Mission Immersion

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Yenk⊃ Ghana!

Hidden along the Atlantic Coast of Africa is the republic of Ghana; pregnant with mineral wealth, infectious hospitality and a vision for change! It is within this hope-laden land that we find our next adventure!

Life Change Adventures, along with Future of Africa joins and supports the Smile Child Foundation (a school founded by the local people of Lolito, Ghana) on a journey to build up their community through the education of their children. This year, myself along with a team of six others will be heading to Ghana as a part of The Mission Immersion Project. Over the next couple of days we hope to bring you some insight into what each participant is excited about as we prepare to leave. Here is my bit: we’re going to my home country!

Nante yie,

Scilla.

Any contribution is greatly appreciated and can be made through the donate tab on this site.

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Wide Open

Call it Sanctuary, a safe haven or a place of refuge but fundamentally, it’s the hospital for the hurt, afflicted, lonely and rejected. Perfectly sandwiched between two colossal edifices was a community within a community.

I was gifted the opportunity of spending the weekend there and so I did. Through the stories,  keynotes, interactions, discussions and activities, l learnt that life has greater meaning when yours is dedicated in service of others. I learnt that persons who have trodden the battle field of abuse, hurt and bewilderment do exist and some are trying pretty hard to better themselves.
I learnt that to invest time in others is an investment in a better world.

I was blown out of the water for the grave selflessness displayed by the speakers. The joy they found in the giving of themselves and their certainty when their life mission was thrown in the limelight.

Someone asked, “What would be your advice to those who want to change the world?”

-“Don’t. Change yourself”  replied the speaker.

This speaks volumes to the great potential of one individual with the right attitude and values. An individual who has identified his/her purpose and “risks rejection in hopes of acceptance”.

The time spent at Sanctuary was an eye opener to say the least!

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Baby – rants of an AfroEcuadorian girl.

I’m not as poor as they think. They look upon me with pity, and they think I struggle. My family may not have as many cows, our plot of land may be a couple of acres less than others, but it’s not as bad as they think. I have heard of worse.

Okay, so maybe I do struggle a little bit. Maybe I do when mother is unwell and my sisters need to be cared for. I’m not as mature as I look, and it’s a tough job. Who cares for me? Maybe I do when I am only able to go as far as grade 10 with my education. Maybe I do when the eyes of the men at the river port shamelessly follow the 17-18-19 rhythm of my buttocks as I walk past with my family’s laundry on my hips. They all notice it, I know they do. And it’s not just the men either. It’s the wives who consider me competition for the attention of their husbands. It’s the young boys who are looking for some fun or for a little wife to prove their manliness. It is the little girls who wish to look like me when they grow up. They say it is in my African blood: the wide hips, large thighs, the booty, the “coca-cola shape”, they call it. Now that is where my connection with my ancestors end.

I’m nothing like them. My present situation is nothing like theirs. Abuela said many, many years ago they got stranded here, brought in on slave ships from West Africa to work these lands, but they escaped their masters, settled near the Onzole and built a home and a community. Well, I say, lucky them! lucky us! We are this new breed of never before existed Afro-Ecuadorians. One of a kind. Our home is rich in fruit trees of oranges, sugarcane, guanabana. We thrive on our rice and plantains and shrimp. Dare I say, we live quite the life. These Africans, the people of my ancestors, now they, they struggle. I’ve heard stories of their suffering from the radio in Luciano’s house. It is not pretty.

Yesterday, the gringos came back.The one who speaks our language said he would return with more of their kind to help build the school for my sisters. Or at least that is what I understood. Because then I saw her, among the gringos, but she was not their kind. She was more my kind. Skin dark like the cacao beans mother lays out in the sun to dry, large brown eyes, lashes to the heavens, not quite the coca-cola shape, but African descent nonetheless. She even seemed to share my struggle, for it appeared the young boys and the old men at the river port had eyes for her as well. She stood on the desk, silently covering up the thin planks of wood in fresh white paint. I stared. Que es tu nombre? De donde eres? She stared back at me for a couple of seconds. She had not understood. The one who speaks our language came to our rescue. Our precious Spanish-English translator.

As we spoke my eyes dug straight through hers, ready to uncover what secrets she hid. For she admitted that that continent was her home, and she had lived there all her life. Yet, her belly bulged not, neither were her eyes sunken with fear and destitute. It made no sense to me that dark-skinned one eats my plantain in her Africa and squeezes the juice from her oranges straight to her mouth like my people. She even knows that the burnt bottom of the rice pot is the best part of the meal. Yet her last couple of years were spent in school in Canada! How is this ever possibly so?

