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Sixty Water Mamas and So Many Babies

DSC_0385By Deborah Albert

So far, so good! The experience so far has been way beyond my expectations. I came as a newcomer to West Africa, and what better country to first visit. As expected, I was a bit nervous when I first arrived in Accra, and my biggest hope was that I didn’t get sick from any of the food or water. My focus, however, quickly shifted to the work I’d be doing as part of the GMHope Team.

After the initial team briefing at Aunty Mercia’s house, I felt very at ease and excited for what and who I’d meet at each village.

DSC_0066One highlight of the journey to the first village has to be the lovely and relaxing boat journey. Well, I was a bit reluctant to get in the boat as I have a fear of deep water and countless past experiences that testify to that! More the less, the calm and stillness of the nature around me filled me with peace and serenity.

DSC_0245After meeting, interacting with and teaching the mothers, I knew that all the planning, preparation, saving-up, fundraising and excitement of the trip was well worth it.

The mothers were very delighted that we came, as were the chiefs and assembly men. The sing-a-longs that broke out during the program were heart warming and allowed me to witness the sense of unity which glues many of these villages together.

DSC_0418DSC_0437Overall, I am having the time of my life but if there is something that I must say I’m not pleased about, it is the long bus journeys. None the less, these journeys are not a problem when I see the smile I bring to the mothers’ and babies’ faces

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Ellen Baffour-Arhin is center and Deborah to her right.

Deborah Albert is  a 19 year-old British -Nigerian Medical Physiology student at the University of Leicester. Her understanding of the socio-economic determinants of good health has made her very passionate about providing high-quality care where possible.

DSC_0275Deborah is the first team member that we have accepted from outside of the United States. Working with small children poses problems is we cannot get a solid background check on each team member. Most team members have been referred by previous members and clergy. Deborah’s youth pastor and college professors convinced me that Deborah would be a good fit for our Water Mamas program. They were right. Deborah is a strong, confident young woman and excellent trainer.

Many thanks to Water With Blessings for their program.

THEN A MIRACLE HAPPENED!

By Debi Frock, Founder/Executive Director

My good friends in Ghana

My good friends in Ghana

I just landed in Ghana yesterday. The sights, sounds and smells brought back a flood of beautiful memories as soon as I stepped off the plane into the sunlit sky. Each year when I return it feels like I never left.

The flight was longer than usual; going from Washington, DC, to Dubai, laying over in Dubai for 23 hours than an 8 hour flight to Ghana. I think I am caught up on all of the latest movies and the trip in Dubai was very interesting. Have you ever seen a 7 star hotel?Dubai 3

I arrived around noon and I was tired but I needed to stay awake to acclimate my body to the time change (four hours later than on the east coast of the U.S.) On top of that was the 86 degree temperature with no air conditioning. It was a long day but I made it to midnight when the electricity died, no lights, no fan. But I knew that my next day, Friday, July 8th would be a day to celebrate.children

In 2010 the United Thank Offering of the Episcopal Church, U.S.A., gave Ghanaian Mothers’ Hope $40,000 to build a primary school. Notice the small building with the taxi in front of it. That was serving as their primary and junior secondary school at the time. About 100 children attended school. After opening the preschool/kindergarten more children wanted schooling. Now with the new primary school the old building became the secondary school and over 400 children attend the two schools.

Unfortunately, the government does not provide funding for materials, like text books or science materials or computers. After finishing Junior Secondary School (junior high school), you must pass the government exam to enter high school. The exam is exactly the same for village school as it is for private or more prosperous city schools. No one from Akramaman has been able to pass the exam and the teachers are so frustrated.

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Mable’s parents encouraged her to attend school in Accra

Several years ago I met Seth Owusu. He is a Ghanaian living in Maryland working for Best Buy and a computer geek. Seth began restoring old computers to take to Ghana and build computer labs in villages though his nonprofit, evcoafrica.org. Seth and I have been planning to add a computer lab to Akramaman for about 5 years. As with most small nonprofits, funding is the major issue. In April Seth made me a deal I couldn’t refuse but I still needed funding.

Seth had his team in Ghana go to St. Paul’s, Akramaman, to check out the proposed lab site. It was perfect. The PTA rounded up funding to help get tables and chairs. Unfortunately, we still did not have funding and Seth was leaving for Ghana. I had applied for a grant but it was too soon for an answer. I told our Ghana directors that it would probably by October, Seth’s next visit, before we could have a computer lab.

