Some days in life linger long in the memory. For us that includes 18 October 2006. This was the date when our first school was opened in the village of Bagri, northern Ghana.
Among the large crowds gathered for the occasion was a four year old boy called Meshach. He only has the haziest of memories of that day. His parents, desperately poor farmers, grew just enough corn, millet and ground nuts to feed themselves and their four children. Without the opening of a school, that little boy faced an extremely difficult future.
You may remember Meshach from our Christmas letter written three years ago. That year, a decade after the grand opening, he had taken the national examinations (the equivalent of British GCSES). He had received the highest grade. Noticing his ability, one of the teachers at our school in Bagri helped him with extra tuition and mentoring. In the evenings, by the light of an old torch provided by the charity, he read back over the notes made at school. We described in our letter how we were funding him to continue his studies – and added that Meshach had the ambition to become a doctor when he finished school. “That”, we noted, “is a challenge – but it is no longer an impossibility.”
This year, Meshach completed his secondary studies and we recently heard that he has just been accepted to study medicine. It fills us with great emotion to think that the little boy who aged four had literally nothing will now study to be a doctor. We are hoping that Savannah will be able to help fund this too, and that he will return after training to this remote area to help his own people. Meshach is not just a clever pupil, he is also a useful member of the Baptist church in Bagri – and teaches in the Sunday School.
We now have nearly 2,000 children attending our Christian schools and, during this year, pupils started attending the newest school in the village of Baapari – the eighth village in which we are working. Not all of those children will achieve the wonderful success of Meshach. Nor was that our aim. We have always sought to provide a decent quality education that, alongside a Christian influence, will help improve the quality of live in challenging circumstances.
Child by child, and family by family, these village communities are being transformed. At this time of the year, our thoughts perhaps naturally turn to children in our own country, and all of the presents and luxuries that they enjoy. The contrast with children in northern Ghana – particularly those without a school – is sobering.
It has been the busiest of years for the charity, and also a year when there has been pressure on our finances. As we look to the future, we think about those children who still do not enjoy the benefits of one of our Christian schools and have the desire to start work in more villages. We are also planning, if the Lord will in the immediate future, to build a new Training and Resource Centre (with associated office) to provide practical support to our existing schools and the surrounding area. None of this could be contemplated without our kind and generous supporters.
Meshach is not able to thank you personally. We count it our greatest privilege to do so on his behalf. We are thankful and excited by all that has happened but, as our responsibilities and ongoing costs increase, it is without doubt daunting too. We are ever more dependent on your prayers and your generosity.
We join with all of our friends in Ghana in wishing you a very happy Christmas and God’s blessing during 2020.
On behalf of the trustees,
Saturday 25 January 2020 at 2.30pm at Wivelsfield Village Hall, Eastern Road, Wivelsfield Green, East Sussex RH17 7QH
Saturday 14 March 2020 at 2.30 pm at Toddington Village Hall, Leighton Road, Toddington, Dunstable LU5 6AN