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Posts tagged ‘Bruce Neumann’

Why Do I Come Here Year After Year?

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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Art 101 in Akramaman. By Bruce Neumann

Painting palms for caterpillar

Painting palms for caterpillar

Art for reading camp has changed! Last year I did a structured art project each day for the reading camp. This year I am to do some preset items and use my imagination to fill the time. At the 2014 camp, I had some boys who seemed to have a knack for painting, so I gave them leftover tempura paint. I commented to Becki that I would like to bring them each a set of water color paints for 2015.

Bruce's  Art Room Wall

Bruce’s Art Room Wall

Between those donated at the Christ Church VBS, and those we purchased, we packed up over 65 sets to bring with us. I also dreamily suggested that they would also love spin art, but Becki said that it would be too expensive. (Thank you Ollie’s for three $5.00 spin art toys!)

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Monday we did “Be My Friend” crowns, making faces on the crown points and adding “gem stones” to make them sparkle (thanks Oriental Trading Company).

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Tuesday was brown bear lunch bag puppets, with precut facial features and wiggle eyes. This did not take all the time up, so I introduced them to water colors. I was just a basic introduction: dip your brush in water, shake most of it out, brush over a color, and brush over the paper. The kids were fascinated. One group crowded around me, pressing in closer and closer to see what I was doing.

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Wednesday we did Very Hungry Caterpillar palm print paintings. I have four associates (helpers), who made samples before any of the three classes showed up. Agbi and Ebenezer, two of the associates were the two boys I had given the tempura paint to last year. The students wrote their name on a sheet of construction paper and brought up to the tall table. We placed a round sponge in red paint and transferred it to the edge of the paper. Agbi painted the student palm green, and Ebenezer painted their fingers blue. I then pressed the hand to the paper three times to make caterpillar body and legs. When we were done this exercise, I passed out water paint sets. None of the children had ever seen one before my demo on Tuesday, and they did not know what to do. Each student got two pieces of white bristol board and I showed them basic painting. I told them they could paint anything they wanted to, a tree, house, and flag; there was no wrong picture or color combination. Some of the children, just copied brush strokes I made, some made Ghana flags, w/ correct colors. They all made something and were reluctant to leave when class was over, the last class kept working into their lunch. By far the biggest art hit was the water colors!

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We will have to wait for the spin art results….. but I can’t wait to see their faces!!

Guess who’s going to Ghana?

Baltimore SOG Stars

Michael and Elizabeth Winn, Kyle and Evan Trouland, Cheryl Vecera

For the last 5 summers the core team of Becki Neumann+, Bruce Neumann and Zach Neumann have been traveling to Ghana with adult and teen volunteers to run a Reading Camp. The camp targets children who are struggling to learn to read in English–not their native language. Not only is learning English a struggle but learning to read without books is also a struggle. Ghanaian Mothers’ Hope provides books, learning materials, lots of love, and encouragement. We work with Ghanaian teachers to be sure that the children understand and get the most out of the program.

At first we questioned the choice to take 14 year olds with us to Ghana but during the last five year we have seen amazing transformations not only in Ghana but in our teens when they return. Most of the teen have been recruited from the Virginia Beach area thanks to Zach Neumann and Lark Spur Middle school. These young students go on to high school and make a difference in the world. Last summer two of the teens took it upon themselves to sponsor preschoolers in St. Paul’s Preschool, giving a gift that will live on forever.

In an effort to know them better before traveling all the way to Ghana, I ask each teen to answer the following three questions:

  •  Why are you going to Ghana?
  •  What do you hope to learn from your work in Ghana?
  •  Tell me about your family.
  •  What do you do for fun?
  •  What school will you attend in Sept. or what is your profession?

Meet Three of our teens for 2014

Jasmyn

JASMYN ALLEN–Virginia Beach, VA

Jasmyn is traveling with her mother, Althea, to work in the Reading Camp.

  • I am going to Ghana on a missions trip to help children at a reading camp.  I’ll be able to help kids in more ways than one…Plus, I’ve never been out of the country.
  • I hope to be more appreciative of what I have.
  • I have an older brother who will be going to college this fall, a younger sister and two parents.
  • For fun I like to read books, play video games, talk and hang out with my friends and watch You Tube videos.
  •  I will attend Salem High School Visual Arts Academy in Virginia Beach with a concentration in Theater.

Evan

EVAN TROULAND — Bel Air, MD

Evan is my nephew who has listened to my stories for the last 10 years. Last fall when he turned 14, Evan decided it was to time to go to Ghana.

  • I am going to Ghana because I’ve always wanted to go and help kids strive to learn.
  • I want to learn to be thankful for what I have and how to speak a new language.
  • I love my family. I have a sister named Avery. My mom is named Lara and I can’t live without her. I have a dad named Kyle that I love very much. I look up to him and appreciate all the things he does for his business and for our family.  I also have a pet dog named CC and my cat Bayley I love her so much even though she is not with me any more.
  • I play four sports: ice hockey, basketball, soccer and baseball.
  • I will attend The Highlands School in September 2014.

