In the fall of 2010, there were 600 students sailing around the world on the program Semester at Sea. One of the port stays was scheduled for Takoradi, Ghana. Emma Smith had arranged to go to Egyam Orphanage independently for the few days that the shipped would be ported in Ghana. Only three days out of port, the orphanage director contacted her asking for donations of shoes for the children so that they could participate in school fully for the next year. Since the ship was in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean at the time, it seemed impossible to find over fifty pairs of children’s shoes. However, together the students rallied the entire ship to the cause and came up with more than fifty pairs of shoes, $800USD, and more than 100 volunteers who wanted to help out with maintenance projects at the orphanage.
While the students were there, they helped the children with homework, played with them, and helped the house mothers with their daily chores. The children enjoyed the one-on-one time that they had with the volunteers. One 10-year-old girl attached herself to Emma for the entire time that they were there. Her name was Mercy. She said that her dream was to be able to go to school everyday and learn as much as she could so that one day she could become an airplane pilot. Emma promised her that she would come back one day and help her pursue those dreams.
Even though seeing the children chase after the departing taxis in their new shoes was a joyous event, the students were struck deeply by the poverty that we saw in contrast to all the opportunities we were pursuing. All of the volunteers had had similar experiences to Emma’s. And that is why they founded Mercy’s Dream Ministries.