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Scenes from a weekend

Britney has discovered she loves the cacophony of the Bolga market when she made food purchases for the Nutrition Center on Friday. This the shopping list she used, she found a 10% inflation in food costs over last year. FYI, 1 dollar equals 4.2 GH cedis.

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Back in Kongo for the weekend for a bit of relaxation she took some photos of scenes from the village and nearby countryside:

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A typical soccer “field”.

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Husband and wife, dry season farmers, prepare to take tomatoes to market. Britney and Marilyn are organizing a farmer training to discuss common problems among those farmers with our foot irrigation pumps. For example insect control, composting for fertilization, and protecting crops from livestock.

Relaxing in the village:

A mother and daughters                          Girls playing a clapping/jumping game

Britney reports she is enjoying her time in Ghana and wishes they were staying longer!

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In the days before traveling to Bolgatanga and purchasing food, we always meet with each of the schools and the nutrition center to discuss plans for the year. In the past week Britney and Marilyn met with the staff, community elders, PTA, and cooks at each location. Today, Friday, Britney is on her first of many trips to purchase the food!

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Marilyn and Britney meeting with staff and PTA at Piitanga Primary – The lunch program is just beginning this year at this school. The parents have brought some food from their farms that will be used in lunch program, in addition to the food we will purchase. This community is dedicated to educating and feeding their children. We are working to fund a new school at this site.

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Some of the women who will do the cooking and clean up at Gorug school, along with the PTA president. The community grew 500 pounds of beans (worth $150) to contribute to the lunch program. The mother’s who cook are all volunteers.

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This is staff, community elders, PTA, and the cooks meeting with Britney at Guanware Primary where we have provided a lunch program for many years. The students who originally started in the Guanware lunch program are now in high school.

 

 

On January 10th, Yakote Women Farmers has an experienced crew going to Ghana: YWF President, Marilyn Schuster, along with Lisa‘s niece (Britney), and two former Peace Corps volunteers.

 

How we are using your donations:

To minimize undernutrition and stunting, we will expand our lunch program at a third school this year, Piitanga Primary.  This is Britney‘s second trip as a volunteer with us, she will spend nearly all her time in the markets buying food staples for the lunch programs at all three schools and for the Clinic Nutrition Center for malnourished children. The YWF food budget for this year is $9,600. Just to give you an idea of scale, this January she will buy 5,250 pounds of rice, over 4,000 pounds of white beans, as well as 8 huge baskets of dried fish, 275 liters of fresh, red palm oil, 12 buckets of dried hot peppers, and 3,000 pounds of ground cassava – all of it produced in Ghana.

In an exciting new project, we are working with another charitable organization, Framework International, to fund construction of a cement block classroom building for Piitanga Primary. Classes at Piitanga are now either outside or in a tiny, three room mud clad structure built by parents. Between our reserve funds and the funds of Framework International, we hope to construct a 6 classroom cement block structure.  A preliminary estimate shows construction costs of $40,000 for six classrooms. Believe it or not, we need to raise only $5,000 more to reach the $40,000 needed. So, YES, we do still need donations. THANKS to everyone who has already shared in making this construction possible. The families of Piitanga are so very grateful and appreciative of the opportunity for their children.

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Due to a shortage of classrooms, the 1st grade class currently meets outside at Piitanga School.

Tax deductible donations can easily be made by Paypal or credit card at www.yakotewomenfarmers.org

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.

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.