Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The building has begun!

I have really exciting news!  We reached the goal of $5,000 for the Goat Farm! A group of volunteers from England donated $3,500 directly to UHCC, and the rest was raised through online donations from all of you!!  Last week, a volunteer from UHCC, Ellen, raised over $250 and donated it to the fund, and that put us at our goal!  So thank so much to everyone for supporting this project and making donations.  It's SO cool that we were all able to come together and get a sustainable project going to help these beautiful children.

And even MORE exciting news is that the building of the animal barn has begun!  Here is a picture of the progress from United Hearts website:

This building will house around 50 goats/sheep-look how big it is and the awesome progress that has already been made in such a short amount of time (we just started fundraising for this project in July!)

Once the building is complete, the initial goats and sheep will be bought from the local breeder and the breeding will begin!  (I can't wait to visit all the cute little goats and sheep, but I'll probably have to pretend that they are for pets and not food.)

Here are a few more details about this project and it's sustainability:

  • We expect the farm to have paid for itself through the sale of new goats and sheep by December of 2015!
  • This farm will provide up to $350 in income per month for the Center! This will pay for 80% of the monthly food bill, which feeds the 27 permanent kids AND 30 children from the local community EVERY DAY.
  • The cost to maintain it is very low, as the animals will graze on land that already belongs to UHCC, and eat cassava shavings that are free from the vendors in town.
UHCC is all that some of these children have, so it is very important that United Hearts has a sustainability plan to support these kids.  That is exactly what this project will do I'm so excited about the wonderful benefits that it is going to provide for the children!  

Read about some of the other projects going on at United Hearts on their website:, such as the building of the new school! A Mama Hope Global Advocate is raising money for this, so if you haven't been able to make a donation to this project, but would like to contribute to UHCC, you can make a donation to her page here.

Thanks again to everyone for the support and donations and remember that you made this project possible! 

Friday, August 30, 2013

He may have a bed to sleep in, but he needs food in his stomach before he can go to sleep happy.

This was something that Pastor Elisha, the founder of United Hearts, told me on my first trip to Ghana and it has always stuck with me.  I think Pastor was trying to explain to me the crucial matter of food and nutrition for the kids at UHCC, and the real threat of starvation in a 3rd world country.  As volunteers, we always wanted to improve the living conditions for the kids by purchasing mattresses, school supplies, shoes, etc.  Now these things are essential in order for children to thrive, however when UHCC was struggling to provide the most essential living necessity there is, items like that were not the top was.

And it still is today.  So, that brings me to the importance of the this project.  I know I have said this one hundred times, but i'll say it again.  This project will ensure that UHCC doesn't have to struggle with funding the food bill for all of the children at UHCC and the children they serve in the community. 

Here is just one example of how important United Hearts, and especially this project, is to the survival of vulnerable children in Ghana.  I'd like to introduce you to Nyame Kye, the newest family member of United Hearts:

About Nyame Kye: 
"About one month ago, Nyame Kye came to us, because his mother died while giving birth to her second child.  The child survived, and family members quickly took the one week old.  But they didn’t want Nyame Kye.  We had numerous meetings with the landlords on the compound where Nyame Kye lived, and his father.  They didn’t want him either.  So we then met with elders in the community, and we all decided that UHCC would take him.
The first day he came we took him to a hospital and a nutrition specialist – he weighed in at 7.4 kilograms (or about 16 pounds).  He was wearing pants for a 3 to 6 month old, and they wouldn’t stay around his waist.  The hospital thought he was less than a year old, but he’s 3.  Nyame Kye was not sick – no malaria, no stomach problems – but he had anemia from severe malnourishment.  When the nutrition specialist saw him, he said that he was dying slowly, and wouldn’t have survived much longer where he had been living before.  He gave us a free and unlimited supply of plumpy nut, the emergency therapeutic food that they give to children in countries with famine.
The past month has been an amazing transition.  Nyame Kye now lives in a place where he has 40 people constantly giving them food from their bowls (he eats at least 5 times a day), and he’s steadily gaining weight.  Our staff love him and care for him, especially Auntie Abena, who is Nyame Kye’s primary caretaker."
(Nyame Kye photos and excerpt from:  United Hearts Children Center website,, please visit their website to read more about Nyame Kye)

