Because all of the children at the Ghana Make a Difference (GMAD) home have come from dire circumstances many of them had never been to school.
The GMAD Academy of Learning was created in 2017 so we could better meet the needs of the children who were being brought to the GMAD home and to accommodate some of the children locally who also have unique circumstances.
In 2018 we tried raising money to construct a school, we didn't get the funds we were looking for. So we got creative and converted our chicken coop into a school.
After the GMAD Academy of Learning opened you could find the kids studying in their chairs an hour before school started. They are still very excited to be in school. As much of a step forward this school was for the GMAD children, it has serious limitations. The acoustics, size, electrical components and layout are a few of the things that limit our capabilities.
Our curriculum has been reviewed and hand tailored by volunteers who have Masters in Education and have backgrounds in teaching children from underdeveloped countries. The children at the GMAD Academy of Learning use tablets and laptops to learn. A school house will be the optimal space to springboard these children’s learning forward and unlock their full potential. Most of the children that stay at the GMAD home are in our care anywhere from a few months to a couple of years. Because of our relatively small window of influence we have in the lives of these children, a school house becomes a crucial element in our efforts to make a sustainable difference. The school will double as a vocational school in the evenings. Older children will learn valuable trades here. Our current makeshift school will then be the site for a Junior High School.
A distinguished architect recently returned from the GMAD Home - specifically for this school. His wife, himself and our in-country directors surveyed the land and had meetings with different local contractors and tradesmen. They also visited different schools within Ghana that have been built within the last couple of years, noting the difference good design makes with airflow and heat reduction.
The architect has selected a small team of volunteers from his architecture firm that are drawing up the plans for the school, those plans will be ready in March. These plans will also contain a few concepts from the student designs we got last semester from the interior design, construction management and pre-architecture programs at Weber State University.
We plan to break ground in August of this year and finish construction in March of 2021. A group from Weber State has plans to come help with the finishing touches.
This is the Ghana Make a Difference children's home. The building under construction on the top right is our medical clinic, it is now completed and in use. You can see the wheelchair path that goes from the top of our property down to the chicken coup school on the top left of the image. The site for the new school is indicated by the clip art image of a school.
Based on our architects estimate and our past experience building in Ghana we believe this school and it's furnishings will cost $200,000.
We've predicted the annual increase in expenses for the school for teachers, staff and food, but without outside funding we simply will not have the funds to build this school. If you know anyone or any organization that would like to sponsor a classroom, contact email@example.com.
This school will accommodate 125 children in manageable class sizes. Almost all of the GMAD children will attend this school. For the children admitted from the nearby village who also have unique circumstances, the breakfast and lunch served here will typically be their only meals each day.
GMAD is a temporary home for these (GMAD) children. The impact this school will have will not help a static group of the same children each year, but will unlock the potential of many different children every year, children who also happen to be some of the world's most vulnerable children.
I wanted to quickly share an experience I had during this last trip to Ghana with you. It was impactful, I've been back from Ghana a little while now and am still thinking about everyday.
I'm there at the GMAD home when I see Christopher making a big colorful net underneath the little pavilion we have there. I stand by him and ask if I can watch, he smiles and says "yes". Christopher is one of the boys that worked as a slave on Lake Volta for over a decade before being rescued and brought to GMAD. From where I was standing, I could see a scar on his head, given to him by his taskmaster with a boat paddle. Christopher was making another net. His hands were moving so fast. He knew all the knots. Only this time, he wasn’t tying a fishing net; he was happily making a new soccer net for the soccer goals here at GMAD. Christopher was safe, cheerful, and peaceful, as he made the soccer net. Old skills met with a new and hope-filled environment. I could have watched him all day.
It goes without saying, I'm not a photographer. Hah! Here a few pictures anyway that I strung together to show you.
- Austin Johnson
There are a lot of “firsts” that happen at our GMAD home thanks to supporters like you. Here are just a few of them:
As many of you know, the GMAD Academy of Learning that was opened last year was established to meet the needs of those children that come to our GMAD home who haven't been able to go to school in the past. Children who have special needs or kids who have been rescued from forced labor trafficking. Many of these children had to be taught how to hold a pencil. Now we are pleased to give you a brief six month update on the school!
We have a full classroom set of Chromebooks in addition to our full classroom set of tablets. The students are starting to really figure out how to use these devises, they just figured out how to send messages to each other via bluetooth during class. Some might think that is a bad thing, but it's cool that they are learning to do new things on the devices on their own. None of these children come to the home with much, if any, english, nor have they spent any time using a laptop or tablet and here they are sending written messages in english to each other through bluetooth! Huge win!
