In August 2016, Alyson Parham Small traveled 5,746 miles with 60+ white shoe boxes – each containing a pair of sneakers, t-shirt, and other personal items for children living in the Rising Star Orphanage, in Dodowa, Ghana. Working with a team of local volunteers, SusCo seeks to sow love, encouragement and skill development into the lives of orphans. For orphans participating in this holistic camp, they engage in includes sports, wellness exams, spiritual development, arts and crafts, leadership/ life skills development activities. SusCo brings the Camp to the orphanage – In the Box!
On a shoestring budget, SusCo delivered its very first “camp” that touched every aspect of each orphan’s life. For example:
- Children receive their very own sneakers! One of the many challenges for kids in an orphanage setting is that nothing is actually theirs – clothes, shoes, toys — are all shared. With their sneakers on their feet, the children played in various games and sports. Color coded t-shirts ensured children were always under the watchful eye of an adult.
- Children received three quality meals every day — along with some snacks!
- Medical professionals conducted health check and teenagers received counseling on relationships and medical concerns including the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases.
- Teens and older orphans were encouraged to consider career and vocational training options that align with their particular interests and gifts.
- Training was also provided for the mothers who care for the children on effective child development practices.
Earlier this year, Alyson and the team of facilitators returned to Rising Star. Here’s what they observed:
- The children have a greater sense of an outside world and shared more about what they care about and ambitions for their futures.
- The surrounding community of church leaders, medical professionals, and local businesses are more willing to invest in the children.
- Rising Star wants Camp in the Box to return! Other orphanages and community centers in Ghana are also interested in this program as well as orphanages in other African countries.