by Jennifer Suttner, Rachel and Emilie’s cousin
It’s been almost three weeks since I returned from Africa with the Signing Time Foundation and I have to admit my thoughts are still there more often than not. I miss those kids. My time in Ghana was life-changing (for so many reasons). I will never again take for granted being able to turn a knob and have clean, hot water come out of it. I will also never forget what an amazing support system I have here at home. I’m a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend. I have so many people in my corner. Many of the children at the Demonstration School for the Deaf have depressing backgrounds and sad stories. Their culture places little, if any value on them. Every time we were at the school I’d think of my own boys back home and of how hard I try to make sure they know they’re loved and supported. The majority of the kids we worked with don’t have a family rooting for them. They’ve been left to fend for themselves. They are no different than my boys. They love to play and learn and laugh and they have dreams of their own. They just can’t hear.
We were able to have some amazing experiences in Ghana. We walked through the sky over a rainforest canopy on a rope bridge. We toured a slave castle and saw where men and women had been kept and tortured (not a pleasant experience, but a necessary one). We floated in a paddleboat on a crocodile infested lake. We walked through the market in Koforidua and bought supplies for the kids we sponsored. We ate coconuts and oranges on the side of the road. We went to a cocoa farm and saw how the cocoa beans were harvested and made ready for chocolate. We had dresses and wrap skirts made out of beautiful Ghanaian fabrics. We had our hair done into dozens of tiny braids. We bought beautiful wood carvings from local artists in Aburi. We saw how batik fabrics are made in a deaf school in Koforidua. We had dinner with Samuel Asare, the past president of the Ghanaian National Association for the Deaf. We traveled in a taxi that, when broken down, was fixed with masking tape. We learned how to balance buckets on our head and how to pound a casaba root into a local favorite food called fufu. We did so many incredible things and it all pales in comparison to the time we spent in the school with the kids. Teaching them and learning from them and serving them was the highlight of the trip.
Love is addictive. I’ve always known that, but it was never as apparent as when I was surrounded by a large group of deaf children in the middle of Ghana, Africa. The kids at Demo Deaf loved me for no other reason than I was there. I adore them…I love them…and I am addicted.
We are still raising money for this incredible cause. You don’t have to go to Ghana to contribute. You can contribute right now from the comfort of your home. Every little bit helps. Don’t forget…it’s tax deductible! Thank you for your support.