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The Visit That Started It All

Updated: Dec 3, 2021

students holding welcome signs and flowers

After a long, hot, bumpy drive we finally arrived at Infant Jesus Senior High School. The school compound is surrounded by a tall brick wall and large metal gates. As our van pulled up the gates were opened and we were greeted by the entire student population singing, cheering, playing drums, and waving banners. Quite frankly, I was overwhelmed. I never expected such an enormous welcome just for bringing some school supplies. The students followed the van all the way to the main building, singing the entire time. When they finished singing they welcomed me with a bouquet of flowers and a wall hanging which read, Akwaaba – welcome is Twi for welcome. The welcome continued with a delicious meal, including red-red, and an entire program dedicated to welcoming me and thanking me for coming to see them. There were speeches, songs, a play, and more gifts. I was overcome with tears of joy and gratitude for all the hard work these students had put into this program. I was surprised when they asked me to get up and give a speech. My skills in teaching and judging speech and debate helped me to give an inspirational extemporaneous message to the students and faculty. Finally, it was time for me to distribute the items I had brought. I've never witnessed so much gratitude for a few common gifts such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, underwear, t-shirts, and hair accessories. The students had so very little that such items were opening presents on Christmas morning. This really put into perspective the life of “plenty” I enjoyed back in the States.

When it was finally time to say goodbye, there were lots of hugs and a promise to return again soon. This was when the idea for S.E.A. crystallized.

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