Leaving a mark

The Village of Hope children

At the begining of March I watched an Oprah episode on the Village of Hope in Ghana, Africa. If you know me at all, you know that I have always had need to help underprivilaged children or adults for that matter. Perhaps that's why I went into social work. I always wanted to help out some how but never really knew how. That was until I watched Oprah one night. (thanks to tivo!) It was an episode about children as young as three being sold by their parents to fisherman as slaves. The fisherman promised a good life for these babies and that they would safely return once their work was finished. Some parents were selling three of their children for as little as 25 dollars. These children were forced to set out in the water alone in groups of three, ages ranging from 3 to 12 yrs old, at 4 in the morning each day. (their master would sleep while the children would work) They would work a 15 hour day, have one meal of an oatmeal substance in the morning, work hard labor that was said that adults would quickly tire from. Several of these children would be sick from no sleep, little to no food, and to be honest no hope. They showed footage of these children shivering from the cold in the early morning and shoving the boats that were 100 times bigger than them out into the water to catch fish. Babies, in the middle of the ocean with no life jackets paddling out into the dark water at 4 a.m. There are organizations that set out to buy back these children from their masters to free them of slavery. Since this goes on so often there it's a endless job. Once the children are returned to the familes, sometimes the children will be sold back again or the children refuse to go back to parents that would sell them in the first place. The Village of Hope was est. in 1989 by Christians in the U.S. They raise these children that are from this background and children that are orphans due to the AIDS epidemic or that are abandoned by their families because they are unable to care for them financially. This wonderful organization was spotlighted on that Oprah episode and I fell in love with the children they showed. This organization gives them a shelter, an education, and tools that will allow them to go out on their own once they are old enough. I emailed the Managing Director and just recently he emailed me back. I wanted to know how I could help out because the children are growing by numbers and their funds are depleted. Here is an excerpt of his email if you would also like to help out:

"We are currently caring for one hundred and forty orphaned, abandoned, destitute and needy children. Within the next month, we hope to open our homes to an additional thirty new children. By the end of April, there will be a total of one hundred and seventy children in seven cottages at the Village of Hope campus. Our goal is to rescue as many children as possible and give them opportunities for a future of life and hope. Our greatest need is for funds to provide for their upkeep, education, healthcare and the like. Any amount you can give to the children will go a long way in helping to care for them. You may make checks payable to "Village of Hope" and mail it to:

Village of Hope,
Ghana West Africa Missions,
P. O. Box 40,
Searcy, AR. 72145

There is information on our website www.thevillageofhope.com on how you can make a secure electronic or online donation through Pay Pal.

You may also send gifts. That will be a wonderful blessing to the children. Owing to the large number of children we are caring for, there is always the need for:
Bed sheets,
clothing (not winter or heavy clothing),
toys & games (such as scrabble or card games),
educational supplies (such as note books, pens, dry-erase markers, school bags, back packs, lunch boxes or bags),
footwear (such as dress shoes, tennis shoes, flip flops, etc.).

Such material donations may be sent to:

Village of Hope,
Ghana West Africa Missions,
2014 E. Park Avenue,
Searcy, AR. 72143

When you send any gift to the two addresses above in Searcy, you can be sure that we will definitely receive it. Ghana West Africa Missions are our state-side partners and representatives. We have been working together for many years to give life and hope to many children. Whatever they receive, they send to us in Ghana for the upkeep and care of the children. They don't only send the money; they also send us a detailed report telling us who gave the money and who or what it is for.

Another thing you can do is be a friend to the children by writing to them. Correspondence with the children can only be through “snail mail”. The address to use is:

Village of Hope,
P. O. Box GP. 18169,
Accra, Ghana.
West Africa."

I know that I have an extra 30 or 40 dollars that I can spare a month to send care packages. I also plan to start writing letters. A friend of mine has traveled to Africa and is planning to go back in July with her mission group. Speaking with her about her experience there leaves me speechless. It reminds me how blessed I am. I have too much food that I throw it away before a trip to the grocery store, too many clothes that some even have the tags still on them, too much money that I spend it on $6.00 coffees. I know that there will be some of you out there that would argue with me and say "Hey, we have too many people in America that are homeless and are in need of help". To that I have to agree. Yes, we do. But remember, we are privileged as Americans to have the free right to an education and free programs that aid people if they are in need. These children do not. I have always said that I want to leave a mark on this world before I exit it. Hopefully this will be the start of my thumbprint. Thanks for reading all of this if you made it. If you have any questions or want to help out yourself I encourage you to visit their website. It is very powerful.Pretty deep for my usual posts. I know. But something urged me to post this tonight. Maybe someone else will be moved to help too. I know there are so many causes out there to donate to. Please don't assume that I would value any over the other. This one just spoke out to me. I will keep you all posted if I get a letter back or perhaps a photo! Thanks again. -Melissa


Happy Memorial Day!

Today a bunch of close friends jumped on Kris and Jer's boat and had a great time at the lake. There was a lot of sun, splashing in the water, warding off mean kids that came into our territory and of course too much food. Thanks for the great day everyone. Happy Memorial Day to all of our Veterans and current soilders. We appreciate you.

The Cast of Characters

Merritt, Caden, Preston, & Sophia

Brother and Sister

Asleep! But not for long...........


Welcome to Herrin Festa Italiana!

Every year Nate and Tobey throw a big party during Herrin Fest. There were so many people there. It was like a high school reunion. We had a great time! Thanks for another great party guys! Tobey, Me, Cassie, TJ
Ryan and I
Jeremy, Cassie, Jeremy, TJ
(can't believe this was the best picture I took all eveningof him!)


Congratulations Sami!!!

My sister just got her first big girl job! She was hired at a fabulous salon in Herrin. She has been working there for a month now. Everyone has just raved at what an amazing job she has been doing! So if you need something highlighted, cut, or waxed, GET YOUR STYLE ON and call her!!!!! I'm so proud of you little sister!


Congratulations Jessie!

Saturday evening, Jessie graduated from High School. How amazing it is that all three of us sisters are now either college bound or already college graduates. It was a great night to celebrate her! Congratulations baby sister!
Jess walking into graduation Grandma Nancy, Me, Sami
Jessie and our proud dad
Best friends are we, my sisters and me
Decorating their cars


What a difference!!!

We are finally in our new home. Ryan hooked up our internet 2 days ago!! A whole week without hotmail was so rough!! I found this picture of when we moved into our first home. What a difference 2 years makes!! Pretty pitiful!!