September is a special month for us at Touch A Life: it's officially been five years since we opened our Care Center in Ghana, West Africa. The Touch A Life Care Center is a long-term rehabilitative facility for children rescued out of slavery, the only one of its kind in the region. This space was a dream of ours for years before it came to fruition, as we realized early on the need for a place where children who could not be reunited with their families could find a place to safely heal and grow. At the time only short-term care and housing options existed for trafficked children, and we knew that we needed to stand in the gap for this demographic of kids by creating a long-term facility so that we could provide them with the holistic care they so desperately needed and deserved. So to see how far we've come and to witness the center thriving five years after the children moved in is an absolute joy.
We started small with four children's dormitories, a dining hall, and a director's house. We filled the space with children and house parents, and we raised the capital to complete more projects. Since the facility opened in 2012 we've added a fifth dorm, a social center, an art center, a multi-purpose room, and an on-site shop for goods created by our talented staff at the facility. We have a soccer field and a basketball court and a sand volleyball court; we have wells that pump fresh water and a gorgeous garden and a bakery. We have 10 acres in total, giving the children so much space to run and play.
The Care Center is currently home to 80 amazing children, and I had the pleasure of spending a week with them in early August. It was my 14th trip to Ghana, which I cannot believe, and it was my sixth time to be at the Care Center. My mom traveled with me for the sixth time (!) and we were joined by a wonderful small group of volunteers. We hosted a yoga camp for the kids, worked on donor communication projects, and soaked up our days in Ghana. Like always, the trip impacted me in ways both big and small. Every time I'm in Ghana, and more specifically at the Care Center, I am grounded and humbled. I am reminded of who I am meant to be and how I am supposed to live my life. I feel centered and strong; I gain new perspective and focus.
Celebrating this special anniversary reminds me of a Ghanaian tradition that I love. When two people meet for the first time, they gather underneath a mango tree to discuss where they have been and where they are going. Looking back at the last five years at the Care Center reminds me where we've been as an organization: the ups and downs we've faced, the trials we've overcome, the heartbreak we've endured, the successes we've had. And looking ahead fills me with so much hope and inspiration. We've got teenagers to send to college and farm animals to raise and projects to pursue. We have neighbors to serve and volunteers to send and lives to change (ours included). There is so much to be thankful for, and there is so much good work still left to do.