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Posts tagged ‘Drew Davidsen’

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.


ImageI can’t believe that I have been in Ghana almost two weeks and Drew Davidsen has been here over a week.  At times it seems that it was only yesterday that I was packing, weighing and repacking four suitcases but time has flown by as we have done several weeks worth of work in the last week. I was so exhausted yesterday that I fell asleep at 5 pm and slept until 7 this morning.

Anyone who has followed my blogs for the Imagelast few years knows that I love going to  Makola Market in Accra. It is where locals shop for just about anything you need or want. It is a veritable sea of African humanity. Imagine several miles of buildings 4-5 stories high, old and crumbling. Each floor has rows of stalls filled with goods. Now add several rows of stalls surrounding each building. Then there are roads coming and going in all directions. Many of the roads are impassible because people have set up stalls in the middle of the road. Of course this does not stop the taxis, trucks or cars from trying to pass down each road.  Then add 50,000+ Africans to the mix. Now you have a picture.

Of course Drew and I cannot hide our very white complexion in this sea. We listen to “O bruni buy from me”—local for white person, being shouted as we walk by. We smile and wave. They wave back.

ImageOn this journey we have purchased 1,200 boxes of crayons to give out with our Germs and Worms Coloring books health mission. They are small boxes but the two cartons weight 35 pounds each. Our carrier, Fostina, a small girl of about 15 years old, places both cartons on her head and proceeds to cross through the Sea without missing a beat. At times she hardly had room for a piece of paper between her and the person in front of her. I gave her 10 Ghana cedis; the going rate is 2 cedis.

My grandmother, bless her heart, was a waitress for 55 years. She received awards of service from The Lord Baltimore and Hilton Hotel’s in Baltimore. She could enter a room with 4 plates on each arm, zigzag between tables and never spill a drop. She like the Africans, had a keen sense of spatial relationship. As people weave in and out of this African Sea they are a hair’s breath from the person in front of them and they never bump into the goods piled 3 feet high on the edges of each stall. I, on the other hand, trip over the uneven stones; my purse snags a large group of pumice stones and sends them everywhere. In the meantime I have to stop to apologize to the stall owner who is scolding me. I have backed up the line of 20 Ghanaians who want to pass me, lost sight of my group since I was bringing up the rear and am nearly decapitated by a large bowl of pig’s feet. I did not inherit grace from my grandmother but nevertheless, I did inherit her perseverance so I will be back in the market in a day or so!Image

“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.


Fast Food Ghana Style and Other Reflections


On our way home from Bouko school” we stopped at a road side stand to pick up lunch – roasted corn. Debi says this is the “McDonald’s of Ghana.”
Today was a 4th of July that will live a long time in our memories. It was a day of extreme contrasts. After the road became impassable for our van we got out and walked into the bush for about an hour where the lifestyle is ultra primative. We saw clusters of houses, what we call huts, usually just 3 or 4 together at a time, each cluster sharing one simple latrine. There is of course no electricity but also nothing to cover the windows and doors not even shutters.
We realize now that phrase, “Nobody here but us chickens.” has a definite basis.


The grownups at these proto villages were off at the fields farming and all that remained near their homes were the chickens running around. We also came across turkeys, guinea fowl, pigs and cattle. We made positive fools of ourselves taking photos of these common farm animals! The witnesses to our folly were several school aged children who were not in school because there is no school close enough for them to walk to and a very inspiring Anglican priest who was our guide. He is a Ghanaian who chooses to serve in his homeland instead of taking his education and bolting to another continent.
We had delivered the coloring books about Being Strong to the primary school up the road and now were being taken into a place where a preschool is badly needed. We are delighted to begin to plan to fill that need.
BUT I want to reflect for a moment and appreciate that these people know how to make a life here using skills that I don’t have. They build their houses from mud and thatch, fence their livestock with found twigs and branches, grow their own vegetables and fruits, fencing with cactus plantings, milk their cows, butcher the goats, chickens, and other fowl, manage their larder without refrigeration, cook over outdoor fires, deal with compromised water, launder without running water. etc. etc.
I may know how to drive, shop and read, but I would be helpless in this environment!


We ended this 4th of July quite literally on a high note with an intimate concert by Drew at our favorite hotel in Accra, the Hansonic. Electricity was in abundance and Drew’s Phil Jones portable amp that can be played in any country on any continent  performed admirably. We made some new friends including one from Australia and two men from our home state of Maryland! We are delighted to celebrate with our Ghanaian friends that we have a common British heritage and are now independent. Their own Republic Day was on July 1.




“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

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