Monday, March 28, 2011

Visit to the Beacon House Orphanage

We spent about 4 days of our trip in the village of Asikuma and then we said our goodbyes and made our way to Accra for the remainder of our time. Our first adventure in Accra was to spend an afternoon at the Beacon House Orphanage. I was so READY for this experience. I have really wanted to visit an orphanage for the longest time. I was so interested to see how they were run, especially in Ghana. Once we arrived we greeted the house mothers and children. We got a tour of the entire place from an elderly woman who was at the orphanage volunteering from the U.S. Her grandchildren had been adopted from the Beacon House and here she was, back to serve. I soaked up the information as the volunteer shared details of how everything runs….from the children’s daily schedule, to the food they cook, to the toilets that don’t work very often. :) A little bit into the tour the founder of the orphanage arrived and we asked if we could sit and pick her brain for a bit. Believe me, I could barely hold myself back from going and playing with the kids, but I also knew it was important to take some time to ask questions and understand the ins and outs of running an orphanage.

A few of us climbed the stairs up to the founder’s office and we sat with her, Romana, for almost an hour listening to her awesome God-story unravel. Our first question was, “Why did you decide to start the orphanage?” Her answer was, “Well, when God tells you to do something you don’t ask questions. You just do it.” Immediately I smiled and thought, this is going to be a great story! And it was. Romana literally started this orphanage on a vision from God. She knew nothing about this sort of work, in fact her profession was in public health. However, God kept telling her through a series of ‘miraculous events’ that she was supposed to start an orphanage. Her story sounded oddly familiar to my own experience when I felt God speak adoption into my heart 2 years ago. I understood the overwhelming feeling of clarity that she was speaking about. She knew God was asking her to do this….but she had no idea how she was going to. She eventually put aside her disqualifications, stepped out in faith, took action, and started the Beacon House. There were many details that went along with her journey….to sum it up - none of it was easy. But, through it all she ended up learning SO MUCH and she has become a WEALTH of knowledge.

The Beacon House currently houses 40 children, mostly under the age of 10. Romana takes in special needs children….those who are HIV+, have sickle cell anemia, TB, autism, etc., those who have endured physical and sexual abuse, and she also takes in sibling groups. Each of these children come with amazing stories of survival…many of them had parents who died from the AIDS virus. Romana told us a few of the children’s stories and they are heartbreaking, but have a happier ending now that they are being cared for. We asked about the process of identifying children and bringing them to the orphanage and she talked in length about social welfare’s role in making referrals. Each region in Ghana has its own set of appointed officers who are responsible for keeping reports on children and finding the details of their situations. All of the children in her orphanage are referrals from the social welfare department. Of course Jake and I were also interested to know if she did adoptions out of the orphanage. :) She said that she does independent adoptions only (she doesn’t use an agency) and we learned many details about the process. Romana also answered our questions about funding, donations, and meeting the daily needs of the children. After our lengthy Q & A session we headed back downstairs to get some time to play with the kids. Wahooooo! As usual, the kids warmed up to us immediately and pulled us in with their charm and curious personalities.
The smaller kids always get quite the kick out of meeting JJ since he is just their size. He wasted no time in showing off Daddy’s I-phone.
And I have to tell you a little about this girl, Adoko.....
She reminded us SO MUCH of Jayla! Adoko warmed up to Jake first. She would run up to him and giggle and then he would chase her around and she would try to hide, all the while squealing with delight and saying, “You can’t get me!”. That is what reminded us so much of Jayla because that is her favorite game to play with Jake. Adoko also had the friendliest demeanor that just pulled me in and she definitely had our attention most of the afternoon. I really loved getting to spend some time with all the sweety girls!!! Here they are in their pillow case dresses.
Romana talked about these pillow case dresses and said how easy, lightweight, and low-maintenance they are. They received these as a donation from a lady in the U.S. who hand sewed them. Once I saw the dresses I thought that they would be perfect for the village girls in Asikuma!!!!! Since I don’t know how to sew I sent out a little post on Facebook and now I think I have close to 20 gals ready to whip some of these up for us to take on our August trip! The girls of Asikuma would be thrilled to have a dress like this. Evening time rolled around and the kiddos got ready for dinner.

Not sure what they are eating, but it is definitely a local dish! The kids were instructed to wait until everyone was sat down with their food in front of them, then they could pray and eat.
Our time at the orphanage finished out with me playing with the little babies outside (they have their own play area out front) and Jake spoke with Romana a little longer asking some more questions. One of the things he asked her was what her highest need was right now for the orphanage. Clothing donations? Food donations? Adoptive families? Money? Her response was this, “I need volunteers. I need people to come and serve here for 6-12 months at a time. I need people who can create relationships with these children.” The children need people they can trust, depend on, and be open with. Maybe it is you that Romana is looking for? She said this would need to be a volunteer opportunity….in other words, she can offer no money compensation. However, she would be able to work with the University of Ghana in order to provide housing for volunteers (the housing would be University housing)....but that is all she can provide. In addition to the relational aspect, there would also be teaching opportunities at the orphanage. Devotionals, worship time, bible study, and prayer time are worked in throughout the day. Lessons are taught by the house mothers, but would also be another role of volunteers….not only caring for the children’s day to day needs, but teaching them about their Savior. Volunteers would also be asked to help out with paperwork, office demands, errands, etc. that are also a part of running the orphanage. If you are interested in finding out more about this volunteer opportunity email And here is the website for the orphanage:


Lori said...

LOVE it. If I could go tomorrow, my bags would be packed!

A. Gillispie said...

Love this post! Love Beacon House and Romana!!!

Just so you know, Beacon House is now working with AAI to place some of BH waiting children with AAI adoptive families (in addition to the independent adoptions they do). We are very excited for the opportunity!