Volunteers breathe New Life into Orphanage
An investment for the future
Photo : Julius Reuter
New Life Orphanage, Nungua, Accra, Ghana. Is there anything on earth more rewarding than a child’s smile? On Saturday, the 27th of October at the New Life Orphanage in Nungua you could marvel at the 47 children’s eyes sparkling with joy. The opening of a new School; a step into a promising future for our smallest treasures?
“The new coat of paint on the school building seems as if somebody has breathed new life into it”, said Camilla Brandstrup Larsen and Rasmus Niewald de Place, 19 year old students from Denmark. For the past three months they have been volunteering at the New Life Orphanage and Jasper Foundation Int. School in Nungua, a suburb of Accra, around 15 km to the east of the city centre. The two friends and former class mates have played a big part in the completion of the Jasper Foundation Int’l School, including a Pre-to Senior High School for the children from New Life and the surrounding communities. After finding out they were going to be working at the Orphanage they got in touch with The Chairman and Founder of New Life, Mr Cephas Mensah Afotey to ask if there was anything they could do before coming to Ghana for their project. In April of this year back in their home country they started a foundation to raise money for their upcoming commitment in Ghana. The foundation has been running for only two months but has already collected an astonishing sum of 4350 Pounds. “The orphanage is always in need of funds to furthermore maintain a comfortable shelter for our more than 40 children”, explained Cephas who has really welcomed the contribution by Camilla and Rasmus.
“We started our 3-month project at the beginning of August and tried to put the money where help has been immediately in need”, said Rasmus. “When we arrived the framework of the building had already been done but it didn’t seem like a nice place to study in for the children”, concludes Camilla. With the help of other fellow volunteer Frida Aamnes, from Norway, the money raised was used for windows, the building of new, safer stairways and a beautiful new paint coat. Daily seven hour working shifts have finally paid off. The building has been transformed from ash-colored into sky-blue and impresses as a symbol of literally “new life” in the orphanage. “Now it’s not only our name which evokes a better and hopeful future, but also the whole appearance which makes our children even happier to stay here”, encloses Cephas.
On a sunny Saturday afternoon in Nungua, the children, the staff and all invited guests and donors were excited to finally witness the opening of the new school. It was a glittering opening day ceremony that everybody gave their best for. Nungua is a traditional branch of the Ga tribe. The school kids paid tribute to their roots by performing cultural dances, songs and reciting poetry. The successful show reached its height with the moving words of a little eight year old girl: “I’m proud to be Ghanaian, I’m proud of my color, black is beautiful!”
A huge sigh went through the rows of the audience who listened devoutly to the appeal of the basic school coordinator: “People say Ghana is the gateway to Africa. A country without peace can never provide social values and education, let’s protect the peace and love in our country and make a better future for our children possible.” The opening of the new school is definitely a step into the right direction but nevertheless an important warning was spoken out: “Things especially in education have to change after 2012’s elections!”
Cephas Mensah Afotey is a brave social worker, decisive and strong-willed. He and his wife founded New Life in the year 2000 and set up custody for 15 unprivileged children, who were either orphans or came from a difficult family background. “Our little family has grown since then to now 47 children”, says Cephas proudly. The orphanage has been in existence for 12 years now, but the help of the government is still missing. “Of course the beginning was the most difficult, I was all on my own”, admits Cephas, who has even sold his house to avoid the huge yearly expenses. “From year to year we have been surviving by personal funds and donations and I hope we’ll get furthermore along the way.”
But why is there still no aid by the government? It’s the first time Cephas seems a bit helpless. “It’s not advisable to criticize the government in Ghana. The result is often a disadvantage for you and your work. Before I set up the orphanage I worked for the department of social welfare. They now deliver the children to me that they have picked up on the streets and say “Good luck”. But it’s not possible, we’re already at capacity.”
The opening day of the school was the gateway to a new period of New Life’s history. After all the happy day seemed like a recommencement and a good opportunity for the politicians to finally wipe the slate clean and consider their position with New Life.
Rasmus and Camilla sent an invitation to the government before the opening, inviting someone of public importance to attend. The invitation was accepted as “deeply grateful” and it was proposed that President John Mahama and his wife, the First Lady of Ghana could attend the ceremony. Unfortunately the audience was left waiting in vain.
After more than 12 years experience as a social worker there’s no other alternative for Cephas than to just keep his chin up. “I’ve always dreamt big”, says Cephas who has already got new plans in mind. The new targets are to build a dormitory for up to 500 children and a health clinic. There’s nothing he can do more than proceeding with his own initiative, searching for new donors and hoping for more selfless volunteers like Camilla, Frida and Rasmus. Smiling, he said, “They were a godsend for us, the three really touched my heart.”
The vibrant ceremony ended in the late afternoon. The Children were still playing around and wanted a few more memory shots with their idols. Sadly, it was the last day for Camilla and Rasmus at New Life after a three month stay full of uplifting experiences. “For sure we’ll keep in touch with the orphanage and come back to see how the children are going in their new school,” they both exclaimed enthusiastically.
The ‘New Life Orphanage’ and the ‘Jasper Found. Int. School’ is always in need of funds and donations to furthermore provide education and shelter for their children. Children are our future; these children are Ghana’s future. A promising country needs a strong next generation. Let’s support Ghana’s next generation!
If you want to donate something, if money, children’s clothes of all size, toys, books, sports equipment or medical supplies please feel free and refer to the account and address stated below. For further questions or volunteering initiative please watch out the New Life’s web page or contact the chairman Cephas Mensah Afotey.
New Life Orphanage
P.O. Box NG 139
Ghana. West Africa.
Tel: 00233 244294265