It seems we are more alike than I thought. If there is one thing I know now it is this: Our people are not all like her, able to travel the world. But they are not all like Luciano’s radio says either, hiking deserts and unable to afford a square meal. They are no lower than me, and I no lower than them. We both experience a poverty that is no fault of ours, but a product of corrupt leadership, unjust hearts, blind eyes and apathy. But we fight, oh do we fight! We fight for lives better than our ancestors’. We fight to be heard and to be educated and successful. We fight out of love and a desire for justice for our people to encourage, impassion and motivate them.

To remind them that They Too Matter.

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The Beauty of Partnership

And the Importance of Education   Thirty minutes up river from the village of Santo Domingo lies the much larger village of Colon, another Afro-Ecuadorian settlement. It is the last Afro village along the Onzole River and has received much less government and NGO attention than the villages that come before it. Over the past few years, however, our partnership with Colon has grown and strengthened. Every aspect of this relationship was recently on display when my co-worker Nikki and I went to the village to examine the school that’s in place. We had decided to work with the community to repaint the school together with a group of Canadians who will be here over the next two and half weeks. When we got to the school, however, we realised the true scale of disrepair it had fallen into. The government had started construction on a new school in Colon but the architect in charge of the project took off with the money he had been paid before construction had gone very far. The project stalled and still remains far from finished, with only a few pillars standing, a constant reminder to the village of the government’s unwillingness to provide basic services. The students have been forced to remain in the old wooden school, a building not fit for anything, let alone as a place of learning and inspiration.

It was then that we decided we were going to help Colon build a new school.

After a meeting with the community the project was ok’d. This was barely 2 weeks ago. Now, as I sit here writing this, the group of Canadians is about to arrive and together we’ll set off for Onzole. The community of Colon, however, has been hard at work ever since the meeting. The very next day the old school was torn down and work begun on cutting all the boards necessary for a brand new building. Cement, paint and other materials were purchased with funds raised from the Onzole Scarf Project, a project many of you directly assisted with your purchase of scarves. 

By this time next week Colon will have a new school, just in time for the start of the new school year here. It will be the result of a beautiful partnership between the Onzole River Project, the community of Colon and all of you back in Canada. It will stand as a testament to the power of relationships, love and mutual respect and hard work. It will be a beautiful thing indeed.

Nelson Mandela once said that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.

While I personally believe the most powerful catalyst for positive change is the unconditional love of God, I do believe that championing the emancipation gained through education is something that flows directly from God’s great love. 

This is what this school will represent for the community: the power and importance of education provided by the immense love of Christ. It will be the work of the community, for the community and God will, without a shadow of a doubt, bless it greatly.

Your thoughts and prayers over the next few weeks would be greatly appreciated as we move forward with the build and the rest of the time the group of Canadians are with us along the Onzole River. 

With Love!

C3 C2 C1

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MI Kick Off!

Three months ago I embarked with 15 others on a new initiative; the Mission Immersion Project. Recently one of the participants exclaimed; “I will never be the same. The things I have experienced, the people and the lessons I have learned have changed me for a life time.”

Mentoring, curriculum, group discussions, weekly mission involvement, journaling, readings, along with two highly experiential practical mission encounters all combine to form the ‘Project.’

At this very moment the group is in the jungle of northern Ecuador. I am on my way to join them. For the next few weeks we will live and work alongside a people who have seen their country’s leaders turn their backs on them and their needs. We have a number of projects and activities that we will seek to carry out. The primary aim I have for our Immersion gang is that they would grow to understand the needs and opportunities that exist with this particularly people group, Afro- Ecuadorians, and do the hard work of understanding what our responsibility might be. The entire 4 months have been established to help each participant understand what their contrition to the process of change might be, and grow in understanding how they can embrace that role. 15 wonderful people: 15 young, creative, energetic, gifted young men and women, each in the years ahead moving out into their world with a solid commitment to work for change in the lives of another! It just doesn’t get any better.

Programs and activities each have an important role, but at the core of real transformation is people and relationship. I cannot remember a time when I have been more encouraged over an initiative that I have been involved in than the Mission Immersion Project.

We intend, when possible, to chronicle our experiences. Visit lifechangeadventures to read more.