Monday, July 28, 2008

A Visit to Nkanchina No.2

Nkanchina No. 2, is located in the East Gonja district of the Northern Region of Ghana. Here the missionaries many years ago built the Oti river hospital for treatment of lepers. In 1974, the place was handed over to the Government of Ghana. The leper community here has people from Ghana and also the surrounding countries of Togo, Burkina Faso, Mali, Ivory Coast and others.

According to their stories Nkachina was once a paradise for them, but today the story is very different. The hospital building looks ancient and dilapidated; and the residents who had no other place to go built up shacks in which to lay their head and rest their dis-eased bodies. These ramshackle mud huts are exposed to rain and sun. it was not difficult to conclude that these people live in utter poverty and destitution. Yet even the rhythm of life has continued among them.

Over the years having intermarried among themselves and raised families, the community now numbers over a thousand. The sad part of the story is that these people are completely shunned by their families and relatives, so much so that some of them have forgotten where they came from as they have spent more than thirty years in this village.

Some of their faces look so scary that it would make a four-year-old child scamper out of fright to the bosom of its mother for security. And even with their bodies in such a state of degeneration their eyes still glimmered, looking for relief. Some are so emaciated that it would appear that hunger would kill them before the disease. Their need for food, shelter, clothing love and attention were real and tangible.

Though many of them don’t speak English, I was happy when they asked me to pray for them, the request itself reminded me that God dwells in different people. I had been left feeling so helpless that just sitting and listening to their stories comforted my heart troubled by questions trying to make sense of this neglect and destitution.

In the wake of such crying need and terrible human suffering how could I not be concerned, and I wanted so deeply to promote the dignity of the human person. I felt the need to truly dare to be a disciple of Jesus and respond as Jesus would to these people and this situation. I was reminded of the words … “whatever you do to the least of these my people you do to me.”

My experience in the village challenged me to be appreciative of even the little I have. I recognized that God dwells in every human situation. I saw and experienced firsthand the trust people put in divine providence and I was reminded of “Look at the birds of the sky they neither sow nor reap yet the heavenly Father feeds them… learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them.”

This experience opened me up to the big picture of God’s presence. Truly God’s revelation is the unfolding of his creativity

(Belden Nseele)

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