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Then a miracle happened! Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota, Florida, approved our grant funding the day before I was leaving for Ghana. I contacted Seth on Facebook to say that we had the funding and on his next trip he could include our 15 computers. To my delight and surprise, Seth informed me that he had already shipped the computers and was ready to install them. I was arriving on the 7th and he was leaving on the 9th. July 8th would be our magic day! At 10 am the fun began!

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The children bring in the equipment

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Sabina learns her letters by finding the letter on the keyboard so the lizard can eat his leaves.

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Seth and his team helping the children

THANK YOU SETH OWUSU, EVCO STAFF, CHURCH OF THE REDEEMER, SARASOTA, AND THE PTA OF ST. PAUL’S ,AKRAMAMAN.  WHO WILL BE THE FIRST STUDENT TO QUALIFY FOR HIGH SCHOOL IN 2017?

 

In Search of Clean Water by Debi Frock

DSC_0042I love to take photos, especially photos of water falls. Unfortunately, the most beautiful falls are not easily accessible from a car window. This week Scott, my husband, and I are in the UP- Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This part of the state is on Lake Superior and gets 30 feet of snow a year. It also has 11,000 lakes and many, many water falls. Since I had never visited the UP I wanted to take some good water photos.

Today, I wanted to visit Hungarian Falls in Tamarac City. We were told it was a short 15 minute hike from the road. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the trail head. A few others were also looking for the trail so we followed them up this really steep trail for more than an hour. We could hear the falls but we couldn’t see them. Finally we found a small stream and stopped for a photo.

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Do not be fooled, this is filtered water, not stream water.

But I still wanted to find the falls. With a little more hunting, Scott and I found another trail. It was also heading up the mountain side and was a much easier trail. Thirty minutes later we were at the top of the 40′ high falls standing next to a stream feeding the falls. I dipped my glass into the stream and looked at the water-Ugh. It was just like the water from the stream in Ghana,West Africa! It was yellow with stuff floating in it. Time to pull out my trusty filter, just like the one we give to women in Ghana.

Water glasses

Stream water on the left. Filtered water on the right.

1,800 African children die EVERY day due to contaminated water. Diarrhea and dehydration due to contamination cause 85% of deaths of children under the age of 5. Children and mothers hike to streams and lug back 5 gallon jugs of water several times a day. Then mom might boil it for drinking but what about washing vegetables and fruits or bathing the baby or washing your breasts before nursing the baby? Using contaminated water for these tasks is just as dangerous.

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Photograph, Bryan Woolston

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Photograph, Bryan Woolston

This summer I had the privilege of showing 40 mothers how to filter water. The filters will provide them with 25 gallons of clean water EVERY day for 25 years. Through a new partnership with Water With Blessings , we provided 10 filters for the village, Gontay, near Aburi in Ghana. We trained 10 women on the use of the filters, provided them with new buckets and taught them how of care for their filters. In turn, each woman will train 3 other women on the use of the filter and give them new buckets. The group will meet once a month with a mentor to discuss the use of the filter and to learn why it is important to use clean water for every aspect of a child’s life. This program provides enough clean water for the whole village and helps build community.

The women were so attentive and really wanted to know about this miracle. After Sylvia, our local mentor, explained all the reasons to use clean, filtered water, it was time to have the women asemble their buckets for filtering. Once everyone  was comfortable with the filter and how to backwash it after each use, we brought in water from the local stream, similar to my stream this morning. It was brownish yellow and had lots of things floating in it. I noticed a lot of bugs at the stream. So now was the time to see if it really worked. Well it sure looked clean and clear.

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Photograph, Bryan Woolston

So, I took a deep breath. . . . .

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Photograph, Bryan Woolston

Ah, clean, clear beautiful water. The women were ecstatic. Everyone wanted to try their filter. The head master of the school we were using for the training wanted us to provide a filter for the school (that filter will be going to Ghana in October). It is amazing!! $25 gives a family 25 gallons of water EVERY day for 25 years. 

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Photograph, Bryan Woolston

I can’t wait to go back next summer and bring clean, filtered water to 5 more villages. That equals 200 families getting clean water. What a blessing from the Lord! Visit our website www.gmhope.org for more information. In the mean time, my husband caught me in a big nap!

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One Little Mosquito By Debi Frock, Founder

me and kids

My favorite time of year is the first week of August when GMHope runs their annual a reading Camp at Akramaman in Ghana,West Africa. Seeing the adorable faces of the excited 65-100 children brings me to tears. Life is not easy in the village.

