With God anything is possible Mark 10:27
Alistair and I will be travelling to Sierra Leone at end of this week and we value your prayers for our safety and for opportunities to build a partnership with the people there. Jacob’s Well Appeal would like to work further in Sierra Leone and it is important that we are wise as to what we should do. We sent a container to Sierra Leone at the end of last year after visiting the mayor of Freetown, the capital city, in Hull (which is twinned with Freetown). We will visit the hospitals that received the aid to see what use it has been and whether we can help with further medical aid. We will also be visiting agricultural projects and a school for autism. Sierra Leone suffered a civil war from 1991 to 2001 and was then devastated by the Ebola virus epidemic which started in May 2014; the country was eventually declared Ebola free in March 2016 with 8,706 cases and 3,956 deaths according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Up to 40% of farms had been abandoned in the worst Ebola hit areas and it has taken a heavy toll on the already scare health workforce. Health workers were 20-30 times more likely to be infected and two-thirds of those infected died. They were also left very traumatised and fearful. Following this, on the 14th August 2017 a significant mudslide occurred in the capital city of Freetown. After 3 days of torrential rainfall a massive mudslide damaged or destroyed hundreds of buildings in the city killing 1,141 people and leaving 3,000 homeless.
Sierra Leone has a population of 7,000,000 with a life expectancy of 46 years at birth (afro.who) and has the world’s highest estimated maternal mortality ratio – women in Sierra Leone have a 1 in 17 lifetime risk of dying due to pregnancy or childbirth. Maternal deaths count for 36% of all deaths among women aged 15-49 and infant mortality is very high at around 89 per 1000 live births. This is a country that desperately needs our help.
It is the Lord your God who goes with you Deuteronomy 31:6
We are now half way through the year and the longest day is approaching – I feel like it has passed in a blur. When we were in Ghana earlier this year we visited a place called the Shekinah Clinic in Tamale, Northern Ghana. This clinic offered free health care to anyone requiring it that could not afford to pay the £4 per year for basic health care through the government hospitals. In some cases the clinic pays the £4 if they are unable to provide vital care that the patient could access through this scheme. They also help the mentally ill, housing some individuals who have been abandoned by their families and run a feeding program for the destitute in Tamale. They also bury the dead that are left in town when no one can afford to bury them. At the clinic we met an elderly lady who had been deserted by her family when she went blind and who now lives in one of the small accommodation huts provided by the clinic. Jacob’s Well Appeal is sending a 40 foot container of medical aid including a washing machine as their current one no longer works and so they have to wash all their sheets by hand. It also contains medical beds, bandages and disposable medical items such as gloves,walking frames, incontinence pads and colostomy supplies.
The houses the Shekinah Clinic provide.
We also visited a project paid for by the York Viking Rotary which was a dry season farming project. A very poor community in the Upper East Region of Ghana had asked them to help set this up last year. Our partners, C4C, provided training on how and what to grow in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture. They worked together to put up a wire fence to protect the garden from goats (which roam everywhere and eat everything except during the wet season) and bought a bicycle water pump which pumps the water from the reservoir up into the hose to water the garden. The community also planted mango trees to provide that vital vitamin A.
The Bicycle Water Pump – Our translator and project manager Anas makes cycling in 35°C look easy!
Alistair and I are now preparing for a visit to Sierra Leone in early July. You may remember we met the mayor of Freetown in Hull, which is linked with Sierra Leone and we then sent a container of medical aid in November last year. We are now going to Sierra Leone to see what they have done with the aid we sent them and how we can work together for the future.
