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
As we are rapidly approaching Christmas have a thought for our valiant volunteers working in our warehouse. It is very cold at the moment and they are struggling to keep warm. We have plans to site two porta-cabins, one either side of the warehouse, so that the medical sorters can be in one and the volunteers who sort clothes and bric-a-brac can be in the other one. We will be able to heat these much more successfully than the warehouse at present. Those of you who get our Newsletter will know that through their hard work and that of all our volunteers and supporters we have filled and sent 11 containers this year. Thank you to everyone!
Alistair and I were very fortunate to visit Burkina Faso in November – no WiFi available throughout our stay! Sometimes no electricity and occasionally no water. We visited the partly built hospital in Ouagadougou and we hope that we may be able to help them to finish the area that will become the mother’s and baby unit. At the moment up to 4 women give birth at any one time in a small room, certainly no bigger than my old consulting room.
We also visited a fruit tree plantation of 77 trees. This was 4 kilometers away from the nearest water supply, which meant that the community watered the trees by donkey cart. Despite this the trees were healthy and doing well. Such hard work in extreme heat is very impressive!
We also visited the ABC school in Bobo which is going from strength to strength. One of our generous donors had paid for solar panels (very needed as the new computer suite drains the current panels in 30 minutes) and for a new well on land the school had recently bought.
We were very fortunately to be able to go and see them drill the well. It took about 5 hours for them to drill with a truck which had cost the firm £500,000! This is why wells are so expensive. If you look closely at the picture you can just see the water coming up!
The ABC school plans to teach agricultural skills to their pupils. They will encourage the pupils to plant and harvest throughout the year, instead of the traditional way of planting only with the rains. As Burkina Faso relies heavily on its farming this will make a great impact for their communities. They will also teach the children about rearing animals and hope to be able to start a chicken farm – anyone like to buy them a chicken for Easter?
Lift up your eyes, look around and see. Isaiah 49:18
Alistair and I, along with Bridget our office manager and Chris, one of our medical volunteers, were delighted to attend a function at the Hull Eye Hospital last week. The event, A Sight to Behold, was part of the Hull City of Culture and was the unveiling of a sculpture at the hospital. Part of the sculpture is a collection box for donated old/unused spectacles, aiming to create a legacy from the project. We had been invited to the event because the project will be donating these spectacles to Jacob’s Well Appeal, so that we can distribute them overseas. We were so grateful they had included us in this. These glasses are invaluable to those who can not otherwise afford them, giving them the gift of sight.
Bridget with the donated spectacles and the unveiling of the sculpture
We have just completed filling our first container to Somaliland. This is the northern region of Somalia which was once a British protectorate. We are working with a charity that was formed by British people with family members living in the region. This is a very poor area of the world with very limited medical facilities. Alistair and I are aware that we may have to visit before sending a further container, which will be quite an experience.
We are now looking forward to going to Burkina Faso next month. We are visiting our partners in Ouagadougou to work out how to help them with the hospital they are building and also to try to plan the setting up of an agricultural college. As we know nothing about agriculture we are going with two of our volunteers who were farmers, along with a school nurse and our main fund raiser. We will also be visiting the school we support in Bobo-dioulasso, Burkina’s second largest city, as well as several fruit tree projects. We are also hoping to co-ordinate a seed bank project. Please pray for the teams’ safety and success in our endeavours!
Every good tree bears good fruit – Matthew 7:17
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.
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.
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.