the disease and had they had the knowledge, it could have been avoided. I would also like to invest in mosquito nets for each of the kids.
$1,000 – Education
Many of the children at the home are at high school age. When I asked them what they would like to be included in their new home many of them said they would like a computer room. I would love to provide the children with a few desktop computers and software so they are able to keep up with their fellow students.
How will the award money help to build skills and self-sufficiency the local community of the project?
Currently the home depends solely on volunteers. The purchasing of the land and building of the water supply will provide the home with food throughout the year and also bring in extra income. Establishing a water supply will mean they are no longer required to buy their water. It will also ensure that the traditional practise of farming will be continued, giving future generations lifelong skills and training for potential careers.
Educating the children in hygiene and preventing malaria will mean less sickness, thereby ensuring less time away from school. This will provide them with a better education and better prospects in the future.
Providing computers will help develop the skills of the children – skills that they may need to work in the future. Currently the senior children struggle at school, often falling behind, as they have no access to computers outside of school. As Ghana progresses, as in many parts of the world, computer skills will be a major part of everyday living. Providing these computers will help give them a head start.
How will you measure the success of using the award money at your project?
The water supply, farmland and hygiene and malaria education will all help prevent disease, therefore a notable increase in the children’s health will be measurable. Also the children’s health will improve due to variety and quantity of food. This will in turn, improve the energy levels and attention at school.
As well as the health benefits, an increase in income for the home will be evident, reducing stress for Mr Amin as he will no longer have to struggle to pay the bills for the day-to-day running of the home.
The high school kids’ grades and knowledge will improve due to the supply of computers in their computer studies classes, giving them more opportunity in the future.
How will you ensure the difference you make through investing the award money is sustainable in the long term?
I’m putting in the time now to ensure the foundations are in place, so it is stable once we are ready to start the building of the home. Much research is needed to ensure this is done efficiently and effectively. There are many rules and regulations that need to be taken into consideration to build a home in Ghana. This is something I’ve been spending much of my time on.
Also, prior to the building of the new home I’m undertaking many projects to help ensure its sustainability, including employment of staff to help with the running of the home and another to go into the local community and help bring in much needed income. All these projects will help provide knowledge and the confidence of the current employees as well, to ensure they can maintain their skills. With the skills we have provided through these projects a team of locals will be able to ensure the home is self-sufficient.
In addition to the above, I’m in the process of partnering with an established charity, which will help provide increased awareness and expertise. This will also entice major corporations to become involved and help with the long term running of the home.
This is a major project, and to ensure its success I have strived to make connections with the right people. As an example, I’ve been working closely with the Ghana Association of South Australia, who are 100% behind the project. With their knowledge of Ghana, its people, traditions and additional contacts I have established a great team locally in Adelaide.
What is your long-term vision for this project?
My vision is to establish a good foundation for the home to ensure that it is sustainable long term. This means employing a few additional mamas to help with the running of the home and employing someone to help bring in money from the local community. Currently the home is lacking in structure and long term vision. With the help of the above mentioned people I believe this home will be able to have the structure and consistency that is so needed.
Mr Amin is a farmer. I intend to purchase 10 acres of land which he will be able to manage, ensuring his involvement and contribution, bringing in food for the home and extra cash flow from the surplus which they can sell at local markets. This much needed cash would provide for the day-to-day needs of the home, taking the stress off the very tight budget.
As the above projects are established I will continue to raise funds to build the children a new home. The current home is not suitable for them to live, the property does not belong to them, they live in separate buildings (one being over a km away) and much of the buildings are in ruins. The land for the new home has been purchased we just need the funds to make it happen. This is not a simple task and is taking a lot of planning. I will be returning to Ghana in September to work further on the plans and establish the relationships I need to make this project work.
Once the home is built and being consistently maintained, I would like to establish a sponsorship program for the older kids. Many of them are kicked out of school numerous times throughout the year due to fees not being paid. Many of them also dream of furthering their education beyond high school. I would love to provide them the opportunity to fulfil their dreams.