photo In September 1999, I arrived in Sandema to begin one year of volunteer service on a Canadian project. One day, a small boy named Kasimu (front row, fourth from left) came to my house in Sandema asking for money to treat an infected sore. I realized that Kasimu was one of many children living on the streets of Sandema, working tirelessly in the market to survive. I began to meet daily with a group of 9 street children on the verandah of a local storefront for a morning meal and some conversation.

Concerned for their well-being and wanting to do more than just a morning meal, I discussed the issue with my friend Maxwell Akandem. As a trained social worker from a local NGO, Maxwell prepared background reports on each child by visiting home villages, meeting with family members and documenting their stories.

photo After a few months, we rented some rooms for the children to live together. We originally rented just one room for all 9 of them. As our numbers increased, we occupied a second, third and fourth room.

The younger boys were quickly accepted into primary school in Sandema, and some of the older boys joined trade schools to gain skills in carpentry and masonry. The kids were thrilled to start their educational programs!

photo Before returning to Canada, we hired a Program Coordinator to manage HCC. Weekly phone calls and letters allowed us to stay in touch. Friends and family in Canada and the USA pledged their financial support for the kids.

In 2001, I returned to Ghana for a visit. Realizing that our centre was too small, we moved to a new and larger centre, in order to accommodate more children. We signed a lease and continue to occupy this facility across from the local dam in Sandema.

photo In 2004, my sisters Jeanette, Andrea and I took leaves of absence from our jobs. We travelled to Ghana together to volunteer at HCC. Andrea taught the children reading, writing and cooperative skills. Jeanette developed our HCC Operations Manual, hired staff and set up a new accounting system. We purchased 22 acres of land with the long-term plan of constructing our own permanent HCC centre.

In the past few years, HCC has also expanded to meet the needs of different community groups. We established the Sandema Resource Centre and the HCC Girls' Scholarship Program.

With the dedication of excellent volunteers, and with our faithful and hardworking staff, we have welcomed many new children to the HCC family. We have also watched with pride as some of our older boys have grown and matured into confident, caring and intelligent young men.