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Wasecans hope trip to Ghana makes a difference

by Walter Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 at 8:27 PM

Wasecans hope trip to Ghana makes a difference

Imagine women weaving homemade baskets, bare feet covered in dust from the ground, making just enough money for the night's dinner. Picture children running around the village, wearing the same clothes for weeks, as their fathers come home late at night, covered in mud after a long day of farming.

“It’s really difficult to get to Northern Ghana, and that’s part of the reason why we chose that part of the country. The poverty increases as you drive north and they can’t get supplies up there easily, so the needs are great up there,” said Rhonda Johnson, who traveled to Ghana in 2012.

Neither the children nor their parents know how to spell their own first names and still today, many Ghanaians aren’t given the opportunity to learn to read.

Ghana is located in western Africa. According to the United Nations' African Renewal website, while nearly 70 percent of all school-age children are enrolled in primary schools nationally, in northern Ghana the rate is 50 percent. As for adults, 75 percent are illiterate in northern Ghana, compared with 43 percent nationally.

Four Waseca residents are taking steps to change those statistics. Rhonda Johnson, her husband — pastor at Christ Community Church, Chris Johnson, will be joined by Waseca natives Beth Krause and Jodi Ricketts taking the trip to Ghana from Nov. 4 through Nov. 14.

Back in 2012, a team of six Wasecans from Christ Community Church traveled to northern Ghana with a mission in mind. They worked to instruct illiterate women on the basics of writing their names, taught Bible lessons to children, and taught and served at a pastors’ conference.

While they accomplished part of their mission, their trip ended before they could provide everything they’d hoped to. Now the Wasecans are hoping to continue where they left off, raising money for another trip to Ghana planned for this fall.

To support funds for the trip, the team holds a basket auction and supper scheduled for 4 p.m. Sept. 14 at Christ Community Church. Donations also go toward the women of Ghana who weaved the baskets for the auction. A ticket includes supper with a short program at 5:30 p.m. and the auction at 6 p.m.

Rhonda Johnson said the evening includes a meal similar to what they ate in Ghana, such as chicken and rice. She said there will also be jollof rice sampling, a well-known Ghanaian stew made with rice, spicy chili peppers and cooked meat or fish. Homemade baskets from Ghana are being auctioned off. The baskets will hold different items, including a spa day package and scrapbooking materials.

Rhonda Johnson said her trip to Ghana in 2012 really sparked her interest to make a difference in the residents' lives.

Chris Johnson’s main job was to teach at a conference of pastors from the entire northern region of Ghana, and he said that most of the people he taught didn’t have the education of many Americans.

“Many of the pastors had a ninth-grade education,” he said.

Chris Johnson said that the biggest problem many of the families of northern Ghana are facing is the lack of money for food as well as education.

Many of the women do work in weaving baskets, while men work as subsidence farmers.

“Because many women don’t know how to count money, they tend to get scammed and consequently are unable to make a fair wage,” said Chris Johnson.

After the team left Ghana in 2012, their work there continued, and the Wasecans took time to learn about the needs in the village and provide funds for the country.

“We can make the greatest impact by having a continuous investment in the people there,” said Chris Johnson.

When they embark on the trip this year, the group’s main focus will be on northern Ghana.

“We plan to bring children school supplies to help those who aren’t welcomed into the public school. We’ll also be working with the pastors in Ghana and continuing to bring education to the women and children of northern Ghana,” said Rhonda Johnson.

The trek, she said, to northern Ghana isn’t an easy one, and because a drive to northern Ghana would take about two days along the dirt roads, the group from Waseca will take a two-hour flight to their destination.

Since the area is extremely undeveloped, Chris Johnson said the children there are in desperate need of an education.

“Our goal is to find sponsors for the children so they can receive an education and at least one nutritious meal at school per day,” said Chris Johnson.

While they hope to continue to leave a positive impact on the country when they leave, Chris Johnson says this may not be their last trip to Ghana.

“We would like to have as many opportunities as God would grant us to keep going back and pick up where we leave off to help those in need,” said Chris Johnson.

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