Author Archives: Touch A Life

Food in Ghana

Evelyn

THANKFUL. This word that has crossed my mind frequently since returning home from my visit to Ghana. The joy that radiates from Ghanaians conceals the hardships that most of them face on a daily basis. Little access to clean water, children working the streets, and the piles of waste along the road were my foremost concerns as we traveled through the different towns from Accra to Kumasi. It is hard to comprehend how societies live in these conditions, yet be incredibly joyful and thankful to be alive. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I made a few dishes for my friends and colleagues to try, I was not certain that one friend in particular would be open to trying these dishes. To my surprise, and I believe hers, she actually enjoyed some of the food, mainly the Red Red (not surprising). We discovered that there are many delicious and unique Ghanaian dishes. The dish that we all fell in love with is called Red Red, a dish composed of black eyed peas cooked in palm oil with fried plantains. A few other dishes that we tried and enjoyed were: Jollof Rice, Fufu, Kontomire (a spinach stew), Tomato Gravy, Turmeric Cauliflower, and […]

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Awakened to Give

Dental Exams web

Born in Ghana, I moved to the United States at the age of eight. I call both countries home. I went nine years without visiting Ghana before my most recent trip. This was not my intention, by any means; however due to life’s various demands, time inevitably passed. Returning home to Ghana for a philanthropic project had always been a dream of mine, but I naively imagined it to be an insurmountable task. Needless to say, it was a dream come true to be chosen to partake in a mission trip to Ghana called Kool Doctors Giving Back. This opportunity occurred due to a partnership between my dental office, Kool Smiles, and Touch A Life. At the end of my trip, I was asked what my expectations were prior to the trip and whether my expectations were met. As I reflected, I realized expectations can sometimes turn you for a loop. I had no idea I would leave so awakened by lessons of perseverance, vigilance, and faith after working with the children of Touch A Life. The way the children received our dental team was warm and inspiring. The little ones rushed to give us hugs, several young boys and […]

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Build a Better World

There is something special about Back To School that brings this mom back into alignment and balance as a parent. I love summer, but after a few months of late night binge eating and movie marathons I start to feel sloppy. I find myself craving structure and productivity, and I begin making peace with the fact that summer fun may need to start winding down. Back to school is the reset button for the universe to become responsible citizens again and find purpose in everyday life. I personally have great expectations about this upcoming school year. My two youngest children Van and Tatum will both be entering their sophomore year of college hopefully equipped and ready to tackle another semester. The first Touch A Life high school graduates will be pursuing their dreams of applying to colleges. Last but not least, drum roll please……..A brand new primary STEM school just 10 minutes down the road from our care center in Kumasi will open their doors this fall. Bernard Fianku, our Ghana Country Director and Education Advocate just received confirmation that all 32 of our students who applied to attend have been accepted. Nothing brings me more joy at this time […]

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New Adventures – Part 1

Breanna Johnson is an elementary school teacher, previous Ghana traveler, and current child sponsor who has spent the past (nearly) four weeks in Ghana helping with donor communication projects. She graciously chose to share some thoughts from her time in Ghana, so here is Breanna’s first post. I was a day late, but I made it. Finally in Kumasi, David picked me up from the airport and we began our journey to the Care Center. As we drove, David taught me about the city of Kumasi and interesting details of being a driver in Ghana. On our way to the Care Center we stopped by the boarding school, so I could see the high schoolers before we went to the Care Center. School is still in session until August here, so many of the older kids are living at the high school. It was a joy to see one of their classrooms and to have the opportunity to see them. Being a teacher, I am always amazed at how disciplined the kids are in their studies. They don’t take school for granted and the simple tools they use are impressive. In the states, you wouldn’t be able to keep kids […]

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Finding Balance in O, The Oprah Magazine

The June issue of O, The Oprah Magazine just hit newsstands and page 99 is definitely our favorite! Nana Amoako-Anin, Touch A Life’s Ghana Executive Director is featured with a beautiful photo from Nancy Borowick. Nana shared her story of finding balance, starting with her hectic career as an attorney in New York and now in Ghana as a yoga studio owner and leader at Touch A Life.   For a peek behind the scenes, we are sharing perspectives from both Nana and Nancy. Their experiences working with the Touch A Life children over many years have given them eyes and ears for stories of healing and wholeness.   From Nancy Borowick The Touch A Life kids have no shortage of energy and enthusiasm, especially when it comes to group activities. Working around their very busy school schedules, Nana and I decided that we would plan this yoga class and photo shoot one afternoon during the “golden hour,” when the light would be most beautiful. A lot of stars had to align for all of this to happen and once the mats were placed and rolled out (thanks to some little helpers) the class was underway. That is when the […]

