World Water

Today is World Water Day. Clean drinking water is something that we take for granted every single day. Many Ghanaians do not have access to clean water or proper sanitation facilities, and many face water scarcity during the dry season. When we arrived in Ghana, we were cautioned against drinking any water that was not in a plastic bottle with an unbroken seal. Thankfully we were never in a situation where we did not have access to clean water. As we drove down the streets, there were men and women selling small plastic bags of clean water. Along each side of the street, there are trenches littered with garbage and excretion creating dirty, contaminated water. Unfortunately, many families rely on surface water to survive, leaving them more susceptible to water-related illness and disease. According to research conducted by Water.org, “seventy percent of all diseases in Ghana are caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation.” Pam explains in her book, Jantsen’s Gift, why it is essential for the children and staff at Touch A Life to have access to a well. “Ghana is one of several nations where it’s possible to contract a disease called Guinea worm from drinking contaminated water. […]

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Street View

Ghana

My wife and I have friends who take Google Map vacations. They will get on their computer and explore some place around the world with Google Maps and then choose street view. It’s a fun game that they play, but they know that street view on Google Maps will never be like actually being in that place. It’s just a shadow of the real experience. Every time I have ever been able to travel, I am reminded of that reality. You will never know the power and beauty of a place until you go. And I am so thankful that I recently had the opportunity to go with a team to the Touch A Life Care Center in Ghana. Before we went, I took a few Google Map vacations through some of Ghana, but nothing prepared me for what I would experience when I was there. We saw sights that could not be properly explained as portrayed in a picture. We met people that were magnificently sweet, kind, and generous. The sights, smells, and sounds will always reside with me. So for the people of Ghana, and more specifically, the staff and children at the Touch A Life Care Center, […]

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Bakery and Maintenance Update

Papa Ken's Bakery

At Touch A Life, we are constantly striving to make improvements at the Care Center that help us to be self-sustaining. This type of sustainability is important as it helps us to stretch our funds further and better empower the children and staff in Ghana. It allows us to be kinder to the environment and, above all, it helps us to be the very best benefactors of the funds we receive from you, our generous and loyal friends. You have contributed steadily to our Maintenance Fund, which gives us the ability to continually make upgrades at the facility that benefit the children, the staff, and the environment. The bakery is a project that we are specifically excited about from a sustainability perspective. Over the years, we’ve tilled the soil on our land at the Care Center and planted crops that yield delicious fruits and vegetables, which we can then use to prepare nutritious meals for the children and staff. Head houseparent Mr. Morgan has led the charge in choosing Ghana-appropriate crops, like corn, okra, peppers, and onions, to plant and grow. We also raise chickens, which we use for food. The next step was the bakery, which gives us the […]

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Green Door

Green Door

  On one of my trips to Ghana I was visiting some of the remote fishing villages on Lake Volta. I was traveling with an interpreter and we were attempting to build relationships with some of the families and fisherman that lived on the islands. Normally we engage with mostly the men because they are the village spokesperson and don’t allow women to have a voice. On this particular day we migrated over to some women who were all gathered in a circle smoking fish and one mother was giving her baby a bath. We were sitting with these beautiful interesting women and wanted so desperately to engage with them in conversation. My friend Aimee who was traveling with me pointed to the woman sitting next to her and asked the translator to ask her a question. “What is your dream?” Her answer was immediate and simple. She said, “I want a front door. I want visitors to have to knock before they enter my home.” I don’t have the words to share how her answer has impacted my life over the years. Whenever I am having a bad day or I feel like I am entitled to more than […]

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Creative Healing

From the moment that I entered the Connor Creative Art Center at the Care Center, I knew that it was a special place for the children. The Lego-shaped building is a work of art itself, but what is inside is what truly makes it a special space. There is a room with personalized cubbies with the artwork of the children, a large table in the center of the room surrounded by floor-to-ceiling bookshelves with their favorite books, a classroom area, where Kwame (TAL Art Director) teaches classes, and plenty of Legos of course. Creating an effective way for the rescued children to express their emotions through art has been an integral part of the Touch A Life program. During my visit, there were three young men who were shining examples of the healing that art has brought to the Touch A Life children. David On our first morning at the Care Center, I found David drawing with chalk on the basketball court. I sat with him there for about an hour as he continued to draw and tell me about himself and that he really enjoys going to school. I gave him three drawing prompts: something about myself, his home, […]

