And the Light shines in the darkness John 1:5
As we look forward to Christmas we remember those in poorer countries that are really struggling this year. Burkina Faso, for example, has been struggling with terrorists which have attacked rural communities, causing them to move into towns and leaving their farms unattended behind. On top of this they have had poor harvests due to heavy erratic rains compounded by the corona virus pandemic. At our partner school in Bobo they now have over a hundred families each day turning up for food. The numbers are increasing weekly. The school is donating a bag of maize for two weeks to each family – Jacob’s Well Appeal has sent money to help support this endeavour but they really need a new supply of food. We are now planning to help them set up a large dry season farming project – ‘out of season’ farming. This needs a well with a solar powered pump to pump the water on the land. This will help feed the families until the next rains due May/June 2021.
We have just sent a container to a nursing school in northern Ghana – they will use the contents to train their nurses and they are happy to take out of date items to train with. These would only end up in land fill in the UK. They also plan to help supply some of the rural clinics where their nurses train. Whenever Alistair or I have visited these clinics they have empty shelves so it will be wonderful if some of the aid can get here. The photo shows the shelving in a medical centre that was several hours away from the nearest hospital serving a community of over 2000 people that Alistair and I visited in 2018. They had no other drugs, bandages, dressings and very few gloves.
We have had a good harvest in Ghana from the groundnut seedbank and, despite the erratic rains, we have managed to harvest more this year than last year. This is a project that helps empower women, enabling them to have their own income which they can use to feed their family and hopefully help pay for school fees.
They are all very grateful for the help they receive and have worked hard to retrieve all the nuts!
We have also had a very generous donation to help fund the solar powered project at the hospital in Ouagadougou. Currently the electricity bills are between £1,307 to £2,068 per month. By using solar panels the bills will be dramatically cut and so save money as well as the environment, enabling the hospital to continue treating patients that can not afford medical help elsewhere.
We are so very grateful for everyone who supports us – every donation, no matter how small, can benefit others. Some of the people we are trying to help are the poorest in the world and they are so grateful for anything and really appreciate people from another country trying to help them.
We wish you a safe and blessed Christmas and every blessing for the New Year.
The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble. Nahum 1:7
What a strange time we are living through. England is now back in lockdown and the NHS is struggling with the rising numbers of Covid cases. Hull has one of the highest rates of infection and I pray that you and your families are remaining safe during this period. I think we all know someone who has been affected by this virus and most families have lost a loved one because of it and have family members working on the front line. I think we all hope that 2021 will bring an end to this pandemic.
It can take several months for the contents of the container to eventually reach their destination. It is taking even longer during the pandemic, especially to get containers through the port. Here is the container we sent to Ghana in April finally being opened and emptied in November.
We are still able to send containers abroad despite lockdown and the Zimbabwe container left last week – we pray that it will get through customs to those in need. We are now packing two containers for Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso where our partners run a school and hospital, and we will be sending medical and educational aid in the containers. They are using the bus we sent to collect children from the rural areas where there is no opportunity for the children to go to school, and they remain at the school during the term. The literacy rate in Burkina Faso has risen dramatically in the last 20 years in the 15 – 24 year old age group, from 20% in 1998 to nearly 60% in 2018. It is under 20% in people over 65 years old (figures from UNESCO). Unfortunately over the last few years the militants have been targeting schools as they feel they are ‘western’. Because of the low literacy rate in older adults there is no education at all at home if the schools are closed, which has happened in some areas of Burkina Faso because of militant attacks.
Over the next few months we hope to send another medical container to Ghana, a container to the Autistic School in Sierra Leone, a container to Zambia which we hope will contain a significant amount of colostomy which is very much needed there, and also a medical container to the Cameroon as well as a curtain sider lorry to Moldova.
We are still supporting our overseas projects – the seedbank, dry season farming projects and the fruit tree plantations. Our partners have had restrictions due to Covid and also, especially in Burkina Faso and Northern Ghana, an issue with personal safety. The picture shows Ruby walking to visit a community – the road has been replaced by a river! Please remember to pray for their safety. Alistair and I are looking forward to when we can visit them again, but at the moment we are both working in Beverley due to travel restrictions. The warehouse is just accepting medical aid at the moment and both the shops are closed. We do hope things change soon. I pray that you all remain safe in these difficult times.
