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Posts tagged ‘children’

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

 

I know a secret I’ll share with you! by Debi Frock

I love my bookI remember teaching this song to from Junior Choir at Epiphany Episcopal Church, Timonium, MD, in the 1980’s.  Of course the secret is the Love of Jesus.  How true that song has been for Drew Davidsen and me during the last two weeks as we have been sharing “The Secret to Being Strong” with close to 1,000 children and teachers in Ghana.

For those of you who are new to our Coloring Book project, Ghanaian Mothers’ Hope has collaborated with Jean MacKay Vinson and JAMS Books, to recreate one of Jean’s health care stories to reflect African culture. GMH has been given the opportunity to share this coloring book in Ghana.  Most children suffer from repeated incidences of worms. They can destroy a child’s health and mind. It is hard to lean in school when you are suffering. Ghana Public Health deworms entire schools on a regular basis but the children need to learn why they get sick and how to stop the cycle.  “The Secret to Being Strong” gives them the tools they need.Teaching the song

Drew has written a catchy tune for the project. Africans love song and dance and the guitar is a big hit. Last summer we gave out more than 1,800 books. This summer we could afford to do another 1,000.

Armed with books, crayons, CD’s of the songShoes and our voices we set off. Sometimes we traveled by pick-up across the very bumpy, dusty, pothole filled dirt roads. Several times we borrowed a car from my host family. The cars are very old. With no air- conditioning; often no working windows—I thought I would pass out in the back seat. There are no shock absorbers and most of the roads, yes even in Accra, are rocky, hilly, unpaved, dirt roads.

The schools were very different. We taught “The Secret” to class one and class two. Some classes understood English very well and our discussions were great. In other schools I needed an interpreter. The children were hesitant to give me the answers but soon we were all laughing. The number one secret is,  “Wear your shoes, all the time”.  I would ask the kids to show me their shoes. That always produced a good laugh as they put their feet in the air.

Ruth's schoolOne school is in a very poor area. Mercia’s friend, Ruth, started the school because she saw so many children staying home. We visited this school in 2007. It had dirt floors and no uniforms. Now she has found a church that uses the school on Sundays. In return they have given her money for uniforms and flooring. The children were so well educated and polite.  Ruth has done a wonderful work.

At Ruth’s school we told the children about Owen’s Birthday project. Owen raised enough funds to buy the coloring books and crayons for Ruth’s school. The children were shocked!  To think that a little boy in the U.S. would give up his birthday presents to help them.  They were so thankful.  Next week we will distribute 85 malaria nets in Owen’s honor at a village.owen 1

Obstacles for teaching are so unique. At one school the children had desks crowded onto the veranda. I barely had room to move. Plus there was the noise and distraction of all the people going by. Half of the school stood on the sidelines. Though we only had enough books for class one, we ended up teaching about 200 children.Debi teaches

Most of the schools are so dark. There is no lighting and they have a block patterning filling in half of the window space or shutters that keep banging shut.  At our last school it began to rain. I am talking down pour. The noise on the tin roof was deafening. We had to stop teaching and just sit and sit and sit. I asked the teacher, “What do you do when it rains?” She replied, “We cannot teach so we just tell them to be quiet at their desks.”  The rain lasted almost an hour!

Now about my partner, Drew, he has worked veryDrew's muscles hard in the last year to make himself healthy and strong. The children loved his muscles and wanted to be strong like Drew.  They also loved the music. Many would play their air guitars as soon as we walked into a room.  His energy was addictive. The children would clap and show their muscles. Near the end of each song Drew would get them jumping. It was rewarding to see the children so happy and engaged.  We are having a contest for each school that we have taught at—21 all together.  If they can teach the song to the whole school—after all they are supposed to share this secret—and can sing it for us next year, we will award the school a cash prize.

I can’t wait for next year! Drew and I are an awesome team. We hope to return to Ghana and go to at least one other African country to share “The Secret to Being Strong.”Drew guitar

Here is the link to Drew’s song.  This is the link to JAMS Books.

“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

Marshmallows, anyone!

Photos by Debi Frock and Marjie Mack

Blogs by Marjie, Paige, Anna and Meghan

Can you imagine wanting a single toothbrush so badly for your child that you would push and shove to get it? That is just what happened when Debi, Paige and I visited the village of Kodjo Ashong on Thursday. Dr Cynthia had arranged for us to talk to ladies about how basic hygiene helps keep us healthy. There were only about 20 mothers with their babies waiting there for us when we arrived. Well, they were unsmiling, wary of who we were and why we were there. This reminded me of when we started working in Akramaman village five years ago. The ladies were wary of us and didn’t really understand why we were there and why we were interested in their children.

