Recently we told you that Opportunity House, our facility for special needs children, moved to a spacious new compound very close to Layla. Ivy Dash, Layla House Compound Coordinator, recently sent these photos taken after the move. The staff and children are very happy with the new space and a volunteer group has painted murals on the walls, making it even more cheerful and bright.
Last Friday we had our quarterly awards ceremony for Layla school. It is always a great time to celebrate the accomplishments of our students. Each group has a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place award presented along with a awards given for working hard and being a strong community member.
We had four children perform on recorders with our music teacher Gutu accompanying them. One of our older students, Mesfin (in photo above) shared a poem he wrote about Layla School and the teachers there.
Our program was a bit different than usual as we were fortunate to have two volunteers that were very musical working with us over this month. Scott and Barbara have been assisting Gutu with his music classes. They have worked hard with each group on a special song which they performed during our ceremony. You have not lived until you hear our children sing "You are my Shun Shine, my only Shun Shine. You make me Hoppy, when Skies are Great!" It was precious!
I know the children LOVED performing and as you can tell by the volunteers' smiles they had as good a time, if not better, than the children!
A number of AAI-Ghana families gathered for an "Akwaaba" (means 'welcome' in a principal Ghana language) reunion in Freeport, IL last weekend. The gathering was not organized by AAI but most of the families in attendance had children who were formerly in AAI's Eban House in Accra. Anita Gillispie, AAI's Ghana coordinator and mom to two Ghanaians herself, attended the gathering with her family from Tulsa, OK. She reported that all the children had a wonderful time reconnecting with each other and celebrating Ghanaian culture together with their "obruni" parents and siblings. Lots of old friendships were renewed and new ones made and the group is already planning for a future event. To learn more about AAI's Ghana adoption program, contact Anita Gillispie or check out this link.
Activities included Ghanaian music and games, hair care, drumming and lots of swimming, bubbles and whiffleball. A very good time was had by all and the event was even covered by a local paper and you can see the article at this link.
below: Anita Gillispie playing the Ghana version of "duck, duck goose" with a group of children and parents.
Post by Susan Poisson-Dollar, AAI Director of Development
Some months ago, it came to our attention that one of our sponsorship children, a 10 year old boy named Eyob, was in need of life-saving spinal surgery for his severe TB of the spine case. People with this form of TB have such deformed spines that their lungs and other internal organs can be literally crushed and without surgery they face a slow and agonizing death. Luckily for Eyob though, AAI staff had made the acquaintance of Dr. Rick Hodes, an American doctor in Addis who has come to specialize in these complicated cases. The surgery is not available in Addis but Dr. Rick, as he is fondly called, has arranged for many of his patients to travel to the U.S. or Ghana where they can be operated on. Dr. Rick agreed that Eyob did indeed need surgery to survive and AAI began a drive to raise the needed $10,000 to cover the expenses. The money was quickly raised from a number of very generous donors and Eyob was on his way.
If you would like to read more about Dr. Rick's work, we highly recommend the new book about his work in Ethiopia This is a Soul: The Mission of Rick Hodes by Marilyn Berger. The book is also an adoption story as Dr. Rick has adopted a number of the orphans that he has treated and ranks as the only single man that has been permitted to adopt by the Ethiopian authorities. Dr. Rick has also been the subject of a recent documentary film entitled Making the Crooked Straightthat was shown this spring on HBO.
Here are some recent photos we received from the AAI social workers about Eyob. Eyob traveled to Ghana as part of a group of children receiving treatment there. He was a very sick little boy just a few months ago and now he is a healthy, active child looking forward to a good future with the help of Dr. Rick and his AAI sponsor. To learn more about AAI's sponsorship program, please contact Brooke Cole, AAI sponsorship coordinator. We are always in need of more sponsors to help orphaned and vulnerable children stay with loving caregivers and continue their educations.