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Posts tagged ‘Malaria’

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

 

True Drew from Ghana

Drew Josh NiiI woke up this morning around 6 am. We were  to leave around 7:30 am to visit 4 schools that serve rural villages. My roommate, Joshua, was already up and getting ready for school. I took my vitamins and got set to workout but was soon greeted by the power going out. Next thing I knew, Joshua, brought me a battery operated  lamp so I could see. The sunlight was just starting to come in but it was still a bit dark. Wow! Rather than grumble about the loss of power he’s serving my needs. He may only be 8 years old but I have the best roommate! They really get what it means to be a family unit in Ghana.  Everyone knows their roles and they work well together daily. This is how Africans survive.

After my workout and a nice cold shower, Debi asks what I would like to eat. We recently got some good bread and cheese so I suggest a cheese sandwich. Next thing I know Mercia is bringing out a breakfast fit for a King. Eggs, fried spam, fried onion, plus a grilled cheese sandwhich…I’m always so grateful for every meal I eat here in a different way then I am back home. Most times I don’t know what or when the next meal will be.

Not long after breakfast a driver arrived in a Road4-wheel-drive pick up truck on loan from the Anglican Diocese of Accra. Many of the roads to the schools we visited today are not paved or even flat. There is the threat of rain so my guitar rides in the front seat with me strattling it between my legs. The roads are very slippery and muddy as the rain falls. Quite a few roads had little streams running across them. Traffic is very slow, about 10 miles per hour. We bounce and bounce across the many bumps and potholes.  Debi told me to stay loose, like jello, as we bounce along to keep from getting sore. My bones rattle along with the truck.

The first school we visited was a little tough to find because of road construction. Finally the driver doubled back and found a way around the construction.  In Ghana it is best to have a driver on a long trip like this one. There are lots of little taxis all around too. Every tro-tro (small vans used as local busses) is packed twice over. I’m glad God provided a 4-wheel-drive vehicle for today’s adventure. Being on the road is always an adventure.

At each school, the kids were excited when we pulled in. Debi is on fire teaching… the children are really getting it too. They are learning the importance of wearing shoes, eating good food, washing hands, etc. The coloring book is a BIG hit. This means they can share the message with all their friends.

Abossey Okai Public SchoolThe word that kept coming to my mind all day today was “resolve.” They are very good at going with the flow here! Two schools we visited had classrooms that are outside. What I mean is they had open walls. So you could be teaching a lesson and all of the sudden hear a goat!  At another, the children were piled onto the veranda. Desks are different over here. Three children share a desk. And I didn’t see them fighting over space for their coloring books either. They helped each other see whatever page Debi was teaching from. There were always children from other classrooms lurking about as well. I mean how often does a blond haired blue-eyed American with Norwegian heritage visit their school flexing his muscles and playing guitar!

The kids did such a great job singing and flexing their muscles. Being StrongWe did some jumping and dancing as well. I have an acoustic guitar so I have to strum very loud to cut through all the excess noises. There was not one school where you had an enclosed classroom cut off from all the noise of other classrooms or street sounds.

At one school a little girl got sick at her desk. Her friends helped to clean her coloring book off. When ever we would leave a school they would keep singing the words “Being Strong” as we pulled out. The children waved and smiled too. Such joy!! We left a few CD’s at every school so the teachers could continue to teach the song I wrote..

When we got home, I was exhausted and took a short nap. I awoke to another amazing meal. This time Debi and Mercia had made some fried potatoes and chicken stew. We had vegetables as well. I am blessed every day to be here.

Nii Marty

We learned that Mecria’s grand baby, Victor—we call him Nii Marty, has malaria. He is only 7 months old. He sleeps in a room with windows and screens. They spray for mosquitos frequently.  This is very dangerous for anyone in the sub-tropics but especially for a baby in Ghana. Mercia is keeping him cool and trying to get him to take the medicine. Joshua is helping. The first 24 hrs are crucial and watching his listless body is heart wrenching.

Fortunately Mercia has experience with this and living in the city Nii Marty’s parents could get to a doctor fairly quickly.  This is a big contrast to the the rural villages where we work. Mothers walk miles and miles with their baby strapped to their back to find a clinic. Many babies die on the way to the clinic. Seeing Nii Marty sick like this really brings this health message close to home. Malaria is very real and very serious! I’m praying right now…

As I sit  on the couch, I am thankful to God for another day of life. Soon it will be time for bed. Tomorrow we will visit more schools and I’m sure I will be treated to much more Ghanaian resolve.

Thanks to everyone for your support and a special thanks to Owen Levine, the 8 year old boy in Lake Worth, Florida, who gave up his birthday to provide Being Strong Coloring Books and crayons along with 85 Malaria Nets that will be given out next week.

