First Published on BBC News
In August a group of sixteen young adults from Central Baptist Church, Chelmsford, travelled to Atorkor in Ghana to help with the rebuilding of a school.
Assistant Minister Matt Noble shares his experiences with us:
“On the day we arrived we were met by a wall of people dancing and drumming, it was incredible. However we had a bit of a shock in that the building was three weeks behind schedule. Failure was not an option for us and this meant our plans had to be altered very quickly. We had always known that flexibility was going to be important.”
“As soon as we could we got stuck into the building work. Helping the contractors and locals and trying desperately to get the project back on track. The days were full and physically demanding – But after a few days we started to see real progress. We were able to start painting and after the first week we were starting to get back on track.”
“All the team had a wonderful experience in Ghana. We were made to feel so very welcome and the people of the village were so good to us.”
“After a well earned weekend away we returned to find that the floors had been laid and the rooms that were to become the computer room and the library had really started to take shape. Before we arrived the school had just 300 books, but we took 100 books with us and kitted out a library for them, which made a big difference.”
During week two the windows went in and the electrics were finally finished, as was the painting. Shelving was erected for the library and computer desks were put together. At the beginning of week three, following the installation of the generator, we were able to install the computers, 20 in total. Then we started to train people on how to use the computers – opening up a whole new world for them.
While the building work was happening half the team were also running a holiday club for local children. Each day between 150 and 250 children arrived for three hours of fun activities and teaching, including, singing, games and crafts. What struck me was that the children simply had nothing – they would come in rags. These were the children whose parents couldn’t even afford the ?2.50 a year it costs to send them to school. At home if there was no fish in the morning it meant that there was no fish to eat at lunch time and they would just have rice. However what struck me about this community was their overwhelming joy and their gratitude to us.
During the last week there was a grand opening of the completed building. People from the village turned out as well as local politicians and the Minister for Education. This was a wonderful day and the team were moved by the gratitude expressed by the people of Atorkor.
“The trip was undoubtedly a great success, but this was due to the hard work of the team, the people from the village and the chief, Sam. All the team had a wonderful experience in Ghana. We were made to feel so very welcome and the people of the village were so good to us. We have all come back hoping that one day we might return. Without a doubt I have come back a different person in many ways.”