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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.


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.

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.


Just how far would you walk to save your baby? Writings from a non-runner who just ran a ½ marathon.

Debi dancingWe have all been influenced in our adult lives by things we did as a child. I loved going to Sunday School because it was fun, exciting and my teacher, Ella Deane, was so encouraging. That made me want to teach Sunday School—and I did for 30+ years. My piano teacher, Jack Hasslinger, made me enjoy piano so for several years I taught piano so others could enjoy it. My Dulaney High School music teacher encouraged me to become a soloist at my church. 20 years later when I switched to a church near his home, he was so excited every time I sang and would tell everyone around him—“She was my student”.  These are just a few of the very positive experiences that I had growing up that have shaped who I am today.

But there is that one experience from 5th and 6th grades at Hampton Elementary School in Lutherville, Maryland, that definitely made me hate the idea of running. Field Daythe words still strike fear in my heart. Each year several local elementary schools would come together to compete in small track and field events as well as kick ball and a few other sports.

My body was never quite the sports spectacular type.Debi 1960 I definitely was more the arts and music model. Getting a “C” in PE was a good grade for me.  In our house you needed to be on your death bed to get a day home from school so faking illness wasn’t an option.  Signing up for the sport of your choice was also not an option. The teachers wanted to look good so they were going to choose the best in each sport. So what do you do with a kid who is the not best in any sport? Cross Country Running.

Yep, I was that Cross Country Runner who placed last in both 5th and 6th grade. I know the course was not that long but to me it was a marathon. At the end I was so out of breath and beat red in the face that I wanted to die of embarasement. I came in way, way behind everyone else—I’m not even sure anyone was left at the finish line to see me cross it. This experience made me hide under the table if any one even mentioned the word running.

Fast forward 50+ years. I am invited to travel with my daughter, Kathy, and a few of her high school friends to Myrtle Beach, SC, where they will participate in a DIVA ½ marathon and 5K race.  It sounds like fun and a chance to spend a little mother-daughter time. I can hang around and encourage them as they run.  But after checking it out, I realize this race is all about women. It actually sounds like there are more activities than the race but you must participate in at least one race. Okay,  a 5K is just a little over 3 miles. I’ve been walking about 3 miles every other week. I rationalize that can do 5K and decide to sign up. Unfortunately the 5K is sold out. Not wanting to miss out on the fun, I sign up for the ½ marathon—truly I did not realize that we were talking 13.1 miles. I had 7 weeks till the race. I called my daughter.

When she came to after fainting, she asked how was I going to train. Good question—no answer from me. Collecting herself, she suggested I do a little google research on training for a ½ marathon. Now was as good a time as any to begin so I announced to my husband that we would walk 6 miles that night. He made it through 3. And my training schedule began. Walk 3 miles, then 5 miles, then 9 miles. I averaged 18-25 miles per week- walking.

IMG_1413During my training I realized how little I walk. I drive to the store, the doctor, the bank, the movies. But the women in villages in Ghana walk for everything, especially for the health of their children. What is it like to walk 10 miles or more with a baby on your back? I decided to try it. Not wanting to risk the life of a child, I felt a cabbage patch doll might be a better fit for me—after all I am a non-walker/runner. I might stumble and fall and hurt a real baby.

I trained for a week with my new “baby”, Teresa. She traveled to Ft. Lauderdale with me, hopped a plane for Myrtle Beach and prepared for her debut on Sunday, April 28. She was pretty calm. As for me, I was that little 5th grade girl preparing to fail. I was so afraid that I did not tell many people that I would running a race. Those I did tell thought I had lost my mind.  As the day loomed closer, I made the decision that I could not fail at this. The women of Africa were depending on me and I could not let fear hold me back from finishing for them.  So I wrote to the press to tell them that I was running.  Once I announced to the world what I was doing, I could not back out.


