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So why did I come to Ghana this year? By Rev. Becki Neumann+, AKA Aunti Becki

Sabina peeks out

Sabina peeks out

There is no team to speak of… no teens to supervise, no breakfast orders to tabulate, no group of people to hang out with and hear the ooo’s and aaahhh’s of the day… in other words, none of the routine things that make our work here “fun” for me. That’s right, FOR ME. Wow! When that realization popped into my head it was an eye opener! Who do I come to Ghana to serve, myself, or the people and specifically, the children? Who is this work about? Where is Jesus in my attitude?

Before the transformation

Before the transformation

Though he had some entertaining moments, Jesus’ life’s work was not about what was fun for him. While turning water into wine had to be entertaining (I mean, can’t you just see the twinkle in his eye as people took the first sips?) Jesus’s work was about bringing hope and healing and life to people, empowering people to live more the way God intended. And, team or no team, there is plenty of that to do here among the poorest of the poor.

Opening Prayer

Opening Prayer

With little team, I began asking God what we were to do. And God answered very clearly. Don’t you just love when God is clear in his response? His response came in the form of this question: “What are you doing to bring the GMH motto to pass?” In other words, what are we doing to empower future leaders of Africa? Clearly we were empowering the children as they grew to love reading more and more. Certainly the Ghanaian teachers were gaining in understanding of better teaching methods. But could we do more in terms of the reading camp?

Training Day

Training Da

And so… this year’s training was born. After spending last Friday teaching about how children move from speaking to reading, after taking the Ghanaian teachers through the curriculum for reading camp, for the first time, they are running each classroom and overseeing the operation of the camp. Debi and I have little to do!

Thomas Reading to Class 2

Thomas Reading to Class 2

It is hard to capture in words how I felt when I sawThomas the teacher doing a picture walk through a new book exactly as I had taught, or how proud Debi and I were when Kate and Seth took over the more administrative responsibilities, or how exciting it is to see the classroom teachers being animated and positive with the children. We are so proud of our “junior staff,” children now too old for camp who have returned in the role of helpers. They have done much of what our American teens have done in the past. Everyone involved is gaining much practical experience in teaching reading.

Camp day 1-9

By passing on the camp baton in Akramaman we are strengthening the teachers there, and those from Odouman and Twreeboo as well. By empowering teachers their lives are enriched, and instruction for their students changed, multiplying the result of our labors. And, though some material support will still be needed at this site, it frees us to take a team to a new site next year to begin the process again.

Nora's response to an animated teacher

Nora’s response to an animated teacher

This is the process of empowerment at it’s best! Thanks be to God for his good word to us, and for permitting us to see transformation before our very eyes!

Art Helpers

Art Helpers

Training the helpers

Training the helpers

Teachers trained from 6 different schools and two regions.

Teachers trained from 6 different schools and two regions.

Rev. Becki Neumann+

AKA Auntie Becki+

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King Peggy – a Book review

photoBook review: King Peggy

by Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman

As a GMH alumni, I strongly recommend the easy read true story paperback “King Peggy” by Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman available from Amazon.com, new and used. Regardless of whether you are a past participant, a future possibility or a much valued supporter, King Peggy puts you in a village story that parallels the hopes and frustrations of the GMH mission.

 Peggy Bartels is a Ghanaian born 20+ year employee Assistant to the Ambassador at the Ghanaian Embassy in Washington DC. In August of 2008, to her great surprise, (I will leave that read for you), she finds herself accepting her royal destiny as “King of Otuam, a dusty behind the times village of 7000+- Fante tribal people off the Cape Coast road between Accra and Elmira Castle.  Alumni! Are visuals emerging?house

On her initial visit, Peggy found conditions in Otuam much as GMH founder Debi Frock found in Akramaman. No electricity, no health facilities, minimal schooling and the critical component, no water less than an hours walk with a bucket on your head and dirty water at that- this job performed every day by the village children before school. Dust and pot holed roads, dilapidated buildings and an ingrained resignation that it would always be like this because it had always been like this. You can see hope in the eyes of African children, but most tribal village adults don’t believe anymore. The difference between Otuam and Akramaman was the corrupt leadership. King Peggy’s efforts to improve the village condition met roadblocks at every turn, until she eventually realized the village elders had basically chosen her, assuming her gender and out of country residency would be a weak deterrent to their on-going theft of power and money. Road

They didn’t count on Peggy Bartels.