Blessed is he who considers the poor; The Lord will deliver him in times of trouble. Psalm 41:1
Hello everyone! Since I last wrote to you all we have had another grandson – baby Samuel was born in August. We thank God for his safe arrival and the opportunity for Alistair and I to see him. Unfortunately his great grandparents and Uncle are yet to meet him due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Our partners in Burkina Faso are really struggling. Due to the unrest in the country many have fled to the cities and the farms have been abandoned. The schools are under threat from the insurgents and pastors of churches are targets, as are teachers and officials. This country survives on subsistence farming and as families are forced from their land they face starvation. The Coronavirus pandemic has made the situation worse as it has restricted access to food and health care. The UN says that 535,000 children are suffering acute malnutrition. We are raising money to help through our Covid fund: we are selling face coverings and hand sanitiser to raise funds, as well as receiving donations. We pray that the security situation in this country improves so that the people can return to their homes and rebuild their lives and in the meantime we will try to help them as much as we can. We have sent a further coach to Burkina Faso, thanks the the generosity of Acklams Coaches, which has gone to the ABC school in Bobo Dioulassou this time. This will provide much safer travelling for the children. We have also sent another container with educational and medical supplies as well as a minibus.
Sierra Leone is another West African country struggling in the current climate. They have build two new hospitals in the capital city Freetown and need vital equipment now. We have just sent a container of medical supplies, including beds donated by Accora Ltd, a UK manufacturer who has been making beds for the Nightingale Hospitals. When we were in Sierra Leone they really needed help and the new beds will be greatly appreciated. The beds that we saw when we were there were infested with bed bugs.
We are currently packing a container for Zimbabwe. This is to help supply Sanyati Baptist Hospital which is struggling with out of date equipment and limited supplies. Zimbabwe is in the lowest 50 countries in the UN human development index and has a maternal mortality rate of 458 (per 100,000 live births) which is 24th from the bottom, but we have not sent any containers there before, partly because of concerns of high taxes etc to get our container into the country. This container is being bought and shipped at the expense of charitable group that have contacts in Zimbabwe and will be responsible for all the costs at port as well. Hopefully they will have no problems getting the container to the hospital.
The borehole that was dug in Kalahi earlier this year is doing very well and we are now planting a mango orchard in this community.
God is our ever present help in times of trouble. Psalm 46:1
I hope that you are all well as the easing of lockdown begins in our country. Our shops are now open and our volunteers are working hard to sort out the donations we have received.
Our dry season projects in Ghana have been very successful and the beneficiaries have been very grateful for this opportunity to grow food outside of the usual farming season (the wet/rainy season) giving them nutrition and a marketable crop. Jacob’s Well Appeal, with your help, plans to support these projects for 2-3 years until they are well established and can thrive on their own.
Our partners will soon be starting the seedbank project again as the rains in Ghana have started and they will also be planting another 120 mangoes. It is hard work, as everything needs to be done as soon as possible to get the best out of the rains. Those who plant the earliest tend to get the best crop. We pray that the rains are good and the harvest plentiful. We have been planting mangoes for several years now and the first ones are starting to produce fruit. It is such a blessing!
Burkina Faso is struggling at the moment both with this pandemic and also insurgents coming on motorbikes into the country and shooting at schools, churches and hospitals – anything that they identify as ‘western’. Despite this, the people desperately need our help and I am so pleased to say that this has not stopped the medical centre in Banfora from being built – the second phase is almost completed. This will provide basic medical services for the most vulnerable people in society and physiotherapy for disabled patients. In Burkina Faso the cost of medical care prevents most people getting even treatable illnesses sorted out and if they survive they are often disabled and not able to work. This clinic will be free to those with no money and cheaper than the government clinics for those who can pay something. It is so desperately needed. It will also provide mental health services, which are very limited in West Africa. People with mental health issues are stigmatized and excluded from society. This includes epileptic patients. With suitable medication these patients can live a normal life within their communities.
We are planning to send another curtain-sider lorry to Moldova next week and our medical container to Uganda, which arrived at the end of April, has finally been cleared from the port, the delays due to coronavirus.
I pray that you all stay safe during this difficult time and thank you all for your support.
It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35
I hope and pray that you are all safe during this difficult time of lockdown. Alistair is still working in Beverley 3 days a week sorting medical aid – our volunteers have all had to isolate and so he is safely on his own. We have received many offers of aid from the NHS and also from manufacturers including 200 beds. God is good even in this difficult time.
At the start of lockdown I was in Inverness babysitting my grandson so that my daughter and son-in law could both work. Now my daughter is on maternity leave and I am back in Bridlington. Meanwhile, despite our shops having to close and most of our staff are on furlough, Jacob’s Well Appeal has continued in its work and sent a container of medical aid to Ghana just after lockdown started.