3,608 people signed up for the ½ marathon and another 2,000 for the 5K race so just picking up my number was frightening. Being last in a field of 20 is not quite the same as being last in a field of 3,600. I have to say that Kathy and her friends were very encouraging to me all weekend but when I took my place near the back of the field of runners, tears were flowing. Quickly other women began to talk with me and encourage me. Jolo, Michele and Jill added me to their group. The race was on. Baby Teresa was firmly positioned on my back. The day was overcast and not too hot. I wanted to stop but the baby kept me going.  In the real world of Africa, if I stopped she might die.  Adreneline kicked in about mile 6 and kicked back out about mile 11. Then I met Sally, who is close to my age and going to be ordained a deacon in January.  She and I walked/ran together. NEWS 13 called at mile 12 to tell me they were at the finish line waiting to hear my story. I had a renewed purpose and I was unstoppable. Once I rounded the curve and saw the finish line my legs got into gear and I found the strength to actually do a full run to the finish. I got my tiara, my pink boa and my medal. Mostly I got back my dignity and I learned what it takes  for my African moms to carry a child a long distance to receive medical care.248143_10201042461641390_1617258861_n

Will I do it again? I am searching the internet for race opportunities as you read this.

Debi Frock/Founder and Executive Director417861_10201042460881371_2058455340_n

PS. I finished 3,494 in a field of 3,653, one minute and 6 seconds behind my target goal.—It was the bathroom break that cause me the extra time. Check out the news video at http://www.wbtw.com/video?clipId=8820512&autostart=true  Find the link on our Facebook Page

Anita and Drew Report



We loved this trip on so many levels! If you are thinking of going to Africa please consider going as part of a GMH mission team. You will get into the culture and be with the people in genuine, authentic AND safe ways. We were in schools, churches and homes, markets, with vendors and malls, in cities and rural villages. We got to do some “touristy” things. We listened, learned, sang, danced, laughed hugged and cried. Think about it. Is God getting you ready to go?

`AND on behalf of the citizens of Africa we thank you for making so many coloring books with life giving, life enhancing, messages about hygiene possible for the future leaders of Africa!

It was our privilege and delight to share with about 600 children in song, word and image these powerful “secrets.” The Secret will continue to be shared by GMH teams all summer long. Please follow the journey on the facebook page GMHope.org.



“Is that your house?”. . .

“Is that your house?” the little girl said who saw an image of an African village home on my computer screen.

It was a Twix moment for sure. Some of you already know that I have  a passion for “tiny houses”! I am invited to ponder what contrasts there are between our two cultures as I make friends with this little girl from one of the villages in Ghana.

We are recovering well from long travel and time zone changes. After a 24 hour extended  London vacation 3 of our suitcases finally arrived and we can bathe, shave, and change our clothes!

The highlight today was visiting the drummers in the cultural market. Drew got a lesson and put in his order for a specially made professional quality djembe drum. The djembe is said to contain three spirits: the spirit of the tree, the spirit of the animal of which the drum head is made, and the spirit of the instrument maker. We were delighted with the spirit of Peter, Drew’s djembe “sensai.”

Written by Anita Dudek

Our Own Debi Frock Nominated for Prestigious Award

ImageDebi Frock, the founder and Executive Director of GMHope, Inc. has been nominated for the Annual Global Professional Achievers (GPA) Outstanding Contributor Award 2011. This is an award which recognizes an individual or organization, which is non-Ghanaian that has made exceptional contributions to the well-being of Ghana and its people and promoted the image of Ghana internationally.
Ms Frock, a 2001 graduate and 2010 recipient of the Distinguished Alumna Award of Stevenson University has been working in Ghana since 2005 building preschools, playgrounds and health centers in villages for the purpose of helping Ghanaian parents and teachers to build the future leaders of Africa. She will be departing for Ghana with her daughter, Dr. Kathleen Kerstetter, on Dec. 10th to attend the ceremonies.
The GPA Awards are held annually to promote and encourage creativity, innovation, dedication and excellence in Ghana’s top business and professional community. The awards also serve as a platform for motivation, networking and identifying positive role models for aspiring young people of African descent.
This year’s awards event is of particular importance as it marks 10 years of consistently showcasing achievement, professional development, and capacity building. GPA celebrates a decade of promoting icons of innovation. The 10th Anniversary Awards are unique due to diaspora participation and the international mix that will be present.
The 10th Anniversary Gala Dinner and awards celebrations will be held at the State House, Accra on Friday, 16th December, 2011 at 7pm. For more information contact Ms Emelia Bartels, Founder and CEO, GPA Awards Ltd. (phone) 233 26 257 6661 or email info@gpaawards.net


