Forson Glover, founder of The Bishop Forson School Complex, had a dream: During his high school years in Kpando, he often visited the small fishing-farming village of Torkor, swimming in the water of the Volta Lake. The children in Torkor did not go to school. Many lived on the street, some had no parents. He talked to them and wished that one day he could build them a home and help them grow to become responsible adults.
He was an accountant, working for the IRS in Ghana. He was also known among his peers for his healing power. People often asked him to pray for them.
In the year 2000, he went to the Theology Seminar in Ghana and became a Bishop. Two years later he pursued his dream. He used his personal savings, sold his teak farm, which he himself planted, and sold his Treasury bonds. It was not enough for an orphanage, so he built a small school and offered the kids free breakfast.
Bishop Forson held meetings in town, trying to convince parents to send their kids to school. He also drove his old car through the village, blasting a song on his PA system: “Send your girl child to school / Mama send her to school / I want to be in school papa / I want to be a lawyer / I don’t want to be a street girl.”
Ellen Berenholz from Pennsylvania who came to Ghana to look at the work being done by another non-profit organization, was very impressed and decided to help him fulfill his mission. Together with her husband. Timothy, they established Pagus:Africa, a charitable organization that would put 100% of people’s donations towards helping the children of the community. Today their organization sponsors 86 children in the Bishop Forson School Complex, 20 of them live on campus. They funded the construction of additional buildings, the library, and computer lab and they send groups of volunteer to assist the school each year.
A second project of Pagus:Africa is the construction of another school, Airfield School, near the city of Ho.
I contacted Ellen after reading about the organization on the Internet. We immediately realized that it would be a perfect match. I could help Bishop Forson in the school (BFSC), and Benny would be involved in the construction of the new Airfield School and digging a bore hole at BFSC.
We were welcomed in Accra International Airport by Forson’s sister, Pricilla. Three hours trotro (mini-van) ride brought us to Bishop Forson’s home in the town of Kpando. Kpando is located in East Ghana, in the Volta Region, between Togo and Volta Lake.
Bishop Forson and his wife Joyce have three children. Mabel is the head-teacher in the school, Fortune, the son, is the accountant-administrator for the school, and young Allbright attends the school. Samuel, a ten years old orphan, also lives with them.
During our stay in Kpando we will stay with the Forson’s. The house is clean and comfortable. They have electricity, but no running water. It always surprises me how much you can do with one bucket of cold water.
Market days are every five day. Until we got to the market, we ate with the Forson’s or at school. Breakfast: spaghetti with small fried dry fish and spicy sauce. Lunch: rice with fried dry fish and spicy sauce. Dinner: fried yam with fried dry fish and spicy sauce. Internet will be a problem here.
There is only one internet cafe in Kpando, and the connection is very slow. We walked to school – 45 minutes of uphill through green, dense, forest and down toward the Volta Lake, passing large mango trees, papaya, corn fields, birds with red and yellow heads.
We had a warm welcome at the school and whenever I enter a class I am greeted by a choir “You are welcome madam”. There are 250 students in school, ages 3-16. Interesting names: Justice, Courage, Godsway, Precious, Forgive, Comfort, Patience, Delight, Gifty, Bright, Wonder, Lucky, Beauty, and Fortune.
Mr. Forson assembled all fifteen teachers to meet with us under the mango tree. The children were left unattended in their classes. Not a sound. They all stay in the classrooms and continue with their work. That is Mr. Forson philosophy: self-reliance, self-discipline, self-respect. The teachers are very young. They are Sr. High School graduates. Bishop Forson trains them.
The school cannot afford to pay professional teachers. The teachers are paid 40-50 Cedi per month ($30-35). Early morning, before school, the children take turns sweeping the classrooms. In the afternoon they sat under the mango trees and sheer the corn and removed the grains. Beside the school, Bishop Forson has a farm, where he grows some of the food that he uses for the school. He is also the administrator of his church organization.
Benny is very busy working with three contractors, on three bids for the construction of Airfield School. We had a very productive meeting today in Ho. On Friday night, while Benny and I had our special Shabbat time, we heard screaming, cheering, honking from the street. Ghana’s soccer team defeated Brazil in the Jr World Cap and took the championship.