In 2009, when I started Compassionate Journeys, I knew I wanted to make a difference. What I learned along the way is that the Western ideal of exactly what that means is based on outdated ideas about people in developing countries that are simply not true, and that "volunteering" can sometimes cause more harm than good.
We will not tell you that, by spending a couple of weeks in another country, that you will change the world. You won't.
But what you will do is change yourself, and you will touch lives and make connections that will spread peace, encourage dialogue, share your personal gifts and service, and you will add a link to the chain of love and compassion—not pity or privilege—that our world so desperately needs.
The real gift in connecting with others is the personal growth that everyone involved experiences along the way. We are here to cultivate sustainable social change through intentional choices and connection to nature and to each other, and by opening all of us up to possibilities beyond our wildest dreams.
It would be my pleasure to introduce you to the people of Tafi Atome, and to share the kindness and love I've experienced there that transformed my own life. I know you will find it a safe and thoughtful environment in which you can explore your own ideas, discover your own strengths and challenges, and erase false perceptions through understanding and awareness of our inherent interconnectedness.
It’s amazing what we can do when we come together.
Learn about what we've done and what we're doing - and how you can join us!
2009 — Compassionate Journeys begins as a volunteer organization in the Greater Accra area, serving 10 different organizations, including an orphanage, an HIV clinic, and a children's hospital.
2010 — Compassionate Journeys completes its first water project, bringing clean water to an orphanage.
2011 — After backpacking across Ghana, founder Amanda Christmann became aware of the profound problem of child trafficking in Ghana's fishing and agricultural industries.
2012 — Compassionate Journeys relocated its home base to the village of Tafi Atome, where village chiefs donated land for a home for rescued child slaves in return for help with education and medical care in the village.
2013 — Volunteers began coming to Tafi Atome as teachers and medical care providers. Compassionate Journeys began a continuing partnership with International School of Paris. The Tafi Atome Computer Learning Center became our first large-scale project, and the center now provides computer literacy learning for hundreds of students throughout the area.
Construction began on Melor Vinyewo home for rescued child slaves, which will initially house nine children released from their masters, but will eventually be a life launching point for approximately 50 children who will receive education, medical care, nutrition, guidance and love so that they can break the cycle of child trafficking.
2014 — International School of Paris returned, this time to build the Tafi Atome Community Library. Volunteers from all over the world have continued to donate books, including textbooks, technical books, novels, art studies, children's books, and an entire section of books written by African authors.
Also in 2014, Compassionate Journeys partnered with PACODEP, recognizing the importance of supporting local programs. PACODEP, led by George Achibra, has been in the trenches for many years, working with child slave owners, legislators, and advocating for children in Ghana.
Volunteer Lesley Pelkey began working with women in the Tafi Atome community to create economic opportunities though a community cooperative. Later, students from Global Peace Exchange at Florida State University took this effort a step further to establish Compassionate Women.
2015 — Ebola struck West Africa, and although it did not come to Ghana, our program and the Ghanaian economy were temporarily crippled. This gave us an opportunity to re-examine our vision and better align it with what we have learned through the years.
2016 — Instead of emphasizing volunteering, we now emphasize cultural exchange, interpersonal connections, sustainable social change, personal growth and empowerment.
International School of Paris is returning to build an early learning center so that young mothers can finish school, women can find economic opportunities outside of their homes, and children can build a foundation for their educational future.
Global Peace Exchange students from Florida State University raised money and assisted us in building a poultry farm, which will be the beginning of creating a sustainable source of income to pay for expenses related to feeding and housing children at Melor Vinyewo.
Find out what drives us to do what we do.
Find out why cross-cultural exchanges are more effective and socially conscious than volunteering!