In addition to your typical school subjects (like reading, writing, arithmetic, etc.), the GMAD Academy of Learning has been incorporating basic technologies into their day to day curriculum. This is very very unusual in Ghana. In fact, I bet there is no other school like this in all of rural Ghana. One reason we have chosen this tech route is because we only have these children for a relatively small window (3mo. - 5yrs.) while our social workers reintegrate them back with their families, during that window we can better make them self reliant with basic tech skills.
The technology in the classroom has also allowed performance to be tracked individually for the first time so each child gets personalized attention to help them learn step by step. We know that progress like this, against such odds is only possible with support like you. Thank you GMAD supporters!
Medical mission 2018 is in the books! Thank you for helping Ghana Make a Difference with this most recent medical mission to Ghana (Oct 12 - 22, 2018). Your contribution to this past medical trip helped us make it a big success. Our relatively small team of surgeons and medical staff performed 117 surgical procedures. In addition to the surgeries we treated 474 eye patients and performed 520 dental exams. You helped us positively alter and reduce suffering in the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of Ghanaians.
Video and photo by @thetravelingshepards
Check out this article about Eric! Eric lives at the GMAD home and we love having him here. He is inspiring to all of us how he faces his challenges.
How Eric Learned to Trust God
By Richard M. Romney
Click the button below to find out more about making a difference in Ghana.
From January 1st to April 30th, 30 contestants signed up to fund raise for Ghana Make a Difference (GMAD) with the hopes to win a trip to the GMAD home. The grand total raised during this Win a Trip campaign was $16,830! 100% of that money will do a lot of good in Ghana. To add some perspective - that amount pays for almost 34K balanced meals for the GMAD children OR that amount pays for all of the nannies, caregivers and security at the home for the year!
Now for the winners of the contest ... drumroll ... 2nd place, raised $4,573 and winner of a free stay at the GMAD home is Chelsea Bryner! Nice work Chelsea, I know all at the GMAD home will be excited to see you again! ... another drumroll ... 1st place, raised $6,026 and winner of the Trip to Africa is Savana Stevenson! GMAD will also be happy to see Savana again! Well done and congrats!
So many did so much during this campaign, from everyone at the GMAD home, THANK YOU!
If you have not volunteered at the GMAD home yet, we would love to have you!
Each year Ghana Make a Difference hosts and organizes a variety of different volunteer groups. Annual women's trip, youth trip, medical trip, etc.. Every group has had a wonderful experience serving in Ghana. Each groups impact is known and appreciated by those who are served. We have observed that each group brings unique skills and abilities to the people of Ghana.
During this woman's trip it has been so cool to see these women helping and empowering other women. The ladies on the annual GMAD women’s trip visited the labor and delivery ward in a nearby hospital where they passed out delivery bags to women who needed them.
The women’s volunteer group enjoyed holding newborn babies at the local hospital. They taught the mamas how to swaddle the babies so they’d sleep longer and the mothers were excited! They all fell in love with a 3 week baby who weighed 1.7 pounds at birth! Her mom was so touched to receive a delivery bag.
The ladies on this women's trip have focused a lot of their efforts helping new mothers. They have been giving cloth diaper kits to new moms that need them for their babies. The women would light up when they were told they were washable just like our clothes and could be used for their next child, and the next child.
We are grateful for the ladies who attended this years women's trip and look forward to the many more trips and the good they will do.
Last year, Ghana Make A Difference and International Justice Mission (IJM) signed an agreement to work together to end child labor and to preserve families in Ghana.
Earlier this month, IJM rescued children from working on fishing boats and GMAD is now sheltering these children as we work to locate and educate their families.
"Two sides to the same coin". On one side of the coin you are serving and making a sustainable difference in the lives of those you serve, the time and recourses that you have sacrificed to be in Ghana are all for the betterment of those you are serving. On the other side of the coin you realize that you are the one most benefiting from your service experience in Ghana, you leave a changed person.
"I loved working with Ghana Make a Difference because they are so organized. You get to just show up and serve the people of Ghana in a close and personal way! They give you so many opportunities to make very special relationships with the locals and get an "up close and personal" view of the real Ghana! I am certain that all who serve these people will fall in love with them as I did. The experience that I had in Ghana has changed my life forever!" - Deb Wood
For the children living at the GMAD home, getting the simplest of amenities and having the most basic of childhoods prior to being placed in our home involved quite the wrestle. In this metaphoric wrestle with life, these children are placed against opponents in higher weight classes with much more experience on the mat. Ghana Make a Difference has changed that for the children living at the home, with your help we have given their childhoods back and with social workers and other support staff we are successfully placing them back into society with capable families. This year for the NCAA wrestling tournament we ask you to support GMAD's efforts by filing out a GMAD bracket.
Thank you for taking GMAD's NCAA Wrestling Bracket Challenge!
Click on the URL below to access your NCAA wrestling tournament brackets.
You have until 10PM Eastern Time on Tuesday, March 8 to finalize your brackets. Any changes after this deadline will not be considered.