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Looking Back and Looking Forward

Today’s post is written by Touch A Life’s Development Director, Rachel Brown. Read on as she shares her thoughts about our first 10 students graduating from senior high school and heading to college.   I joined the Touch A Life team in January 2009, and I can’t believe that nine and a half years have gone by since I began my work as a staff member for this amazing organization. While there are so many memories from my trips to Ghana (nearly 15 in total!) that I cherish so dearly, the ones that stand out the most, certainly, are the ones that relate to watching the children grow up—the moments when the children achieved a goal, or learned a new skill, or tried something bold and brave. Sometimes they failed, but more often they soared. The TAL children have always inspired me, and they have taught me so much more about life than I could ever teach them.     In early 2009, Touch A Life had just rescued our older children—Gideon, Emefa, Albert, and more–the very same ones who will now be graduating from boarding school and heading to college in the fall. I feel like a proud mama […]

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Touch A Life Appoints Executive Director in Ghana

Touch A Life has appointed an Executive Director in Ghana. Nana Amoako-Anin, formerly the Life Academy Director for the foundation, is stepping into the role of Executive Director in the West Africa office. She will oversee a variety of projects that directly correlate with the organization’s efforts to raise funds for the rescued children they serve at the Touch A Life Care Center in Kumasi. Amoako-Anin will work with Bernard Fianku, Touch A Life’s Ghana Country Director, who has served in his capacity as a leader for the foundation since 2013. “I am looking forward to the assistance and support Nana will be offering at the Care Center in Kumasi,” said Fianku. “I see this as a positive step forward that will allow me to have more time to pursue my passion as a mentor and education advocate for the Touch A Life children.” Amoako-Anin is originally from Ghana and spent much of her childhood in West Africa before calling Washington, D.C, and New York City her home. She is an alumna of Columbia University and American University, where she studied at the Washington College of Law. Early on in her career, Amoako-Anin worked as a public school teacher in […]

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National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

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  It was just over eleven years ago that Pam Cope stepped into a small boat and made her way to an island community in the Lake Volta region of Ghana. The issue of slavery and human trafficking was suddenly no longer a story, no longer a newspaper article  – these were real boys and girls who had been sold to fishing masters. These children were kept from their families, kept from school, and were often abused. And it is still happening. Research from the United Nations in 2017 shows that “more than half of the children working on and around the lake were born in other communities and many of these children are subjected to forced labor, not allowed to attend school, given inadequate housing and clothing, and are controlled by fishermen through intimidation, violence, and limiting access to food. Boys as young as five years old are forced to work in hazardous conditions, including deep diving, and many suffer water-born infections; girls perform work on shore such as cooking, cleaning fish, and preparing fish for market, and are vulnerable to sexual abuse.” After eleven years in Ghana, working closely with abolitionists and Ghanaian Social Services, it is clear that Touch A Life’s role […]

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Our Newest High School Students

  This year 26 Touch A Life students graduated from secondary school, which is the equivalent of middle school in the United States. October began the new trimester for school and all 26 passed the entrance exams to begin high school! In Ghana, it is customary to send high school-aged children to boarding school, so these students will be spending most of their time at school and coming home to the Care Center during school breaks and holidays. The Touch A Life team is incredibly proud of these students and how they have continued to meet their goals. Our leadership team met with each student individually this week to talk about future education and career plans. Everyone left feeling inspired! Now you have a chance to make all of these plans come to life:  20 17 of our new high school students need Education Sponsors. You or your community can support a formerly trafficked child as they pursue their education with a donation of $125 each month, or $1,500 each year. Click here to learn more about Education Sponsorship.    

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Celebrating Five Years at our Care Center

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In September 2012, 50 Touch A Life children moved to their new home at the Touch A Life Care Center. With dormitory-style housing, a kitchen, a dining hall, and a director’s house, the Care Center became the first long-term care facility specifically for child trafficking survivors in all of West Africa.     Thanks to generous Legacy Partners, our Care Center has continued to be a safe and stable home for the Touch A Life kids. Full time Ghanaian house parents love each child as their own, getting every student ready for school and taking care of practical everyday needs. Staff cooks prepare nutritious meals from locally-sourced ingredients, some even coming directly from the Care Center garden.     The Care Center has grown over the past five years as we added Connor Creative Art Center, Seth’s Social Center, Zachary’s House, an outdoor classroom, and a multi-purpose building. And our Touch A Life family has grown as well, with 30 new children joining us over the past five years. Our established partnership with Ghanaian Social Services and the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit has made it possible for Touch A Life to focus primarily on the holistic survivor care for each child. […]

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