Friday, July 11, 2014

A Day full of Smiles- Mackie Forgacs

Most kids in America grow up playing the sport that we call soccer. Well I can assure you that we know nothing about this game, which is technically called football, in comparison to the children of Ghana. Several of our skills were put to the test last Thursday when we traveled to the Hovde House. The Hovde House is a center owned by Challenging Heights that is known for the rehabilitation and reintegration of children that have been trafficked to the fishing industries of Lake Volta. Nine of us students, who have been working closely with Challenging Heights, were given the opportunity of traveling to this temporary home. We were able to meet the amazing staff of the Hovde House, tour the grounds, eat lunch with the children, and lose in a friendly game of football. They scored us, big time!


When we first arrived at the Hovde House, we were all extremely anxious as we were awaiting this visit since the first day we heard about it. We were greeted with open arms by two of the house mothers. Their job, as they explained, is to live in the house and oversee the education, food, health, and rehabilitation of the children that live there temporarily. As you can imagine, the work that they do is extremely involved, very stressful, sometimes overwhelming, but most importantly, it is rewarding. These women are strong and caring and have so much to offer these children. Getting the opportunity to learn from them for even a small amount of time was a huge blessing.

                  The day was full of blessings for us students as we continued on to eat lunch with the children. Their tables were separated based on the age of the children and there were a few places set for us to fill in the gaps. As we sat with the kids, we began to learn some of their names and things they like to do. The majority of the lunch was quiet though and I assume that the fact that we were a large group of oburonis contributed to their shyness.  In addition to that, it is a sad truth that many of the children have built emotional walls and have a hard time trusting any new face. One of the artworks that we saw hanging on a wall in the office said “Be careful about who you trust and tell your problems to. Not everyone who smiles at you is a friend.” It was a harsh reality to come to terms with. The children here have experienced difficulties that no person should ever have to face and for us to realize that definitely took a toll on the values and beliefs that we have had growing up. The truth of the matter is that we can never take away the pains that these beautiful children have gone through… So what could we do?

Unfortunately, I don’t have some philosophical answer to that question. I don’t know what the next step of service consists of. I do know, however, that even a day spent with these children is a day that has not gone to waste. I would argue that even our brief afternoon spent playing a friendly game of football had an impact on both us and the children. An act as simple as playing games with kids was enough for us all to escape the issues that are prevalent throughout the world. For a short time, we were all given the joys of childhood. Not just we oburonis who were reliving our childhood soccer days, but most importantly these children who had their childhood cut short. This, by far, has been my favorite day since our arrival here in Ghana. We were able to experience joys with these children and learn from them firsthand. I can only hope that we contributed to them in some way, shape, or form. And I know for a fact that they were able to contribute to us. They taught me that even though not every person who smiles at you is your friend, there are many people out there that are willing to show you the genuineness behind their smile.

Would you like to support Challenging Heights? 
Please check out their website: http://challengingheights.org



1 comment:

  1. Mack I loved this! Very well written. It was definitely a day that will leave a lasting impression on my heart forever :)

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