I haven't had the chance to meet Nyame Kye yet, but he has already captured my heart. I am so happy that he found a loving home at United Hearts.  We are in need of your donations now more than ever, as more vulnerable children continue to arrive at UHCC.  Help us reach our fundraising goal by September 30, 2013!  Please donate whatever amount you can to and help us save the lives of children like Nyame Kye.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The power of $5

What a great week!  Thank you so much to every one who has donated to this project and continue to support the United Hearts Goat and Sheep Farm.  We are continuing to raise money for this project so that we can provide lasting food security to the beautiful children of United Hearts.

I would absolutely LOVE it if we could reach the fundraising goal by September 30, 2013.  So this week, my goal is to receive 20 donations of $5 each.  Just 15 donations of $5 each will buy a female goat for UHCC and provide $1,500 in income over the next 5 years!  Together, we have the power to make a lasting impact on these beautiful children.

Awww...Ezekiel and Meeshek

What does $5 buy us in the states, that we could do without this week in order to help provide food security for these beautiful children.  A Starbucks latte?  A glass of wine at happy hour?  Car wash?  A lunch during the workweek? This week, I plan to pack a lunch every day of the week, and instead donate what I would normally spend on lunch ($10, I usually eat out once a week) to this fund.  I am asking you to do the same- this week go without one of the "extras" and instead donate that money to the goat farm

I often think back on one of the many eye-opening experiences I had during my first trip to the orphanage. Dinner (rice, fish and sauce) had just been served, and each child received their bowl.  A few of the younger boys were being silly and jumping around, and Kelvin's food was accidentally spilled all over the ground (At the old house, meals were eaten outside and his food spilled in the dirt- not salvageable!) He immediately started crying out of fear that he was going to have to go to bed hungry.  He couldn't be dished out another serving because there was no more food.  However, Kelvin didn't go to bed hungry that night.  Why?  Because although the rest of the children would be sacrificing their own dinner (and believe me there was never leftover food), each child gave Kelvin a little of their own serving.  That night Kelvin was able to sleep soundly with food in his belly.

 Kelvin-such a big smile! (And he's really funny too)

This story always reminds me of the reality of life in a developing country. Most of us here in the States are fortunate enough to have the choice to go without.  In Ghana, there isn't a choice- many people are forced to go without food because they don't even have money to buy rice or bread.  Many of the staff and children at United Hearts have/do experience this.  There are no food stamps, government assistance, homeless shelters or food pantries to get help from. If the food runs out...the kids don't eat...And when the average person is living on less than $2 a day, every last kernel of rice is counted.

This Goat and Sheep Farm is more than just "sustainability" and "food security."  It's going to prevent these abandoned and orphaned children from going hungry.  So please, join me in making a small sacrifice this week and donate just $5 to the Goat and Sheep Farm.  We can't do this without your help.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Invest in our children!

Today I want to highlight why this goat and sheep farm is going to do more than just provide aid to the children at United Hearts.  There are several theories out there as to what is the best way to help under developed countries rise out of poverty.  Some critics say that by only giving aid to struggling countries, organizations are perpetuating the problems of poverty, making them reliant on foreign aid.  Others argue that monetary aid will always be a need of developing countries, and that there isn't necessarily a clearly defined solution to poverty.

What we do know is that investing in children and local communities so that they can create their own opportunities has been a proven method of success.  We can donate all the food and money we want, but it will eventually run out and organizations will continue to be reliant on foreign aid.  So I want to encourage you to look at this project as an investment.  Rather than simply making a donation to these kids, you will be making an investment in United Hearts to raise educated young adults who will be contributing members of their community.

