Jefferson City couple turns attention to needy women, children in Ghana

Sunday, April 5, 2009

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- To see their two daughters from China or to hear them talk about the children around the world they sponsor, it is apparent Randy and Becky Haight are internationally minded.

In recent years, events that seemed to have a divine orchestration to them have repeatedly turned their attention to Africa, specifically Ghana.

When the couple moved to Jefferson City, they made connections with international students at Lincoln University. Many of those students, who now attend Grace Evangelical Free Church with the Haights, are from Ghana.

Then when one of their sponsored children through WorldVision became self-sufficient, they told that organization to find another child for them to sponsor. Without designating gender or nationality, Compassion International chose a girl from northern Ghana.

And the last couple of years, the Haights have hosted the director on the International Needs Network's Ghana programs when he visited Missouri. That led to them sponsoring Isaac, 14, since the fall.

So when Randy Haight, an internal medicine specialist, was given the opportunity to go on a vision trip to Ghana in January, he was eager. Becky Haight also wanted to go, but little ones at home didn't allow for that this time, she said.

"When he came home from this trip, he could not stop talking about it," Becky Haight said of her husband after he returned from the eight-day experience.

Now the couple hopes to draw in their church and community to help specific needs inside the impoverished country.

They hope to send a work team to Ghana in the next year. And Randy Haight hopes to be a part of a medical trip in the next couple of years.

While in Ghana, Randy Haight visited schoolchildren -- the lucky ones. Even in their best clothes, their sunken eyes, lack of muscle definition and bloated bellies told of their plight.

"It was like walking through the pages of National Geographic, to see overt poverty and how much there is a need there," he said. "Most people will likely never see the type of poverty we saw."

Living in mud huts, "they have no hope that it's going to change," Randy Haight said. "There's no agency looking out for these people."

But it was the story of Trokosi women -- those given as little girls to the village priest as a religious offering -- that caught Becky Haight's attention.

She said she wanted to help, "to know someone is over there trying to get them out." The first Trokosi women were freed in 1996.

"I was in California, living free and oblivious."

She is eager to hear the firsthand story of Mercy, a freed Trokosi.

"How do you survive something that traumatic and come out to the other side?" Becky Haight said. "If Mercy can be saved out of literal, physical slavery and emotional bondage, there's hope for all of us.

"I think God is the only one who can bring about that kind of healing."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: