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Archive for September, 2009

School age boys playing a dusty game of soccer

School age boys playing a dusty game of soccer

A farm family near Kongo
A farm family near Kongo

   

Greetings to you from Lisa Revell and David Stone.  We return for our third trip to northern Ghana on October 1, 2009.  A few years ago we ‘retired’ and began a quest to help as volunteers in Kongo, a rural village near Bolgatanga. 

  Background

 In September 2005, we arranged to do volunteer work in a remote village near Bolgatanga, in the north of Ghana. As David taught English and Lisa did medical and chiropractic work, we grew to appreciate the culture and people. Though families have nearly nothing in the way of income – the annual per capita income averages $400/yr – they gave us so much to admire and appreciate. We learned to always greet whoever you met on the bush-path, asking of their families’ welfare. We learned that though it is unreasonably hot, one never mentions or complains of the hot sun. We even learned some vocabulary from the local language – Fra Fra, a beautiful language unique to this small part of Ghana.

 Our 2005 -2006 volunteer effort was 6 months long. This experience opened our eyes to possibilities for improving the human condition in a region where most people are subsistence farmers struggling to afford the bare essentials for their families.  The villagers lack adequate food, water, education, and modern farming techniques.

 We returned in 2007–2008 to focus on helping farmers to produce more food, as well as resuming our teaching and medical work. With improved tilling, use of fertilizers, we were off to a good start.   In addition, a successful “guinea fowl project” was started, providing farmers with keets (young guinea fowls), vaccines, and caging.  Guinea fowl and their eggs are an excellent protein source. We gained support from an agricultural non-profit organization who continues to help with this three year project.

 This past November 2008, Lisa successfully created a colorful and informative photo calendar about Ghana that sold well. In April 2009, David produced a benefit concert here in Portland with three professional musical groups and one student ensemble volunteering to perform. All proceeds will go directly for a school lunch program in this beautiful, but sometimes parched region of Northern Ghana. Learning in Ghanaian schools is often slowed by unremitting hunger during the 20-week dry season.  Students eat once a day during this time.  Yes, you read the previous sentence correctly.                                ________________________________________

 

Our current goal: Provide school lunch for 2,000 children, 3 days/ week, for 20 weeks. 

 With calendar sales and the benefit concert, we raised $4,000 for a school lunch program, enough for 4 weeks of meals, 3 days/week.

When we return to Ghana September 2009 for another volunteer effort, our focus is education. With the generosity of friends and family, we hope to raise additional money and buy food staples for the school lunch program. In northern Ghana, fewer than 40% of primary school-aged children attend class. Low attendance is due to seasonal hunger, under-nutrition, and long travel distances on foot. On this trip, we hope to boost attendance and readiness to learn by beginning a school lunch program for up to 2,000 very young elementary age village children.  Studies have shown that under-nutrition leads to both lower IQ and decreased earning ability as an adult[1].  A school feeding program would have significant impact in providing adequate nutrition for these rural children and their ability to contribute as adults. We hope to provide a school lunch 3 days/week for twenty crucial weeks in the dry season. All donations are tax deductible. 

 

 

Common questions  

 How much are administrative costs?

There are no administrative costs.  David and Lisa pay all of their own costs ­- plane tickets, accommodation, food, and ground transportation.  Our goal is for all of the money raised to be used directly for food purchase, storage, and preparation. The women preparing the food will do so in exchange for getting a lunch for themselves and their children.

What about higher education?

 We have just completed a project to fund a one year scholarship/loan program for three graduating seniors who have excelled by passing the WASSCE examination (similar to, but more difficult than, the SAT exams). About 5% of the students at Kongo Senior High are fortunate enough to pass this difficult exam. Passing gives a student the right to apply for higher level education. Since virtually all students come from what we would define as poverty level homes, students can rarely afford higher education. In this program, a student passing the WASSCE test may elect to fill out an application for college financial aid and then be interviewed. The successful recipient has a great deal of responsibility; one is to pay back 1/3 within the first three years of employment.

 We are starting small on this by supporting no more than three students who wish to enter a nursing or teaching program over the next 12 months. Sincere thanks to our friends and family for their contributions.  If all goes well, we will be encouraged to develop this program more.

The website will be added to regularly

Please check back on the website to get a glimpse of life in rural Ghana.  We plan to make exciting and captivating weekly postings to this website between October 1 and December 30. 

 You are very welcome to make a donation and help very young children vastly improve their lives and their future through education and nutrition. All donations are tax deductible. Following is the donation information. Thank you for your interest.

  Our best regards,

David Stone and Lisa Revell 

                                                                                                                          

Make donation checks payable to:  Ground Zero                                           

The 501(c)3 organization is named Ground Zero Pairing Project                         

Tax ID # 93-0816016                                                                                             

Mail checks to: Josette Dundon, 7207 Reed College Pl., Portland, OR  97202 (Our friend Josette Dundon is collecting checks while we are in Ghana)

If you have questions:  email revellstone@yahoo.com

  


 

[1] Malnutrition Is Cheating Its Survivors, and Africa’s Future Published: December 28, 2006

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/28/world/africa/28malnutrition.html?pagewanted=3&_r=1

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