Your one-time investment of just $75, the cost of a female goat in Bawjiase, Ghana, will provide United Hearts with over $1,500 in income over the next 5 years.  That is also equivalent to $25/month, which is approximately what it would cost for you to sponsor a child overseas.  So what I am saying is that rather than paying $1,500 of your own money over the next 5 years to provide nutrition, education and clothing for 1 child in an under-developed country, invest just $75 today to this project, and give United Hearts the opportunity to properly care for their kids while also improving their own community.  
For more information on the benefits of sustainable projects, please visit

In the pictures below, you can see how previous volunteer's investments have provided United Hearts with the resources to care for Barbara as she develops into a thriving young lady.

Barbara in the summer of 2009.  This was during my first trip and she was pretty timid at this time.  She never left her older's sister Raheal's side and she only spoke a few words of English.
Barbara, summer 2011...slowly growing up. 

I think this photo was taken in 2012 (photo from United Hearts facebook page).  Look at that smile!  You can see how much she has developed over the past 3 years.

And finally, Barbara today (photo: United Hearts facebook page, March 2013)

Today, Barbara has grown into a young lady!  She is now attending school in town, and speaks English so well you can have a whole conversation with her!  She is no longer shy (not in the least!!) and is actually one of the most outgoing children at the Center.  She is full of energy and life; constantly singing songs and helping out with cooking, cleaning and caring for the little ones.

Invest in Barbara and help us reach our goal for this sustainable project.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy" -Ernest Hemmingway

This quote reminds me of my first time in Ghana.  It was so exciting, eye-opening, and surreal to go to Africa.  I can still remember the smell that instantly makes me happy every time I step off of the plane in Accra.  I think it's a combination of the humidity, the food, the wildlife and nature...and I still miss it to this day!  For this post, I'm going to highlight my first trip to Ghana and why I fell in love with this land and it's people.

This was one of my first days at United Hearts.  The kids were SO excited to see us, and even more pumped about the licorice I brought! (The kids call candy "toffee"'s so cute)

One day we bought the kids each a frozen yogurt (a treat they rarely got at this time) and Kwashi offered to share his with me!  One thing that still gets me to this day is that even though these children don't have a lot, they will always offer to share with you what they have.

Here is an excerpt from my first "journal entry" in Ghana:
"We arrived at Bawjiase (pronouced bo-gee-aw-say) on Wednesday night and let me tell you I did not know what I was in for. First of all I am constantly sweating. Also the water that is used for everything except drinking is from a well...little girls about 9 and up fetch the water and put HUGE heavy buckets of water on their heads. I filled one bucket yesterday and my arms are sore today...bc you have to lower this container about 25 feet down and then pull it back up and it takes about 4 of these before you fill one bucket. 

The Orphanage has apparently gotten a lot better since they started bringing volunteers there 3 months ago. The volunteers so far have gotten the children beds and "mattresses" (2-inch foam pads,. which is also what i have been sleeping on...) and everyone has at least 3 outfits and sandals. Most of the clothes are stained and have holes in them and one child was wearing a long sleeve fleece yesterday.... There are still many improvements that need to be made-school is taught under a wooden hut which is also where they eat all their meals. (Poorige for breakfast every morning...sick) Oh also most of the children speak no English. Some know their names and how to say a few phrases, and others that had been in public school before know more English, but basically they just talk to you in TWI and you have no idea what they are saying. They are SO cute and just love to be held and cuddled and played with. 

I have a secret huge crush on the one of the guys who runs the Volunteer Corps here in Ghana. He is from Ghana but speaks English really well and lives in the first volunteer house that I stayed at.

I had my first trip to the "market" right before this, and it is basically the scariest place I've ever been. Every tuesday and friday all the people come and set up "shops" and sell whatever (kind of like a craft fair but waaaaaaay bigger and there is everything)  Before they brought volunteers to this orphanage, most people in this town had never seen a white person before. Some of the very small children still cry when they see a white person, but most loooooove us." 

More pics from my first trip:

The Bawjiase Market (not so scary anymore!)

Josephine showing me up with her water-balancing skills. That thing is FULL of water AND she can carry it with no hands!

