LDS brothers' Eagle projects take them to Ghana

Published: Wednesday, May 21 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

Stanford Ballard in 2013 with half of the bins he delivered to Ghana.

Family photo

NKAWKAW, Ghana — Sporting a Boy Scout uniform and a broad smile, 13-year-old Stanford Ballard stood in front of dozens of happy, energetic Ghanaian school children at the Empower Academy as part of an ambitious Eagle Scout Project that has become a Ballard family tradition.

Numerous bins filled with books and other school supplies donated by people back home in Utah were stacked up next to him, with some books displayed for the children to see.

One of the many books was titled “Let’s Make a Snowman!”

Considering that Ghana is located in a tropical climate, a book about snow could provide an opportunity to broaden the horizons of the children.

Stanford explained to the children that he collected these items that he had brought from the United States in hopes that it would enhance their education.

When Stanford finished his presentation with some words from the native Ghanaian language of Twi, the children cheered. Stanford’s dad, Craig, standing nearby, smiled.

Later, to celebrate the arrival of their friends from the United States, and the generous gifts, the children performed musical numbers and cultural dances in colorful attire.

The Ballards, and others representing the Forever Young Foundation — which helped facilitate the Eagle project — played games with the children, talked with them and took countless photos.

“Getting to know the kids was fun,” Stanford said. “They’re all so loving and great. You just want to take them all home with you.”

Just days earlier last July, Stanford had traveled about 7,000 miles from his home in North Salt Lake to the capital city of Accra with more than 2,500 pounds of supplies that he had collected.

The Ballards provided donations to three different schools in Ghana during their trip.

Stanford was the fourth of Craig and Melissa Ballard’s four sons to fulfill an Eagle Scout project in Ghana through the Forever Young Foundation. In the beginning, it was not something the Ballards planned on doing with each of their boys, but it worked out that way.

“I wanted to come here because all of my brothers have been here,” Stanford said. “They’ve all said how great Ghana is and how great the people are. I wanted to meet them and be able to help them out.”

What made this latest trip even more memorable is that the eldest of the Ballard’s sons, Truman, who was the first to do his Eagle project in Ghana, has been serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Ghana.

The mission president gave permission for Craig and Stanford to work alongside Truman for a few days as part of their visit.

“That,” Stanford said, “was the highlight for me.”

This Eagle project tradition began in 2007 while Craig visited Ghana on business. When he learned of some of the needs at the local schools, he and Truman decided it might be an ideal Eagle project. Then Bowen, Brigham and Stanford followed in their brother’s footsteps and did their Eagle projects in Ghana. Each of the boys was 13 years old when he traveled to Ghana with his dad.

While the children at the various schools in Ghana certainly have benefited, the projects have benefited the Ballards as well.

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