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Posts tagged ‘Zach Neumann’

Guess who’s going to Ghana?

Baltimore SOG Stars

Michael and Elizabeth Winn, Kyle and Evan Trouland, Cheryl Vecera

For the last 5 summers the core team of Becki Neumann+, Bruce Neumann and Zach Neumann have been traveling to Ghana with adult and teen volunteers to run a Reading Camp. The camp targets children who are struggling to learn to read in English–not their native language. Not only is learning English a struggle but learning to read without books is also a struggle. Ghanaian Mothers’ Hope provides books, learning materials, lots of love, and encouragement. We work with Ghanaian teachers to be sure that the children understand and get the most out of the program.

At first we questioned the choice to take 14 year olds with us to Ghana but during the last five year we have seen amazing transformations not only in Ghana but in our teens when they return. Most of the teen have been recruited from the Virginia Beach area thanks to Zach Neumann and Lark Spur Middle school. These young students go on to high school and make a difference in the world. Last summer two of the teens took it upon themselves to sponsor preschoolers in St. Paul’s Preschool, giving a gift that will live on forever.

In an effort to know them better before traveling all the way to Ghana, I ask each teen to answer the following three questions:

  •  Why are you going to Ghana?
  •  What do you hope to learn from your work in Ghana?
  •  Tell me about your family.
  •  What do you do for fun?
  •  What school will you attend in Sept. or what is your profession?

Meet Three of our teens for 2014


JASMYN ALLEN–Virginia Beach, VA

Jasmyn is traveling with her mother, Althea, to work in the Reading Camp.

  • I am going to Ghana on a missions trip to help children at a reading camp.  I’ll be able to help kids in more ways than one…Plus, I’ve never been out of the country.
  • I hope to be more appreciative of what I have.
  • I have an older brother who will be going to college this fall, a younger sister and two parents.
  • For fun I like to read books, play video games, talk and hang out with my friends and watch You Tube videos.
  •  I will attend Salem High School Visual Arts Academy in Virginia Beach with a concentration in Theater.



Evan is my nephew who has listened to my stories for the last 10 years. Last fall when he turned 14, Evan decided it was to time to go to Ghana.

  • I am going to Ghana because I’ve always wanted to go and help kids strive to learn.
  • I want to learn to be thankful for what I have and how to speak a new language.
  • I love my family. I have a sister named Avery. My mom is named Lara and I can’t live without her. I have a dad named Kyle that I love very much. I look up to him and appreciate all the things he does for his business and for our family.  I also have a pet dog named CC and my cat Bayley I love her so much even though she is not with me any more.
  • I play four sports: ice hockey, basketball, soccer and baseball.
  • I will attend The Highlands School in September 2014.



Jackie is one of our two returning teens. She traveled with us in 2011 and has decided to go back.

  • It’s easy to stay in a place where you’re used to, but by doing that you don’t gain a worldly perspective. Going to Ghana challenges me to see an experience that I don’t see often.
  • Since this is my 2nd time going I want to see the progress that has been made in the villages and catch up on some people.
  • My parents got married right out of college in their very early 20s. I am the first of five kids and  I’ll tell you it’s never boring. My four younger brothers have very different personalities, but all come together for the passion of video games. My parents have been married for 18 years and hope to have many more to come.
  • For fun I mainly write and think about the world around me.
  • I will be attending Freedom High in September and wish to get a technical engineering degree.

These are just 3 of the 7 teens traveling with us. What a priviledge for me and the other adults traveling to Ghana. We will watch 7 teens mature and change right before our eyes. Be sure to read the blogs and watch them with us.

I will be in Ghana on Tuesday next week.

Blessings, Debi



Reading and love – by Zach Neumann

ZachToday is the final day of reading camp. This was my fifth reading camp in Ghana and each year, the final day brings a swath of thoughts and emotions as we say goodbye to our children in our village.

I am sometimes asked why I come to Ghana to do a reading camp in a village in the middle of nowhere. Does it make a difference? Do the children who attend really get anything from it? I can say wholeheartedly and unabashedly yes. The children we work with crave love and affection. Poverty robs them of their childhood innocence and carefree being. While we are with them, they know they will be taken care of and fed. They know we will play with them and sing with them and read to them and just be their friend. They know they will be loved. Is that not at the center of every one of us…….to be loved?

Cate was in my class last year. She is around 9 years old Cateand when I first met her, she could identify her letters and read a few simple words. At the start of reading camp, we give a reading assessment to determine which group the children needed to be in. I tested Cate. She came in, sat down, and smiled shyly at me and said “Uncle Zach”. We hugged and began the reading assessment. The growth in her reading ability blew be away. She reads beautifully!!! Such growth from last year, when she struggled with words like “the, bear, down”. Participating in reading camp, even for just a short time, gave her a chance she would never have had. She loves to read and she knows that reading holds the key to her future. Cate can read. Cate has a future. Cate has hope.Star

Children love to sing, no matter where in the world they live. Our village children are no exception. My first time in Akramaman was in 2008. I sang a few silly songs and made a silly noise with my throat (think club mix beat box). The children loved it and tried to imitate it. Every year since 2008, children have run up to me when I arrive in the village and they do our sound. They remember the songs we share with them. And when they sing, the joy on their faces tells of a deeper joy and love that they know. Someone came to be just with them and to love them. After we are gone, the will have those songs, those books, and those memories to remind them of our love for them. They will remember and know that they are loved and cherished. Likewise, we will remember they giggles, their smilies, their hands seeking ours and it will fuel the flame within us and draw us back to this place.Camp

Reading and love. We teach them to read while loving on them and instill in them a love for reading. We give more than just books and crayons. We give them hope. We strive to give them a chance, an opportunity and a future that they would otherwise not have. Love motivates and moves us. Our love embraces, uplifts, and encourages them. And God’s love empowers us all.

P.S.  At the end of the Reading Camp Ghanaian Mothers’ Hope and all the volunteers were presented with this plaque from the teachers at St. Paul’s Preschool/Kindergarten.  Congratulations

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