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Two work trips in 2018

As our mother organization, Yakote Women Farmers, prepares for 2 work trips in 2018, here are some thoughts that we couldn’t agree with more. This speech by the president of the World Bank mirrors our thoughts and observations as we work with Nabdam communities in northern Ghana. These are words that inspire us to feed more children, help with more college fees, and to raise $10,000 for a new project – building a primary school in the community of Piitanga. Please let us know if you can help. Lisa and David

From a speech by World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, Washington, DC, October 16, 2016:

“It is hard to overstate the urgency of making more and more effective investment in people. I believe it will determine the very future of nations.

This is especially true in considering the importance of investing in the early years. Millions of young children do not reach their full potential because of inadequate nutrition, lack of early stimulation and learning opportunities, and exposure to stressful environments.

Making investments in the earliest part of people’s lives will make a big difference in countries’ ability to compete. The cost of falling short in equipping children with foundational skills is unacceptably high, and the evidence supporting this conclusion grows every day.

Governments that do not invest early in a skilled, healthy, productive workforce are undermining their current and future economic growth.

The scale of this problem is massive. One quarter of children under age five worldwide – 159 million children – are stunted – meaning that they literally do not have the same number of neuronal connections as their non-stunted age-mates. The proportion in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia is higher than 36 percent. Even in countries that have done relatively well in terms of economic growth – such as Indonesia, Ethiopia and Guatemala – over one-third of children remain stunted. And nearly half of all three- to six-year-olds do not have access to pre-primary education.”  Jim Yong Kim, 2016

The type of cement block school building we hope to build.

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You will notice that several of the women appear somewhat old to be mothers. Indeed, many are grandmothers or aunts raising babies due to maternal death. With the unaffordable price of infant formula and the unreliability of a clean water supply, these children must start getting adequate nutrition from solid foods at a very early age.  Failure to do so is disastrous for normal brain development and vulnerability to disease. Consequently, food staples for the nutrition center is one of our major purchases each year. Easy-to-chew rice balls with ground nut (peanut) soup is in the bowls.

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On this day at the Nutrition center, the nutrition assistant (Janet-standing against the tree) will demonstrate how to make “weenamix”, a strained liquid from cooked soy beans and maize that provides good nutrition for infants.

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Over the traditional wood fire, the women are cooking koosi cakes (high protein bean-flour cakes). These are considered a local delicacy.

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Resourcefulness is essential to supporting a family in northern Ghana. Husband, father, and farmer, Sampson (in the photo) is shown receiving a foot pedaled irrigation pump in December 2015. Hardworking and energetic, he was able to pay Yakote Women Farmers back his portion of the pump’s cost in January 2017. And then, last week, we received a call to let us know that Sampson died in a collapsed tunnel while galamsey mining. He leaves a wife and 4 children.

According to Wikipedia, “galamseys are people who do gold mining independent of mining companies, digging small working (pits, tunnels and sluices) by hand.” With some small deposits in the nearby countryside and gold prices up, we know more than a few Nabdam farmers who seek to supplement their income with this treacherous form of mining. When we visit, a few lucky farmer/miners will have found enough gold to purchase a motorcycle, and a few will have died when a pit or tunnel collapsed. The majority of galamseys mine for weeks with scarcely any results.

Tragic accidents such as Sampson’s tend to be more prevalent than one would expect. Out of desperation, people are willing to do expose themselves to danger in order to pay debts, pay school fees, or get food for the family.

We are among the sad to learn of Sampson’s early death. Good humans try to help others who are desperate. We see it all around us, even closer to home and in our own cities. With no solution in sight, if one were to ask us, “what can we do?” Our answer would be, “never stop trying.”

 

 

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This is “Fred”, a castrated male donkey (and therefore milder tempered), soon to be hauling a cart for construction supplies at the Yakote Women Farmers Social Center. Richard, one of the bookkeepers at the Kongo-Logre Clinic has a second government job as a donkey meat inspector at the nearby Pelungu Market. He knew we were looking for a donkey. One morning at 6:30 Richard called to say he had a healthy specimen down by the main road. I threw on some clothes and ended up negotiating to purchase this handsome fellow for $173.

The Kongo Basketweavers cooperative has started filling orders a few orders for the coming year to ship overseas. To make this possible, Rose and Monica (the only two weavers who speak English) now have smartphone. Marilyn is helping them master the technology.

The clinic was virtually out of medications! For less than $10/year/family, most in Ghana purchase government sponsored health insurance that covers routine care and medications at local clinics. Due to economic issues, the government has not paid the clinics for those services in over 13 months. Without the insurance reimbursement, the Kongo clinic now has a bill equivalent to $36,000 with the local pharmaceutical supplier. Understandably, the supplier is not willing to extend more credit.

Thanks to Google Inc.’s generous policy of matching employee donations, we were able to set aside $1,000 for purchase of essential medications-antibiotics, fever control, pain medications, intravenous fluids, and even some much needed vitamins for children and pregnant women.

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Filling the clinic vehicle at the pharmaceutical supplier in Bolga.

Guanwarre School

At Guanwarre Primary School delivering food and a soccer ball!

Guanwarre School is our most remote outpost and longest served site for the lunch program. There are now eight Guanwarre students in high school, a remarkable achievement for this remote community. Within the last year, a much needed health clinic has opened near the school.

One of the more enjoyable activities for us and the students is delivering a soccer balls to schools in the region. We are aided by our nephew, MLS player Andrew Jacobson, who donates the extra durable, Nike balls.