Friday, August 23, 2013

The Summit

For those of you who don't know Tom Ferry, he owns the largest real estate coaching business in the world.  His company, Your Coach, coach's the top real estate agents all over the world (

This week, he held his big Summit where 3500 real estate agents from around the world converged on the Anaheim Convention Center in California to recharge their batteries, discuss strategy, implementation, etc.  Tom & his beautiful wife Kathy agreed to help Crossover via their Summit this week.

So, our 4 kids, Michael Ferry, Steven Ferry, Jacob Cooper & Savannah Cooper spent 6 hrs/day for 4 days selling T-Shirts at the Summit (these T-Shirts were generously sold to us at BELOW cost by Eddie Chavez and Ei-LO, once again, Eddy to the rescue!).

Tom even invited the kids on stage on Thursday and asked them about what they were doing for Crossover, why they were doing it, etc. (See video below).  And lo and behold, we raised over $15k for Crossover!

I continue to be blown away by people and how they have stepped up to the plate to help out those who are less fortunate than we are.  Let's run through the list real quick (in no particular order):

Tom & Kathy Ferry, Michael & Steven Ferry, Jacob & Savannah Cooper, Eddy Chavez, Genevieve Gwei (iDirect, who donated thousands of dollars worth of satellite equipment), Josh Cohen (iDirect), Tzvika Zaiffer & SkyVision (who donated 12 months of Internet Service), Ron Fineman & James Suarez from Fineman Suarez (who donated $5k at the Summit!!!), Laurie Eastman, Claude Yacoel.

I am sorry if I missed anyone, but my point is help keeps coming from where it isnt expected, which makes it so cool.  These people open their eyes and their hearts and want to help.  The children of Crossover thank you!

Here is the link to the video:

and some pics...

we also created a website through GoFundMe that allows for people to make donations, here is the link: 

Thank You!!

Saturday, August 3, 2013


Well, the satellite communications equipment finally arrived in Ghana this week!  It all started with an email I sent in April to a company called iDirect, based in Virginia.  The email was sent before my trip to Ghana, and I was trying to find out the cost involved in getting internet connectivity to Crossover.  A woman named Genevieve Gwen responded to my email, and after several back and forth emails, I realized internet by satellite was just too expensive and not a realistic option for Crossover.  However, a few days later, I got a phone call from Genevieve saying that her company has agreed to provide all of the equipment to Crossover for free!  I was simply floored.  I could not believe it, and I kept telling myself it was just too good to be true.  But, it is true, and the equipment is literally being installed as I type this update.  Furthermore, the service provider in Ghana, SkyVision, has agreed to provide 12 months of free service!  I am not sure what the service cost will be after the initial 12 months, but we will have to deal with that and try to figure something out by then.

Also, my very good friends Tom Ferry and Kathy Ferry have agreed to help Crossover by selling t-shirts (provided by Ei-Lo, thank you Eddy Chavez!!) at their big summit in a few weeks where all the proceeds will go to Crossover. Our goal is 500 t-shirt sales ($9k), which will be enough to buy 2 acres of land for Crossover!

Step by step, things are starting to happen for Crossover.  We needed the good news because 2 weeks ago, an 11 year old boy from Crossover died from a fever.  His name was Ameko Emmanuel, and he is sorely missed by his brothers and sisters at Crossover.

Our 501c3 should be up and running soon, and that's when our serious efforts will start at raising enough money to build a proper school for Crossover: 2 dorms (with walls and a roof), classrooms, a kitchen/mess hall, bathrooms and showers.  Thank you for reading the blog and please feel free to pass it on!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

back home

It's great to be back home.  I've had lots of people asking me about the trip and wanting to help and it is all so appreciated!  I had to post this one piece of exciting information I just found out...

Earlier in my blog, I mentioned a company that is a leading IP-based satellite communications company based here in the U.S.  

Anyway, I heard back today that they are providing the hardware and their partner (a network operator) will be providing the connectivity (service) for FREE to Crossover!!  

I cannot tell you how significant a gift this is for those kids in terms of their education!  I contacted this company randomly as I was doing due diligence on internet options for rural areas.  This company (and specifically 2 people who made it happen at that company) truly stepped up to the plate here.  They didnt know me or Crossover from Adam, it just blows my mind and makes you realize that the world is FILLED with good people who want to do good things and help others who need a helping hand.  It's easy to lose sight of this given that most of what is covered in the media is people doing bad things.  

