This past Advent season, the kindergarten class at St. Peter’s School in Waldorf decided to participate in the ongoing Walk with Francis community service drive honoring the pope by making it a little bit easier for other children to walk. Leading up to Christmas, children from the school brought in new shoes to be donated to OSU Presbyterian Orphanage in Accra, Ghana, and on Dec. 20, the kindergarten class had the opportunity to learn about the country that they were sending the shoes to.
Fiifi Frimpong, who is originally from Ghana and moved to the United States in 1989, visited the class to collect the shoes and teach them about Ghana’s culture. To begin, he invited everyone to join hands in prayer.
He brought with him the “talking drum,” which he told the students is used to bring people together back home. One by one, each student walked up to him with smiles on their faces to have the opportunity to play the drum.
Frimpong told the students how his name means “boy born on a Friday,” because each child in Ghana is given a name corresponding to their gender and date of birth. He also brought with him a mask from Ghana, Ghanaian currency, and photos of the orphanage, which the class passed around.
“Our kids are so privileged, they have so much… To imagine not having shoes was an eye opener for them,” said Cheryl Kimm, the kindergarten teacher.
Frimpong moved to the United States in 1989, and now works for EMS technologies, which is owned by the Smith family, who sent their three kids to St. Peter’s. Mrs. Smith mentioned to Kimm that an orphanage that Frimpong supports needed shoes, which is when Kimm realized that collecting shoe donations would be a great way to “Walk with Francis.” EMS technologies agreed to pay the shipping to send the shoes to Ghana.
After asking the students if they liked math, Frimpong told them, “I live my life by S2,” which stands for “serve and share.”
“You shared your shoes with me and your class with me,” he said. “I thank you so much.”
This is not the first time that Frimpong has donated to the orphanage, but he said the people there do not know him, because he usually pays someone to deliver the clothing in order to remain anonymous. He said he tries to practice “unconditional giving.”
When the students presented him with the new shoes that they collected, Frimpong was surprised and touched by their generosity, saying that he had only asked for used shoes. The school hopes to make this an annual tradition.
Someday, Frimpong hopes to return to Ghana as a teacher, because of his love for kids and belief in the power of education. He hopes to teach kids to do critical thinking, because he remembers when he was a kid, if an adult told him something, he could not question it.
“If you can start with the young kids, you can spread a lot,” he said. “Education is the only way you can affect change.”