We often wish that we could take you each to the savannah land of northern Ghana, and to show the effect of the work that you are supporting.
It can be seen in the bright blue buildings that you can see scattered through the countryside – Christian schools now spreading hope across ten different villages. It can be traced out through the statistics: several thousand pupils enjoying an education across hundreds of square miles; several hundred teachers benefiting from employment; several dozen individuals currently undertaking teacher training with the help of our scholarships.
Above all, no doubt, you would see the impact of Savannah through the individual lives touched, and the individual lives changed. And so over the years – unable to transport you to this remote part of Africa – we have tried each Christmas letter to relate the story of one individual.
It is hard to believe that this is our 18th such letter. On a recent visit to Ghana, we met two of the children who have featured across the years. We thought that you might find their stories encouraging.
The first meeting was unexpected. We happened to be in Ghana for the sitting of the national examinations (equivalent of British GCSEs) in October. In the market town of Lawra, hundreds of children from schools across the area congregated outside exam halls. Among the many nervous pupils, we found it strangely moving to catch glimpses of “our” children – all smartly dressed in bright blue. And there, among them, was a familiar face. Pedalling up the dirt track was Beri Banguu. He parked his wheelchair bike outside the exam room, and was able to clamber up the few steps to sit his papers. It was the happiest of reunions, and as he later set off to cycle back to his village, he told us that the exam seemed to go well.
Beri’s story is told in a short video on our website. He lives in Gberi village and has been severely disabled from birth. Once he spent his days crawling in the dirt — with little hope for the future. Then one day some Savannah workers came to his house. Beri had seen a blue school being built, just close to his house. But he had not dared to hope that the school was for him, as well as for all of the other children.
Now, with the help of the Christian education provided by our school in Gberi – and with an adapted wheelchair provided by Savannah – his live is very different. He is independent, travelling on his own from his village to Lawra. And he is able to join the other children in taking his school exams.
Daafah Pagyel is older than Beri. He is from Bagri and was part of that first generation of children thrilled to witness the opening of the blue Christian school in 2006: our very first village school. At first glance, unlike Beri, he seems just like every other child. But his world is entirely silent; indeed he has known nothing but silence as he was born profoundly deaf. To make his early life even more difficult, his father died when he was a toddler.
It is hard to describe the thrill of that first ever generation to attend school. Yet it was less thrilling for Daafah, and it soon became clear that he would need further help. Through support from Savannah he was able to attend a specialist school in the regional capital, Wa (staying with a Baptist deacon and his family while away from home).
It is strange to think that children like Daafah, who we met on our first visits and who helped to inspire the work of Savannah, are no longer toddlers but are in their 20s. Daafah, having successfully completed his education and some vocational training, is now working as a mason – helping with construction projects across the area. Indeed he has teamed up with a number of his fellow pupils to form a band of deaf masons who travel around following the work together.
It has been another busy year for the charity. As we look to the future, we think about those many children, following after Beri and Daafah, who continue to be helped by Savannah – and those who have not yet known this benefit. We are ever more dependent on your support as the work expands. We are also ever more dependent on prayer that the Lord would continue to bless the work for both the physical and spiritual benefit of these remote communities.
Beri and Daafah are not able to thank you personally. We count it an immense privilege to do so on their behalf. We are thankful and excited by all that has happened. It is the Lord’s doing and it is marvellous in our eyes (Psalm 118). Please be assured that your support is greatly valued and is going directly to help another generation of children like Beri and Daafah.
We join with all of our friends in Ghana in wishing you a very happy Christmas and God’s blessing during 2023.
On behalf of the trustees, and with our thanks,