Friday, 29 February 2008

A cup of clean drinking water

‘I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.’
(Mark 9:41)

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.

'typical Dagomba village'

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.

'fetching water at river'

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.

'presentation of water filters'

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

Pray for:

  • 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.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Building, Building, Building

Discussions in our house these days revolve around truckloads of river sand, bags of cement, iron rods, watering blocks, building estimates, etc. The cement dust covers our floors in Yendi, the floors of our car and can even be found on the bottom of Samuel’s bath at night. What is happening? As it is now, we have three building projects going on in Tamale, the village of Sang and in Yendi, all for different purposes.

In Tamale, we (the Bible Church of Africa - BCA) together with the help of ‘Stichting Verrekijker’ in the Netherlands (see the link to their website under “Other sites to visit”) have started to build the first phase of the Hostel ‘Home of Hope’ or in our local Dagbani language ‘Tahima Yili’. Many Christian youth from rural communities, having finished their primary or junior secondary school education, do not have the contacts (people to stay with) or finances to continue their education away from home as this type of education is not provided within their rural setting. Some do have family members they could stay with while continuing their education, but often they are not Christian and under peer and family pressure the young ones will give up on their Christianity. Some youth are able to find a place to stay in so called ‘boarding schools’ but places are limited and there too the peer pressure to indulge in social vices or give up on Christianity is high. Even if they acquire a place in a boarding school or with family, the study environment is generally poor affecting their results. Others, who have recently become Christians, are in need of a temporary place to stay because they have been rejected by their families or communities. Because of these problems, many children who have made a start in education and who have the wish to continue will not get that opportunity. The purpose of the Hostel, therefore, is to provide a safe environment for youth from the villages to study in the regional capital Tamale. The Hostel will provide:

  • a home to live in
  • a Christian environment
  • formation and growth in faith
  • Christian literature
  • support and encouragement in studies
  • parental care, guidance and counselling
  • skills and material support for those in need

'Abukari and Samuel inspecting the building work in Tamale!'

'Mixing sand and cement'

'Binding iron'

In the village of Sang, BCA has a small church congregation. Last year one of our evangelists moved to this village to lead the church. Because this evangelist moved from his own village it is necessary to build a house for him and his family to live in. With the help of the Chief of Sang the church has acquired a big plot of land to build the house and hopefully in future a church. At the moment a three room house is being built. The funding for this house was provided by ‘Salt and Light Presbyterian Church’ in the US.

'The house in Sang with our evangelist, Neindoo'

Because of the expansion of our family and the regular visits of guests we need more rooms in our house in Yendi. We are building another two bedrooms and a bathroom. Just last week we were able to make a start on this “third” building project, with the help of supporters in the Netherlands. We hope to be able to put a roof on this building before we go on furlough in March and the rainy season begins. Please pray with us for the remaining $1,000 that we need to finish it.

'Building in progess at our home in Yendi'

'Carrying blocks'

'Samuel helping to fetch sand'


Thank God:

  • for people who share in the burden to reach out to the people in Dagbon in diverse ways
  • for the ability to start the projects


  • that we will be able to finish all projects well
  • that the different projects will really serve the purpose they were built for
  • for Micah’s health, he has had a fever for the past few days and it is not quite clear what it is caused by
  • for funds to build a church for the Sang congregation