Due to a generous donation from one of our supporters we have also been able to drill a borehole in Kalahi, a very poor village in Northern Ghana where we run a seedbank project. This will greatly help the community and we have also sent funds to plant mangoes in this area when the rains start –
– as well as sending funds to plant further mango trees in two poor communities that are desperate for help.
All our partners abroad are struggling with coronavirus and because of the lack of sanitation and health care they are really worried. There is no possibility of social distancing in these communities where people live day by day and have no financial security.
We also have had good news from Sierra Leone – they have received the tractors that we sent earlier this year. They are so very grateful for this generous gift from the donor and for all our supporters who make it possible for us to send this aid. You will also see they are looking smart in their safety clothes – we were able to send these after getting a large donation of this equipment which would otherwise have gone to landfill – all new and unused. We also sent medical aid for their health care clinic and educational aid.
I pray that God blesses you all and that you stay safe during this lockdown.
The strength of the righteous shall be exalted Psalm 75:10
Alistair and I travelled to Ghana in January to see the projects that Jacob’s Well Appeal have been working on. We visited several dry season farming projects, three smaller ones run by Saraha Advocates for Change (Ruby Yap and her team) using money from Ripon Rotary and a very large one of 8 acres that is run by C4C, which was supported by Skegness Rotary Club. We also have a further dry season project in Eastern Ghana which was supported by York Viking Rotary Club, which was so successful that they have helped us to expand that project further to now help 60 families in total. These projects help poor communities grow crops outside of the ‘wet’ season. Unlike the UK where it rains all the time, in Sub Saharan Africa it rains only from April/ May until October which is when the communities traditionally farm. They harvest October/ November and then live off this for the rest of the year. Often, before the rains, the food is running out. By encouraging them to grow crops through the dry season, crops such as peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, garden eggs (like aubergines but different!), onions etc they can have a much better varied diet and also hopefully enough produce to sell some at market.
The work is very hard and hot and at the moment we can only work in areas that there is already a source of water, but the communities are delighted with the results and are very keen to be part of this project. Without the training, help to buy the fencing and initial seeds as well as a pump or irrigation help they are unable to start gardening themselves. Hopefully with the initial input these projects will continue.
And our seed bank project has been so successful our partners, C4C, have had to hire warehouse space for all the sacks of corn! They will sell most of this to buy fertiliser for the communities to use at the beginning of the farming season. The rest will be used as seed. We have 150 women on this project ( helping 150 families) and the women all say thank you – ‘ with out this project we would never have known that we could also be farmers and grow crops for our families. This gives us food, helps pay to send the children to school and also pay the £4 per year government’s medical cover’. The health service is only free to pregnant women and children under 5 years of age. Everyone else has to pay £4 a year or the entire costs of treatment. This means most poor people have no medical care whatsoever.
See, I am doing a new thing! Isaiah 43:18
Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas – we were so fortunate to spend Christmas in Inverness with our family, including our grandson of 9 months. We are so thankful that we can celebrate this time of year with our family and friends. Just before Christmas, Ruby Yap our partner in Ghana visited us and was amazed at the amount of food we have and the wealth of the countryside in the UK. She has worked many years in Ghana though she comes from the Philippines. The area of Northern Ghana where she works is semi-arid and the people struggle to get a living out of the land. She was presented with an award for her ‘Impact Beyond Volunteering’ from the VSO, who paid for her trip to England. Ruby runs various projects for us including literacy projects, borehole drilling and repairs, agricultural projects and dry season farming projects.
Ruby is in the centre of this photo, taken when we visited the Shekinah Clinic in Tamale in Ghana and in the picture below, taken with one of the women who had successfully completed the literacy project and soap making training.
Alistair and I are travelling to Northern Ghana next week to visit the seed bank project and also our dry season farming projects and will also meet up with Ruby again. We will also meet with the medical staff at the regional hospital of Wa to see if we can arrange a medical container to this region of Ghana. In the district hospitals there is an acute shortage of medical items but it is difficult to get the aid into these areas due to logistical problems and issues with customs. Even slings have an expiry date on them now and the customs in the South won’t let out of date items through, even though the clinics in the North has no dressings or bandages for their patients. Given that many people have no running water and even clinics often have a plastic water tank they have to fill themselves, this creates great difficulties for everyone concerned.
After visiting Ghana we are travelling to the Gambia (on our way home!) to visit the hospital that received a container of medical aid last year. If this is successful we hope to be able to donate further aid to this country. Please pray for safe travelling for us and good health whilst we are abroad.