Pray ……….with all kinds of prayers and requests Eph 6:18
I would like to ask everyone who reads this blog to pray for our Christian brothers and sisters around the world that are facing persecution. Our friends in Burkina Faso are struggling at the moment with a rise in violence in this wonderful country.The North, East and Eastern central zones are the most effected with churches, schools and other institutions being threatened and sometimes attacked. Schools have closed and several churches because pastors and their faithful have fled the difficult ares to take refuge in large towns or more secure cities. There are now thousands of displaced people including many Christians. In the last few weeks our friend, Pastor Michel has lost 3 pastors he knows personally and 5 other Christians killed by terrorists. They have left behind families that will struggle without them. Please pray that the government will have wisdom in how to deal with these terrorists and how to protect the country’s borders. Pray that the neighbouring countries will become more secure and that our partners will be safe. We support two schools in Burkina Faso, one in the capital Ouagadougou and one in the 2nd largest city, Bobo.
Praise the Lord! He is good. God’s love never fails. Psalm 136:1
Well, anyone that looks at our web page regularly will realize that we have been having it upgraded. I’m sorry if anyone has struggled to find what they want – it will all be sorted out in time.
We spent two weeks in Ghana at the beginning of February and had a very successful visit. We visited several mango plantations where the trees were at last looking like trees and some even had fruit on them.
We also met some women who had done a literacy and soap making project. These women were all widows, struggling to bring up their families without the support of a husband. They farm in the wet season but need work in the dry season. They have never had the opportunity to learn to read or write and were poor at numeracy. By teaching them basic skills in literacy and numeracy and then soap making they are now making an earning making and selling soap. They now can work out how much raw materials to buy and how many pieces of soap to make so that they are making a profit. Our partners in Ghana will keep visiting them to check they are succeeding. The soap they make are large round balls – you can see them in the picture below.
Next month I’ll tell you about the wonderful dry season farming project we visited.
Happy New Year everyone and I do hope you had a wonderful Christmas.
Alistair and I are travelling to Ghana at the end of this week. We will be visiting the fruit tree projects in the Upper East region as well as the seed bank projects in Upper West. One of the communities that are part of the seed bank project is a christian community that we visited last year, who were struggling with lack of water. A local charity, Ghana Outlook, has (or is going to) sort out the borehole and we will be able to see this in action. We will also visit Nyoli Koraa, a community that Jacob’s Well Appeal were able to dig a borehole for just before Christmas. We are so grateful for all the support we receive that enables us to do such wonderful things. When the borehole is dug the community is also given training on how to look after it and as well as classes on hygiene and water usage.
We will also visit King’s Village where the medical boat is situated to see how things are progressing there.
Whilst in the Upper East Region we will also visit our Dry Season Farming Project. As I have mentioned before, farming in Sub-Saharan Africa tends to occur with the rainy season. The farmers plough the land and sow the seed when it starts to rain and then harvest when the crop has grown. Because of lack of water they do not farm outside of the rainy season. As most men are farmers, they have little to do the rest of the year and just before the harvest their families are hungry, if not starving. People in this area have avoided living near rivers because of the risk of River Blindness, spread by the black fly. Now we can prevent this disease causing blindness, people can live nearer water and this opens up the ability to grow crops all year round with irrigation. The farmers need training on how to do this and this is what our Dry Season Farming Project is all about. They also get training in managing their finances and are encouraged to send their children to school. York Viking Rotary Club has funded this project and we are very excited to go and see how it is getting along. 15 men and 15 women are taking part from the Gogoringsa Community which is near a reservoir so they have a ready access to water to irrigate their land (see below).
I can do nothing by myself, I can only do what I see the Father doing John 5:19-20
Well it feels like winter is coming to us – we have been blessed with wonderful weather this summer and even today the sun is shining, but it is getting much colder. We are having our warehouse sale on Saturday (10th November) and, if it’s anything like last year, I will have very blue toes after standing all morning selling CDs and DVDs. If you like a bargain please come along – there is always lots of items on sale. Hopefully it will be more successful than our last book sale – we stood in the rain (and some snow even) for several hours and then gave up……at least we have the chance to sell everything this weekend under the cover of the warehouse.
Just over a week ago Alistair and I were invited to the Hull Freetown Society Celebration to meet the new mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone. Yvonne Aki Sawyerr was elected in March this year and has a passion to see her town improve. We were there to discuss sending medical aid into the hospitals of Freetown and the clinics. This is a very exciting partnership for Jacob’s Well Appeal as it will enable us to help a country that has suffered so much recently and needs our support.
We have already half filled the container and will be sending it out this month. Hopefully this is the first of many. We have wanted to work in Sierra Leone but did not have the right contacts. It is wonderful how God opens doors for us.
Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God 1 Corinthians 10:31
Jacob’s Well Appeal raises funds by fundraising, including our book sales, and generous donations given by our supporters. We also have two charity shops – one in Beverley and one in Bridlington, as well as two franchise shops. These franchise shops are run by the Gateway Church in Withernsea and Filey, and Jacob’s Well Appeal provides merchandise which they sell and give us a share of the profits.
Our two ‘charity plus shops’ are christian bookshops, selling new christian literature, gifts and cards. They also sell second hand clothing, bric-a-brac and books and both have a cafe where you can go for a drink, a piece of cake and a chat. Our managers are happy to talk through any issues you may have and offer prayer if you would like it. If you’ve not visited us recently, please pop in for a look around.
Our Bridlington shop is on the promenade next to the new Leisure World.
Our manager at the Beverley shop is moving to Hastings to be with her family and we pray that she will be happy with her new situation. Many customers and volunteers will miss Sue – thank you for all your hard work.
Our Beverley shop is on Ladygate, very close to St Mary’s Church.
We have two new managers, Sally and Ian, starting in Beverley who are going to ‘job share’. They have spent their first week shadowing Sue and next week will be setting out on their own. I am sure Sally and Ian will put their own stamp on the shop and if you are passing please pop in and greet them – they’ll be happy to make you a cup of tea!
The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. Numbers 6:25
I do hope that everyone in the UK has enjoyed the hot sunny weather. We have been truly blessed. We have also been able to plant several more fruit tree orchards over the summer – 6 with pastors around Bobo in Burkina Faso and a further 5 with our partners in Ouagadougou, also in Burkina. These plantations are planted in communities or schools and the fruit will then help feed the communities and, hopefully, provide a crop to sell at market. The vitamin A in the mangoes helps prevent blindness in the children and the trees are environmentally friendly! Ghana has native mango trees, but the fruit is very woody and indigestible. The mangoes we grow are highly prized. We also have planted a further orchard in the Nadowli-Kaleo district in the Upper West Region of Ghana in memory of Sandra Scantlebury. Sandra was a volunteer worker in Ghana for Jacob’s Well Appeal who sadly died last year. She came from Manchester but wanted to volunteer abroad to help those less fortunate than herself.
Sandra had worked for Jacob’s Well Appeal since 2009 running our community projects and helping to clear our containers of medical aid through customs and getting them to the hospitals that needed the equipment and donations. The York Viking Rotary Club has, over the years, provided support for Sandra to help her community work and they have generously donated towards this project.
Nadowli is on the edge of the sub-Shararan region of Africa and is one of the poorest districts of Ghana. 80% of the population are involved in agriculture and of these 83% of the population are engaged in subsistence farming and live in poverty. 50 mango seedlings were giving to the community and 50 mango seedlings were planted at a school in the area. The hard work of watering and keeping the mangoes safe from goats and fire now starts. It takes up to 5 years for the trees to mature enough to start producing mangoes and by this time they are established and need much less work. We must pray that the mango trees make it to this stage. We are so very grateful to our partners in Ghana, Coalition for Change (C4C), and especially Ruby Yap, who are all working so hard to make these projects in Ghana successful.
Community of Nadowli- Kaleo District planting the mango seedlings.
Now the hard work begins!
