Missions to Ghana.com site

BE THE ONE!

Lighthouse searchlight beam through marine air at night.

Have you ever watch the beacon of a lighthouse shine into the darkness? As it guides ships to safety offering hope to anyone in its path. I feel our donors are like those lighthouses, offering beacons of hope to the children of Ghana.

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We received very good news this summer. The District Assembly in Amasaman, the regional  government, is building this high school only a quarter of a mile from St. Paul’s Primary and Junior Secondary schools. I was shocked and delighted at the same time. When we opened the preschool in 2007, I never imagined that 9 years later this village would have a Preschool, Kindergarten, Primary, Secondary and now High School! It is truly a miracle.

The new computer lab at the Primary and Middle School (Junior Secondary School) is the other miracle. Thanks to Redeemer Episcopal Church in Sarasota and Every Village Computer Organization, St. Paul’s received 15 computers and a laptop all equipped with educational software suitable for grades K1 to 12. With this addition to the curriculum, St. Paul’s will finally have the tools they need to prepare junior secondary students to pass the high school entrance exam.

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Mabel was one of the first three-year olds to attend St. Paul’s Preschool, our first building project. Every time I met her she had a huge smile. Several summers as I would say my last good-bye, she would turn her head to hide the tears rolling down her sweet little face. I would end up running over to give her another big hug and tell her I would see her again soon.

Mabel is now 12 going into the seventh grade. In 2018 she will finish middle school just as the new high school is ready to open but Mabel’s parents cannot afford the $250 – $400 associated fees for school. This situation will be repeated over and over for girls in the village. Many girls will become carriers, carrying heavy loads on their heads at a market. Some will sell water or other goods hoping to earn money for school. Too often, these girls find themselves taken advantage of and pregnant.

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The Beacon of Hope Scholarship is being created to give two to four girls the opportunity to attend high school each year. Our goal is $25,000. SAVE THE DATE.

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Thanks to the Sarasota Community Foundation’s giving partners: The Patterson Foundation, The Knight Foundation, The Manatee Community Foundation, The William G. and Marie Selby Foundation and The Herald Tribune, YOU CAN BE THE ONE TO OFFER HOPE IN THE DARKNESS.

Donate at www.givingpartnerchallenge.org/npo/ghanaian-mothers-hope-inc on Tuesday, September 20 noon to noon on Wednesday, Sept 21 and the Patterson Foundation will match all donations of $25-100. If you did not donate in this campaign in 2015, your donation will be tripled. Donors from 2015, you donation will be doubled.

Ghanaian Mothers’ Hope needs your help in spreading the word. Please tell your friends about this incredible opportunity to Be The One to change Mabel’s life from school dropout to school teacher! Click Here to see the Trailer.

 

 

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The Results Are In!

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I can remember my excitement when the Sarasota Community Foundation announced the 2015 Giving Challenge. This was an opportunity for all Ghanaian Mothers’ Hope board members and volunteers to get involved and create a campaign for our newest collaboration to help mothers in Ghana called Water Mamas. Everyone was eager to participate. Our goal was to raise $1,250 which would be doubled with the Patterson Foundation matching program. We would be able to train 25 women as Water Mamas and provide 100 families with 25 gallons of water a day for 25 years.

Adoley and James Proser created a marvelous video highlighting the need that the Water Mama’s program could fill. Thanks to our donors, the campaign raised $5,000 before the match! With the extra $5,000 match from the Patterson Foundation and a $500 win for our video, we more than doubled our Water Mamas training. The extra funding allowed us to reach very remote villages during July 2016.

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The team, Deborah Albert-Water Mama trainer, Ellen Baffour-Arhin, nurse practitioner and diabetes lecturer, Mercia Laryea, GMHope Ghana Director and I traveled for four hours to our first district, Ada, in Greater Accra on the eastern coast of Ghana. In the morning we boarded a boat to the Island of Pediatorkope to train our first 30 Water Mamas. Women from 14 different communities attended the training with their babies and toddlers. Several women came from the other four islands along the river.

