Shoes for Ghana

More than two million feet walk the dusty hallways of orphanages in Ghana, Africa.

One Naperville resident walks well out of her way to help a not-for-profit

“Dreams for Orphans” group provide shoes and so much more for the orphans in Accra, Ghana.

Lisa Burke and her husband pat and their sons Jonathan and Zak recently launched a unique project. It all began when Lisa, a Delta flight attendant, visited Ghana on a routine flight . She met “Dreams for Orphans” founder, Kary Doerfler, another Delta flight attendant. Doerfler took her on a tour of orphanages in Osu, a small town outside Accra.

Inspired by the children she met, Lisa started making frequent trips to the orphanage in early 2010, bringing donations with her.

“On my first couple of trips I would bring school supplies,” said Lisa. “Once my friends got word of what I was doing, my back porch was full of school supplies and shoes.

Recently Lisa decided to share her experience with her family and bring them to the Osu orphanage in Ghana. Inspired by mom, Jonathan took it a step further and organized a raffle as part of a seventh grade class project at Hill Middle School. The raffle encouraged students at the school to donate shoes. His teacher, Corrinne Higgins, oversaw the project.

“JP (Jonathan Burke) approached me and wanted to have a school collection. He was very passionate about the kids in Ghana. He ultimately got the ball rolling.”

After word of Jonathan’s efforts spread to the community, the Burkes collected more than 200 pairs of shoes. These shoes will help prevent the spread of parasites in the OSU orphanage which houses over 200 children.

After collecting the shoes, the Burkes journeyed to Osu in February. Nearly 30 percent of Ghana’s population lives below the poverty line with the numbers increasing in areas arond Accra and OSU. Still Jonathan was surprised by the people he met.

“I felt happy and sad. I was happy I didn’t have to live there but I was sad that they lived through it,” said Jonathan. “The kids are so happy yet they live in conditions that are so poor.”

The donations didn’t stop when the Burkes returned home. Boxes of shoes sometimes numbering more than 300 end up at the Burke household on a regular basis. Lisa plans to bring some on her next flight in May, but says although helpful hundreds of shoes still fail to give the orphans of Ghana what they really need.

“You can give them all the material things until you are broke, but just to know that someone loves them and really cares is what they really need. They just need someone to love them and care about them.”

The group is currently working on raising money for a nursery in the orphanage. To learn more about other projects, visit dreamsfororphans.org

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