What my time in Ghana taught me about resilience

Mar 01, 2018
10-Minute Read
By Katana Bosetti, edited by Kristian Foster.

Pictured above: These children and Katana shared three things in common; the love of play, the love of laughter, and the love of each other. This was taken at Tizza Primary school in Ghana. Photo: Kaitlyn Patterson

Ten years ago, my life completely changed while working in Buduburam Refugee Camp, Ghana. I was completing my university thesis studying former Liberian child soldiers.

To have the opportunity to return to Ghana last fall, once again changed me forever. I’ll never be the same. Ghana inspired me to help empower the incredible people I met there. They are some of the most resilient and hopeful people I’ve ever met, and helping share their voice has helped me too. It has flamed my desire to spread their courage with Canadians.  

As a child sponsorship ambassador, I am privileged to share their stories. On social media, in group presentations and in conversations with friends and family, their stories continue to inspire us all.
Below are some of my Facebook posts about the many accomplishments the Ghanaians I met have achieved since World Vision partnered with them.  
Imagine walking for kilometers to go fetch dirty water from a river or watering hole shared by animals. Imagine carrying the 40lb jerry can home knowing this water will make you sick. Now imagine attempting this with a physical disability. 

Ayisha did this everyday of her life until recently, when a solar powered water pump was built at a school near her home. Now she spends those precious hours, time she used to spend collecting water, with her friends and family.

A young woman with crutches stands in front of a group of women in Ghana.
Photo: Dilpreet Gill
Here are some interesting facts about access to clean water in Ayisha’s world:
  • Women and children are responsible for water collection in 71% of sub-Saharan households without drinking water.
  • Women in homes without running water in Africa and Asia walk an average of 6 km to fetch water.
  • Their unsafe journey to collect water puts them at daily risk of attack and other types of bodily harm.
  • Studies show that reducing time dedicated to water collection enables women to earn more money for themselves and their families.

Black and white photo of a Ghanaian teacher and a Canadian sponsorship ambassador 
Photo: Katana Bosetti

Josephine, pictured above with me, is a teacher in Jirapa, Ghana. She has dedicated nearly 30 years of her life helping educate and empower some of Ghana's most vulnerable children. She spoke with the utmost respect, love, and care about the children in her community.  

As boys and girls of all ages approached us, she not only knew each one’s name, but was able to tell me a little about their personality and family. If a child is ever absent from her class, Josephine walks up to 10km to visit the child's family to inquire about why they were not at school.
Education for girls is not a given in Ghana. Did you know:
  • Children who are not in school are at greater risk of exploitation and early marriage. They’re on track for a much lower income once they grow up. This limits the future for their own children as well.
  • Girls who stay in school are less likely to marry early, contributing to their overall health and well-being.  They can more effectively teach their children, helping lift an entire generation.
A registered child with a smiley face sticker on her foreheadJuliana, nine years old, loved the stickers we gave out at Sigri primary. Photo: Katana Bosetti

As an ambassador, we aim to find sponsors for the children we met and bonded with in Ghana.

I hope to find a sponsor for Juliana to celebrate her recent ninth birthday on February 26th. What a life-changing birthday gift it would be for her and her family.

A mother in Ghana with a large metal bowl on her head and a baby tied with colourul cloth to her back. 
This photo was taken at a Garri processing site. Garri is Hausa for powdery food substances like corn or maize flour. I was moved by the mother's strength and beauty. Photo: Katana Bosetti

Women in Ghana hold many important roles in their communities. They manage group savings funds, are wholesale traders, farmers, office workers as well as wives and mothers. Though they are often not given the same opportunities for education as men, their roles in society continue to evolve.
Here are some things I’ve learned about the importance of gender equality:
  • Societies with greater gender equality enjoy more sustainable development, faster economic growth and better prospects for their children.
  • When entire communities – women, girls, men and boys – work together, discriminatory practices are transformed.
  • Education, job training, counselling and healthcare are powerful tools for women and girls who have been denied the chance to go to school, abused in the home, and forced into early marriage or sexual exploitation.
A Canadian child sponsorship ambassador holds a baby in GhanaPhoto: Ryan Chan

While in a dancing circle this baby girl’s mom passed her to me to hold. As you can see I was filled with admiration and love.
These stats and facts on child and maternal health astonished me:
  • Preterm birth complications are now the leading cause of death in children under age five, can lead to disability, adult heart disease, and diabetes.
  • Preterm birth is defined as babies born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy are completed.
  • Empowering women and adolescent girls, as well as engaging with men, boys and community leaders, help tackle gender-based discrimination and barriers that impact maternal and newborn health.
One thing was clear from my time spent in Ghana: My heart was genuinely overwhelmed with the amount of love, hope, and pride I felt coming from everyone I met on my journey. They displayed a level of courage and determination toward bettering their lives that is admirable beyond words. I wake up daily thinking of everyone I met in Ghana and am motivated to tell their stories, and to help make their hopes and dreams a reality.
A Canadian child sponsorship ambassador is surrounded by children in Ghana
Photo: Stephen Woo

These are the children of a disaster relief group we met with in Jirapa. This group educates the community about how to prevent Bush fires, illegal cutting of trees, child marriage and more.

"Only a life lived for others is worth living." - Albert Einstein...and Katana Bosetti!