Micah 6:8 in Ghana: ‘God was calling us there’

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

Christy Farhar

SHOALS — As a Christian in Shoals, Christy Farhar felt called to Africa as a child.

Years later, she is tackling child labor slavery in Ghana through Christian love.

Farhar started the organization Micah 6:8 in 2011. Since then, the organization has built vocational schools to teach people sewing and catering skills, a primary school for education, and water wells to give the people clean water to drink. She also takes teams of people to Yeji, a town in Ghana, to do medical work and to serve the communities there.

The mission works mostly in Yeji, a community of 64,000 that is comprised of many villages.

“It’s funny,” she said, “because I look back now, nine years later and I’m thinking, ‘Oh my goodness, look at what all God has done.’”

Christy’s parents adopted children, so she grew up in a diverse family. She has a brother and sister who are Hispanic and a brother who is African American.

“From the time I was young I’ve always felt a call to Africa,” she said.”I remember that as a child. But I didn’t know what it meant.”

In 2010, Christy got a call from a friend of a friend who offered Christy a chance to go to Ghana on a mission trip with an organization called Touch A Life. She accepted and went on the trip in 2011. On that trip, she met Kwame Dadzie, who lived in Ghana and worked for Touch A Life, and they bonded.

“It was an organization that had rescued child slaves,” Christy said. “We did stuff with the kids. But it was more about seeing the plight of the child slave and seeing what’s going on there.”

The trip clarified for Christy that calling she felt as a child, and inspired her to take action.

“When I came home, it was like, my heart was broken for what I saw,” she said. “And I really felt that since I had seen it, I now became responsible to do something about it. But I didn’t know where to start.”

Photos providedLake Volta, the manmade lake that slave owners have children working at, throwing nets to catch fish.

So she started researching organizations working with child slaves in Ghana. “I basically spent the first year researching and fundraising, because I knew that I couldn’t really do anything about it unless I could fully grasp what was going on and why it was happening.”

In 1965, Lake Volta was created in Ghana and dammed, to be used for electricity. The lake displaced people who used to live on that land.

“So there was like hundreds of thousands of people that had no homes,” Christy said. “And, [the lake] really didn’t do what they wanted [it] to do. Since there’s no industry in Ghana, this became the industry: fishing.”

So companies would send people out on the lake in boats to catch fish using large nets. “The fish they get are little bitty,” Christy said. “So they need these little hands to pick the fish out and to mend the nets. Hence, why child slavery happened.”

The people are living in extreme poverty. “I don’t know what it’s like to have a house full of starving kids,” she said, “and having to decide that I’m going to sell one to try to feed my other kids.”

To get child slaves, the owners will go to small villages on the southern edge of Ghana, like Senya, which is 11 hours away from Yeji.

“They’ll go down there and give them what amounts to 20 American dollars,” Christy said. “They tell them, ‘I’ll give you this, I’ll take your kid, they’ll go to school, they’ll be fed, and they’ll be taken care of as well as working.’ That’s a lie,” Christy said. “That doesn’t happen. And they don’t know because they have no way to get [from Senya to Yeji].”

After praying and researching, Christy formed the Micah 6:8 board with friends she met through a Christian spiritual experience she went through called the Walk to Emmaus. The board has gone as a whole to Yeji and was moved as much as Christy. Each board member also gives a monthly donation to Micah 6:8.

Micah 6:8 officially formed in 2011 and became an official nonprofit in 2013.

When the nonprofit started, they didn’t know the best way to help.

“My first instinct was, I was going to get on that lake and rescue as many kids as I could,” Christy said. “And so then I thought, well, we’ll build a residential facility. But then the more I got to thinking and praying and researching that, it didn’t begin to make sense to me. Because I equated it to like the foster care system here. Once those kids got to 18. What are we going to do with them?”

And then the idea became more holistic.

One of the freshwater wells that have been installed in Ghana.

“Instead of focusing right on those kids, why don’t we focus on the whole family unit,” she said. “The best way to stop that child slavery was for us to be able to find sustainable income for people in Ghana.

And that’s when we started building our vocational training schools, to teach them a skill, so that they can make their own money after they learn that trade.”

