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Small Gift, Big Impact: Hands in Ghana Series

July 19, 2017
by Sheila Leech

Sheila Leech, Vice President of International Healthcare for Reach Beyond and a team leader for the 2017 Ghana medical internship, shares a series of stories from the experiences there. This is one of them.

African children generally love to go to school. They understand that an education can radically improve their opportunities in life. To them school is important and a privilege.

African schools in rural areas may be little more than a ramshackle building with rough wooden desks and a blackboard on the wall. There are no colorful posters on the walls, few books and no equipment.

On arriving in the village each day, we watched as the children, each decked out in their orange shirts and brown skirts or pants, formed an orderly line, and recited the Lord's Prayer. They also sang the Ghanaian National anthem. The start of their school day.

Young girls entering puberty face a dilemma in their school careers. Sanitary products are not available in the villages and would be too expensive to buy anyway. Their solution is to stay home for a week each month, which results in them getting so far behind in their studies that they eventually give up.

A woman in the USA came up with a wonderful idea to help girls stay in school. Hygiene kits. Brightly colored bags sewn together and containing a variety of reusable products, underwear and toiletries. By providing young girls with these, they can take care of their personal needs and continue their education, knowing they are clean and dry at all times. The kits are colorful and beautifully sewn and there is no outward sign of what is contained. Girls can confidently carry them to school.

                                        "I never received a gift before."

Reach Beyond received a gift of these kits for distribution during the medical outreach. When Karen Cole, wife of Sr Vice President Curt Cole, sat down with one of the teenage girls who had come to the clinic to see the doctor, she showed her the kit. She went through each product explaining what each was used for and how to take care of it. As she handed over the colorful bag, the girl looked at Karen, with tears rolling down her face and said "I never received a gift before".

Our hearts break as we hear stories like this. What 16 year-old girl in our society has never received a gift? Even worse, how many 16 year-olds in the world have never heard about Jesus and received the greatest gift that He offers? We certainly ought to be more diligent in spreading news of THAT gift -- which is the greatest gift of all.