I've also gotten some requests of how to send things to the is their address in case you want to send over a care package:

Crossover International Academy
P.O. Box AB 446
Akosombo, E/R
Ghana, West Africa

Please let me know if/when you are going to send something so I can give the headmaster a heads up of when to expect it...Akosombo is a 90 minute drive from Crossover so he only goes there when he needs to.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

here are some additional pics I couldnt post from Ghana

the last 4 pictures are a kindergarden that was built by a non profit called Sabre...I think we might be able to hire the builder who built this school


This last video is one of the kids wearing the t-shirts that Eddy Chavez and EI-LO donated.  the music director, named Samson, made up this song in about 2 seconds.

last leg of the journey

This is likely my last post about the trip. On Tues morn, I left the hotel around 5:30am to catch a Tro to Cape Coast (via Accra, the capital). Before I explain what a tro is, I have to digress back to when I was checking out of the hotel . The front desk manager couldn not figure out how to print my bill. He tried several differecnt computers, and even showed me the total amount on the screen. So I said no problem, they can just give the bill to Jim to bring back for me (they had my credit card from when we checked in). So off I went. However, there was a "misundertanding" as the hotel thought I left with out paying my bill so they put the hard court press on Jim to come up with the finds for my bill and his. YIKES! Like I said, the front desk had my credit card but apparently that wasnt enough. Thanks Jim and sorry jenny for the middle of the night phone call!

 So a tro is basically like supershuttle but it is used city to city and basically there is no schedule. The tro leaves the station when it fills up. So when I got to Accra and found the tro going to Cape Coast, there were 3 other people in it. It took us 90 minutes to fill it up, 90 minutes of just standing around being hot and sweaty with food vendors asking you every 20 seconds if you want bo buy: water, mementos, cookies, empanadas, chicken & rice (yes please), shoes, shirts, razor blades, toothbrushes, etc etc.

 We finaly got the tro full and drove about 3 hrs to Cape Coast/Elmina. These are coastal towns, fishing villages, that are well known for the slave castles that still stand today. temporarly prisons for slaves before they were put on the ships that brought them to America. If you've ever seen the movie Roots, and the conditions the slaves were put in on the boats, you have a good sense of what the prisons in Elmina & Cape Coast are like.

I stayed at the Elmina Beach Resort, $130/night. on the beach, albeit a rocky beach. rooms were fine, wifi was pretty good. I was sitting across from this white gal, both of us working on our computers and we got to talking. She started an organization in Elmina called "Global Mama's" and what they do is they train women in a trade so that they can earn a living...dont just train but help with working capital so they are able to generate income right away. And they do this with hundreds of women in Ghana (my facts might be off a bit), creating a sustainable business for them. Anyway, she has a boyfriend named Miles who works with an organiztion called Sabre Charitable Trust, and they build schools for Kindergarners. So on Wed, Miles drove me to the school that was just recently completed and it was AWESOME (See pics on next post). Environmentally built with bamboo, coconut husks for insulation from weather and noise, soil bricks (sourced locally).  These types of buildings/classrooms would be perfect for Crossover, and I think we can get them done for cheaper than that second contractor we met with. Additionally, they use as many local worlkers as possible and train them on how to build what they are building, so it improves the economy of the village and the skill sets of the villagers.

 After visiting the school, Miles invited me to join him and his boss velmina for lunch at Ellie's place, a local Elmina woman who serves up awesome food. We had rice, avocado, tomatoes, cucumber and some curry sauce. Also over lunch Velmina offered me a ride to the airport, which saved me $100. 

That was basically the trip. It was one I will never forget and I am charged up to help those kids so that they are not sleeping on mats on the earth anymore. If you read this blog, and got inspired like I did, we are going to need all the help we can get. We do not yet have our 501c created (we decided to call it Wings for Crossover), but once we do, its going to take a community to get this thing off the ground. Assuming we do raise enough money and get the school built, maybe there will be a handful of people that will want to go to Ghana to visit Crossover for the open ceremonies. That would be really cool and Jim & I can help with planning & logistics. It's a fairly expensive flight ($1500'ish I think) but a good opportunity to use miles. Thank you for reading this blog and sharing it out there in social media circles. as of the time of this writing, I think I've had over 1700 page views. I think thats pretty good! If you can forward it to people who might be interested, or share it on Facebook, etc, tha would be awesome. It's a numbers game and the more people that read it, the better our chances to help these kids!

Monday, May 6, 2013

my last day at Crossover

Today was my last day visiting Crossover. It was quite the celebration. We were welcomed once again like heroes (and it never gets old)! Once we arrived, Dave took us to meet the chief of the village that Crossover is in. And lo and behold, he is a trojan fan! Fight on!!

After the formalities of meeting the Chief & his 3 wives, Jim I were treated to a traditional song & dance that lasted about 45 minutes. Some very cool dancing (see clip below).

Next, lunch was served. As I mentioned in my last post, Jim was able to coordinate a snack bar at the debate held at Pegasus school and the proceeds bought a lunch, actually a feast for today. The kids couldnt believe they were actually going to eat chicken, they were so happy and appreciative! They actually ate until they were full, which never happens at Crossover. Just too many kids and not enough money. Just before lunch was served, they put Jim & I in traditional chief garb, which really excited everyone.


After lunch, Jim, Dave & I met with the contractor again. We went thru the needs of the school and prioritized them. It will likely cost about $200k USD to build 2 structures: (1) a dormitory for the boys & girls; and (2) a building with 8 classrooms and a kitchen and mess hall. We hope to have plans drawn up shortly. Jim & I decided to name the 501c Wings for Crossover and our goal will be to raise enough money to pay for the structures and to provide internet access for the school. We are still working on some solutions for internet access, which is not easy given the remoteness of Crossover. After meeting with the contractor, we passed out the tshirts generously donated by Ei-Lo and Eddy Chavez. See the clip below. Thanks again Eddy!!


Then, it started raining...hard. And the temperature dropped about 30 degrees, from 95'ish to somewhere in the 60's. To you and me, rain just means outdoor activities are curtailed. You grab an umbrella or stay indoors. It means something very different to Crossover.

 It didn't really hit me until we left Crossover but I started thinking about all those young kids. And I thought about how tonight, they would be forced to sleep outdoors, under a thatched roof that leaks. on the muddy ground with no blankets. on top of all that they have no parents to comfort them. I couldnt stop thinking, what if it was Jacob or Savannah? It just tore me up to think of those poor kids who just dont have that parent there to help comfort them when its wet and cold. It's that combination of no real shelter AND no parents that makes their situation so devastating to think about. it starts to make a lot more sense why the little ones follow Jim & I around so much, grabbing our hands at every chance they get. They just want to be loved and touched and cared for. they want attention because with 250 kids, and only 8 teachers and no parents, they just dont get that attention that all kids crave. When you think about it being your own kids in that situation, it really hits home. This is why I am here and this is why I will do what I can to help them. 

 The truth is Crossover is just one school/orphanage, in one village, in one region in one country on one continent. It starts to get really overwhelming when you think about how much poverty there is in the world. But like Jenny said to me, you can't let yourself get overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem. Focus on a detail, something you can make a difference with. So that is what we will do.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

blog stats

I just checked the blog stats and I am floored! check out the different countries that have viewed the blog! if you have forwarded the link out to any of these places, thank you! stay tuned to the blog tomorrow...should be a doozy, it will be my last visit with Crossover and likely to be an emotional one. There was a snack bar at the Pegasus debate yesterday (and yes, Pegasus won) and the snack bar raise about $300, all of which is being used for a feast tomorrow, enough chicken & rice for the kids to get seconds (and thirds if they are still hungry)!

more pics & video

Crossover students after their bread & Nutella treat
Baboons on the side of the road driving from Accra to Akosombo

This is the computer lab/library/equipment room/Dave's office.  

This was one of my little helpers...he demanded he carry my water bottle around for me all day

 This is the Crossover student body singing "Peg-A-SOOS"...Pegasus is Crossover's sister school in Huntington Beach, CA., where Jim Conti is a teacher/debate coach/star, and where my son Jacob goes to school
 This is the girls "dorm".  My stupid question "There are 120 girls at Crossover, I only see like 20 mats, why is that?"  Dave's response "No, no, 5 or 6 girls can fit on each mat."  Wow
Cute little guys in the classroom/boys dorm

This is my daughter, Savannah, whose team took second place last night in their dance competition!  So sorry I missed it Savannah!!
Sorry, First place, taking home the GOLD!!  and the hardware to prove it

Saturday, May 4, 2013

a few random observations

Ghana has some TERRIBLE drivers on the road.  Scratch that, most are terrible.  passing when they shouldnt, etc.  However, there is ZERO road rage.  maybe it has something to do with the fact that everyone is late to everything so no one seems to be in a hurry to get anywhere (although I guess that conflicts with the speeding).  The roads are terrible, full of potholes, paved roads randomly turn to dirt.

People also freely litter here.  The sides of the road are lined with plastic, trash, etc.  Another reminder of how nice it is to live in the U.S.

Funerals here in Ghana are a 2 day celebration.  Entire towns turn out for a funeral, everyone dressed in red and/or black, streets are blocked with pedestrian processions, causing more traffic.

Everyone waves here.  Maybe its the rarity of seeing a couple of white guys (yeyvu) but every town we passed we were greeted with lots of waves and smiles.

In the little towns we passed, all of which are poverty stricken, the buildings and edifices are half built, no roofs, many made of brick (otherwise cinderblock).

As expected, lots of street vendors of food, stuff like snails, plastic bags of water (seems only the tourists drink bottles of water...the locals bite off a corner of the bag and drink it), maize dough, wierd turkey meat.  And pretty much everything is carried on their heads.