The first vocational school was built in Senya to teach students about sewing. When the students graduate, they receive a sewing machine to start their business. Micah 6:8 added a water well for the community, and the nonprofit kept their focus there.

But Christy felt the call to go back to Yeji, where the hub of the child slave labor existed.

“I knew we had to go there,” she said. “I knew God was calling us there.”

So Micah 6:8 started working on what could be done in Yeji, although that community did not want them. Nevertheless, Christy kept going back with Kwame, and the organization built a water well there in 2016.

Micah 6:8 rented a building to have the vocational school, and graduated its first class there in 2017. It was at that time that they were invited to the General Assembly.

“The highest ranking official in Yeji said, ‘You’re the first white person that has continued to come back here,’” Christy recalled. “He said that they have a lot of people come and say they want to do all this stuff, but we were the first one that has proved it by continuing to come back.

That was the turning point.”

After that, Christy built a lot of close relationships with the people and officials in Yeji.

Today, Micah 6:8 has built a vocational school in Yeji, which teaches sewing and catering skills. There is a primary school, and a junior high school is being built; that one will have a medical clinic attached. A soccer field has been installed near the primary school and is named after Derek Arvin, a Washington, Indiana, teen who died in an accident in 2012. “He loved soccer, and one of his dreams was to go to Africa,” Christy said.

The mission expanded to include a new effort called Jacob’s Wells, named after longtime Micah 6:8 board member Kim Williams’ son, Jacob, who died in a drowning accident in 2017. Christy and Kim — Kim lives in Oaktown — came up with the idea of honoring Jacob by installing water wells in Ghana. Through donations, more water wells have been installed in different communities, to give them fresh water to drink. So far, there have been 12 wells installed in the last two years; another two were installed previously.

The organization organizes groups of 12 to 15 people for mission trips once a year, sometimes twice. They have so many volunteers wanting to go that the trips are filled until 2023, and there is a waiting list.

Some of those are medical mission trips, and those groups have been known to see as many as 600 people or more in the few days they are there.

One of the schools built through the mission.

And the Yeji community is still amazed that the organization has been a mainstay in their community. Christy recalled one boy who had a severe hernia and needed more medical attention than the group could handle.

“So we paid for him to have a surgery,” Christy said. “It was after we left that he actually had the surgery. His family kept asking Kwame, after seeing me [via FaceTime] ‘Why would she do this for us? Why would a Christian do this for us knowing that we are Muslim?’ To this day, they still ask why.

“I said why not,” Christy added. “What better way for me to show you the love of Jesus, than to give this gift.”

That dedication has led to opportunities to share with the communities in Ghana.

After Micah 6:8 dug a water well near a Muslim school, they were invited to go inside. One of the team members got to preach to the students.

“And it was all because we’ve done that water well,” Christy said. “Those wells have been what have gotten us in a lot of these places, because we’ve gifted them clean water.”

The organization dug a water well near the prison in Yeji. As a result, the prison let Christy’s husband, Ed, come inside and preach two years ago.

They learned that the largest prison in Ghana, in Cape Coast, also needed a water well; so they installed one there. They also installed a water well near the hospital there; both were installed last year.

They’ve installed them near other schools, in different communities, as they hear about the need. And the $3,500 cost of each is covered by donations.

In fact, all the money used through Micah 6:8 comes from donations, gifts and student sponsorships provided by the community. They hold fundraisers, their biggest being the Night for Freedom, which is held every October. Last year, 230 people attended.

“We have been so blessed that we have so many people that believe in this project and support it,” Christy said.

She said that people in and around her Shoals community ask her why she does this work.

“You know that old saying about teaching a man to fish? We want to create sustainability,” she said. “We want to help the economy of Ghana. That is what God has called me to do.”

A current fundraising effort for Micah 6:8 involves collecting shoes for an organization that will donate $3,000 to Micah 6:8 if 7,500 pairs of shoes are collected. To help with that effort, contact Brooke Bluffington through The River Church in Shoals.

Information about Micah 6:8 can be found at www.micah68project.com. The organization also has a Facebook page.




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