It is only November 30ith but I have just received three very special  Christmas Presents.

Gift #1.  We are getting a new website.  The new site www.gmhope.org will premier next Monday night at Stevenson University.  Stevenson, located in Greenspring Valley on Valley road has partnered with us to  create an incredible, professional website.  Professor Kannan Amr and his students, Jillian Chaney, George Dickerson, Mark Figueirdo, Arden Haley, Rachel Pavik,  Joe Wroten and  Matt Wrightson worked very hard and long hours to give us this wonderful gift.  Not only that.  They gave us a new look and a new logo.   A GIANT THANK YOU FROM ALL THE MOTHERS AND CHILREN IN GHANA AND  THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF GHANAIAN MOTHERS’ HOPE.

Gift #2.  I received a wonderful e-mail from Phyllis Mueller whose son Ian went with us to Ghana.  I shared the new logo and here was her response.

“I love the new logo.  Ghanaian Mothers’ Hope changes not only the lives of people they help in Ghana but it changes the lives of those who go to Ghana for mission work.  By sharing in Christ’s mission of giving of one’s self to help others less fortunate, we are transformed and the gift becomes our own.  A spark is ignited in our hearts. No one can go to Ghana and come away the same.  I noticed the change in Ian even before I physically saw him.  In his phone calls to me from Ghana I could hear the change in his voice.  Seeing the photos, hearing the stories from Ian and the group, I am inspired to help you there.  Something happens inside you.  Without even meeting the people of the village, you feel you want to know them, love them, help in whatever way you can.  You believe that you can change the world, one place at a time.”


Gift #3.  Another child has been sponsored. These twins are sponsored by Trinity Epsicopal Church, Elkridge

These twins were sponsored last January by Trinity Episcopal Church, Elkridge.  We ask freinds to sponsor children ages 2-3 attending St. Paul’s Preschool.  Soon our currently sponsored 13 children will welcome another child into the group.  THANK YOU ERIC AND MARY DERBY FOR GIVING ANOTHER CHILD THE GIFT OF LIFE AND HOPE.  We hope to sponsor all the children at St. Paul’s preschool.  Check out the new website for details.

Can you imagine what Christmas is like in a village?  There are no light up Christmas trees, no toys coming, no turkey dinner but there is Christmas and there is hope thanks to you.  What incredible love you pour out on the mothers and children by these gifts.  I hope you will join us in celebrating 5 years of service.  Many thanks to all of you who have made this day possible.


Merry, merry, merry,  from  Debi and Mercia, pictured above with quilts made for the children by The Quilter’s Guild of Southern Maryland.

Ghana Mission 2010

Ghanaian Mothers’ Hope will host two mission trips to Ghana this summer.  The first trip, July 14-26,  will bring breast cancer awareness, along with health and environmental issues to four villages in the Amsamaman District, including Akramaman village, where our first Health Post has been constructed.

Beth Hester, R.N., Nicole Schmidt, teacher,  and Lisa Bornt, animal specialist,  will host day long programs in the villages to discuss women’s health.  Breast Cancer is a large concern in Ghana and many women are under the misconception that any abnormality of the breast could be a curse.  Our hope is to demystify breast cancer and provide information on treatment opportunities.

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