Grace Community Outreach began as a dream of one woman. Agnes Mensah grew up in Shama, a town on the southern coast of Ghana. Her husband, also a Shama native, moved to the U.S. to complete his Master's Degree. She joined him and they raised their family in the United States.
In 1995, she returned to Ghana for a visit, bringing pencils to distribute to the school children. As she handed out the pencils, she realized she had something far better that she could give the children.
Three years later, she conducted a Vacation Bible School in Shama and a neighboring village, Shama Junction.
In 2000, she answered the call from Intraban, a tiny community between these two villages. With only 100 students enrolled in the elementary school, she had skipped over it the previous year. However, when 99 of the enrolled students showed up for VBS, she realized God cares about all people, no matter where they call home.
Since then, she has returned each year, bring along teams from her church to minister alongside the national teachers. Many young people who grew up attending VBS are now VBS teachers. Several have become teachers or entered into full-time ministry.
Click here to read more about GCO's Vacation Bible School.
In 2001, in an effort to further reach out to the young men, a soccer tournament was started. Boys from various VBS villages compete all week amongst other teams in their village. On Saturday, winning teams from each village travel to Shama for an all-day tournament. Every participant receives a medal and winning teams take home a trophy.
Click here to read more about GCO's soccer tournament.
In 2009, Agnes met a group of girls in Shama who enjoyed reading, but didn't have adequate access to books. The town is one of very few with a public library, but because they don't have many books, children were not allowed to take books home to read. These girls wanted to use the library, but obligations at home did not allow them to spend much time in the building. Agnes arranged for these girls to be allowed to check out books from the library. And a dream was birthed.
Agnes returned to the United States and, by God's Grace, connected with representatives from a couple local school districts who were discarding books to allow room for new books in their libraries. She collected these and other books and shipped them to Ghana.
In 2010, GCO opened lending libraries in seven villages. Elders of these villages donated space and prepared the rooms. Teens from one of our Ghanaian partner churches volunteered to staff the libraries. Each library has approximately 1,000 books and has been a blessing to their communities.
Most private Internet service in rural Ghana is provided through cell phone technology.
The libraries were initially staffed by teen volunteers from one of our Ghanaian partner churches. In 2011 the Ghanaian government agreend to pay a salary to each of our libraries, plus hire one additional staff member for each library. Also, that year, we received a donation of laptops for each library. A Ghanaian cell phone company donated modems for four libraries. We are working to obtain modems for the others.
One additional library was opened in the spring of 2012. We plan to open 10-15 more in the summer.
Click here to read more about GCO's libraries.
Our future goals include a private school, a teacher college, and several social outreaches including adult literacy classes and working with widows. Please explore our web site and contact us if you have any questions.