DREW

PS. So far we have taught 700+ children the “Secret” and given out over 600 coloring books. Many thanks to JAMSBooks and Jean MacKay Vinson for this great health care tool.

“Mom, can me and my friends send bug spray to kids in Africa?”

Bug spray

How would you respond to that question?  You can just imagine the surprise on Gwendalyn Levine’s face when her 7-year-old asked this question.

Owen is about to celebrate his 8th birthday and like most children he has been planning his birthday party since the day after his last birthday. For the last year he has been trying to figure a way to give his birthday to children in need. He thought it would be a good idea to have everybody bring presents and he would send the presents to children in Africa. Well, he that might be hard to do.

owen 2Then the idea came to him while riding in the car listening to Way FM, 88.1.Lake Worth, Fl. The station was promoting “World Malaria Day”, April 25, 2013. Even though malaria mortality rates have reduced by 25% over the last 10 years, malaria kills a child every 45 seconds.  Hearing these statistics, Owen was energized. He could ask his friends and family – sometimes as many as 60 people come to his party. Each could bring a can of bug spray. He could send bug spray to children in Africa.  

As adults bug spray sounds like such a silly idea but coming from a 7-year-old child who is willing to give up his birthday presents to save children on the other side of the world, it is far from a silly.  It is amazing!  Owen’s mom, Gwen, did not want to discourage this selfless act so she asked Owen to pray about it.  Gwen then went to their church, Common Ground in Lake Worth, Florida, for a suggestion. Kelly Olive, the pastor’s wife had a solution. “Call Debi Frock of Ghanaian Mothers’ Hope. She works in Ghana, West Africa and I am sure she knows a way to encourage Owen.”

This is where I come in. After Gwen told me the story, s1I had to meet Owen. He is everything you expect in a 7-year-old; full of energy and ideas. He loves Lego’s and reading about things. He had already gone to our website and then began to research malaria.  I brought him a malaria net from Ghana and some coloring books. His parents will hang the net at the party. I told Owen about the problems children have with malaria and worms. He had seen the video “The Secret to Being Strong” on our YouTube channel and wanted to provide shoes for children. His friends will learn about germs and worms through our Coloring Book Project. His party invitation will ask people to donate malaria nets and coloring books through our website. I will personally deliver malaria nets and coloring books to one of our new villages then share photos with Owen and his friends. I also hope to set up Skype while at reading camp so Owen and some of his friends can talk with children in Ghana.

You know that I love touching the hearts of the children in Ghana and now my heart has been touched and inspired by Owen, a little boy who knows the value of giving back at such a young age. Time to grab a few tissues.

Many blessings, Debi

 Here’s a link to Owen’s birthday Event

Owen’s enthusiasm is so infectious that his little brother Caleb had to get in on the fun.

caleib

MALARIA KILLS A CHILD EVERY 30 SECONDS-READING CAMP DAY 1

Today has been a marvelous day and later tonight Haley will be sharing her account. I know the title seems shocking when our reading camp is going so well but the truth is that most of these children suffer from Malaria. Some are suffering right now.

Victoria

Her name is Victoria. She is 6 years old. As we tested each child for reading placement, she would barely speak. She couldn’t recognize letter and could hardly say the alphabet.  I know she did not attend our preschool.   She doesn’t understand English and looks really sad. Her sadness is the kind that makes you want to cry with her.

She and two other children were chosen to be individually tutored.  I would take Victoria. As we sat on the floor, I realized her eyes showed the tell-tale sign of Malaria–yellowing of the pupils.  Then she crawled onto my lap.  Her skin was moist and hot.  She could barely whisper.  I realized that she was definitely suffering from Malaria but I am sure she did not want to miss the opportunity to start learning.  We brought her some water and began to work.

I want to see her smile

A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H–that is as far as we could go but after a while she became more confident in naming her letters.  These are the times when I realize why I gave up a good job, have hardly seen your new husband of 6 months for more than a few days at a time, and why working far into the night to find support, is not nearly enough to sacrifice.  These children are often called to sacrifice their life.

Uncle Ian plans a great game of soccer

Today was only the beginning for this week of reading.  The teens are doing an excellent job.  They are teaching and playing and most of all loving the children.  In return, they can hardly take a step without a child holding their hand or touching their hair.  Many young girls are already in love with Ian and the boys are having a blast learning about paper airplanes.  These may be 14 and 15 year olds in the van but in the classroom they are very capable teachers.  They are changing lives–including their own.  Moms, dads, grandmas, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, teachers–everyone be proud of this team.

Lunch-Kenkey and sardines--an incredible feast for these children

It goes with out saying that having Gail, a reading specialist, and Zach as our teaching leadership is an honor.  I do need to post more photos of Gail and promise to do so tomorrow. Today my battery died.  If you are on facebook, check out Tana Lopez Younger.  Her photos of our mission are incredible.

Gail and kids by Tana Younger

Blessings, Debi

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