Bringing blessings to Ghana

  • Posted: Saturday, September 28, 2013 12:01 a.m.
Submitted photo
Matthew Harrison, 15, hands out backpacks in Enchi, Ghana. He collected school supplies and teaching materials for the impoverished region as part of his Eagle Scout project.
Submitted photo Matthew Harrison, 15, hands out backpacks in Enchi, Ghana. He collected school supplies and teaching materials for the impoverished region as part of his Eagle Scout project.

Matthew Harrison followed in his father’s footsteps earlier this year, traveling to the jungle of Africa to deliver school supplies, teaching materials and backpacks to the children of Enchi, Ghana.

The elder Harrison, a doctor with Novant Health Rowan Medical Center, has been to the region six times with Catholic World Mission and Helping Hands Medical Missions to run a makeshift medical clinic.

Matthew, 15, worked with five churches in three states, Boy Scout Troop No. 5 in Mount Pleasant and two schools to collect $45,000 worth of supplies and raise $6,000 to buy more.

His home church and former school, Sacred Heart Catholic, were part of the team that helped him complete the Eagle Scout project.

Dr. Matt Harrison traveled with his son to deliver the supplies to a nine-room school house with more than 400 children.

Harrison’s daughter, Mabel, and her peers in Betsy Knauf’s third-grade class wrote letters, painted watercolor pictures of their homes and made “Good Deed” chaplets to give out to the children at the St. Therese Catholic School.

Knauf has been working with the elder Harrison to build relationships between her class and the Ghana children.

“This is such a wonderful opportunity for these children to learn such valuable lessons in science, social studies and humanity,” she said. “They have taken such an interest in helping these less fortunate children and really want to build relationships across miles, cultures and political barriers.”

Troubles in Ghana

This part of Africa has beautiful landscapes, but an extremely poor population who have no access to toilets or paved roads.

There is no fresh water, only a pond that they use to drink, bathe, wash clothes and clean animals.

The medical problems of the Ghana people are very advanced in the disease process because they lack consistent medical care.

One of the more prevalent problems involves their feet, due to a lack of footwear.

The Ghana people get thorns stuck deep in their feet that must be extracted very painfully and their feet are often infected due to lack of hygiene.

They also have severe respiratory problems, because they burn all their trash, making the air quality very poor.

Another major medical problem is neck and musculoskeletal issues, due to hard work in the fields and carrying water buckets on their heads for such long distances.

The story continues

The Harrisons’ trip to Ghana was so successful that Father Anthony from St. Therese came by Sacred Heart earlier this month to express his appreciation.

Father Anthony and Matthew explained to the students how poor the children of Ghana were, describing their living conditions, lack of food and water supply and their school life.

They talked about how the students wake as early as 4 a.m. to begin their walking journey to Mass and school each day.

The Ghana children are so thankful for the school supplies and they loved the bookbags, Anthony said.

Now, they can carry their books in their bookbags which makes it much easier to walk long distances.

While more than 610 bookbags were handed out, it was not enough for the 1,500 school children in the area.

Father Anthony explained that bookbags are very special and have been given out to children as an incentive to come to Mass and school daily, behave in the classroom and complete their studies.

But many good students don’t have a bookbag yet,

But Dr. Harrison, Matthew and Knauf’s third grade class are not giving up; they want continue to help these children of Ghana.

They are combining with the school’s Student Government and Beta Club to continue to find ways to improve the educational conditions and collect more bookbags and school supplies.

“A bookbag goes a long way in Ghana,” Matthew said. “The children are very humble and so excited to come to school to learn.

“It’s just the smallest way to make a big impact.

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