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Each woman was given two buckets. One bucket for the dirty water to be filtered and one for the clean water. The clean water bucket contains a tap so water may be accessed easily. Esther, pictured above, was taught to use a Sawyer filter and will teach three other moms in her community of Aabom to use the filter. Many families will bring water to be filtered and share in the clean water. Women will learn that clean water is a gift for everyone to use for drinking, bathing, cooking and any other water contact for themselves and their children.

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Thirty women left with filters and buckets and many others watched closely so they could learn how to use the system. Training occurred at the health center and the public health nurses will continue with follow-up training on the use of clean water.

Our next adventure took the team nine hours by bus on a very bumpy dirt road to the Upper Volta only minutes from the Togo border in the mountains.

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Here, thanks to a woman named Perfection Ofori, the team was able to train another 30 women from three communities in Sabram. Perfect works in Accra, a two-day trip by local transportation, while her five small children live with her mother. Perfect brought the lack of clean water in her village to the attention of our Ghana director, Mercia. Thanks to our many donors at the Giving Challenge, we could travel to Sabram to deliver training, filters, buckets, a good lunch, and even some medical supplies and dresses for little girls.

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It rained so hard and so loud on the tin roof of the community building that we had to suspend the training for one hour. Even with water dripping and deafening noise, the women were delighted to stay and wait.

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The end result is hundreds of families with thousands of children will share clean water for many years because YOU cared! Many thanks to YOU, the Sarasota Community Foundation, and the Patterson Foundation.

Debi Frock, Executive Director, Ghanaian Mothers’ Hope.

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Be sure to check out The Giving Challenge 2016 , September 20 noon to September 21 noon. We hope you will help us reach our goal of $25,000 for girls high school education, breaking the cycle of childhood maternity in villages.

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A week in Trewebo

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Janet Neumann

Today was a bittersweet sweet day; it was the last day of reading camp.  I started the day off thinking today would be long.  I have never been one that was good at saying goodbyes, but over the years I have gotten better at it.  The team arrived in the morning and we were greeted with children singing and already in their classrooms.  As our tro tro would approach the school, the students would start waving and continue their singing.  While I was walking into the classroom, they would all stop their singing and exclaim, “Good morning Auntie Janet!’

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These children are so kind and happy. I work with students in the United States that come from economical disadvantaged backgrounds.  Those kids have lost much happiness because of their realities and what they see on a day-to-day basis. I think of these children, who are younger than those kids with whom I work.  When I look at the Ghanaian children all I see is their kind hearts and smiling faces. Life is tough for them.  Every day is difficult, but they kick the dirt, quite literally and continue to move forward. They have a thirst to be better and to learn more.  This week has taught me that love, generosity and compassion can belong to anyone.  God has blessed these children and I pray that he continues to grow them into incredible leaders of Ghana. –Janet Neumann

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Zach Neumann

 

13901546_10154557891126807_8857991329616268990_nDoes this matter? Can one week really make any difference with these 40 children that we came to serve? There are those who would say our time and efforts and money would be better spent elsewhere but after coming to Ghana 7 times for 7 different reading camps, I can say that yes, what we do makes a difference in the lives of the children. And in us.

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Last Sunday the team went to church in Akramaman village. It is the village where we have held reading camp for several years. After church, a little girl named Josephine came over to me and asked, “Please sir, do you remember me?” She has grown so much since I last saw her when she was in my group of non-readers two years ago. “Yes, I know you!” I say as she smiles a smile that would light up the darkest places in the world. We chat some about how she loves to read and how she is going into Class 4 (roughly 4th grade) and how she has loved reading camp and how she missed me last year. She smiled. She giggled. She laughed and she gave me a huge hug. She knows she is loved. And she loves to read because someone that she did not know came to her village from far away to spend time with her, to love her, and to help her. She has been empowered through reading and love.