By now, we have done a number of hygiene and health clinics for women and children at Akramaman. The ladies trust us and

we are honored guests in the village. It is so exciting to see the children run to greet our GMH van as we drive into the village and to see the ladies waiting patiently for us, smiling and waving. Hopefully, the mothers in Kodjo Ashong will learn to trust us like that also. We really got a good start today. By the time we were done with our program there were over 60 ladies there. We started handing out a small washbasin, bar of soap, dishtowel, toothbrush and toothpaste to each mother, and we were mobbed! The ladies were grabbing, pushing and shouting, trying to get these basic items, especially the toothbrushes after Paige did her fun program showing a girl how to brush her teeth after cramming marshmallows into her mouth. It reminded me of how basic and pervasive the needs are here and how much we have that we can share. We had planned to go to two villages today but we ended up giving out all our items just at this one so that everyone could have one and peace would reign!

Each mother was also given a beautiful and colorful handmade baby quilt. These were handmade by the ladies of both Redeemer Quilters (All Hallows Episcopal Church in Davidsonville and Christ Episcopal Church in West River) and Galesville Methodist Church. Both mothers and children love these quilts and absolutely refuse to share them! Before we left, these ladies actually asked us if we could come back and teach them basic nutrition and breast cancer awareness on future trips. Just as at  Akramaman, they told us how helpful they found our programs and how grateful they were to us for coming.  Marjie

Health Mission by Paige–Due to time, we only visited one village for Health Education

Thursday was a success. But I wish I could have had the chance to see the second village, although we did have the joy of seeing the one. This place was filled with so much dirt and trees.  There were so many different sick people that needed help and guidance. That is why I came here, to show different ways to prevent  the germs that cause different diseases such as worms.  It’s important for them to always wash their hands and have good nutrition.

I have observed that the children are verywell behaved and they pick up things that are taught quick. The children are really adorable they get so excited when we arrive and it excites me that the kids can’t wait to see us. I have learned so many things like songs and hand-games from them such as tutti-ta and the moose. Overall I love this trip so much and as so as I get back home I am raising money to come back next year and I would recommend everyone to get involved with Ghanaian Mothers Hope Mission.  Paige

 

A note from Debi

Paige decided to use marshmallows to demonstrate the mouth with 32 teeth.  We asked for a volunteer to place 32 marshmallow in their mouth. Well, marshmallows are not common here.  At the Reading Camp, the three volunteers could not wait to spit them out.  At Kojo village the little girl tried to eat them but it was not nice. We finally found 3 adults who loved the marshmallows so we gave them the bag.

HOW MANY BATHROOMS ARE IN YOUR HOUSE?

How many bathrooms at in your house?  Mine has 2 and there are only 2 of us living there.  Recently, the bathroom at an office where I do some accounting was shut down.  I had to leave one building and walk to another to find a working toilet.  It was inconvenient but, my employer understands the need for working toilet facilites and I am sure it will be working when I return next week.

I am celebrating toilet facilites today as we at Ghanaian Mothers’ Hope REJOICE  in our recent grant from The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland to build (drum roll please) two brand new toilet facilites at St. Paul’s Primary School.  This may not be as exciting as building a preschool or medical center but for 250 primary school students who have been sharing 2 toilet–Yes that number is right.  There are only 2 toilets for 250 children and 6 teachers.

The new facility will have 6 seats for boys and a separate facility with 6 seats for girls.  THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! TO THE DIOCESE OF MARYLAND FROM THE CHILDREN AND TEACHERS AT ST. PAUL’S, AKRAMAMAN.

A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS PRESENT!

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.”

THANK YOU PHYLLIS AND IAN FOR ALWAYS SHARING THE STORY OF THE CHILDREN AND BRINGING THEM HOPE!

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.

Mercia

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

OUR FINAL DAY – READING CAMP DAY 5

I do not know where to begin.  The last day of reading camp.  The last day of fifty village children smiling and laughing with us.  The last day of little ones looking up with their deep brown eyes saying “wo mii…” Hold me” and older ones throwing their arms around us ansd holding our hands.

Sara playing in the Library

This is my second trip to Ghana and third to Africa.  I am always amazed at what a smile and a hug can do for a child. There was one little girl who adopted me as her whiteman, Sarah Amu. Sarah is 8 years old and was in my group during the reading camp. She is beginning to read very well and is happy that I showed her how to “make the sounds for new words”. Each day she would give me a huge hug and smile and say to me in her Ghanaian accent, “Please Uncle Zach, I want to read today”. We read each day and she became less shy and told me “You are my brother.” At the end of each day she would say, “You are coming back to me tomorrow.” Today as she gave me a final hug and bye bye, she looked right into my heart and saud, “You go back to America now? You come back to me soon?”.

There is a line from a Jars of Clay song that I cannot shake each time I am with these beautiful children: “To rid myself of all but love….to give and die”. It is my hope and prayer that I can do just that….rid myself of all but love for Sarah and children like her. Yes, Sarah, I will come back to you.  Zach Neumann

Images from the Reading Camp

Assembly in the morning

Children with hand made quilts from Southern Maryland

Making Thank You notes

Haley says good-bye to Victoria--notice the smile

Ian says good-bye to Moses

Sara and Maria say good-bye

Joshua is just too tired to wait to get home


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