Simple Joys of Childhood

seth soccer pic TAL

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

Rachel Brown - 2015
Photo by Nancy Borowick

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

End It.

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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laurita blog new

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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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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Greatest Gift

tal christmas post new

The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt. Frederick Buechner Cheers to another great year at Touch A Life. Reflecting back on 2018 and my time in Ghana there is a special moment I want to share that really stands out to me. The older boarding school kids were home on break this past September and the campus was busting with activity and joy. I was approached by Gideon, Jonathan and Bernard, who are some of the eldest students at the Care Center and the first TAL children to go to college. They requested a private meeting with me. We agreed on a time and met officially in the office behind closed doors. These three young men have been in our program for almost ten years. I have watched them grow up from sweaty little boys to become amazing leaders at home and school. When they presented their formal agenda for discussion I could not hold back my smile and tears during this proud mom moment. My dreams were coming true for them. My dream […]

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jan blog

Every time I return from Ghana the joke around my house is “batten down the hatches” because here comes Mom. I always return with the urge to get rid of the excess of stuff – stuff in my house, stuff in my car, and stuff in my life. Last year I spent nine weeks in Ghana. It has become a second home to me. Even though I miss my family and friends during these travels, I look forward to seeing my family and friends in Africa. And, I look forward to hitting my reset button. Resetting for me is about putting things in perspective. I often get caught up in the frenzy of trying to keep up with the Jones. Does my house look nice enough to host book club or have the end of the season party for my tennis team? It is during those times that I have to step back and think about my time spent in Ghana. Ghanaians are some of the most joyful people I have ever encountered.  Their joy does not come from the material things that they have collected. In fact, many are very poor and have few possessions. However, that never seems […]

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Freedom is Possible

18.12 Sarah - Freedom - End of Year - 1 web

FREEDOM: the quality or state of being free, such as: a: the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action b: liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another c: the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous   Every single person and child should be entitled to live a life where freedom is reality, not a dream. Thousands of children in Ghana have their freedom and childhood stripped away from them at such a young age. Parents who cannot afford to care for their children often sell them to masters in slave trades like fishing, farming, and domestic. Each Touch A Life child has been RESCUED from a childhood where they had no idea what freedom was. During a recent visit to the Care Center, we approached the children with a question that no one should ever have to ask: Since you have been a part of the TAL family, what are you free from? We left a chalkboard next to the basketball court, and the answers were heart-breaking. Child labor, slavery, hunger, danger, sickness, fear, darkness, torture, anxieties, hatred, rejection, unrecognition, suffering, and failure were among the painful words the children wrote. The unfortunate reality for these […]

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Who Am I?

dental blog picture

Have you ever thought about who you are and where you come from? Maybe you have done so in an existential sort of way. You know, the way college students tend to “search for themselves.” But I am talking more literally figuring out who you are. I know I personally have never questioned who I am or where I come from. When I was in Ghana on a recent trip, I had the privilege of spending some time with a dental team serving at the Care Center. This team of dentists were there for a few days to provide dental exams and basic care like tooth extractions for all of the children as well as staff. One of the dental team mentioned that an older child took his chart and was looking through it. He saw a picture of himself when he was 3 in the file and got emotional. She then heard him say that he was looking through it to see if he could find out when he was born. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine not knowing when you were born, or maybe even where you were born? I thought about that a lot with the […]

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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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