Other than monetary donations for our August projects, we will also be collecting tangible items again as well. Before I list those out, I think it is important to note a few things….
Handing out material items to the impoverished does nothing to alleviate the poverty cycle that the country of Ghana and much of Africa has found itself in. Poverty in and of itself is quite complex, with deep, long-standing issues. As Richard Stearns notes in his book, The Hole in Our Gospel: poverty is not just the absence of things (good food, medicine, better houses, clean water wells, adequate clothing, agricultural tools, etc.). Rather, poverty’s root causes stem from injustices (corruption, exploitation, manipulation) and lack of opportunity. These two underlying factors lead to the visible effects of poverty as we know it. In order to take stabs at alleviating poverty, these issues must be addressed. This is the basis for our foundation’s interest in creating the student hosting program (creates opportunities for Ghana’s youth), helping to enhance the village government school (allows equal opportunity to educational resources in a free education setting), building the medical clinic (good health = higher school attendance, higher work productivity, less disease epidemics, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, etc.) and there are partnerships in the works that will allow our foundation to have a bigger part in aiding Ghana adoptions in the near future (creates opportunities and stands up against injustices all in one shot!).
That being said, as you’ve seen on my blog posts our foundation does hand out material items on our trips….books, clothes, shoes, food, etc. And let me share our motivation. We believe that meeting the basic needs of the impoverished is a way to allow Christ’s love and compassion to be manifested through us. When the first initial contact between us and another human is to meet one of their needs, a bond is created. As if it weren’t enough that this was beautifully displayed time and again during our recent trip, this also hit home for me recently. Justice and I reached the point last week where we sat down for a heart-to-heart talk. I asked him, “Why was your life in Ghana so hard?” He could barely choke out these words as tears streamed down his face: “We didn’t have food to eat. We didn’t have clean water to drink. And we didn’t have clothes to wear.” Those were the first things that rolled off his tongue…I was, for the first time, listening to his heart…spilled open. Not having those basic needs met had punctured his life….and he still carries those sorrows and memories in his heart. So no, handing someone a package of tunafish is not going to take away their poverty. But, you can hopefully see that handing out ‘things’ can be a very meaningful and compassionate gesture. And over and over again scripture shows us that God can use these acts to showcase Jesus’ love through us (2 Corinthians 9:6-15, 1 John 3:16-18, James 2:15-17, Isaiah 58:6-11, etc.)
However, meeting basic needs should not be where it ends. In fact, the whole point of us wanting to create this initial bond is because it paves the way for relationships. Creating relationships with the people is a primary goal of our non-profit foundation in Ghana. How will we learn the assets, gifts, and talents that this community has if we don’t have a relationship with them? As Jake says, it is important to know their needs and weaknesses, but it is MORE important to understand this community’s strengths so that we can help to develop them. We can’t just come in and build a bunch of stuff and give them a bunch of stuff and then leave. We also can’t come in and expect to put everything in order as it runs in America. That just won’t work here. Long-standing relationships and partnerships must be a high priority.
Hopefully this gives at least a small glance into the reasoning of our foundation’s hand outs. Here is the list of items we will be collecting. If you would like to donate any of these, just get them to Jake or I in person, or ship them to the Huxley address listed on my side bar. Post any questions in comments section on this post and I will answer there. Thanks!
-Flat pack tunafish (not in can)
-Shoes, sandals, flip flops (gently used or new; all sizes)
-toddler and youth sized clothes
-buttons and thread (for sewing shops)
Medical clinic needs:
-equipment & supplies
-newborn baby clothes (onesies/outfits to send newborns home in)
-books for library (all types, all levels, in English)
-pencils and sharpeners
-chalk for teachers
Always greeted with smiles:
-soccer balls (deflated for packing)
I am also collecting gently used or new pillow cases and men’s dress/button up shirts that a team of gals will be sewing into sundresses for the girls of Asikuma.