Friday, July 29, 2011

My Trip to Ghana

My name is Calli Probst and this summer I had the amazing opportunity to go to Ghana, Africa with the Forever Young Foundation. The Forever Young Foundation is a nonprofit organization that was founded by Steve Young of the San Francisco 49ers. Their focus is passing on hope and resources for the development, strength, and education of children.

In America I am a Social Worker and Therapist and have spent most of my professional career working with troubled teens and children. My husband, Clint Probst, is a mortician who helps people during one of the most difficult times in their life. Right before going to Africa I worked as a therapist at the wilderness therapy program, Anasazi. This is where I met Jenn, a teacher in California, and got to know about the amazing service she was doing in Ghana at the Forever Young International School. Jenn has dedicated most of her free time and summers off to volunteering with Forever Young and helping the children at the school in Africa.

Doing a service trip has always been a dream of mine and Clint has always encouraged me to live my dreams. I’d been trying to do it for many years but for some reason it just never worked out. I was starting to get discouraged and it seemed like I would never get the chance to live my dreams. As years passed I felt like time was running out and it was time to move on and focus on other things like starting a family. Then I was led to my job at Anasazi which led me to finding Jenn and the Forever Young Foundation. All the sudden it was like everything was falling into place. I knew that for some reason it was because I was meant to go to Ghana and help the children at the Forever Young School.

This trip was the most impactful experience of my life, and I got to meet some of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met. One of the things that stood out to me the most was despite having so little, they were so positive. Many could hardly afford food and would have to go days without eating. They would wear the same old outfit every day that usually didn’t even fit. The every day things we so easily can take for granted, most of them never experience. Regardless of the circumstance they would still find ways to enjoy life and would spend most of their free time singing, dancing, playing, or praising the lord.

School and education means something different to the children in Africa then it does to us here in America. It means hope and the possibility of a better life free of poverty and starvation. They WANT to be in school learning as much as they can and are grateful for the opportunity. Education is not free and many have to work for years to save the money to go back to school. A lot of the students don’t graduate until they are 23, 24, 25 or even older. Families can usually only afford to send one child to school, with the hope that when they finish they will come home and help feed the others.

One thing that Jenn has done at the Forever Young International School is put in place a scholarship program. She raises money to help put or keep the kids in school whose families can’t afford to pay their child’s fees. 100% of the money she raises goes to covering these children’s school fees. What many of us consider a small amount of money can impact a child greatly in their pursuit of an education and better life. The money she has raised has improved the life of many children and their families immensely including Samuel, who Jenn personally sponsors, and Isaac, who they call Obama.

This trip has changed mine and my families' lives forever. After everything I experienced and the people that I had the privilege to meet, we know we can’t continue living our lives without doing all we can to help these kids provide a better life for themselves and their families. We want to do everything we can to have as many children sponsored and in school as possible.

Also while in Africa I provided group therapy to children dealing with low self-esteem, trauma, and the loss of family and loved ones. In one of my groups, I worked with 3 siblings dealing with the loss of both of their parents and instantly fell in love with these children. There was something special about them and I knew there was a reason I was meant to meet them. Isaac, Emanuel, and Rhoda Sarpong’s story touched our hearts and we know these children are meant to be a part of our family.

While in Ghana I had the chance to sit down with the children's aunt who has been struggling to take care of Isaac, Emmanuel, and Rhoda while also trying to provide for her own children. When discussing my family's hope to bring these three children back with us to join our family in America, the aunt became overwhelmed with joy. She explained to me that whenever Isaac, Emmanuel, or Rhoda saw an airplane they would point up at it and say, "There it is, our plane, coming to take us home to America." With a big smile and tears in her eyes she said, "Their plane has finally come."

If you'd like to find out more about how you can help bring Isaac, Emmanuel, and Rhoda home or how you can sponsor a child at the school please watch our video, click on the Adoption Story page at the top of our blog or email me at (video coming soon). To donate you can just click on the "donate" button on the top right corner of our blog.