Kwashi being silly! (One of my favorite pics)

Beautiful Sisters Raheal and Barbara!

Keep in mind, I wrote that entry 4 years ago (July of 2009), so some things have remained the same but others have certainly changed! To start with, I still constantly sweat all the time, I still make some children cry at the market by saying hi to them, and the kids at United Hearts are still as adorable as ever (but I am now a water-fetching PRO). More importantly, the kids now have adequate clothing and shoes, each child has their own bed, the older children attend school in town, and most if not all of the children speak English :) Oh and that guy that I had a big crush on is now my husband <3.

One BIG change is that the kids now have running water thanks the fundraising efforts of volunteers and Mama Hope, and donations from YOU :) So THANK YOU to everyone who has continued to support United Hearts, as well as those of you who are learning about United Hearts for the first time. But UHCC still needs our help! I've visited a number of orphanages around Ghana, and one thing I've realized is that food security is a problem for many of them and this includes United Hearts...having so many mouths to feed really adds up without support from the government. The goat and sheep farm will help solve this problem by providing meat and a reliable source of monthly income for UHCC.

Spending a month with these children in 2009 changed my life.  They didn't have much, and most had been through some tough stuff, but they were always so full of love and life!  These kids deserve to have a secure home where they can continue to develop into fully functioning adults.  Please help UHCC provide adequate nutrition and a secure, loving home to these beautiful children, by making a tax deductible donation here!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Goat and Sheep Farm!

Hi everyone!  Welcome to my blog about the Goat and Sheep farm project at United Hearts!  As many of you know, I volunteered at United Hearts Children Center for the first time in 2009.  It was a life-changing experience, and I have since returned 3 more times.  I just can't stay away from the beautiful children, the friendly people and the heartwarming environment.

Face painting! (I'm waaaay to into this picture)
With everyone at the old building (I think Kweku is hiding underneath his shirt)

The girls and I eating FUFU (A local Ghanaian Dish)


Here is a little information on United Hearts:
"United Hearts Children Center is an orphanage situated in the rural area of Bawjiase, Central Region, Ghana. Pastor Paul Elisha Asamoah started a center in 2007, welcoming 5 children in his home and selling many of his possessions to provide for them as well as for his 3 youngest children.

Since those humble beginnings, UHCC now counts 27 children as part of a fully functional home. Pastor Elisha and his team are making sure these abandoned children are raised in a loving and caring environment. In 2011 a new building was constructed and since the center has running water, electricity and 2 fishponds. They also grow cabbage, yams, carrots, maize and eggs.

United Hearts believes that through connecting local children with sustainable resources, we will create a self sufficient community of healthy, educated adults committed to the future development of Bawjiase."

Find out even more about UHCC at: United Hearts Children Center

All of the progress at United Hearts has been accomplished through fundraising, donations, the hard work of Pastor Elisha and his staff, and the help of Mama Hope and volunteers.  See what a difference we have all made in the lives of these children:

The Old Building...4 rooms for all staff and children, including Pastor Elisha and his family.

The New Building - room for all 27 children plus staff, Pastor Elisha and family AND additional children in need of a home.



The old toilets, outside.

The new toilets, inside with running water!

 However, United Hearts still needs our help to become a fully sustainable organization so that they can continue provide adequate nutrition and education to children in need. With little to no assistance from the government in Ghana, United Hearts relies almost completely on donations to continue running. Therefore, establishing a goat and sheep farm will help United Hearts achieve their vision of sustainability.

The goat and sheep farm will provide a reliable form of income to assist with the monthly expenses of the Center, as well as proper protein for the children, which is expensive in Ghana. With our help, UHCC can continue to provide adequate nutrition, education, love and a safe home to even more children. Please help us reach our project goal of $5,000 by making a tax deductible donation here

And to motivate you even more to donate to this great cause, here are some pictures of the cutest kids EVER!
Brothers Agogo (left) and Ezekiel (right)

Amanda, Nathaniel and I just hanging out.

The boys being boys!

P.S. I don't realllllly know how to use technology so try not to judge my generic and homemade website!