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New program in Ghana gives reason to celebrate

By February 20, 2012

Ghana
(MNN) — With a population
of over eighteen million people, Ghana is the second-largest country in West
Africa.

Urbanization
and modernization comes with the territory of growth, but that can also bring
its own challenge. More and more heads
of households are going to work, struggling to eke out a living for their
family members. 

The dual problems of poverty and hunger are intensified under
rapid population growth, outpacing food production, employment,  and infrastructure. The upshot is that there are increasing
numbers of vulnerable families, including not only single-parent families
headed by poor women, but also poor families with elderly members or those with
disabilities.

Since
the family is the basis of Ghanaian society, things that affect the workers
often have explosive impact on the extended family. As a result, the traditional family structure
is eroding under the pressure of rapid social change. 

In
some cases, family experts say the fractures in the family are severe enough to
interfere with its primary role of socialization. Kim Batts, the International Services Coordinator for Bethany Christian Services, says, "After they saw our foster care program in Ethiopia, we were
invited by government officials to partner with them in order to work on inter-country
adoption, foster care, domestic adoption and family reunification." Their adoption program
began this year.

Children available for
adoption from Ghana may have a history of malnourishment, low birth weight,
and/or have other undiagnosed medical needs.

As a pilot
program, Batts says, "We're working with the
government and also through the churches to identify potential foster families,
and we're assisting with the provision of training to those foster
families." Government backing
gives them credibility, too.

Because they partner with the local church, Bethany can get a
better feel for the needs of the community. 
The church acts as both evangelist and disciple for those in the program,
too. "Our staff in Ghana are all Christians, and that's something that will continue. Many of the foster
families will be Christians as we will find them through the Church."

Keeping children out
of the institutional orphanages is their aim, says Batts. It
often means supporting, training, and otherwise strengthening the family unit to
keep kids in the healthiest place for them to thrive. "We have an office in Ghana, and they're
working directly with orphanages and the region to figure out which children
could be reunified with their families, which ones could be placed in foster
care/domestic adoption within Ghana, and which ones may be best placed in
inter-country adoption."

Ghana fetes 55 years of independence on March 6, 2012. With Bethany's help, the next decade may be
one more reason Ghana's families celebrate together.

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