Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Smiles for New Year - feting Ghanaian kids in the festive season

Here's another one. Just like the other one. I had approached Ronke about doing a similar "Smiles for Christmas (SFC) event in Kumasi. She loved the idea and wanted to support. I couldn't get my act together early enough to get her to publicize it through SFC but the event came off eventually. In the New Year of 2010. Together with some friends, we were able to present some provisions and cash to the King Jesus Charity in Boadi, Kumasi. Smiles for New Year was born in Kumasi to join its sister in Accra called SFC. You see, folks, it's not very difficult. You could also start one in Little London Obo Kwahu, Tuabodom or Tain.

I sought support from Facebook friends who lived in Kumasi to help carry this out. Some people responded and we had a core to work with. It took a while to choose an orphanage or charity and Sandra Agyapong came up with King Jesus Charity. We skirted around the subject (ever since I saw this expression, I've always loved to use it) for days and finally settled on the 3rd of January as our date. We approached the pastor in charge at King Jesus Charity and set the date in stone. The interesting thing is this orphanage happened to be right near Sandra's house and turned out to be in the same suburb I lived in. No wonder, she and myself were the only members of the organizing core who were able to go to KJC that day.

I dragged my siblings to KJC on this Sunday after church and Sandra joined us later. Nana Akosua Darko was on her way to Kumasi from Accra, and Edward Antwi was out of coverage area. They both contributed immensely. Big shout out to my neighbour Aku Ackumey who contributed a lot too. We were welcomed by the pastor who told us the KJC story. He had started out as a child evangelist, preaching the gospel to young kids and winning them for Christ. When he realised some of these had nowhere to lay their heads, he put them in his shelter and as the number grew, built a charity. He's been able to educate a lot of them through basic school he registered and now they attend local Boadi schools. He's also sponsored the kids through their education to the point where some have completed university and since gotten married. He's been doing this since 1995.

When we were at KJC, I had been thinking of how to address the kids there. The plan was to go, present the items to the charity, interact with the kids for a while and leave. The items included Obama biscuits (which I bought on the way from my house to KJC), cartons of Ideal Milk, toilet roll, Milo, other provisions and cash. I borrowed a page from the Pastor's speech to the kids. I shouted "King Jesus Charity" and the kids chorused, "Yeahhhhh Yeah". Cute. I tried to do a little ice-breaker by asking those who were born on the various days of the week to raise their hands. I advised them to work hard, and be well-behaved. I told them if they worked real hard they could become like my siblings who were working or in medical school. When I was buying those Obama biscuits at that kiosk, I thought 'Eureka'. I signed off my message saying, "You know Obama right? If we all work hard, we can be famous like Obama. Yes, we can!" Booyaka! Sandra, who the pastor had affectionately called Okyeame, also spoke so eloquently and brought the event to a close. We took a bunch of group pictures afterwards.

Since we were Smiles for Christmas' sibling, we wanted a name that would mantain Smiles. I came up with Save Our Smiles, which I thought was genius. My medical school sister knew better. She mentioned that Save Our Smiles sounded like the motto for organizations that wanted to fix people with better smiles. :-) I sided with her and we settled on "Smiles for New Year". So every new year, we hope to choose one orphanage or charity in Kumasi for which we can fete the kids and present some gifts to. For 2009, it was "King Jesus Charity! Yeahhh Yeah!".

So this is what happened. And you can do it too. Ghanaians will support good deeds, we just need people to take those action steps. Ghanaians will support good deeds, we just need people to take those action steps. These orphanages are NGOs and many a time don't receive support from the government. Can you imagine the KJC school wasn't eligible for FCUBE etc? We have to support volunteerism in Ghana and be part of the movement ourselves. You can find more info about King Jesus Charity at this website. Anything is Obamable!
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