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“She has learned that she is worth teaching”


Monday, September 24, 2012

Partnership funds transformational program in Ghana

Melissa Hogeboom

Melissa Hogeboom participated in the Ghana internship program last year

On her first day in Ghana as part of an internship program, Melissa Hogeboom, now a fifth-year student at Redeemer University College, met a young girl Melissa came to know as Alberta. The two got to know each other over the three months that Melissa spent in the village leading a business literacy program for women. “What struck me about Alberta was the low expectations that she had for herself,” recalls Melissa. “She didn’t believe that she could, or even should go to school.” But Melissa was taken by Alberta and walked alongside her, encouraging her. “By the time I left Ghana, Alberta had come to learn that she is worth teaching.”

That type of life transforming experience is the initiative behind a new partnership signed today between Redeemer and the Presbyterian Church in Canada (PCC). This new program, which builds upon both institutions’ existing work in Ghana, will see a Redeemer graduate spend one year in the African nation, working in a variety of community-building programs.

The partnership has been made possible in part from a generous donation from Redeemer alumnus Edgar Hielema and his wife, Karen Zwart Hielema. Edgar, who spent several years working and living in Africa, said that the program appeals to him because it connects four things about which he is passionate: engagement with other communities; a sense of personal calling; an appreciation of the history of different communities; and an ecumenical approach to addressing problems. “My goal is to instill the desire and the confidence in students to go and make a difference,” he said at the signing ceremony.

Redeemer University College has had a presence in the African nation of Ghana for a number of years through the Students for Development Internships, a national program of the Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada (AUCC) and undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). These internships have allowed students to work in the city of Asamankese on a variety of community development programs. Commenting on the agreement, Dr. Hubert Krygsman, Redeemer’s president, noted that it is a perfect fit to Redeemer’s goals of increasing international engagement and partnering with the church community. “These are life transforming activities that will enable Redeemer students to realize God’s global Kingdom.”

(from left): Rev. Dr. Richard Fee, Karen Zwart Hielema, Edgar Hielema and Dr. Hubert Krygsman hold a portrait of Alberta, taken by Melissa Hogeboom, and presented to the Hielema's in recognition of their gift.

The Presbyterian Church in Canada has also had a vibrant ministry in the area for many years. There are a number of Presbyterian churches in the city, and the PCC also supports His Majesty’s School, a Christian school in Asamankese. “Redeemer, even Canada, is not ‘the real world,’” noted Dr. Richard Fee, General Secretary, Life and Mission Agency of the PCC. “But thank God they exist, because it is from their strengths that we can go into the real world—that place where so much of the world exists—with interns such as these who will make a difference. That’s what this partnership is all about.”

The first intern to participate in the program, Angie Lang, began her work this past August. Angie will be working with 5 year-olds at His Majesty’s School until next summer.

For more information on each organization’s work in Ghana, visit the PCC website or the program page on Redeemer's website.