 

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This week, we tilled and planted seeds in a new village, Twerebo. Our camp had 40 children who greeted us each day practically shouting the song we taught the first day. There were laughs and struggles and many poems and songs repeated throughout the week. And there were hugs and tears as we said goodbye this afternoon. These dear children experienced the love of God in a way that for many of them was new. And the US team who came experienced God’s love in a new way as well through their dedication to learning and their smiles. The children left with books and lessons and the knowledge that they are loved. They saw that they CAN improve and they CAN read. They were given hope and a better shot at a brighter future for themselves, their families, and their country. That is truly powerful. That is empowerment.

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Akramaman Reading Camp

IMG_2345By Mr. Seth Agyakwa

In Ghana, one problem we normally encounter in the public school is lateness to school. During reading camp, the same pupils and teachers, who normally report to school late, are always very punctual. Even though lessons start at 9:00 am, by 8:00 am all are present. This is not because of the “whites,” but because the organizers and sponsors of the programme have put in all their best.

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Pupils and teachers do not waste time at home for food because food is served during the reading camp. The food given is not like Ghanaian school feeding programme that pupils refuse to eat even though it is prepared by Ghanaians. With this programme, pupils can even go for more if they are not full.

IMG_6379Again, there are sufficient teaching and learning materials which facilitate teaching and learning. Supervision is very strong. Due to this, pupils who refuse to read in our normal schools are eager to read during camp because of the good atmosphere and materials used. Pupils are also encouraged and motivated to read. I can see it is a factor in pupils showing interest in reading.

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IMG_2336IMG_2332God bless you all for your support towards the reading camp. We pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. Amen

Seth is a teacher at St. Paul’s Junior Secondary School. He has been volunteering at our summer reading camp since 2011. He is married with three children. Last weekend the team attending his newborn’s “Outdooring”, the baby naming ceremony. It was fun to welcome baby Perez into the family. Seth’s hospitality to the team was heartfelt.

Thank you notes are on the way.

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Putting together two Reading Camps simultaneously is exhausting, but so rewarding. I have to admit last night I was wondering just what have I done. Our camp at Akramaman is going great. We have a wonderful facility. We know the area, the cooks, the children and what to expect. Akramaman will have a Reading Camp but my team will not be there. The Ghanaian team will staff that camp.

I have asked my seven American team members to step out of their comfort zone, really way beyond the norm. The team is headed to Trewebo, a village in the bush. The school is crumbling apart. The adult bathroom was never finished so we have to use the children’s facility–think of an outhouse with only a hole in the floor. I have never met the cook and if it rained the drive would be very difficult.

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This morning by 6 am I was packing the tro-tro with all that we would need: school supplies, 150 pounds of books, corn dough, mackerel, sardines, cookies, tomatoes and the list goes on and on. By the time I got all the supplies in the tro-tro there was hardly enough room to fit the team.

Mercia, my Ghanaian hostess and Executive Director, got up at 2 am to cook for the team. Thanks to her, we had a great breakfast of torpedo bread, Laughing Cow cheese, and hardboiled eggs. She also cooked our lunch: jollof rice, vegetables and chicken. Then she drove to Akramaman to get that camp started.

Meanwhile, back at Trewebo we hung up the Reading Camp Banner,

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created a library,

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hand washing stations,

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and then we gathered the children for prayer.

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Before long the children were enjoying songs, and stories

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Art class and lunch.

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There was just a little monkeying around.

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At the end of the day there were 40 smiling children and 15 exhausted, but smiling, American and Ghanaian team members. I can’t wait for tomorrow, outhouse and all.

 

Are We There Yet?

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Helen and Kim at Monkey Forest

By Helen Lang and Kim Tompkins

Remember that question? Today there were times where it felt like that. Our adventure-filled day began at 6am when we were whisked away in a tro-tro (local transportation like a van with hard seats and no shock absorbers). During our three and a half hour drive, we saw many small towns teeming with people selling everything you can imagine. There were wide open spaces with beautiful vistas of tropical vegetation including lots of pineapple plants. 

