Frontiers of Justice, Travelogue

Hope and Solidarity in Ghana

On the eighth day of the Frontiers of Justice visit, a member of the group reflects on their experiences. This entry was written by Jodi Dean.

Sometimes, after hearing the struggles of people facing extreme poverty, you begin losing sight of hope. Your eyes become fixed on the dehumanizing images and your mind can only focus on the stories of grief and hardship. After one week of traveling where we visited a malnutrition center, microfinance projects, HIV/AIDS education and clinic, and a few centers that have taken in abandoned or shunned women and children, I have found small miracles of hope. These miracles of hope are seen in the local CRS staff members and their partnerships with other community and church leaders who have empowered people, especially women, and as a result they are able to live better. Whether it has been a woman telling me she now can feed her children and send them to schools, or another woman who has been ostracized because the accusation of witchcraft now finds refugee in a center where she meets 400 other woman with the same story, or woman in a rural area having access to food and ARV drugs, all of these woman have been miracles of hope. What I have learned from these women is if we choose to live, then we must choose to hope. It takes risk and a leap of faith to hope. To hope in our God and to hope in each other. How does one pay gratitude for this lesson?

Before and throughout this whole trip, I have been challenged by the question of how we live in solidarity with one another. Yesterday, the 10 of us had mass outside on a hill overlooking beautiful trees and in the distance we heard the drums of a celebration in the village. Fr. Roger spoke about how there are about 40 wells because of a partnership with parishes in Michigan. These communities have safe and clean drinking water, because of help from others, perhaps another miracle of hope. As we shared together the Eucharistic prayer, it was then that I forgot where I came from. I forgot I was white. I forgot I was a woman. I forgot I was American. I forgot I was a teacher.

All I knew was that I was a child of God. It was a moment that moved me deeply. A moment that made me realize it is our dignity as children of God that unifies us even when the world around us divides us. While the reality of the world creates gaps, my love and concern for our human family grows closer. This is one reason why I was lead to be here. To learn, to question, and to empower our youth to work towards justice. How does one live solidarity? And is it possible? I do not know the answer. As the poet Rilke says, “Live the questions. And one distant day you will live into your answer.

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