Trips that Teach: MHC Board Member Writes about Ghana
Maryland Humanities Council Board Member Omari Hughes was in Africa over the summer and shared his experiences with us in this blog post. We felt his story tied in nicely with our 2010 One Maryland One Book selection Outcasts United. One of the themes highlighted in the book is that even though each culture deals with problems differently, we all struggle with similar issues–poverty, crime and political corruption–and we also share the ability to have hope during hardships.
In May, I left for Ghana, where I served for two months as a minister at a church in Akropong, a town high in the mountains. Never before had I learned so much in so little time–and never before had I been so aware that I knew so little.
I arrived at Kotoka International Airport, in Accra, the capital city of Ghana and was greeted by a sign bearing my name and off I went to the rain forest to take a tree top walk way up in the canopy (yes I was scared ), and to Ghana’s Cape Coast to visit the Slave Castles, where I came face to face with one of the greatest horrors known to mankind, and to homes where church members who often appeared to have nothing were willing to offer us their last meal, their last hug, and their last glimmer of hope in the form of a smile. We were off to schools where I would preach on Wednesdays and spend the day surrounded by smiles. We were off to graveyards buried deep in the woods and funeral celebrations that lasted all week long. In short we were off to another world and where I had most amazing experiences of my life.
What impressed me the most was the children’s worship and the people’s strong faith in the power of prayer. They love God with an authenticity that I’d seldom seen before. Still, as a society we struggle with many of the same things. Teenage pregnancy is on the rise. There are an increasing number of high school drop outs, and the crime rate in major cities like Accra is rising. Political corruption is still present and blamed for many of the obstacles that the people face. Yet still through it all, the people’s spirits continue to rise.
They rise through the smiles of young children; through their worship and sincere praise; through prayer and by drawing upon the faith that comes from the memories of ancestors like Kwame Nkrumah (the man who led the fight for Ghana’s independence and served as their first National President). Those memories continue to motivate them today.
It was a truly amazing and blessed trip and I thank God for bringing such an amazing opportunity my way. My hope and prayer is that I will never be the same and that the impact of this great journey will last.
Bright Moments and Blessings,
Rev. Omari Hughes
Tags: One Maryland One Book