In May 2014, a team of ANCOP youth volunteers and Couples for Christ (CFC) leaders from Canada went to Ghana in West Africa to start off ANCOP’s Child Sponsorhip Program (CSP).
It is inspiring when the exuberance of the youth is put to good use for God’s purpose and service to people. The volunteers, with great enthusiasm and fervour, pioneered ANCOP’s Child Sponsorship Program to 50 pupils in the primary school. The children came from poor families in the Diocese of Sunyani, District of Wamfie and Wamanafo, located south of Ghana.
The local organizers headed by Fr. Frank Kumi, parish priest, welcomed warmly the ANCOP team and introduced them to the hopeful beneficiaries and their parents. When the small children gathered around them, the team experienced an unexplainable joy. “We came to Ghana out of our passion and interest to help those in need, now more than that we are going to help build lives!” they shared. As the news of ANCOP support slowly sank in, the children beamed. Parents were moved by the thought of a possible future without the burden of being so poor.
The 50 Ghana ANCOP scholars were to benefit from the support of CSP sponsors from Canada. They were enrolled in school and attend regular classes, clad in school uniforms, and their health and physical needs taken care of.
The ANCOP team likewise initiated the values formation to the children and their parents. This is a lecture series about the values of strong family life, education, right attitude, and the importance of hope and faith for personal success. Values formation is an essential part of the Child Sponsorship Program to ensure its success and sustainability.
At the start of the session, the parents and children were given ID cards, which they proudly wore. Leah Custodio, one of the youth volunteers, engaged the children in dancing and singing. “I wanted to capture the children’s attention, so I taught them action songs,” Leah said. “This helped instill the learnings in the young minds,” she added. It pleased Leah that this was met with rousing cheer from the children as dancing and singing are innate to the Ghana culture like the rest of the African nations.
Jonathan, a local ANCOP youth volunteer, gave the main lecture in the local dialect. He imparted to the children and parents the importance of education for personal success and better life opportunities. Jonathan encouraged the children to study hard, develop a positive attitude, and work with dedication to achieve their dreams.
To cap the activity, the children were asked to draw on a sheet of paper what they want to become when they grow up.
Edgar and Bebeth Villegas, CFC leaders from Canada, gathered the parents together for a separate session. The couple talked to the parents about raising a family founded in strong faith in God, responsible parenthood, and the importance of their role in the formation and success of their children. “We made the parents understand that their children need their love and support, and that it is important for them to have an open communication,” Edgar said. Fr. Kumi helped by interpreting and capturing the essence of the talks. The parents had the opportunity to pose questions about the topics and the CSP during the open forum.
As closing activity, the parents joined their children and helped draw their children’s dreams on the paper and color these so they come to life. The artwork reflected the children’s high hopes and aspiration — to become a nurse, doctor, banker, soldier, teacher, and a footballer. When they finished drawing, parents and child posed with their artwork.
Indeed, a good start for the ANCOP team and beneficiaries in Ghana, and a huge step for ANCOP Canada!