Jackie

JACKIE COATES–South Riding, VA

Jackie is one of our two returning teens. She traveled with us in 2011 and has decided to go back.

  • It’s easy to stay in a place where you’re used to, but by doing that you don’t gain a worldly perspective. Going to Ghana challenges me to see an experience that I don’t see often.
  • Since this is my 2nd time going I want to see the progress that has been made in the villages and catch up on some people.
  • My parents got married right out of college in their very early 20s. I am the first of five kids and  I’ll tell you it’s never boring. My four younger brothers have very different personalities, but all come together for the passion of video games. My parents have been married for 18 years and hope to have many more to come.
  • For fun I mainly write and think about the world around me.
  • I will be attending Freedom High in September and wish to get a technical engineering degree.

These are just 3 of the 7 teens traveling with us. What a priviledge for me and the other adults traveling to Ghana. We will watch 7 teens mature and change right before our eyes. Be sure to read the blogs and watch them with us.

I will be in Ghana on Tuesday next week.

Blessings, Debi

 

 

What happens in Ghana – by Scott Lyons and Bruce Neumann

Scott LyonsMen 7 I am on a mission trip to Ghana with Ghanaian Mothers’ Hope and my job is to replace dangerously cracked plastic beams of a playground set. My teammate, Bruce Neumann and I are using a heavy, dense wood for the replacement. We are also painting St. Paul’s preschool in Akramaman. Bruce painted it in 2007 but the wear and tear along with the African sun has taken it’s toll. Day 1 Challenge: All screws on the jungle gym require a square drive crew driver. No square screw driver available. No Ace Hardware, no Walmart! Solution: make your own square driver by filing a screw driver to fit the hole.Men 4
Day 2 Challenge: Buying paint and painting supplies. There are paint stores in a not too far village. Paint, check, paint brushes, check, rollers, check, roller pans—ahh, not in Ghana. Solution: A cardboard box with a plastic bag. We are having our friend, Carpe—the carpenter, make us two roller pans out of wood. Another carpenter cut down 2 pieces of bamboo to make us extension poles.Men 1
Day 3 Challenge: Keeping the children off the playground equipment while it is being repaired. Solution: Constantly telling the children to get down.
Another huge challenge was finding paint to match the color of the school. We were not successful so we improvised. Then we realized we needed to get the bosses approval—there are 3 bosses-Debi, Mercia and Francesca (the new Head Mistress). They have yet to agree on the color—colour—British spelling.

Not again –Bruce NeumannMen 5

At the end of our 2012 mission trip, the playground at Akramaman was nearly restored. When preparing for GM Hope’s summer, 2013 mission trip, Debi reminded me that there would be a little work needed to complete the repair to the slide unit, but it turned out to be a major deal. When Scott and I looked at it, of the two posts we put in two years ago, one had cracked just like the original with the BAD mix of plastic, and the other one was split top to bottom. The cross braces under the deck were broken and the number roller supports had cracked away. While we where there Monday the cracked one broke off at deck level so we remove it. Of course the screws were 1/8″ square drive, with no tools locally available. We were able to fabricate a driver to take some of it apart.We had the village carpenter order wood for this year’s repair project and it arrived late Monday.Men 2

While waiting for the wood, we filled cracks in the the school walls in preparation for painting it. When we went paint shopping, they did not have a gray colour paint, so we were instructed to get something cream and some blue to tint it some. In the bucket it looked bright yellow; and when we mixed the blue in it was a terrible shade of green! Luckily, it dried to a much more mellow-yellow with a twinge of green, so we said lets not waste it and painted the Library porch with it. The colour turned out very nice. The debate as to what colour to paint the exterior walls was opened. Someone said blue with white tint, another said the yellow with green, another suggestion was white with blue tint, the last heard was just the plain yellow. The jury is still out.Men 3

Tuesday the carpenter cut the wood to sizes we needed, and Scott and I planned how to begin fixing the slide. On Wednesday, we figured we would lower the slide platform and remove the cross pieces, and install new wood braces, and then do the posts on Thursday. The wood, being green, required prefitting and predrilling all the screw and lag holes with a hand (not powered) drill. All went well during this process, even chasing children off the slide unit while we were working on it. Tomorrow, we start on the posts. We have arranged a pick axe to dig out the out old concrete, a bag of cement to be delivered, sand, course and fine aggregate and sand for new concrete bases.Men 6 1

The children love the playground so it is worth the time and trouble to maintain it. The frustration is due to having bought a brand name with a life time guarantee, and having the product fail not once, but twice within a few short years.

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