Thursday, February 3, 2011

Spring Break Change of Plans

Well, the last I had blogged about our spring break plans Jake and I were starting to plan our trip to Sierra Leone to serve at The Covering, an orphanage started by a non-profit foundation called The Raining Season ( The family who started The Raining Season did so after they successfully adopted their daughter from Sierra Leone back in 2004. Through their adoption process they began to see the devastating circumstances that the country has been left in post-war. From there the children’s center, The Covering, was born and it is run beautifully. Jake and I had gotten in contact with a couple from Pella who has ties with the orphanage, and we had planned on accompanying them on their next trip. We had begun formulating these plans before Jake’s recent trip to Ghana in January.

However, once Jake returned from Ghana in January, the project there had made so much progress that he began wrestling with whether or not we should still go to SL. Originally we had planned on our next trip to Ghana not being until August 2011, which would have afforded us the trip to SL over spring break to get our feet wet in an orphanage setting. But, as we talked and prayed over it, we realized that there was so much we needed to be doing now with the Ghana village project in order for the August 2011 trip to be a success. As we see it now, the August trip will be the main ‘building’ trip. This is when we hope to take over a team of workers to do the construction of the clinic and library, as well as the remodel of the foster care home units. In order for that trip to be completely successful, we felt that we still needed one more trip to Ghana beforehand to gather all the necessary information we need before we get to action. So, we are now taking a small team to Ghana over spring break instead of going to Sierra Leone. Our trip to Ghana will be an information gathering trip. We booked our flights two days ago, and I am so excited! Here are some of the things we hope to find out:

We know where we want to build, but we need to figure out the best way to get supplies. Will we be able to find all the tools/supplies we need there? Or will we need to ship them from the U.S.? Which option is better and more cost-wise? For this part, we will be taking along Chris Gardner, founder of Bella Homes. He will be the main builder on our project. You may remember he accompanied Jake on his very first ever trip to Ghana back in 2009. Chris and Doug Vander Weide will be responsible for negotiating supplies and drawing up the construction plans in the village.

The other huge part of anything we do in Ghana is the education side of things. This is the part that Jake wants to roll up his sleeves and dig into. It bugs him that there are educated people walking around this village, but that they aren’t teaching the younger ones. It bugs him that the people of Ghana have so many tools right before them, but that there is no organization or ideas to know how to use them. It bugs him that Justice can’t read. Justice grew up in a village extremely similar to Asikuma. The schools in these village areas do not have the necessary pieces that they need to adequately educate their youth. And most children can’t afford to go to school anyway. This is a huge deal. For this spring break trip we will spend 2-3 days directly in the village. As Jake says, we won’t be there as a sideshow this time. We need to live and breathe in their exact environment to understand their specific needs. We want to spend time in the village school to fully assess the supplies that they need. Do we need to teach the teachers? What all will this entail? For the August 2011 trip we hope to take a team of teachers with us for this exact purpose, so we need to find out what we are facing.

We also plan to be in the village on one of the days in which the doctor visits. We need to understand from him the supplies that he needs and also talk with him about the general construction plan for the clinic so that it fully meets his needs.

Our other time on this trip will be spent in Accra concentrating on education. We want to spend time in the school we’ve sponsored Prince to go to, as well as a few other schools we have identified. Our hope is to volunteer in the schools so we can study the educational system there.

We are also ready to implement a stricter/more organized method of identifying Kingdom Hoops Ghana team members as prospective host students. For this we need to take the time to interview them and prepare them for visa appointments. We recently had a prospective host student show up to his Embassy appointment without his birth certificate!!!! He just forgot it!!!!! That obviously can’t happen! His visa was denied and now we will be starting his process all over again. It’s these little kinks that we hope to get worked out beforehand as we begin to implement a more organized approach to identifying which players would be good candidates to study in the U.S.

I am also still pulling for us to all serve in an orphanage somewhere near Accra or Asikuma for at least one of the days on our trip. The problem has just been finding one that is well-run and accessible for volunteers. So this is still in the works.

This informational/preparatory trip must happen in order for our action trip in August to be fully successful. I still want to visit The Covering in Sierra Leone someday, but it’s just not the right timing yet. I would encourage you to visit their blog if you have time. There is a team there now, and they have had some very heart stirring posts.

I’ll leave you with an email we received from one of the spokesmen from the village of Asikuma:

Hello Mr. Jake,

Greetings to you in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus. How is the day in United States of America? Over here (Anum-Asikuma, Eastern region, Ghana) we are all doing well by His abundant grace and mercies.

In fact I want to apologize for my inability of not communicating with you often as I deemed it to be. This is a result of lack of internet facility in the area, and having to travel to a long distance for it.

Mr. Jake, to seek your assistance and help, I would like to enumerate certain things the community is lacking. Just to mention a few, the community lacks clinic, library, computer laboratory, etc. The worse of it all, is a community of over one thousand occupants uses only one public latrine (toilet), and this some time ago brought about an epidemic to the community when human waste was deposited around the surroundings.

In addition, the community is mostly made up of peasant farmers who rely solely on the natural weather for rain to water their crops for the season’s yield, and when the weather fails the community living becomes difficult.

Therefore, I will be very glad if you can aid the community, especially for the clinic and library among others.

We will very much appreciate it. Hope to hear from you soon.

From the assemblyman,
Mr. G, eastern region, Ghana.

Thank you.


Lori said...

love how this is heart is already there in that village...tears...

Nate and Natalie said...

God is doing amazing things through you two. You guys really are an inspiration.

Tamara B said...

awesome to read what's going on. of course, reading this made me wonder if you'll be doing any info gathering on sustainable food production. I have no clue what that looks like there but would love to help where I can.


A. Gillispie said...

So wonderful to hear about the work you are doing in Ghana!!

As far as orphanage, have you concidered Beacon House? They are in Accra, run by an American, and the home is a great example of how it can be done! I've also heard good things about Agape Children's Home in Accra, and City of Refuge in Tema! Charity Kingdom Orphanage in Teshie is open to volunteers as well, if you want to experience a well run but more traditional Ghanaian children's home.