 African tribal leaders are chosen by “the spirits” although genealogy helps and gender is of no consequence. Suburban Silver Spring, MD condo living Peggielene Bartels, chose to accept the will of the Ashanti spirits that resided in the royal stools (seats or thrones) and assume her responsibility as King of Otuam. In a village with no functioning tax base, no industry and little government subsidy, King Peggy struggled against corruption and tradition to bring water, health, education and basic quality of life facilities to Otuam, while only on the ground there for a few months each year.  With no village resources, she had to continue her embassy employment in the U.S. as the only consistent funding source for the Otuam projects. Now, six years later, King Peggy and Otuam have been adopted by a large DC church congregation and adequate funding is available to continue the move towards health and opportunity augmented by a functioning tax base and a developing local economy.

The book is a delightful read of African beliefs, customs, tribal histories and appeals to the spirits that reside in everything, even wooden stools. The hardships and conditions facing Otuam are familiar to those of us that have been in country with GMH. We have experienced the pot holed road trip to Accra, the tro tro’s, street hawkers, big eyed children with their own siblings on their backs, lack of water, health care and hope.

King Peggy chose to shoulder the burdens of Otuam by herself and it’s a compelling read but I am proud to be a supporter of GMH, bringing that hope and future to Akramaman and other villages through the work and commitment of many hands, hearts and treasures. If you have been, read King Peggy for the memories. If not, read King Peggy to better understand what you are helping to achieve in Ghana through your support of GMH.

Gail Morton Gail

Gail, the cute blonde on the left,  traveled to Ghana with Debi in 2005 and 2006 to export the Cursillo movement in the Episcopal Church. During those trips, it was traveling to the villages that moved Debi to start Ghanaian Mothers’ Hope.  Gail has been a strong volunteer for the organization. For several years she organized the silent auction for the Spirit of Ghana.

 

So many Red Bishops

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Red Bishop

One of my favorite past times while I am here in Ghana is to count Red Bishops. They are a beautiful birds that are common as we ride through the bush. This photo is by daniehattingh. I have several photos of this bird and I love to point it out to the children. We often miss the beauty that is right in our own backyard. So in the van with our mission teams we count Red Bishops. So far 25 is the most we have seen in one trip to Akramaman.

Well this past Sunday I got to see several new Red Bishops but they were not birds. They were Anglican Bishops from many different countries. 

I was blessed to attend the consecration of The Venerable Dr. Daniel Sylvanus Mensah Torto. It was a glorious affair held outside of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Accra. I estimate that 3,000 were in attendance. Former President John KufuorImage was only a few feet from my seat. It was hot and humid and the service was 5 hours. But I have to say, it was an interesting 5 hours and I am grateful to have had such a dignified seat right up front and center–well almost up front. It was in the center about 6 rows back but I was center aisle. It was perfect for photo ops. Even better, one of the real photographers loved my Nikon and would go up front and stoop down to get the pictures–my lovely full length, white lace dress was not exactly stoop down friendly.

So back to Red Bishops. All the bishops were dressed in red. The procession was a sight to behold and when they all posed for a photo–well you be the judge.

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The Bishop on the top row with the kente mitre (hat), is about 6’9″. I have never seen such a tall, commanding Bishop presence. I believe he is the Rt. Rev’d. Dr. Jonathan B.B. Hart.  

The Most. Rev’d Dr. Peter Akinola is very animated in his Sermon–He reminded us all

Imagethat the church is not about fundraising and programs but about spreading the gospel. It was easy to stay awake for this sermon. I really wanted to meet all the bishops but they were hurried away after the ceremony.

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The Torto Family rejoices

Bishop Torto’s family was definitely happy for this day. They all looked so fine in their white dresses and grey suits.  Enjoy the photos.

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A blessing

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