Like So Many Others

A Story from The Field

Like so many others, Abigail got a loan for her provisions shop. Like so many others, she wanted to buy higher profit items so she could make more money – enough money to enroll back into University.  Okay, so the last part is a bit different.  But that’s just the beginning of how different Abigail is.

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Her story involves broken homes, dreams of helping kids, perseverance, Faith, and more determination than one person normally has.

Abigail comes from a broken home, nothing she wants to talk about nor have another child go though.  So at the age of 18 she started finding kids in the community in bad situations – broken home, orphan, unsafe environment – and took them home if she was allowed, or looked after them daily if she couldn’t take them out of their situation.

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She had gone to University for a semester early on, but decided to allocate her money solely for the kids – to pay for food, a house, healthcare, school materials, and clothing. Now at 24 years old, Abigail has 18 children she looks after – 10 that live with her, 8 she looks after at her rented home. Her provision shop has allowed her to pay for items the children need, while also saving to rent a larger house – and to save for tuition to attend a weekend University nearby.DSC00450

Through perseverance, she found a lovely home, with its own compound – plenty of room for the children to live and play.

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I visited both homes, and the difference is dramatic – the kids will be thrilled!  Abigail is also starting up University again in a few short weeks.

 

 

 

Last year she held a community fundraiser with some success.  The community does help out in other small ways, offering some food and produce from their farms. She is also a pastor in the community.

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How are the children doing? Her eldest is 22, and just started nursing school.  Her next eldest began teacher training college last year. The others that stay with her attend school, and there are signs posted at the front door of her house that says “Speak English”.  She is determined they get the best fresh start possible in life.

Like so many others, Abigail wants to see Ghanaians step up and out of poverty.  But unlike most people, Abigail is taking action every day to ensure that happens – one child at a time.

Thanks for reading about Abigail.  There is no ask or action here.  Just wanted you to learn about someone else’s life, and the amazing things people are doing in the world.

Snippets: Conversations

Sometimes it is snippets of conversations that show the soul of a country:

  • My Advans driver was taking me from Ho, the regional capital of Volta Region, to Hohoe – about 47 miles, a 2 hour drive. The road went through some mountains, offering beautiful views into the Volta plains. As we crested one mountain and looked at the vista below he got quite serious and asked  “Does the sun shine like this where you live?” Think about it.  I did and was humbled.

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  • Getting quizzed by 3 Advans loan officers while driving crazy bad roads from Jasikan to Hohoe (30 miles, 1.5 hours) – “Why don’t you have children?” “We decided not to have children – it was our choice,” I answered, kind of dreading where the conversation would go.  The guys were obviously shocked by my answer. “When you get married you have a baby in 9 months-you have to have kids, it is what you do when you get married!” All three agreed, and I could feel the pressure for me to change my mind growing and to start having kids at 54.  I decided to try and turn the tables. “Are any of you married?” That brought lots of laughter. “No! But soon,” was the response.  I decided to push a bit, “So what are you waiting for?” “Because of what happens after you get married” “And what’s that?”I asked.  “Kids!”  I couldn’t help but laugh so hard I snorted.  I am sure anyone driving by would have wondered why everyone in our truck was rolling with laughter.

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  • Electricity went out for the entire town of Hohoe just before 7pm.  It was already pitch black outside as Ghana is close to the equator.  I like to think of equator meaning equal – equal day to night, about 12 hours of sun to almost 12 hours of darkness. There was no light to eat my Cliff bar by, and more importantly, no fan or a/c. I went outside my motel room and just stared at the stars, marveling at the Milky Way. Sadly, the lights came back on after a couple of hours.

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  • On our way into Jasikan we stopped at an Advans borrower’s shop who happened to be funded by Kiva lenders.  I was formally introduced to Rejoice, and we exchanged appropriate pleasantries. She cheekily asked me what I brought her from the USA.  I said “The good wishes and encouragement from all the lenders around the world who worked with Advans (partner) to fund your loan.  They hope for your continued success.”  Rejoice listened to George interpret what I said, and after a second or two, she started laughing and nodding.  She got up and went into her shop, returning a few moments later with a kente scarf.  Rejoice motioned for me to stand up, and she put the scarf around my neck. George translated, “She is very happy you are here and thanks you!”

    Looking at the scarf now hanging across the tv in my apartment, I smile.  Life is Good.

Rejoice kente and Betsy

Why to NOT bring your computer to work

Maybe I set myself up for this by even thinking about it.  My computer has everything in my life on it (should I be admitting that online??), but I can be a klutz.  It’s a disease I am managing, this klutziness.  I keep a sharp eye out for possible pitfalls, like uneven sidewalks, things sticking out from car roofs, posts that tempt me to walk into them…Over the years I have even trained myself not to catch a falling knife or put my hand in a running garbage disposal (the last is from personal experience…).

So lugging a computer back and forth from my apartment in Accra, Ghana to an Uber, into the office and back again, seemed fraught with danger.  But worse was the idea of having it stolen.  Lugging won.

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Streets of Accra

And then I dropped it.  On the second day.  In my apartment.  And I treated it like a knife – no stopping it.  I waited to assess the damage until I got to work, as it was tucked into my backpack-really, how bad could it be??

Great news, screen was intact and my computer started.  Bad news – the opening hinge was broken and it was pulling up the corner of my laptop.  CRAP!

By Thursday I knew the computer and I couldn’t go on like this. I confided in my next-desk seat mate, Kubra, who told me to go to IT (the org I am partnered with, Advans Savings and Loan, has all the mod cons). With trepidation and sweaty palms, I carefully took by wonky computer to them.  “Oh, we can’t fix that.” Crap. “But we can send it to a shop that can.”  YAY!   Wait, NO!!!    That’s got my life in it!!  Send it to some computer shop in Ghana?  Seriously?  I might be a klutz, but I am not stupid.

I handed over the computer, begging for its safe return.  Friday I would be visiting cashew farmers in the Volta Region, so I would pick it up on Saturday.  I started to hyperventilate.  Everyone chuckled in commiseration – at least, that’s how I decided to view it.

Saturday morning finally came – managing my anxiety levels over the past 36 hours had almost been effective –  and I made my way to Advans, hopeful that IT (whom I was assured would be there) had my fixed and unviolated computer.

The super nice security guard lady led me into the bank, informing me with a lovely smile that of course IT was not in today.  Whipping out my phone I called my contact and lifeline at Advans, Samuel, who knew all about this stuff.  I gave the phone to the Advans bank teller, and lots of conversation ensued. She closed her window (much to the dismay of the other clients) and led me to the back office. To a desk that had a hidden key that unlocked a secret cupboard.  And my computer!!

I started it up to make sure it really WAS my computer and functioned – YAY! Hinge fixed, and seemingly unviolated, I silently sent apologies to everyone everywhere for my doubts and anxiety. A well-deserved coffee was in my very near future, and I headed out with the backpack confined to my back with both straps.

I will be looking for a secret cupboard of my own on Monday.

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