Now hope does not disappoint Romans 5:5
I am currently at my computer in Beverley, sat with several layers of clothing listening to thunder and rain outside. Life is so very different here in the UK. When it rains in Sierra Leone the rain is warm and when it stops you have beautiful sunshine but a lot of mud! We have had rain for several days now, there is flooding in Doncaster (not far away) and the sky is very grey and has been all day. Because of the almost constant sunshine, Sierra Leone is an excellent place for solar technology and were very fortunate to visit a charity called The Barefoot Women which trains vulnerable women to make solar lamps (basic course – 3 months), solar panels (by the end of a year) and then solar pumps (advanced course by the end of 2 years).
The photo shows some of the trainers and the solar powered lamp that the women learn to make first of all:
Sorry about the blurred photo – this shows the women learning solar technology so that they can build a solar panel.
This charity is situated at Port Loko, just outside Freetown and finds women who are disadvantaged or vulnerable – widowed, at risk of forced marriage or FGM, single mothers or dropouts. These women initially came from 33 local villages but now they come from the entire country to be in trained in solar technology. They learn to construct solar panels and solar pumps over 2 years. The training costs $1,000 per year, including food and lodging and the women do not need to be well educated but have to show good aptitude for the training and often come with no formal education.
The charity also runs income generating activities including carpentry, masonry, tailoring, bakery and cafe, soap making, welding and joinery. They have just started to build an internet cafe and also farm cashew nuts.
They deliver the bread by bicycle and below, is Nancy who started this amazing project.
We have the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ 1Cor 15:57
Whilst we were in Sierra Leone we visited the community of Moyolla-Lal-Raton in the PortoLoko district in the northern part of Sierra Leone. We had met Ahmed Fofanah in Hull before we went to Sierra Leone and he had asked us if we would visit this area. He comes from the village and is helping the communities through the Zaindriss Foundation he has set up. This is helping the community with a farming project which grows rice (100 acres) which they use to pay for fertliser for 25 communities, who then farm 25 acres each. They also plant groundnut with two women groups and the women who plant the rice for the foundation are also paid. This is helping the community but they are struggling as they have to hire a tractor.Through the great generosity of a local farmer we will be able to send them a refurbished tractor in November. Praise God!
We also visited the school that we are trying to support in this community. The children need uniforms and school materials as well as new furniture. We have been able to raise the money for uniforms for this year. They will be locally made (£1 for the fabric and £1 for the sewing) and we hope to raise money through the year by selling cards which you will be able to buy in our shops or through the office to pay for further uniforms and equipment next year.
As you can see in this picture, the junior school is not completed – the government has run out of funds and the children are all crushed into the building on the right which had only very poor wooden benches. When we send the tractors we hope to include some school equipment. We also have requested plans for the completion of the unfinished building to see if Jacob’s Well Appeal can help.
When we visit these places everyone is always so happy that someone is interested in them and wants to help. When you visit though it is very hard because sometimes it seems that the problems are overwhelming and we can only do so little. But each time God makes things happen and if everyone does their little it can amount to so very much. Thank you for all your support – it really makes a difference.
My God shall be my strength Isaiah 49:5
Whilst in Sierra Leone we visited many exciting projects that were bringing help into desperate situations. One of these was the Browne-Penn Special Education School, set up by Alice Brown and Mary Penn-Timity. Mary comes from Hull, having left Sierra Leone as a child due to the civil war. She returned only recently to her homeland and is working at the university lecturing in Social Work. Here she met Alice who is from the USA. They were quickly aware that there is no provision for mentally (or physically) disabled children. They are not valued in this culture and parents are encouraged to ‘return’ the children to the jungle – in other words leave them to die in the wild. They are seen as a curse on the family and neighbours which is why no one wants a school for disabled children to be build near them. If some one such as a politician has a disabled child then the community will accuse him/her of using black magic to get to their high position at the expense of the health of the child. In this difficult culture Mary and Alice have started a school in Freetown, the capital city and a day centre in Makeni, the largest town in the Northern Provence.
The school and day centre are wonderful places where the children are helped to express themselves with trained staff. There is a medical attendant who examines and accesses each child and the communities are gradually accepting the children. Jacob’s Well Appeal had sent the school some medical equipment on the container including sit-on-scales and an examination couch. We were also able to take some electronic tablets when we visited which had been generously donated. These are very useful for the school as some on the children are unable to write with a pencil and can use the tablets instead.
The school is now struggling with lack of space and Mary and Alice have recently been given some land by the government to build a purpose built building. We hope to be able to help them as they expand.