On Oct. 16, a group of five missionaries from Morningstar Family Ministries in Baden are heading to the west-African nation of Ghana for a 10-day mission to help build a school and new desks, as well as distribute supplies. Sam Smart will be joining the group with the aim of spreading his love for soccer with the youth, and getting to know the local people and culture.
The 14-year-old Bloomingdale resident is a Grade 9 student at Elmira District Secondary School who made his way through the ranks of the Woolwich soccer system and he is going to be running a soccer clinic in the impoverished region.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “Just running a basic soccer clinic and letting the kids run around and have fun.”
Morningstar is a faith-based ministry dedicated to reaching out to families, children and youth with a message of hope and hands-on assistance. The group operates a boy’s home in St. Agatha for youth aged 10 and up as well as a provincial and international foster parent program.
The ministry has partnered with Glorious Vision Orphans (GLOVO), a registered non-governmental organization in the central region of Agona Swedru in Ghana, which cares for orphaned, disabled or otherwise vulnerable children.
The upcoming trip is an extension of Morningstar’s Canadian-based foster program, and they collected more than 10,000 pounds of clothes and delivered them to the region last March.
Morningstar chose this particular region of Ghana because the group felt it was being underserviced by the humanitarian world. When a member of the ministry named Damian Riley returned from a six-month missionary trip several years ago, he was shocked by the poverty and harsh conditions, said Sam’s mother.
“There was no World Vision, no Habitat for Humanity so that’s how we got started. We wanted to help an area that no one else was touching and were living in such horrific conditions,” said Kristen, who is also active with the ministry.
Sam’s parents have been foster parents through Morningstar for the past three years and have a 15- and 16-year-old boy living with them. They also sponsor a child in Ghana named Emanuel for $30 per month, who Sam will get to meet while he is there.
“He’s deaf and non-verbal so Sam wants to learn a few sign languages before he goes so he can say hello and talk to him,” said Kristen.
The main aim of the trip for Sam will be to pass along his love for the beautiful game. He received a donation of 200 soccer balls sporting Canadian flags on them from a Calgary-based company and he will be distributing them among the 20 communities he will be visiting over the course of the 10-day trip.
“I’m going to try and teach them the basic rules of the game like kicking it into the net, but I don’t really know. I don’t think I can get too complicated,” explained Sam, adding that he was unsure of what the conditions are going to be like in Ghana when he arrives and that he will basically be making it up along the way.
“I think the kids just want to run and kick it around. I think they’ll just want to go and have fun.”
His parents are not nervous about Sam going on the trip, either, knowing it’s for a great cause and that he is with people who know the country and the culture well.
“More excited I think, than nervous,” said Sam’s father, Scott. “We’re sure nothing is going to happen and they had no incidences when they were there the last time.
“It’s going to be a bit of a culture shock,” he added.
“I think it’s important for parents to bring their children up to serve,” said Kristen. “That is what we need in this world to make it a better place for everybody, especially orphans and widows.”
To make a donation to Morningstar for their trip, contact their Baden office (519) 634-5550 or email email@example.com.