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Archive for February, 2017

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.

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These are the affable, yet powerful young men living near Gorug School who volunteered to hand carry several tons of bagged food through the Bolgatanga market. Some bags weigh over 200 pounds! They filled three  Motokings (carts attached to a 150 cc motorcycle)  for the cautious, 15 mile trip to Gorug School. For security, the bags are stored in the headmasters office.

 

 

 

 

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Janet works with us extensively in getting the best foods at a good price for the 3 feeding programs. Here she is demonstrating that amazing, yet typical, Ghanaian flexibility as she picks up some spilled beans.

 

 

 

To show gratitude for their lunch program, the head of the Gorug PTA, Rosina – the teacher that oversees lunch preparation, and another school official bring us a delicious guinea fowl. We spent $2,250.00 on food that will feed 260 students and teachers for 3 days/week through July.  Student families will provide firewood. The school garden will provide fresh vegetables and additional beans. img_6520

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With 3 feeding programs to support, my goal was to meet/plan/budget/shop for one site during each week of our 3 week visit in early 2017. The focus for week 1 was the Nutrition Center at Kongo-Logre Clinic. Babies and toddlers identified as malnourished during clinic visits are referred for assessment, home visits, and feeding at the nutrition center. In many malnutrition cases, babies are not able to adequately breastfeed. For instance, death or serious illness of the mother. Quite a few cases are twins where the mother’s milk supply is not able to meet the demand of 2 babies. In northern Ghana where food supply is just enough for subsistence, adequately nourished children most often breastfeed for 2 years

The keystone of the clinic program is for mothers, grandmothers, or other caretakers to bring identified children and their small sibilings to the clinic on weekdays for breakfast, lunch, bathing, immunizations, and other medical care. The clients do all food preparation from taking grains to the grinding mill, drying the resulting flours, cooking (over a wood fire), and cleaning up. Local foods are used exclusively, with a focus on “weanimix” porridge (roasted and ground maize, soybeans, groundnuts) for the 6-12 month olds. The shopping list: 600 pounds rice, 400 pounds white beans, 300 pounds groundnuts, 600 pounds maize, 400 pounds soy beans, 400 pounds millet, large basin dried herrings, large bag dried okra, 5 buckets tomatoes, large bag dried peppers, 50 liters raw palm oil (high in Vitamin A), 25 liters cooking oil, 100 balls dowa dowa (a seed used for seasoning), salt, 2 buckets onions, 4 carts of firewood. The goal is to feed 30 children for at least 3 months. The food cost was $1,500.

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A mother carries 125 pounds of beans into the nutrition center for storage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The food stores at the nutrition center, each bag contains 100-125 pounds of grains, nuts, or beans.

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Life Pursuits and Chieftancy

Life Pursuits and Chieftancy

Allow me to lead you to just outside our compound door where we park our borrowed ‘political’ vehicle, then ‘moto’ you to one of the local Junior high schools for a computer class, moto you back to our compound to greet teacher Angelina on a sunny deck, and then end the day by making an evening moto ride to the Chief’s Palace.

Definitions:

Moto – a motorcycle, usually a 125 cc or 150 cc used on a variety of terrain. The borrowed one I used took about 5 trips on the pot-holed and dusty 40 minutes ride to Bolgatanga, and many an hour on usually rocky bush trails leading me to schools and dry-season farming sites.

“Can you Pick me up”? – This actually means “Do you remember who I am? We have met before.”

Here we are! We just stepped out of our rather spacious yet utilitarian compound to take a photo of some of the successful and very gratified teacher diploma students. It took some planning on their parts to come together to greet and express their appreciation. Front row: longtime friends Leticia and Sandra, back row: Simon, Moses A., Sylvester, and Moses N., and next to Moses N. is a smiling placard of the man who loaned us this vehicle for the many tasks we set out to do. He is The Honorable Boniface Gambila, the former Member of Parliament.

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We took a moment to give a prayer and thank the deceased Kongo resident Agnes Dinaa who played a key role in ‘making it happen’ for these outstanding young people, whose lives are most definitely changed because of their successful pursuit. This was one of my most rewarding and happy moments. But alas, we have a computer class to attend!

Here we are at Logre Junior High.

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I witnessed the start of the day with kids assembled in straight lines, the singing of the national anthem, saying the morning prayer, and then having their uniforms, haircuts, and shoes inspected before marching into the building while singing a French “ABC” song. I met the headmaster who asked “Can You Pick me up?” He being of good size, I quickly realized he was not being literal, and I summoned my good sense to say , “Yes, Of Course!”. He is Samuel, who I’ve known for 10 years, and it was very good to see him again. The teaching situation for this computer class is far better than the norm for tech education. Often the computer is drawn on the chalkboard with keyboard functions explained linearly. But here, though it be three to five to a computer, they actually get some ‘hands on’ experience. The teacher we see in the background is Paul Kurug, a graduate from our scholarship program. Michael Johnson, one of the contributors to the scholarship program donated a lightly-used laptop to Paul, who finds it’s use now indispensable. You see a whiteboard. They are ready to use a projector, but currently this is not financially feasible. Paul did an excellent presentation on use of ‘tools’. We must move along! Former teacher training student is waiting to greet me at the compound!

Here you see myself and Angelina Dimah shaking hands.

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Angelina is a first year teacher at a local Junior High. Like many teachers starting out, she receives no pay for an unpredicted period of months. In the past the first year teacher has been paid retroactively, but now there is talk of only paying for three months back pay even though the teacher may have worked 8 months. The process is politically driven to a large degree, with many campaign promises, some unfulfilled. She is hoping to get some source of income by getting a freezer and selling cold drinks as the weather gets even warmer than the 100 degrees it is now. She also has found the right man and hopes to marry. Presently she is dependent on her mother-in-law-to-be and feels badly that she is so reliant on her, thus hopes to do something to gain some funds. She is bright, vivacious, and hopeful. We get news that the chief of Kongo has requested my and Chareundi’s presence at the Chief’s Palace. Never make a chief wait for long!

Chareundi Van-Si, a good friend and first-time volunteer in Ghana moto to the Kongo Chief’s Palace. It seems a presentation is in order. I recall Lisa and my first visit to Ghana when, on Christmas Day 2005, we were called to the palace where our children, Michael and Kristin were presented with smocks. Though the chief receives a small stipend from the government, he somehow was still able to afford making our children very welcome and impressed. And now, Chareundi was honored with a smock on this visit in 2017!

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In fact, much to the amusement of the Kongo Chief, Chareundi declared himself “Junior Chief of Kongo”! We celebrated the event by imbibing  a small amount of the chief’s gin. The little boy on the Chief’s lap is his grandchild, who is quite fond of the Chief. By the way, the rather large bird in the background is a turkey. We gamely hop on our moto to report the happy event to Lisa and Marilyn. They were impressed!

At this point, I must admit this ‘day’ I just described is actually a composite of events that took place over several days. For literary purposes, I threw them into one. Now wasn’t that fun?   David Stone

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Volunteers:

Feb. 2017 work trip: Chareundi Van-Si (coordinate irrigation pumps), Lisa Revell (feeding programs, clinic improvements, high school fees assistance), Marilyn Schuster (Yakote Women’s Social Center, corn grinding mill, community donkey carts), David Stone (college scholarships).

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A word from Chareundi –

“Visiting Ghana, West Africa was the thrill of my life, especially coordinating a volunteer project to assist dry season farmers with manual irrigation pump systems. The people were nice and respectful. What caught me by surprise how significantly important it is to meet and greet each other there and taking time to ask about the well being of their immediate families. The local and tribal culture is still live and intact – the funeral service is celebrated with drumming and dancing for three days 24/7. I did participate in the ritual dancing competition- that was great experience. The extended family living arrangement in a compound of mud/adobe rooms is the way of life. I enjoyed visiting people in the local market, seeing their homes, and meeting with many folks at their farms. When going back again I will resume where I have left off. Chareundi Van-Si, 1st time Volunteer” 

Chareundi meeting with dry season farmers at one of the gardens and at work operating a pump.

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