We constructed two fine schools in Akramaman; St. Paul’s nursery/kindergarten and St. Paul’s Primary. Both were given to Ghana Education Service as public schools. We built a Public Health Clinic. We teach good hygiene to mom’s and children but it only takes a small mosquito to disrupt everything. This week was no exception.

Hand washing at the Preschool

Hand washing at the Preschool

Day 1. Edith, throws up at camp and her fever is high. We send her to the clinic. She has malaria. They give her drugs. I pay 12 cedis –$3.75 for the visit and drugs. She waits til camp is done for the day and takes the grueling 40 minute Tro-Tro ride home (think old 20 passenger bus with broken seats, no shocks and no air conditioning on a very dusty, pot hole filled, dirt road). She does not return until Wednesday.

Day 2. Nora spikes a fever during Reading but does not want to go home. She has malaria but has already been to the clinic and has melds at home. She is finally sent home and returns the next day.

Joseph

Joseph

Day 3. Joseph spikes a fever and asks to go home. He has malaria. Joseph has spent many days at the clinic for malaria and worms. He has trouble learning due to repeatedly being infected. He is the dearest and sweetest boy and my heart breaks for him.

Day 4. Another boy, Daniel, is taken to the clinic for malaria. This time the bill is 10 cedis.

Health clinic

Health Clinic

Day 5, Friday. It was the epic day. Patience got sick, off to the clinic. Malaria! Again! Anna, one of the cooks has de-hydrated from malaria. She needs IV fluids, 61 cedis, I pay the bill. She spends the day at the clinic. As I am visiting the clinic a man comes running from the village carrying a limp child who is foaming at the mouth. The distressed mother is screaming and crying, running barefoot along the dirt path. Bryan Woolston, our photographer drops his equipment to rush to the aid of the man. I run to the mother to offer comfort. The child, A boy age 3, has malaria. His mom did not seek treatment but chose traditional treatment of herbs and sponge bath. The baby’s temperature rose so high he began having convulsions. In the arms of the nurse he is comforted and treated. His life has been spared. One little mosquito causes so much pain, especially to the little one.

According to UNICEF in Ghana

  • 3.5 million people contract malaria every year
  • Approximately, 20,000 children die from malaria every year (25% of the death of children under the age of 5)
  • Even if a child survives, the consequences from malaria such as convulsions or brain dysfunction can hamper long-term development and schooling.
  • The estimated economic burden of malaria is 1-2 percent of the Gross National Product of Ghana.
Nurses

Unfinished Nurses Residence

I am so thankful to so many who have faithfully donated as we built the clinic and are now building the nurses residence. The two bedroom apartments are roofed and have fine windows. We are working on the electrical system, then the finishing and a water tank. When we are able to finish this residence two public health nurses will be on call 24/7. Lives are being saved every day but even more will be saved when the nurses are there full time.. What a blessing for more than 15,000 people thanks to all of you who have helped. Donate today and save a life.

Hip, Hip, Hooray!

2015 St. Paul's Akramaman

2015 St. Paul’s Akramaman

In 2007 Pastor Becki Neumann, Bruce Neumann, Judy Chaney, Mercia Laryea, The Mother’s Union and I open St. Paul’s preschool to 87 children and 45 parents who were not sure about this idea of putting children into a classroom. Here we are eight years later with more than 180 children in the school, which now includes a creche and proper preschool for K1 and K2 (In the U.S. we would say K4 and K5). Last Friday 34 children graduated from K2 and will enter Class 1 in September. Many of these children have been in St. Paul’s since the age of 2.

Nora 2009/2015

Nora 2009/2015

John 2009/2015

John 2009/2015

Christiana 2009/2015

Christiana 2009/2015

Christian 2009/2015

Christian 2009/2015

These four precious children have been followed closely because they were the first of our Child Sponsorship program. In 2009 when Ellie Deane saw the photo of Nora she siad “I have to help this little one. What can I do?” and our Child Sponsorship program began. Thanks to Ellie, Bruce and Becki + Neumann and Trinity Episcopal Church, Waterloo, these four children have been in the program since the age on 1 year. They have received free tuition, health insurance, uniforms, vitamins, shoes, books, toys and help for the family when needed. We have about 15-20 children who need sponsorship every year. For $35 per month, you can provide HOPE to leave a life of proverty. Contact me at info@gmhope.org or check out our website.

There were many educational dignitaries at the graduation. St. Paul’s have become a model preschool and a child may not enter St. Paul’s primary until they have graduated from the preschool. Mr. Daniel Budu Asiedu, Municipal Director of Education, stated “Whether we like it or not, these children will be our future leaders so I plead with parents to take an interest in your child’s education.” Mr. Michael Daniel Narh of Obeyie School also stated “I predict in the future we will trace the education of our Nation’s Leaders to this school.” Wow, I feel like a proud Mama! Enjoy the photos.

