If you happened to be in Ghana last week and were on the dirt road between Nantan and Ankaase, you might have seen a motorized three-wheeler bouncing across the bumpy terrain, carrying a load of live chickens. The "tricycle" was transporting a part of our sponsored students' Christmas gift. Each holiday season, Rising Village sponsors generously provide a small donation for Christmas gifts for their sponsored student. For children who live in villages like Ankaase, Mpobi, and Nantan, Christmas isn't a time for toys or electronics. The gifts they most want are items and experiences that are costly for their guardians to provide: shoes, dress clothes, a fancy meal, a field trip to the Kumasi park. Over the years, sponsored students have been provided all of these during the holiday season.
This year, the students received an article of dress clothing, a basket of food (rice, tomatoes, sardines), and a chicken.
What we're most excited about, however, is the clothing because each piece represents a full circle of creating, earning, and giving. Here's how it worked:
In November, two women, Comfort and Hannah, trained to learn the craft of batik.
While Isaac was visiting them in the Northern Region, he was able to watch them learn and work. At the end of their training, they had produced beautiful batik fabrics that he purchased from them for the RV seamstress apprentices to use in sewing either a dress or a shirt for our students.
Each student's sponsor provided a small donation for the Christmas gift, and we used part of their donation to provide income to the four women - batik designers and apprentices. Women received income and students received gifts from their sponsors.
Our staff in Ghana, led by Isaac, are finding creative methods and designing projects that recognize the dignity of the women and children we serve. These methods and projects don't come easy and often demand levels of time and energy that are beyond what we anticipate. It would be easier to just give the women a hand-out, but we want better than that for them. We want to recognize their talents and provide the opportunities for them to earn income through dignified and creative work. As they work and earn, their children see them modeling a way to rise from poverty that brings hope for their future.
This Christmas, we see hope all around us, despite the daily challenges that the women and students face. We see hope despite the weariness that we sometimes feel in not taking shortcuts or the easier path. We see hope as we enter into a year that feels fresh and filled with the promise of new and expanding opportunities.
In Ghana, for the students, women, and our staff, it was a Christmas to remember.
If you would like to partner with us in 2018, we're looking for people who are also filled with hope about the future. We invite you to join us in resourcing the Rising Village work in Ghana so that we can end cycles of poverty for marginalized women and children. Head over to our Partnership page where you can give a year-end donation or sign up for monthly giving.