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Left to right, Becki, Zach, Deborah, Helen, Bruce, Kim, Debi, Malcolm

After traveling down a long and bumpy dirt road we arrived in the misty rain forest at Kakum National Park, for a fantastic, fun time crossing seven suspended rope bridges, 1100 feet high up in the tree canopy. Imagine stepping out in faith onto a single plank suspended by ropes. There were lots of ohs & ahs and more than a little trepidation.

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Kim

Next we visited The Monkey Forest. Dennis, a Dutch National who has devoted the last 10 years to rescuing animals that have been found wounded or stranded shortly after birth, is such a good caretaker. It was a great opportunity to see native wild life. The monkeys were adorable (and mischievous!). Malcolm, a teen on our trip, became fast friends with a 2 week old Genet cat as it snuggled in his arms.

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We ended the afternoon on a more solemn note. St. George’s Castle, Elmina, is a former slave trading site. In the dungeons where male and female slaves were held you could feel the heartaches and atrocities soaked into the five hundred year old stones. We were so disheartened to learn that the Dutch had built their chapel right above one of the dungeons where unimaginable suffering was taking place. Our guide said “I don’t tell you all that happened here to open old wounds but to encourage you to treat one another with respect and human dignity.”

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Fort St. George, Elmina

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The Door of No Return

The castle is built on the edge of the ocean. As we were leaving we saw all of the colorful fishing boats leaving the seaport to head out to sea for the night!

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Today was an exciting and informative introduction to Ghana.  We just arrived back at the hotel, 9:30 pm, and now for a few hours sleep because tomorrow we’re off to the market!

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Helen at Elmina

I thought deeply about this question as I packed three suitcases with school supplies, water filters, children’s blankets and pillowcase dresses getting ready to leave the US. Then I packed three more suitcases for the team that is arriving next week and pondered some more. Why do I leave my family and all the comforts I take for granted every day, to travel 9,000 miles, at least 17 hours on a plane each way, to sit in the dark at night with no fan, then to be tossed about like a rag doll in a car or bus each day as we travel the torn up dirt roads of Ghana?

This is why.

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I have always wanted to help children and when I felt that tug on my heart in 2004, I knew that God was calling me to help these children. When I first came to Akramaman in 2005, it was truly a village. Many children wandered around aimlessly. Only a handful of children went to school, mostly boys. There was no electricity, no clinic, and for many no Hope.

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Akramaman 2006

Now it almost a city. Electricity flows through many homes. The clinic serves 15,000 plus people in surrounding villages. The school system has over 500 children enrolled, a new computer lab and they are building a high school.

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Just a few of the classes at the primary school

Today at St. Paul’s Preschool graduation, I listened to the Assemblyman, the Pastor of a local church, the head of public education for the region and the representative for the Anglican education system implore parents to take raising their children seriously and to support education whether it is St. Paul’s Nursery, Preschool, Primary or Junior High. They talked about holding teachers accountable and encouraging students. There is much more than a glimmer of Hope for these children.

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I watched 37 excited six year olds put on their cap and gown and march through the crowd of parents to receive their Kindergarten diploma. Most of the children I have known since they were born. God willing, one day I will watch them put on another cap and gown and receive their high school diploma.

Smile after smile warmed my heart and told me the answer to my why. It’s the same answer I give my grandchildren each year when they ask “Grandma, why are you leaving.” “Because someone has to go and Jesus asked me to help him take care of the children. If I don’t go, who will help them?” Some of us are called to go, others are called to stay at home and mind the home fires and others are called to support those of us who do go. Thank you to my family, friends and many, many donors who have made all of this possible through the years. I may be the one here in Ghana, but YOU ARE THE ONES WHO HAVE SUPPLIED THE HOPE

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