May the Lord give you increase more and more, Psalm 115:14
Earlier this year we were contacted by the High Commissioner of Barbuda to ask for our help in rebuilding this Caribbean island. Barbuda was devastated by Hurricane Irma in September 2017 and most of the buildings were completely destroyed. This included the hospital. At the time of the disaster we felt unable to help. We had no contacts in the area and we were not clear how much support the Caribbean islands would require due to the immense international support given at the time.
Alistair and I were able to travel to London to meet the High Commissioner and the Prime Minister of Barbuda. We gave a short presentation about Jacob’s Well Appeal and how we can help them and also spoke to the people running the Rebuild Barbuda Appeal fund.
Hurricane Irma hits the Caribbean and Barbuda is devastated. 95% of the buildings are destroyed.
Barbuda has received very little financial help from the international community and the Rebuild Barbuda Appeal had set aside money to fund the shipping of a medical container and also to buy second hand equipment such as an ultrasound machine and portable x-ray equipment. Alistair has spent several weeks locating these items and a container full of medical supplies such as dressings, gloves, syringes, catheters and walking frames as well as hospital beds and a baby incubator and the other equipment purchased has now left Beverley on its way to Barbuda.
Alistair looking smart travelling to London on the train……
….and the container leaving Jacob’s Well Yard.
For with God nothing will be impossible Luke 1:37
We are all very excited at Jacob’s Well Appeal as we start the maternal and baby unit at Ouagadougou. When we first visited Burkina Faso in 2016 we saw the shell of a hospital which had run out of funds several years previously. It stands beside a clinic/small hospital where local christian doctors give their time for free to help the poor in the community. The clinic has an Out Patient department, a small ward with about 4 in-patient beds and a very small labour room where up to 4 women may be giving birth. The clinic is cramped and extremely busy. The patients pay nothing if they have no money or, if they can afford to pay something,they pay around 50% of the cost of attending a government hospital. In Burkina Faso there is no national health service and the patients attending the national hospitals run by the government have to pay – this is something that I find very difficult to comprehend. The idea that someone who is extremely ill would be turned away from a hospital because they have no money is so alien to our experience.
We are completing the work in 4 phases and money will be sent out at the completion of each phase. Phase one (electrical wiring and buying tiles) is complete and phase 2 (tiling the area and buying the doors) is under way. We plan to visit Burkina Faso later this year and hopefully by then the maternity and baby unit will be in action!
The pregnant ladies wait patiently in the heat of the day.
Initially the estimates to do the work were so high that it looked as if we would never get started. With perseverance we have managed to get quotes for the work that are a third of the original costs and also our partners in Ouagadougou were able to get some of the plumbing work done by an American charity, reducing the costs further.
The delivery couch and the busy crowdedward.
We would like to thank everyone who has donated towards the maternity and baby unit -there is still plenty of work that needs to be done so any further donations will be very gratefully received. We also plan to send a container to Ouagadougou with medical supplies later in the year to help refurbish the unit.
He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; Isaiah 30:19
April passed in a blur with wedding plans etc. It seems like ages when we were in Wa in Ghana. We travelled to Wa from Accra via the overnight public bus. They travel in convoys of three with armed guards on the first bus, mainly because of the risk of bandits on the open roads. As you travel into the north of the country there are no lights on the road and only speed bumps warn you of the small communities you are passing through. They play very loud videos (not in English) on the bus and keep the air con very cold all through the night so by the time you arrive you are definitely shaken and stirred! I won’t mention the toilet stops……..
The goats going into the boot (!) of the bus for the 12 hour journey to Wa – they did survive.
Wa is like a different world to Accra, the northern part of Ghana being much poorer and less developed than Accra, as well as more rural. We met with our partners, C4C who run our seedbank and fruit tree projects in the Upper West and Upper East regions of Ghana.
A lady selling food just outside where we were staying.
