Our Lady of Grace School donates desks to Ghana schools

| October 20, 2017 | 0 Comments

Students at a Catholic school associated with St. Joseph parish in Mampontang, Ghana, a sister parish of Our Lady of Grace in Edina. Volunteers from Our Lady of Grace packed up used desks and chairs from Our Lady of Grace School June 24 and had it shipped to Ghana for Catholic schools near St. Joseph. The desks pictured arrived in Ghana Sept. 18 after being shipped across the Atlantic Ocean. Courtesy/Our Lady of Grace

Several Catholic schools in Ghana have newer desks and chairs for students and teachers after a shipment came from Our Lady of Grace Catholic School in Edina.

“This was tremendous for them,” said Father Neil Bakker, parochial vicar of Our Lady of Grace parish. “They were so excited. They unloaded the containers immediately when they got there.”

Our Lady of Grace had its own new desks and chairs coming this year, which left a decision to make on what to do with the used furniture. Father Bakker said they brought it to prayer to figure out how to handle the surplus.

“The Lord opened up an opportunity for us,” said Father Bakker, who headed the project.

Our Lady of Grace has a sister parish, St. Joseph, in Mampontang, Ghana, in a partnership that began in 2003. In 2013, the Edina parish helped St. Joseph build a boarding high school for 800 students. Both the high school and several neighboring Catholic elementary and middle schools received Our Lady of Grace’s furniture.

Father Bakker went to Ghana in January 2017 and plans to go back in January 2018. He said that shipping to Ghana presented challenges, with the desks and chairs needing to cross the Atlantic Ocean by boat.

A group of more than 100 people from Our Lady of Grace packed three shipping containers June 24, each of which measured 9 1/2 feet tall, 8 feet wide and 40 feet long.

“This was community building,” Father Bakker said. “It was a fun morning.”

In addition to the desks and chairs, they also had thousands of donated books to pack. Desks and chairs in poor condition were recycled or thrown out instead of shipped.

“We didn’t send over junk. We sent good things to Ghana,” Father Bakker said.

He has been in touch with priests in Ghana and has heard positive feedback about the desks, chairs and books.

“They would say ‘this just shows how much you love us, how much you care about us,’” Father Bakker said of the emails that came from priests in Ghana. “It really does, because it wasn’t just sending money.”

An anonymous donor funded the shipping of the furniture, which Father Bakker said cost a “substantial” sum. Getting the furniture to Ghana involved sending the shipping containers by train to Virginia before they were loaded onto a ship. The furniture arrived in Ghana Sept. 18.

Besides helping schools in Ghana, Our Lady of Grace also purchased new desks and chairs for its local sister school, St. John Paul II School in Minneapolis.

Tags: , , , ,

Category: Local News, Uncategorized