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Simple Joys of Childhood

Do you remember what it was like to play as a child? Just think about the joy of grabbing some toys or grabbing a baseball and a glove and playing until you were so exhausted you couldn’t play anymore. For many kids, my 3 year old son included, this is an assumed reality. If my son is awake, most likely the words “play with me” are coming out of his mouth. Kids love to play. In Ghana, for many children, they experience a different reality. Often, young children who should be running and playing are instead working on fishing boats or in other intense or hazardous environments. They are forced to grow up far too soon. On a recent trip to Ghana, I had the opportunity to go with a group to the Care Center in Kumasi. I saw so many things there that touched my heart and changed me forever, but one thing in particular stands out to me. One of the days we were there was a Saturday when the boys all go out and play soccer.  It started pouring rain as they were playing and even flooded the field, but none of that stopped them from playing […]

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Rachel Reflects on 10 Years

As I write this, we’ve embarked upon a new year: it’s 2019 already, and I marvel over the ways my life has changed, morphed, and grown over the past decade. I graduated from my beloved alma mater, Pepperdine University, in 2008, and in the midst of a nationwide economic downturn, I struggled to find ways to put my hard-earned journalism degree to use. I took interview after interview only to learn that most media companies had hiring freezes and wouldn’t be on-boarding new employees for months. Looking back, I see how God orchestrated this moment so perfectly for me. While in that tumultuous time, I felt frustrated and discouraged. I took on several part-time jobs, cobbling together a way to pay for living expenses while continually on the hunt for a full-time opportunity. There was an underlying sense of peace, though, knowing I was doing everything I could to take the next step forward. In the meantime, I had met Touch A Life’s Co-Founder, Pam Cope, on Pepperdine’s campus the month before I graduated. She spoke passionately about the work Touch A Life was doing, and she made an open call for students to join her on a trip to […]

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Human Trafficking Awareness

Today, January 11th, is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Human trafficking and forced child labor have a long history in Ghana. During my visit to Ghana, one of the most vivid illustrations I saw of this history was when we visited Cape Coast Castle in Accra. When we arrived, I was in awe of the unique, beautiful architecture of the large white castle along the Gold Coast. Cape Coast Castle The wonder, unfortunately, became a bleak reality when our tour guide began to explain the masked horrific history. We stood in dark stone chambers that were about the size of a large modern American bedroom that housed about 250 slaves. There were four of these chambers, housing a total of 1,000 male slaves, and there was another chamber where up to 500 women were held. In each chamber, there was a trench in the middle of each room where the slaves would defecate and urinate that led to the ocean. There was a tiny, circular window that was about 30 feet up the wall for light and they would have to sleep standing. The shackled slaves would be led through the “door of no return” to the coast where they […]

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Trust

I’m a therapist and have always been passionate about working with disadvantaged children, so when I was given an opportunity to work with the children at Touch A Life, I jumped at it. I had been wanting to do this type of work since leaving my job working in a human rights organization and moving to Ghana in 2012. My first time walking into the Touch A Life centre in Kumasi was in September of 2018. I was greeted with such kindness and warmth by the staff. They noticed I had on a neck brace and worked to accommodate me and ensure I was comfortable while staying with them. On the day of the workshop, the room was packed with so many children. Everyone pitched in as we prepared for the workshop. Having been back there 4 more times, I now realize what a communal atmosphere it is. Everyone pitches in to ensure the centre operates. I always love to see children play and be carefree, to joke and even at times push boundaries. They know they are free and through this freedom they are able to return to childhood and start to release some of the weight of the more adult responsibilities they have so long carried. […]

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Joy

The one word that I associate most with Christmas and the Holiday season is Joy. It is referenced throughout scripture and is used to describe the emotional reaction we should experience when thinking of a young savior being born in a manger over two thousand years ago. I’m not sure that we as westerners really understand the meaning of Joy. I think many of us get caught up with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, our work, our lives, etc. and we take for granted the things that bring us true joy. One of the many things I saw in Ghana earlier this year was pure joy. As I reflect on why it looks so different and why it seems so inhibited I begin to see it’s because of hope. You see these children have hope. They have been rescued and have begun the process of being restored through the work of Touch A Life and thus they have renewed hope in their future and the lives they now will be able to live. This hope allows them to be filled with joy. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that […]

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