Within our Literacy & Development Programme (LDP), amongst the Dagomba people, a new department has been established - the ‘Community Development Department’. This department is particularly concerned with the identification of other developmental needs of communities in addition to adult literacy. Identifying these developmental needs will help us to make our literacy & development programme more effective in providing a holistic and sustainable approach to poverty reduction and development.
LDP’s aim is for those participating in our literacy classes to become aware of their own developmental needs and provide them with tools to carry out some activities themselves as well as seek assistance from other stakeholders in development. We want them to take up the roles of agents of change. By attaching developmental activities to our literacy programme people will be made aware and realise how literacy is a key to further advancement in any area of basic need.
A few weeks ago the department carried out a simple baseline survey in 20 of the communities in which LDP operates. The purpose of the survey was to help identify and prioritise some basic needs of the rural communities in addition to the educational needs that LDP has helped to provide over the years. In total, 1,226 people took part in this exercise. The survey revealed that most of the basic needs revolve around health, water and sanitation, agriculture, gender issues and education.
In each community where the baseline survey was carried out a Community Development Facilitator (CDF) was appointed to help facilitate community development as well as gender related programmes organised by LDP. A four day training programme was organised for them in which community development issues such as health, water and sanitation, agriculture, conflict resolution, peace building and the role of community leaders in development were discussed.
Following this, a further workshop for the CDFs was organised on clean drinking water and sanitation. In Ghana, many people have to fetch water from rivers or water dams for drinking. Some villages do have boreholes but these can often dry up in the dry season or the mechanism breaks down and people have to look elsewhere for water. Using water from rivers or dams for drinking poses a danger on the health of people as it can be contaminated and if it is not treated before drinking can cause sickness.
During the workshop, the CDFs were taken through the dangers of drinking water from sources which are not clean and were then introduced to different methods of treating the water before drinking. One of the ways to treat the water is to filter it before drinking to prevent people from getting the guinea worm disease.
At the end of this workshop the CDFs were tasked to organise an eight week training programme (one session a week) for people in their villages on water and sanitation and were given a total of 200 filters to take to their communities to pass on and demonstrate what they had learned. We have been encouraged that a total of 400 men and women from the 20 communities the CDFs are from have participated in this eight week course and at the end 230 received a certificate. A follow-up in each of the communities revealed that households who received the water filters are making good use of them.
We are so thankful that through our prayer and financial supporters we can offer the Dagomba people a ‘cup of clean drinking water’. As you can imagine, in the hot and dusty weather this is very refreshing indeed. However, the new strategic direction of LDP comes with a demand for financial resources. So far we have only been able to secure about 60% of the budget for the year 2008 and as such we are limited in the execution of our plans. Please pray with us for more organisations / partners to work with us to help alleviate poverty among these communities.
Thank God for:
- clean drinking water(!). For many of us it is so common and easy to come by that we do not even appreciate it
- the opportunity we have to share Christ's love with people through literacy and developmental activities
- the many people working with our Literacy Programme who are willing to teach and train others in their communities
- the improvement in Micah's health
- the many people we meet and train that they will experience some of Christ's love through what we do
- that what people learn would truly be of use to them and help them to take care of their basic needs as well as that of many others
- that other organisations will come alongside our programme to help alleviate poverty among the people in other areas than education
- for more partners for the Literacy Programme to fund our activities
- for us as a family, we are planning to go on furlough towards the end of March but we still have a lot of work to do - that God will give us the strength, health and perseverance we need
- for Micah, he has been refusing to take breast milk (except for when he sleeps) for three weeks now which really drains Joke's energy. However, as breast milk is the only food he takes, there is no alternative she can offer him.