Right now as I write this I’m in Ghana, West Africa with my husband and six amazing friends who are now like family to us.
We are here to begin construction on Ghana’s first women’s shelter for victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence is a big issue here and currently there is nothing a woman can do if she wants to escape being beaten by her husband, and even if she does get up the courage to leave, her family will not support her decision, so women here live in the most dreadful of circumstances.
My husband has long dreamed of providing safety and security for women, and one day I will allow him to tell his story as to why it’s so close to his heart. A couple of years ago he purchased two large blocks of land with the blessings of the local chief, and began fencing the area off to protect it. Land ownership is very complicated here and building a wall is the first priority. He also arranged construction of a small care takers quarters so someone could live there while we built the shelter.
In a wonderful moment of synchronicity, when I was delivering a course in the Barossa Valley, one of my participants, Annie approached me in the break to ask if I could recommend anywhere her and her family could volunteer in Africa as they had been planning and saving for a trip which was to be in October 2016. Volunteering in Africa is common but most places expect a large payment for the privilege of volunteering and I had never researched any providers. I mentioned that we had a dream project that we had started working on and in a second, she was in!
Since that time Annie and Dean, two of their children Jesse and Harmony and Annie’s sister Erica and her husband Ted have worked tirelessly to raise funds and materials to construct our shelter. We have had so many kind monetary donations and we were overwhelmed with the response from local providers in Adelaide as well. We happily packed and sent off a large 40 foot container overflowing with love, hope and generosity in August with the expected date of arrival to be the end of September. Flights were booked, leave planned and we were all set to go.
Then the unthinkable happened. Our shipping company Hanjin went bankrupt on 31 August, leaving all boats abandoned worldwide. Somehow our container made it to Singapore where it still sits. Unfortunately the price has gone up from $4500 to $10,920 and rising by $30++ a day while we seek additional funding. As an aside, if you know anyone who can help, we would love any assistance! Here is our go fund me page.
Needless to say we were devastated but our amazing new friends were undeterred. They would still go to Ghana and do what we can to begin the project was the consensus. So here we all are and work has begun.
First we had an official meeting with the Chief who gave his formal blessings through his linguist, as you don’t speak directly to the Chief on such matters.
Then we all headed to the block for the rest of us to see for the first time, obviously Shanton had been there previously.
There was much discussion about the next steps
So clearing and grading the land was next on the agenda, this is how it looked on Sunday afternoon.
Monday morning the men set off early to meet the grader. We are staying in an area that is about 1.5 hours away. This is not due to distance, but rather traffic. After a long hot day on the block with zero shade, this was the result.
The next step was to have sand, stone and cement delivered and to begin constructing a water tank. It is extremely hot, dusty work with nowhere to escape for shade.
The next day the focus was on finishing the caretakers quarters which needed a roof, door and window.
Yesterday construction continued on the tank, with the mason bricking up to the top and he will finish that today. It needs a few days to dry, so everyone is having a well deserved day of rest. Our friends are visiting a local orphanage we have spent some time at and I will post separately about that as it deserves a place all of its own.
By the way, the Chief is so impressed, he has called several times to be sure we are happy with everything and even drove all the way to see us with his second wife and linguist. This is such a privilege and it made us all very happy!
We have another week here all together and we plan to pour the foundations on Monday and get as much done as we can while we are here, and I will update you all further on our progress.
Again, if you would be prepared to share our link or give us a hand, no matter how much, we would love to receive your kindness.
Here is our link again.
Much love from our full and happy hearts.
For more about us and our projects, read here. We have been completely self funded to this point and we are very proud of our achievements to date.
Rae-Anne and Shanton xx