We visited one community that are doing the Seedbank project in a very rural area outside of Wa. The poorer women of the community are given 6 large bowls of soya beans to plant one acre of land, and then they return that amount at harvest (in order the maintain the Seedbank), keeping the remaining 30 bowls for themselves. The land is ploughed by a tractor that was generously donated by a local East Riding farmer which was sent by JWA several years ago. This community is a christian community that were struggling because their only water supply, which was from a bore hole, was running low. Instead of a stream of water there was only a trickle and so it was taking much longer to fill their containers. We were concerned that they would not survive until the rainy season. Even the river nearby was completely dry.
We prayed with this community and Alistair prayed for rain – although no one there had ever seen rain in Northern Ghana in February /March during the dry season.
Alistair talking to the women of the community.
By the time we were leaving the community it had become very windy and there were a few spots of rain. By the time we reached Wa it was starting to rain – it rained heavily for 12 hours and flooded the area. Even in the rainy season it only rains for a few hours a day. Everyone was amazed – what an answer to prayer! We are hoping to find a donor / raise the money to build a bore hole for this community so that they will be water secure for the future.
One 3 year old girl in the community had an infected burn caused by hot porridge and was unwell with a temperature. They did not have transport or money to take her to the nearest medical centre. We took her ourselves and bought the medication she required. Even the medical centre did not have any dressings! She also had malaria which could have killed her if left untreated as it is a leading cause of death in children under 5.
We also visited the Eastern Region of Ghana where JWA with C4C’s help have planted several fruit tree orchards. One headteacher in particular had motivated his pupils to look after their trees and was so grateful for the support of our donors to enable them to have mangoes in the next few years.
Alistair with the headmaster talking to the children at a school in Upper Eastern Region, Ghana
Uphold the weak, be patient with all. 1 Thessalonians 5:14
How the time flies! Alistair and I went to Ghana in February, returning at the beginning of this month to find that our daughter was going to get married at the end of April – we did have a sneaky idea that this was the plan – which is my only excuse for not writing sooner.
Ghana in February is hot and dry, as it is their dry season. Our primary purpose for the visit was to meet with the ministry of health to discuss (and hopefully sign) a Memorandum of Understanding. This would enable us to send in the medical aid tax free. Without this the Ghanaian government require that we pay the tax up front and we may or may not get a reimbursement. This has meant that we have been unable to send any medical aid to Ghana in the last 12 months. We were very fortunate to meet with the Minister of Health himself during the second week of our stay and on the final day, after a lot of waiting and praying, at 4:30pm (we were heading for the airport at 8pm) we received the signed official copy – Praise God!
We spent the 1st week visiting the King’s Village where the Rotary medical boat had been sent. The King’s Village consists of a school, hospital and nutrition centre. It lies about 6-8 kilometres from the river Volta and receives very poorly patients from the isolated communities on the other side of the river. The boat had been used for a medical mission by a visiting consultant from the USA, but the King’s Village are struggling with funding to run it regularly. We were able to use it to visit the community on the other side of the Volta. This community is 6 kilometres from the water during the dry season, but much closer when the river floods. There is only a dirt track to the village, which we travelled along on a tricycle or ‘motorking’. The medical centre there was struggling with barely any provisions and the next day we met with the Regional Director of health to discuss whether the Kings Village could run this clinic for the community of 8,000 people. This would mean the boat could be used to deliver midwifes, transport patients to the Kings Village and supply the clinic during the dry and wet season (via boat and motorking). It could also, at the same time, ferry paying passengers to help cover the cost. This community at the moment can either use a wooden canoe or travel 2 days to cross the river to get healthcare or to take their produce to market. They even have to use the canoe to transport the motorking if the patient can’t sit on a motorbike! Whilst we were in Ghana 6 people died using one of these canoes – a common occurrence.During the wet season it is impossible to get across the river on these canoes.
I will write next month about our visit to Wa, which was to check the seedbank project and fruit tree plantations. We thank everyone for their generous support and their prayers for all our projects and I pray that you all have a wonderful Easter.
For this reason you must be ready – Matthew 24:44