Half a world away, in the country of Ghana, Africa, a small community has begun to welcome a change as well as a chance for hope from a relatively small American group of teenagers and a few select adults.
Two years ago, while visiting Akatsi, which is a small town just outside of the capital, Akatsi South District, in the Volta Region of Ghana, Ted Kriwiel went to visit an orphanage named "Father's House" in Keta, Ghana, which is a home for boys escaping slavery, raising them with Godly values. While visiting, Kriwiel got the chance to speak to some of the boys and learned the heart-wrenching story of a boy named Evans.
Before the opening of Father's House, Evans and his younger sister, Delite, fought to stay together while being forced into slavery. They continued to endure the hardships of their young lives with the dim hope a new orphanage would soon offer them refuge and safety. However, when Father's house was finally opened, the young children learned the home would only be open to boys.
"With the language barrier, Evans and Delite both took it as the Father's house doesn’t like girls," explained Ted's brother Jack Kriwiel. "When Teddy heard this, his heart broke."
There were many girls in the isolated region of Lake Volta in slavery, whom they intend to rescue.
Evan’s sister, who remained in slavery, was the inspiration for Eight Oaks.
After learning the children's story, Ted went in search of the owner of the orphanage. Upon finding him, Ted learned it was much easier for the orphanage to operate with only one gender and there would be no exceptions, no matter how heartbreaking.
But with the desire to help the girls also, Father’s House has been the inspiration and sponsor of Eight Oaks and has been instrumental in the development of the home.
"If he wanted something to be done, he had to do it himself," said Jack. "That's when he came to me. At first, I didn't think we would be able to raise the money, but I loved the cause and I love doing God's work."
Jack then set out to rally the teenagers surrounding him. Over time, the group has grown to include 15 people along with their families, friends and classmates.
"We have about eight people that come weekly to our meetings," said Jack. "Every once in a while, a few extra people come to pray and support and donate money to the cause."
The group has held several fundraisers over the past year. Trinity Academy allowed use of their auditorium for a concert event in June, which was thoughtfully named "Songs for my sisters," where the group collected donations to put toward the cause.
Page 2 of 2 - "We mainly get our message out through word of mouth," explained Jack. "Ted has spoken to churches in the area and they've taken the time to pray, show their support and donate money to help us."
The project, which has been named Eight Oaks had just recently signed a contract for a new home for the girls, but more time and money is still required to allow the group to reach its goal – to free these young girls from slavery.
"Life is pretty tough for these girls and it is pretty easy on us here," said Jack. "I feel like these girls are my sisters and I would do anything to get my sisters out of that situation."
As far as the teenagers are concerned, the mission to help save these children has been a willing sacrifice.
"In Eight Oaks, our mission is not just to save girls and take them out of slavery, but to save high schoolers and break their slavery to their money," said Jack. "Since the start of Eight Oaks, I've grown up and understood the suffering in the world. I've fallen in love with these girls and I don’t even know who they are or what they look like, but I can’t live with myself knowing that I'm not doing anything to stop their suffering."
As the group continues to try to raise money for the construction, renovation and establishment of this orphanage, the dedication and love within the group becomes more visible.
"We might not be changing the world, but to these eight girls, their lives will be saved," he said.
For more information or to donate, visit the group's blog at www.8oaks.blogspot.com or mail checks to: Eight Oaks, P.O. Box 8366, Wichita, KS 67208.