I first met Bosco in the summer of 2006, when I traveled to Ghana, Africa, to lead workshops in mathematics for Ghanian teachers. John Bosco Bongnea (Bosco) was a member of the Brothers FIC, whose apostolic mission included service to the poor through education. As such, Bosco had connections to different schools that were organized and run by the brotherhood. Through a connection with a college friend, I became acquainted with Bosco, and although I had never met him until the plane on which I traveled landed in Ghana, we quickly became friends.
Children’s World Impact became involved with Bosco when he shared with me a vision for assisting and empowering widows that was laid on his heart. He noticed that there were many women in and around his home village of Ullo, in the Upper West region of Ghana, who had lost their spouse, and were struggling to raise children and sustain themselves. It was this vision that led me to speak with Tyson Ray, founder of CWI. Eventually, CWI adopted the vision, and thus adopted Bosco as a partner in ministry.
I was fortunate to travel to Ghana 2 more times to see the widows’ project as it developed and grew. Each time I stayed with Bosco and got to know him a bit deeper. His heart and concern extended well beyond widows. He was deeply committed to the needs of the poor, marginalized, and particularly the disabled. Whenever we were together, it was very common for him to take a slight detour so that I could meet a disabled young person for whom he had arranged a life altering surgery. It was evident that he was well loved and respected by many! He taught me a great deal about what it means to give to those who have no way of repayment; to give because it is that to which we are all called.
A couple years ago, Bosco was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gherig’s Disease). It was startling news for me, but didn’t alter Bosco’s heart for service. We continued to communicate through e-mail and the occasional phone call, where Bosco would update me on how things were going with the project financed by CWI and how the widows and the communities at large were benefitting. I always inquired about his health, but he was never much interested in that topic, choosing instead to center on ministering to the needy.
Sadly, Bosco died from complications of ALS on November 22, 2017. I learned of his passing right before Christmas. He will be sorely missed, but the lessons I learned from him concerning selfless service will live on.
Haiti Looms for Life was begun by Jamie Rauschenberger, an American missionary who was stationed in Haiti, with her husband, Brian. Recognizing the need to give women a “hand up” rather than a “hand out,” Jamie taught local women the art of hand twining rugs and sold the rugs at a guesthouse she and Brian ran. Women earned $20 per rug, which was helping them feed their families as well as keep their children in school. Unexpectedly, Jamie and Brian were required to exit Haiti, leaving the looms empty and the women without a steady income. Children’s World Impact has taken on putting these women back to work producing their beautiful rugs. Through native Haitian contacts, we were able to arrange for the rugs to be sold at a guesthouse in Bercy, Haiti. We are blessed to be working with these women and giving them hope and opportunity to once again earn an income.