ROCHESTER — At an age when most American children are in the fifth grade, rural children in the west African nation of Ghana are likely just entering school, according to Sister Eugenia Amporfu, FST, a member of the Daughters of the Most Blessed Trinity.
Rural children often live in villages that may be some distance from a public school, she said, compelling them to wait to pursue an education until they are about 10 and strong enough to walk several miles. When they get to a school, many such children feel out of place, she added, because they may be as much as five years older than students in their class who lived close enough to attend the school at an earlier age.
“The kids may laugh at you, call you the ‘mommy’ or the ‘daddy’ of the class,” said Sister Amporfu, a Ghana native.
Her friend and fellow Ghanaian, Nita Brown, added that children’s families are required to purchase school clothes as well as a chair and a desk for each of the students in their family. For poor families, such costs can be prohibitive, and their children may end up receiving little or no education at all, the women said.
Sister Amporfu is visiting the Diocese of Rochester on a mission to highlight the plight of such rural children, she said as she sat in the back yard of Brown’s home. Brown is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and lector at Blessed Sacrament Church on Oxford Street, and has raised $15,000 over the last four years on behalf of the Blessed Trinity sisters. The order was founded in 1984 to serve rural southern Ghanaians spiritually and physically, Brown noted.
The two women said they are currently attempting to raise money to build in the village of Akokoamong a 15-classroom school for 600 rural children, many of whom are from subsistence-farming families. Hoping to inspire diocesan Catholics to support the project, Sister Amporfu will speak about it at weekend Masses in the following parishes: Our Mother of Sorrows, Greece, July 22-23; St. Mary of the Assumption, Scottsville, July 29-30; and St. Matthew, Livonia, Aug. 5-6.
The U.S.-based Sisters of Loretto are informally linked to the Daughters of the Most Blessed Trinity, Brown noted, and are handling donations to the project. Donations may be made to the Ghana school project through the Sisters of Loretto, 300 E. Hampden Ave., Suite 400, Englewood, CO, 80113. Brown added that donors should write “FST Appeal” in the memo portion of their checks. FST refers to the Latin initials of her order, Sister Amporfu added.
Sister Amporfu has been studying in Canada since 1990 and will be returning to work in Ghana in August, she said. Among her projects will be the school, which she said her order hopes to open in time for its 25th anniversary in 2009. She added that she particularly wants to work with young girls, who may be lured to the city life in Ghana where some stray into promiscuity and prostitution. Sister Amporfu said she wants to encourage the girls to develop healthy, moral sexual attitudes and improve their self-esteem.
Sister Amporfu herself benefited from the positive example set by her mother, she said, noting she was inspired by her mother to become a nun after she told her mother she wanted to become a teacher. Her mother noted that certain girls were not only teachers, they also didn’t marry men, they married God, she recalled.
“I like the whole idea of dedicating yourself to God,” she said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: For information on the Ghana school project, contact Nita Brown at 585/442-5616 or e-mail her at email@example.com.