Immediately after the deadline, we will automatically retrieve your brackets; you do not need to submit your completed brackets. We will send you an email on Wednesday morning (March 9) containing a printable version of your official completed brackets.
Thank you for supporting Ghana Make A Difference. 100% of your donation will go directly to Ghana to protect children and to preserve families. Please visit us online at www.ghanamakeadifference.org and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GhanaMakeADifference.
Enjoy the wrestling tournament. Here is the link to your tournament brackets.
What is Poverty?
Before coming to Ghana I always thought I understood the definition of poverty. I have been to quite a few major cities in America and seen many poor neighborhoods. But nothing compares to the poverty I see here.
I was in country for only 2 days when I went with Richard, the director of the home, to the next town over called Buduburam, also referred to as “Liberia Camp”. From the moment I stepped out of the trotro (van) and entered the market, I was instantly overcome with an intense case of culture shock. The living conditions that these people endure are none like any other.
After my visit to the Liberia Camp I had a completely new understanding of what it meant to be in poverty. All I wanted to do was help every single person I saw that day. This has motivated me to do everything I can to help people. It is experiences like this that keep me going with the work I’m doing here at Ghana Make A Difference.
Want to make a difference? Donate at www.ghanamakeadifference.org
My name is Aidan, and I am a volunteer here for Ghana Make a Difference. I plan to be here for a total of 5 months. During my stay, I will help maintain the blog to let you guys know about the incredible things happening here in the home!
Why Africa? Why Ghana Make a Difference?
I had Just recently moved back home to Las Vegas, after living in Boise for a while, when I came to realize something rather important. I have no clue what I want to do in life. After quite a bit of thought about things I have always enjoyed doing, I narrowed it down to a one thing. Serving others, I grew up a member of the LDS church and because of this I was always participating in youth service projects in the community. I am also an Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America. Because of this I have always been serving others in one form or another. Whether it be mowing the lawn of an elderly woman or repairing and giving out bicycles to children on Christmas, I have always loved seeing the smiles and joy that service brings to people in need.
Not long after, my mother came to me about an organization here in Ghana. This immediately caught my attention. After she explained some things about it, I rushed to my laptop to look up the website and began reading everything I could about the incredible things Ghana Make a Difference does for children in need. After speaking with the President of the organization, Cory Hofman, on the phone for a while I knew it was something I needed to be a part of. I sold my car that same week, bought a plane ticket and left for Ghana a month later. I have been here in Ghana for about a month now and I am absolutely in love with the country, the kids, and the service. Keep a lookout for some updates about the great things happening at the home. Thank you!
Want to make a difference? Donate at ghanamakeadifference.org
In December 2014, many of you donated generously to our self-reliance chicken program. And in January 2015, Ebenezer (our facilities manager) attended "farmers training" at The University of Ghana, we improved our chicken coop and we bought 200 chickens. Now, each day we collect 150 eggs, the children get a lot more protein, and Ebenezer sells the extra eggs and is unable to keep up with the demand. Given the success of our poultry operations, between now and February we expect to expand our coop once again and acquire 800 more chickens. Visit www.ghanamakeadifference.org to support this and other GMAD projects. Thank you!
This past June, the Hofmans met the Williams in California. It turns out that the Hofmans help run a non-profit (GMAD) and the Williams run a non-profit (Look At Us). The Williams' explained how Look At Us helps kids get hearing aids. The lights went on and Stacey told them about a 9-year-old girl who lives across the street from our children's home in Ghana and who is deaf. Look At Us found an audiologist in Ghana, and this week I had the amazing privilege of taking Esther to see Dr. Offei at the University of Education in Winneba Ghana. It made my day. What a sweet girl and a sweet experience. Thank you Look At Us for making this possible.
Esther's audiology exam.
"Successful families are established and maintained on principles love and wholesome recreational activities." Thanks to the time, money and awesome work of our volunteers, the GMAD home in Dabanyin has undergone a nice transformation. Our children have an increasingly safe and happy place to live and play.
The plans are put to paper and then translated into a grid around the land.
Boards labeled with letters and numbers are laid around the eventual outside walls of the building to create a grid. The grid is used to lay the foundation walls and the supporting columns in the appropriate places.
A local stone quarry is donating half of all the rocks we need, so our cement costs have been reduced accordingly.
And by making our own bricks, we are building a good home within a good budget. Please help us finish the project by making a donation at www.ghanamakeadifference.org.
In Bali, Hindus have used banana leaves as the containers for floral offerings to spirits and deities. I’m in Ghana, not Bali. And I’m a Mormon, not a Hindu. Nevertheless, I think my three children holding this banana leaf would please any deity. We took this photo on our hike to the Wli Waterfalls in the Volta Region of Ghana.
I’m not offering my children, but please join me in making a financial offering to Ghana Make A Difference (www.ghanamakeadifference.org)