Monday, April 4, 2011

Asikuma Projects: Phase I

Phase I in August will involve 2 main construction projects in the village of Asikuma, and one smaller side-project for the community. We arrived at the main projects because of these factors:

1) The need for them is CLEAR.
2) At this time, they are the MOST needed.
3) Completion of these projects will allow us to have the greatest immediate impact on the community.

MAIN PROJECT 1: Medical Clinic As I eluded to in this post, one of our two main construction projects for August will be renovating this currently standing building into a medical clinic. We will also add on a small area to the clinic that the doctor will utilize as his housing unit. As mentioned in my other post, the medical clinic will have 4 basic parts: a waiting room, 1 room to see patients, 1 room designated as a birthing area, and then the doctor’s onsite housing.

MAIN PROJECT 2: Library and additional classroom
We will be adding onto the current building of Asikuma Presbyterian Primary School to create an additional classroom (20x25ft) and an additional space which will be utilized as a library (20x25ft). To read more about this school and why these two pieces are needed, click here. To give you a visual, the library will look similar to this: SIDE PROJECT: Completion of linguist’s house.
There is a man in Asikuma who holds a high position within the community named as the chairman/linguist. His housing unit needs some work and we have identified him to receive a little upgrade (I suppose you could think of it as Extreme Home Makeover ~ Ghana Style!). In August we will help to finish off his house which will be a nice gesture showing that we are coming to be a part of this community.

There are many other projects that we have identified for the village of Asikuma that could be completed over time – God willing. The entire goal is to pave the way to create a full economy in Asikuma. A major, major piece of that will be helping Asikuma with farming. This will be a high priority for Phase II projects, and we are currently rounding up some great people to help with that….good thing we live in Iowa where farmers are everywhere! There are more things we want to do with the school as well, but the library/classroom will be a perfect first step. For the August trip we are also hoping to hold a few teaching seminars in which we can bring some American teachers on board to help train their teaching staff. This was one area that was identified as a high need – we need to come alongside the teachers and help them to know how to run classrooms more effectively. It’s also been in my heart to figure out a child sponsorship program. I want to be able to identify children who need financial assistance and match them with families in the U.S. who can provide for them (school fees, clothing, food, etc). I am just not sure how to get from point A to point B. Need some more time to figure that out. And of course, eventually somewhere down the line we hope to convert those 4 other buildings behind the medical clinic into a children’s haven. We’ve learned over the course of time that social welfare in Ghana is sort of the go-between for identifying orphaned children and placing them in an orphanage setting. We will need to create relationships with social welfare so that children would be referred to our children’s haven.

Okay, so, in Ghana, every building is pretty much constructed from these:
Cement blocks. These blocks are formed using a block making machine that looks like this:
These cement blocks will be the main structure pieces for our projects. Chris has calculated that the 3 projects I explained above will need 2500 blocks total. All other building materials needed for our projects will also be bought in Ghana….everything from nails, to tiles, to sinks, etc. All of it will be purchased in Accra or surrounding areas and then brought to the building site before the construction team arrives in August. Chris and Doug spent lengthy amounts of time on our last trip going around to different ‘shops’ to scout out the best deals for building materials and tools. You know what? Chris has the HARDEST job of all of us. Take a look…..there ain’t no Lowe’s in these parts! (click picture to enlarge)
The funniest story I heard was when on one of our days in Accra during the recent trip, Doug and Chris purchased a few items for the projects including a toilet. They said they waited and waited and waited for this toilet to come out after they bought it….they waited almost about 30 minutes just sitting there on the curb by the stand. And then out walks a lady, CARRYING THE TOILET ON HER HEAD! Of course! This is Ghana! Chris said that he unfortunately didn’t think to take a picture, and then by the time he thought of it she had already set the toilet down and he didn’t want to ask her to put it back up! :)

Chris will be bringing a few of his home-building team members on the trip in August to act as team leaders. Other than that, we will employ Ghanaians for the construction labor and hope to teach them along the way.

Chris has estimated that the total cost for straight building materials (concrete blocks plus other) is going to be $25,000. This cost includes all 3 projects detailed above. Once we saw the cost and the amount of blocks that we need - $25,000 and 2500 blocks - it was easy to break this down into an agreeable donation number for individuals. We are asking individuals to prayerfully consider buying a cement block for our project. Again, we need 2500 blocks and a total of $25,000 needs to be raised. For ease, that means, we can label each $100 donation as purchasing 1 cement block. All we need is 250 people to buy 1 cement block at $100 a piece, and then the money for the building materials will be raised. You will see that I have created a section on my sidebar that will keep track of donations for the Asikuma Phase I projects. We have opened up a separate account off of our Kingdom Cares International account strictly for Asikuma funds. If you feel led to donate, please label your donation somehow with a sticky note or in the memo line of a check that says Asikuma Projects. This will ensure that your donation goes into the Asikuma account. From there I will be able to keep track on my blog of how much money is being raised as we look towards the $25,000 number. I also wanted to note, that these donations will go strictly towards the cement blocks and building materials. Donations will NOT go towards the other overhead costs such as airline tickets, hotel accommodations, food for the workers, etc. Those costs are paid for by each trip attendee on their own, and other expenses will be covered by our general Kingdom Cares International funds. Donations are payable to Kingdom Cares International and can be sent to 315 Ridgewood Dr., Huxley, IA 50124 or given to us in person. Also remember, Kingdom Cares International is a 501c3 non-profit foundation. All donations are tax deductible.

During our time in Asikuma we attended a church service right smack in the middle of the village housing area. Two moments stand out in my mind of that Sunday morning. First, I remember sitting there in the dirt, amidst mud huts, chickens and goats running free, underneath a canopy constructed of twigs and leaves. As I looked around I saw children and adults dressed in their best Sunday clothes, many of them sporting their new shoes that we had given them the day before. And there we sang our first song, “You are Wonderful, Lord” and our second song “This is the Day that the Lord Has Made”. I remember thinking that these people have NOTHING that anybody in America would ever label as materialistically valuable or sustainable. But yet, here they were praising the Lord in dance and song to the loudest and most genuine degree!!! In these small moments I was reminded that despite all the sorrow, oppression, injustice, disease, exploitation, and pure need in this village, there is also an evident feeling of hope. All is not lost. These people have learned to rely on God in ways that the typical American has never known. And this humbles me to the greatest degree. I want to be more like them.

The second moment that stands out in my mind was when the pastor gave his sermon. He likened our Isaiah 1:17 Foundation group to that of Nehemiah while sharing these verses from Nehemiah 2:17-18 - Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me. They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work. The pastor motioned to us and said, “God spoke to these people. God told these people to come here – to this city – to our city – Asikuma – out of all the other places in all of Ghana. They are here to help us. God sent them to us, and they heard his voice, and they came.”


And Asikuma, we WILL be back!!!!!!!!!! So long…..until August!!!!!!!!!!!

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