June 22, 2009

The Need to Help...

My dream of helping the children of Africa is far from over. I want to see Kenya, Uganda, Liberia and Tanzania, just to name a few! I will always be called to help the people of this beautiful continent, and here's a few of the most compelling reasons why:

17 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa have died of Aids

At least 25 million people in Africa are infected with HIV

3000 children under the age of five die each day from Malaria

Over 12 million children in Africa are orphans, having lost their parents to war and disease

80% of the Sub-Saharan population lives below the poverty line - less than $2.50 a day

1 in 3 people are affected by gun crime

Thousands of people are killed, injured, raped and forced to flee from their homes as a result of the unregulated global arms trade

The average person in a developing country struggles to find 5 gallons of water a day

Thousands of children die each day due to malnutrition and the lack of medication

Millions of children are illiterate, not ever having access to education

Just some of the reasons why I am so passionate to help the people of Africa!

June 18, 2009

Wonderful News from Ghana!

I want to update everyone on the great news from Ghana. My dear friend Kofi sent me an emotional email describing how well the school is doing in Accra. Since building the new school at Idea & Ideology before leaving in April 2008, it has attracted over 70 students. Now if you remember, when I was there I was teaching 20 children ages 2 to 8 years of age. I am so thrilled to share this news with all my friends and family because you all pitched in to raise over $5,000 for Africa's children!! Also, Kofi just received the packages I sent, so the kids should be well stocked with pencils, erasers and crayons. I cannot wait to see the school and all the kids - I will hopefully be returning for a visit to Ghana soon!

My beautiful kids!

June 16, 2009

Missing My Liberian Friends

My time at the Buduburam Refugee Camp offered me so many opportunities. I met the most wonderful people in the world, being let into their lives and having them share the most powerful stories of hope and survival. But I also saw things that I never want to witness again. Starvation, disease, young children engaged in prostitution, abuse, death and cases of murder. I am in the midst of planning a book detailing my time in Africa, particularly my 4 months at the Buduburam camp, home to over 40,000 refugees who fled the devastating civil wars of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote D’Ivoire.

The water tower that was supposed to provide the refugees with clean water. It does not work and so many refugees are forced to drink unsafe water. Many women are killed crossing the highway to fetch clean water for their children to drink.

I would travel the 40 mile tro-tro ride to Buduburam each morning and teach the Adult Literacy Class, and each Saturday I would travel it again to teach my SMART KIDS!

One of my many group discussions with the SMART KIDS.

One of the elementary schools on camp!

I often met with the Hatai Men's Intellectual Group, men who have many trades and skills, yet no opportunity for employment on camp. So they would meet each week to discuss important debates. Many of these men are former Child Soldiers that have changed their lives around and are trying to bring about positive change in Liberia.

HELP SAVE A LIFE was one of the organizations on camp that helped bring clean water to families. However, it only reached 4 zones of the camp, not nearly enough to serve 40,000 people.

As I mentioned, there's plenty of horror on camp. The situation escalated more and more each day I worked on camp. The Ghanaian government, under President Rawlings originally gave the refugees land when they were fleeing the second civil war in Liberia. The refugees built homes, schools and other facilities on the land and claimed it as home for over 15 years. However, the situation turned very bad in 2007 when President Kufour declared the refugees "rebels" and ordrerd them to return to their homeland. The Ghanaian government stated publicly that they feared for the safety of the country due to the Liberians, and chaos inevitably followed. Government police beat, tortured and sent many innocent Liberian men to jail, some just vanished and have never been heard from since. Many women and children were taken from their families and sent to other camps around the country. The men couldn't speak up against the injustice for fear of being sent to jail or killed, so the women stepped up and began partaking in demonstrations against the Ghanaian government. I was threatened numerous times by the Governmental police on camp because I was helping the Liberians spread the word internationally about what was happening. Here are some photos of the protests.

My experience at Buduburam ended on a positive note. I snuck back on camp so the police wouldn't see me and the Pan African Center for Peace and Conflict Resolution held a ceremony for me. They wanted to thank me for helping their organization. My husband Prosper accompanied me. It was such an emotional experience and when I was asked to speak at the podium, I wept! They presented me with a certificate and a beautiful African dress!


Stories to Inspire

This is John Bul Dau's inspirational story GOD GREW TIRED OF US. This is such an empowering book and it made me cry over and over. It highlights the Lost Boy's experience of walking through the desert of Africa to escape the brutal civil war that killed so many of his family and friends. It is now an acclamied documtary film.

WAR DANCE is a documentary about the children of Northern Uganda and their traumatic experience with the LRA, life in an Internally Displaced Camp, and the music that helped change their life!

Emmanuel Jal is one of my African heros and he is doing so much to break the cycle of arms that is gripping his continent. His story WAR CHILD is so compelling. It highlights his early years in Sudan as the war broke out, the loss of many of his family and friends, and his gripping story as a child soldier for the SPLA. Awesome book!

June 14, 2009


The house I lived in for 4 months! I loved this house! I had elecricity (when we had power!), running water (when taps were on!) and the children constantly coming over to play!

Our kitchen when I first arrived in September 07. I had it all to myself when Tatiana left for home a week later!

Junior brushes his teeth! An every morning routine!

The deprived one-room church the children learned in when I first arrived! Leaking roof, crumbling floor and chalkboard, and a lack of supplies and teaching resources.

An example of a child`s work on graphing!

The view from Kaneshi bridge, overlooking the insane traffic and thousands of tro-tros!

The complete opposite of bustling Accra. Village life is serene, so quiet and beautiful!

Witnessing my first ever live reggae performance by Jamaican star Luciano!

Through countless donations from a few special Fort residents, I was able to develop a food program for my SMART KIDS at the Buduburam Refugee Camp, home to 40,000 refugees from Liberia, Cote D`Ivoire and Siera Leone.

Me and a few of my SMART KIDS!

Me and the members of the Pan African Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution on Buduburam camp. Includes Kadio, the director, Peter and Solo who are like brothers to me, and some of the Former Child Soldiers I worked with!

A most wonderful birthday spent with my man at the fancy La Palm beach resort!

Spending the evening on the beach of Keta in the Volta region. One of my favorite spots on earth!

Family, friends and strangers raised over $5,000 dollars for Africa. We used it to build a new school for the children of Idea & Ideology!

My dear friend Kofi, a man I admire so much! He is the director for Idea & Ideology!


Hi Everyone!
Well, after many months I finally have another blog up and running! My Ghana blog is still active, however I don't post much there anymore. I felt I still needed to share my thoughts and so I have created this blog entitled "Grateful Life". I think the title is self explanatory. I have lived a life so many others in our world aren't fortunate enough to experience, so this title is perfect!

I am constantly on facebook trying to inform people about what is happening with my beloved school kids at Idea & Ideology. My blog will allow those who aren't on Facebook to read my thoughts as well. I also like to post my favorite videos about the inspirational stories that come from Africa! And of course, I am always trying to inform others about some of the atrocities that are being committed against the people of this beautiful continent.

I hope you enjoy!