Former Youth Pilgrims and Leaders from Liverpool and Virginia travelled to Ghana as part of a planning trip for the future link between the Diocese of Liverpool, Virginia and Ghana
"Standing in cape coast castle and everything slotting into place. Finally realising how the jigsaw pieces fit together and that we were all fault for what happened, but together we can repair and rebuild"
"The most amazing and spiritually moving experience going to Ghana. Fitting the missing piece of the Triangle of Hope together and forming lasting relationships for the future together"
In the June 2019 myself and former youth pilgrims from the previous two youth pilgrimages in 2012 and 2015 visited Kumasi, Ghana.
We visited important sites connected with the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the major community service projects are the Jachie Anglican Eye Clinic and Jachie Primary School.
This journey took place ending the two previous Youth Pilgrimages but also the connection to the future Triangle of Hope journey commencing in September 2019 where the Youth Pilgrimage of 3 years across the Triangle of Hope takes place.
We first began the journey at the wonderful St Cyprian's Cathedral. This is where we first met the Pilgrims part of the future Pilgrimage starting in September 2019.
In the Parish rooms just next door to the Cathedral we met the future Youth Pilgrims and had some time of Prayer, Introduction and Guidance/Information about the Youth Pilgrimage and Triangle of Hope.
After this we gathered in Groups, where myself and 3 other pilgrims who have completed the Triangle of Hope Journey led the Group discussions about what they are excited about, there faith journey and where it began and also finding out what they would like to do whilst they are in Liverpool next year. Some of these answers being; dancing, singing, theatre, Liverpool History, Football and visiting Churches and Cathedrals. Some questions we heard where are there many challenges on the journey etc.
Whilst we was in Kumasi, we had the absolute honour of meeting the King of Ashanti. He is 16th to the throne and has been in reign for 20 years.
During our Visit to the King we were formally introduced and welcomed by name. He spoke at length about our work as part of the Triangle of Hope and gave us his blessing in using the Ghanaian Symbol of Hope as the future symbol to represent the Triangle of Hope and Future Youth Pilgrimages.
He spoke directly to us which is a sign of honour and respect for those who mean a lot to him in faith and kindness. He is very excited for the future link and for the amazing future opportunity of young people travelling from Kumasi as part of the Youth Pilgrimage. His passion is in changing lives and giving people opportunities to develop and has a huge passion for changing the lives of young people especially as he fully supports children’s education in Kumasi. .
We had our morning service at St Cyprian's Cathedral which was absolutely amazing to be a part of. The King was also invited as part of the joint remembrance service - twice in one week we had the honour of meeting him.
The Service was Holy Communion with a special remembrance service included. This was so powerful to witness the differences in culture and also in tradition to services as we sang rather than spoke the words of scripture. It was an honour for Rock who preached to the King and to all the Congregation about the Triangle of Hope.
We visited Jachie Village where we are developing pilgrimage links with the Schools, Churches and the Jachie Eye Clinic.
We met with community leaders, clinicians and School Staff and hundreds of beautiful children proudly wearing their School Uniforms. These will be our ongoing future missional links in helping support them in any way we can by providing them with resources for patients and books and stationary for children.
1400 people each month visit the Jachie Eye Clinic. Some cannot afford Eye Care but Jachie help put things in place to make this happen.
We visited The Last Bath where enslaved Africans were stripped of their identity, branded and then marched to the coast little knowing the dungeons and passage and journey which lay before them.
On the outside you can see powerful and beautiful paintings of the Journey and timeline of the Enslaved Africans.
We walked the same path they were taken for their last bath. It’s such a powerful place which also now celebrates those who have been able to return on the Wall of Return.
We visited Cape Coast Castle, site of the famous Cape Coast and Elmina Castles with the doors of no return. As we entered the Castle the first place we stood was at the foot of the male dungeon. This is where enslaved Male Africans were taken and where forced to spend weeks on end in before being taken through the door of no return and onto ships sent out to be sold.
Just above this door which does not get any easier and heart-breaking for all of us to hear is that just above these dungeons stood a church above with a grille looking down into the dungeons near the door. Unfathomable dissonance, reminding those of us inside the church today to regularly hold a mirror up to ourselves and ask the questions what are we doing today that people in 250 years’ time will know was cruel and inhuman?
We walked down and stood at the middle passage in front of the door of no return the same spot many of these men and women stood utterly unknown to what there life was ahead of them. They were taken through this door and down the steps on to ships and shipped out to be sold.
After our time here in Kumasi, we had some time to reflect, look back and look to the future of the next Youth Pilgrimage. We recorded a video of our time as a Youth Pilgrim and what being a Youth Pilgrim has entailed, how we have grown and changed, how our faith has grown on this journey, a memorable moment, how we have been changed from this powerful journey, our recommendations to future pilgrims and looking back on ourselves from when we first started to now.
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