Lighter day (emotionally)

Today was a much lighter day on the emotions...Dave (the founder of Crossover) has a 17 year old daughter (Sonia) that goes to a private girls high school in the city of Ho.  They have visiting hours on the first Saturday of each month so we went to visit her.  Sonia is also the penpal of Jim's 11 year old daughter, Mia, so it was a very special visit for him (pictured below, left to right is Juliette, Sonia's best friend, Jim, Sonia and Dave).

After we visited Sonia, we drove about an hour to a Monkey Reserve...pretty cool video here posted to youtube

and a pic...

After the Monkey Reserve, we had a long drive back to the hotel, but stopped at tthe 2nd highest point in Ghana for a quick break

Friday, May 3, 2013

Day 2 at Crossover

So Jim & I decided to take a boat to Crossover today instead of a car.  We left from Akosombo where we are staying and it took about an hour by on this video to see our welcome party, another unbelievable welcome!

After arriving, we went back to the "classroom" because I had a few more things to give out:  the rest of the tshirts that Eddy & EI-LO donated, 2 lacrosse sticks, and a suitcase full of food I brought from Costco: Cheez-its, Famous Amos cookies, Nutella, Boysenberry Jam and a few other treats.  When we got there, Jim & I bought 50 loaves of fresh bread from the adjacent town (called Djemini).  Each kid got a cookie and a slice of bread with either jam or nutella on it.  WOW.  most of the kids had never had a cookie and the look on their faces when they took that first bite was priceless!

After the kids ate, Jim & I took individual pictures of each kid...when we create our 501c charitable organization we will create a website and post each picture along with their names and a little blurb that they will write about themselves.  Should be pretty neat.  Here is a pic of lacrosse making it to Africa
Jim & I also met with a contractor/builder today, which was interesting.  Just doing some diligence on costs involved in building a structure for the kids to sleep in as well as a classroom(s).

The rest of the day was spent just hanging out, which was really nice.  We played basketball, lacrosse, etc.  It's funny, the little ones just followed us around, we would walk to grab a water, about 15 little ones are in tow, just wanting to be with you.  They thrive on human contact, just touching a shoulder or holding a hand, they look up at you w those eyes that just kills you!  I don't think they get much nuturing or human contact.
The last thing we did before returning ot the hotel was watch a soccer match.  The kids were all in their new jerseys.  Notice the dirt/rocky field and note that about half of the kids played barefoot.  Perspective

This last pic is the kids watching a video of themselves on Jim's iPad.  They thought it was HILARIOUS!!  

Thursday, May 2, 2013

a few more pics

First visit to Crossover...perspective

Wow, what an emotional day today was.  The picture above was our welcome to Crossover.  The truck met us in the town adjacent to Crossover and they paraded us thru town, singing, drums, etc.  You cannot see it, but the sign at the front of the truck said "Welcome Jim & Chad to Crossover International Academy".  The kids were in constant song, jumping up and down.  It was really an unbelievable welcome.  When we followed the truck into Crossover and got out of the car, Jim & I were immediately surrounded by about 50 kids, hugging us, jumping up and down, huge smiles on their faces.  It was really an overwhelming, emotional experience.

The "classroom", is a thatched hut, about 40' long by 20' wide, dirt floor.  It also doubles as the boys sleeping area.  No walls.  We hung out in the classroom for about an hour, where we gave out the booty.  You've never seen 250 kids so happy about sharing 8  waterguns!  What keeps striking me is how happy and smiling these kids always are.  It just puts things into perspective.

These are the kids lining up for lunch.  a bowl of rice with some stew, which consists of some canned tomatoes, peppers and a few other things.
The school, which I found out is also an orphanage (watch out Jenny!) generates their income from catching fish on Lake Volta.  They average about 2 buckets of fish/day, which generates $160 Ghanian Cedi/day, about $80USD.
There are 253 kids at Crossover, 8 teachers and a night watchman.  You can do the math, they are barely existing.  And yet, they are all so happy at being given a second chance at life instead of being a slave on a fishing boat on Lake Volta.  After being shown the "campus" (which is not much) while the kids ate, we blew up 2 basketballs that Jim brought, nailed a makeshift rim to a pole, and taught the kids basketball.  Dribbling drills, layup drills, passing drills, etc.  It was so fun and neat to watch the kids, 253 of them, share 2 balls and having so much fun.

Pictured here are 4 Crossover boys wearing tshirts donated by EI-LO, a tshirt company run by my friend, Eddy Chavez.  Thank you Eddy, the kids LOVED the tshirts.  
It's hard to get over the poverty here, not just at Crossover, but really the entire country.  We are all so lucky to have been born in the U.S., and to live the way we live.  So much we take for granted, so much to be thanful for.