The Gift of Caring

rachel november blog

One of the greatest blessings in my life is the gift of being a mother. I found out I was pregnant with my daughter three years ago, and I never could have prepared for the ways my life would change. I was so excited and a little anxious, too, but mainly I was grateful for the gift of nurturing a healthy child as I counted the days until her arrival. When Ruby was born in July 2016, my world got simultaneously bigger and smaller. Bigger, because God had created this brand new life—and she was now occupying space in our home! And smaller, because time slowed down substantially. We didn’t travel or even leave the house as much—at least not at first—so our biggest adventure was usually our daily walk around the neighborhood. Yet that new pace suited us just fine. Since Ruby was born, she has changed my life in so many ways. One of the things I feel most grateful for is the privilege of caring for her when she’s not well. Recently, when both she and I were down for the count with a diagnosis of croup, I reflected on one of my many visits to Ghana. […]

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Give Thanks

thanksgiving post

Give Thanks For each new morning with it’s light For rest and shelter of the night For health and food For love and friends For everything thy goodness sends. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson This week most of us will pause to give thanks for the things we have in our lives. Often however, we get caught up in the busyness of life and it takes a dedicated holiday for us to stop long enough to think about the things we take for granted. After visiting Ghana, many will tell you that it is hard to find perspective in a first world country knowing what the Touch A Life children have endured in their past. Do I really need that $5 coffee each morning, to have a new car every three years, wear the best designer clothes, and throw the most lavish parties to celebrate life? Don’t misunderstand me, there is nothing wrong with these things; I am merely stating that we should not just be thankful for the best of the best in our lives but the things we too often take for granted. The simple things like a new day, a place to lie down at night, a roof […]

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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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Understanding Freedom

rob blog

Do you ever think you know the definition of words but in fact have no idea?  This happens to me a lot. I often struggle with matching the right word with the right meaning. However, I felt confident I knew the true meaning of Freedom and Resilience.  The reality is, I did not. The dictionary tells us Freedom is the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved, having the right to act, speak, or think without hindrance or restraint.  Resilience is the capacity to recovery quickly from difficulties and toughness. On my recent trip to the Touch A Life Care Center I saw the true meaning of Freedom and Resilience when I met Emmanuel. I will never forget our arrival at the Care Center.  We had been traveling for many hours and as our van pulled up, many kids and adults came to welcome us with open arms.  After almost ten minutes of hugs, smiles, and introductions, I stepped back to take in my surroundings.  It was in that moment that I realized that I had a child still hugging me.  I looked down and saw the warm eyes and smile of Emmanuel. Over the course of the next couple […]

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Why Should You Go?

september blog rachel

Just around this time last year, I was boarding a plane to Ghana. It was my 14th trip to the country in just eight years, but, as I do each time I begin my travels to the Touch A Life Care Center, I felt like I was experiencing the trip for the very first time. The journey from Dallas to Accra is long, to be sure, but it was filled with anticipation and excitement as I prepared to head back to a place I consider to be a home away from home. Travel is one of the keys to understanding other perspectives and cultures. At Touch A Life we are often asked why a potential traveler should spend hard-earned money to travel abroad when he or she could give the money to our organization as a donation instead. This is a very valid question, one our team has pondered over and batted back and forth before coming to an answer. But we all concluded that while the donated funds are an incredible gift indeed, travel connects our supporters with the Touch A Life children in a profound and life-changing way. Our staff members always joke with travelers that they should […]

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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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