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Thoughts about the village

Akramaman Village street

By Jason Wheeler,

On Friday morning we leave the hotel and drive to the village of Akramaman where we will be running the Reading Camp next week.  We enter the small village after driving down a long dirt road filled with potholes the size of a Volkswagen Beetle, and apparently the road has been greatly improved from last year.  Visually, the village is exactly what I imagined.  Emotionally, it is something entirely different.  I was told about the road conditions (poor) and the living conditions (poorer still), but until you see it, walk it, breathe it, and just absorb the moment of it; you really can’t anticipate the emotions that come with it until your feet are on the ground kicking up the red, red dirt.

When we step off the bus at the new

Our greeters at the preschool

preschool built, by the Grace of God, through the hard work of Ghanaian Mother’s Hope, a few children appear out of nowhere glancing nervously and curiously at our small group of strangers.  A few waves and “hellos” elicit big teethy smiles.  The brave ones step up and want to touch your hand or tell you their name, while others keep a little bit of distance.  More and more children keep appearing.  They seem to double in numbers every 10 minutes –  children of all ages ranging from about 14 down to the littlest 1-year-old toddlers.

We go to work unpacking supplies, setting up classrooms and coordinating lesson plans.  Bruce and I survey the playground and take stock of the tools and materials we will need to rebuild the swings.  The materials will have to be located among the small shops lining the streets of Amasaman.  The tools will be a mixture of well worn hand tools sent over from the States, combined with whatever we find laying around the village (and Bruce’s gift of ingenuity).

When our preparations at the school conclude, Debi takes us on a walk into the village.  The children come along, some racing ahead, others following behind, and still others grabbing us by the hand to walk side-by-side.  As we reach the middle of the village, we have become a small parade.  We weave among the huts and hovels of the village and are greeted with some smiles.  More children join the “parade”.  Sometimes, a laughing mother pushes their shy one towards us or asks us to shake their children’s hands.  I’m sure we are quite a sight, especially to the smallest villagers who rarely, if ever have seen an American.

Jason, in the white shirt, with team and new friends

Our parade takes us past a funeral at a respectful distance.  We proceed to the house of the village chief.  He is very pleasant and cheerful, but the experience of the moment doesn’t even sink in until later that I actually just met and shook hands with a real African chief.

We then continue our walk and reach the edge of the village.  We bid the children goodbye so we can walk down the dirt road towards the other school site to look at the new primary and secondary school.

Debi provides us with the history of how GMHope came to this village and Mercia talks about all the great things that have happened since, including the building of a new health center with nurses’ quarters, and the fact that these new facilities encouraged the city to bring electricity to the village.

We board the bus for the drive home, but are excited and ready to return for the start of camp on Monday…which suddenly feels like such a long way off.

Walking the dusty road


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.


Gail teaching Samuel

Today I woke up in my own bed in Virginia Beach, but all day my thoughts have been filled with the children from Akramaman who were in our reading camp. I especially find myself thinking about Samuel Kasum.

The first day of camp Zach and I gave an informal assessment to each child so that we could form groups based on skill levels. I volunteered to teach the kids who could identify the letters of the alphabet, but were not able to identify the sounds associated with the letters. Samuel was one of my children.

Nicholas and Samuel making their book

Most of my students were five or six, but I had four who I figured were a little older, and Samuel was one of them. I thought he was probably about eight. From the beginning I could tell that Samuel really wanted to learn. He worked very hard and quickly grasped each new concept. When the children worked independently, he always went above and beyond what I asked of him, and his face would beam with pride when he was praised.
In addition to working on phonics skills, we also had the children make a book about themselves. One day they were directed to draw a picture of what they wanted to be when they grew up. Samuel drew a wonderfully detailed picture of a doctor with a stethoscope examining a patient. Later in the week Debi told us that she wanted to tape some of the children talking about their future dreams, and I picked Samuel to be one of the children she interviewed. When it was his turn, he proudly sat down in front of Debi, and she asked him, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” He quietly and clearly said, “I am Samuel Kasum. I am twelve years old. I want to be a doctor.” Twelve years old. My heart sank. How could this be? Samuel obviously has the ability to learn. How could he be twelve years old and just learning to match sounds with letters? But the answer is obvious. When Samuel was two, three, and four, there was no pre-school in Akramaman. When he turned five, the nearest primary school is four miles away. There were no school buses to take him there. No one in the village has a car. His parents struggle every day just to put a little bit of food in their children’s mouths. It is not astonishing that Samuel is 12 years old and only beginning to learn phonics. It is incredible that he has managed to learn the alphabet and that he has retained a strong desire to learn.

Brand New St. Paul's Primary School

This fall a new primary school is opening in Akramaman, so Samuel and all the children in the village will now be able to do what we take for granted in the United States. They will be able to look forward to the first day of school. Still Samuel’s image is always in my mind. I know the odds are stacked against him. I know the school lacks materials to help him bridge the gap between what he knows and what he SHOULD know. I know that time is running out for him. I know that in a few years he must take tests that will determine if he can go on to high school, but I also know that Samuel wants to be a doctor. Every night I will pray for Samuel and his dream.

Gail Huber

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