31 March 2011 – New Life Orphanage

Last week I visited another SBIG (the NGO that brought the computers to my school), orphanage for the Peace Corps. Rob, the Peace Corps Training Office and Mary, the assistant director in charge of Computers, asked me to go the the other SBIG orphanages and talk to them about the benefits of having a Peace Corps volunteer and to check out the site for them. Lucky for me this school was in Cape Coast. First the ocean is beautiful there and second I could stay with Nancy the PCV(Peace Corps Volunteer) art teacher at Cape Coast School for the Deaf.

On Friday morning I called Derrick, the ICT teacher at New Life, and told him I was in Cape Coast. He said he was in a meeting and would come in 30 minutes. I grabbed my book. Went to Nancy’s living room and joked with her that I now had 1 ½ hours to read because a Ghanaian had said he would be here in 30 minutes.

Surprise! Thirty five minutes later Derrick called me and said he was in the main driveway at the Cape Coast School for the Deaf administration building.

The school was small and well maintained. There was housing for about 40 children. The classroom block contained three classrooms for grades 1-6. There was also an administration building. For me the most interesting part of the story is how the orphanage was founded.

Derrick’s mother, Ruby, started it about 14 years ago. As we drove back to Cape Coast Derrick told me the story.

He said he mother was a nurse and she worked for the government. In her job she saw so many orphans. I guess their situation moved her heart. One day she came home from work and announced to the family that she was quitting her job and starting an orphanage.

Imagine the uproar from her 3 daughters and her son Derrick. Like an American family they all chimed in with why this was a very bad idea. “We all thought she was crazy” Derrick confided. “ You know we all had our own things, our work, our families.”

But she did it anyway. She had land and started small. One building was all she had at first. It remains on campus as the administration building today. Small small she got all her children interested in her project. Derrick said she would come to us because she needed things or help at the orphanage and pretty soon we were all as committed as she was.

In 2005 Mama Ruby had a  stroke. Derrick, her son, and Richard, her grandson, took over the daily work at the orphanage. Derrick says he will bring his digital camera to school about once week and take photos and videos. Then he brings them to Mama Ruby and puts a smile on her face.

They have added the classroom block and the dorm since 2005 and last year they were picked from a handful of orphanages by SBIG to receive computers. Not only are they using the lab to teach their own students but two nearby schools come and use the lab each week as well. They charge a small maintenance fee – 10 pesewa – for each child who comes from the  other schools.

To me Mama Ruby epitomizes the spirit of my blog – One person doing something to make a change in the world.



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