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Seat or Feet?

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All across America people sit in churches week by week, singing and listening and learning what it means to follow God, to follow Jesus who leads us into the heart of God. And for many, the journey to God ends there, in the pew, or in the chair; but for some, the pew or the chair is not the end of the journey toward God, but the beginning.

When my family prepares for any journey we readDSC_0116 everything we can about our destination, we try to learn about the exciting things in store. Following Jesus leads us into the heart of God. What is it like there? What does God say about religion? God, through James, says this, “[23] For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. [24] For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like… [27] Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world (James 1:23-27 ESV, emphasis mine).

The heart of God is filled with His love for the world, the whole world; and, I am convinced it also holds sadness that so many who have so much are so clueless about real need, true joy, and faith that has feet and not just a seat.

DSC_0929For 50+ years my faith had a seat, but no feet. I was convicted of being a fan, but not a follower. And then Ghanaian Mother’s Hope happened. Through the quiet wooing of the Holy Spirit I found myself on a plane bound for Ghana, and my faith, and my life have never been the same.

Is your faith “true religion?” Does your faith have feet? Have you been hearing… and ignoring the still small voice of God? Notice James doesn’t say, “send money.” He says, “visit orphans and widows in their affliction.” V.I.S.I.T.

Visit. Your life will never be the same. Your faith will never be the same. Your understanding of God will never be the same. Visit. And, you will have stepped more deeply into the heart of God.

 

 

Becki Neumann+, Board Member,  Rector, Christ Church

I thought I had been exposed to everything. . . by Elizabeth Werbiskis

Eliz babyOne of the things I requested of Debi Frock, founder of Ghanaian Mothers’ Hope, on this Ghana trip was that I get the opportunity to do more than just help with Reading Camp, sight-see and shop. She granted my wish and then some! Tuesday, Debi and I went to Denchira, a new village, to deliver treated mosquito nets to families. The visit was pre-arranged by Auntie Sarah and Auntie Elizabeth, nurses at who do medical outreach for the Anglican Diocese of Accra. They made sure all the women and children from Denchira were gathered and Debi was able to talk to them about Malaria and ways it can be prevented. Debi asked the women and children to raise their hands if they had had malaria…everyone raised their hands. I know when we visit Ghana, we’re required to take either a daily or weekly malaria preventative but I never thought about what the locals actually do to prevent contracting malaria.
Someone else had been thinking about that too.owen 1 Debi told us about an 8 year old boy in Lake Worth, Florida named Owen who decided to forego receiving birthday presents this year and have everyone donate money to GMH because he didn’t want kids to die from malaria anymore. The money donated allowed GMH to buy 85 malaria nets, 50 of which we delivered in Denchira. Helping Owen’s vision reach the final stage was an extremely rewarding opportunity to be a part of. I was so excited to get out to the new village and help these families. We also brought toothbrushes and toothpaste to hand out to the families as well as flip flops, pillow case dresses and GMH bracelets for the young boys and girls.
After my experiences in Akramaman both this year and last, I thought I had been exposed to everything – the extreme living conditions, the poverty and need everywhere, the kids with such promise and little hope of more. What struck me in this new village was the urgency that the people felt about “getting” the things we were providing.

As I stood with Debi, Auntie Sarah and Auntie Elizabeth handing out the bracelets and flip flops, I was nervous because I didn’t know who to choose to give them to and I didn’t have enough for everyone. I was also intimidated by the need of these people in front of me. I know they have nothing and all I had to offer was a little rubber bracelet. As soon as I started handing out a couple bracelets to kids near us I was swarmed and it became overwhelming. Even harder than managing the mob in front of me was understanding why some kids were grabbing more than one bracelet when there were others that had none.bracelets
I had expected a sense of gratitude, which was certainly there, but because these kids live with constant need, there was also a sense of “still wanting”. That was hard for me to understand because when we “want” something it’s not nearly to the same scale as their “want”. It made me realize the difference between my wants and needs and theirs. When you have everything you need, your wants become material and almost unnecessary. When you have nothing, you want everything because you can’t distinguish the difference between a want and a need.Malaria nets for twins

Elizabeth helping at Reading Camp

Elizabeth helping at Reading Camp

 

Elizabeth donated 80+ pair of flip flops for children at the camp and in the village

Elizabeth donated 80+ pair of flip flops for children at the camp and in the village

 

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