Recently I had the amazing opportunity to go to Accra, Ghana for two weeks with Ozanam Scholars Program at St. John’s University. The program focus is for students to seek systemic solutions on social justice issues that are within the five pillars of homelessness, healthcare, poverty, hunger and education in various locations around the world. This is done by completing service, research, and meeting with locals and leaders in the community. My placement for the duration of the stay would be Handmaids of the Divine School, a school that served children in nearby villages.

The vibrant African culture was welcoming and everyone openly embraced us, especially at the Divine School, which also served as an orphanage for children all over Ghana. The school was located in the Greater Accra region, which is surrounded by steep green covered mountains with red-tinted narrow dirt roads. When you arrive to the top of the hill there is a clearing with a compound of buildings surrounding a jungle gym. The school was to the right and was a large L-shaped building and to the left was the recreation hall with the orphanage quarters behind it.

When my service partner, Kristi, and I stepped out of the van we were warmly hugged by Sister Alice, the supervisor of the site. We stepped out of the strong sun into the shaded recreation area where the children welcomed us with dancing and food. Throughout the two weeks we learned that this energy and happiness was consistent, which truly warmed my heart.

During our time there Kristi and I taught a short introductory computer class, and then created follow-up lesson plans to leave behind with the teachers. Sister Alice welcomed us into our home for lunch every day that we met with the children. Through these conversations I learned about their work serving the communities nearby with an affordable education to prepare them for higher education. The orphanage portion of the center would have partnered organizations refer children from their home villages to this center if they needed a home or other resources.

This trip has truly taught me the value of the work done by Grassroots and the connection to Vincentian Family at the United Nations work. The Grassroots have grown and thrived within communities around world which has allowed us to collect information concerning needed resources and the importance of access. Through information and stories collected we have the opportunity to use our platform to represent their needs and advocate for the issues that they face.  I am honored to have had such an amazing experience in Ghana and to witness the determination of community leaders like Sister Alice. Although I was only there for two weeks my time here will always serve as motivation for me to me to serve others.

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