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 Children  Ghana Project #4027

End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana

by Self-Help International
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
Paul (left) and Akwasi (right) in January 2015
Paul (left) and Akwasi (right) in January 2015

In rural Ghana, quite a number of children spend time idle at home or with their parents on their farms rather than in school. The importance of formal education has still not dawned on most parents within Beposo community in the Atwima Mponua District despite the nationwide push for primary education.

Esther and Simon have been married for seven years and have four children; Eric, Paul, Akwasi and Monica aged 5, 4, 3 and 1.5 years respectively. They are subsistence farmers growing maize, cassava, and plantain in Beposo.

Eric is in kindergarten (KG) 2 at Beposo D/A Basic School while Paul is in KG1 at Beposo Islamic Basic School. For unexplained reasons, Akwasi does not attend school and suffers from malnourishment, loneliness and lack of necessary parental care.

Akwasi wanted to be in school just like his elder brothers, Eric and Paul, but unfortunately, he was left alone in the house and sometimes wandered through the Beposo community while his parents worked on their farms. There were times his elder brother, Paul, would sacrifice going to school to keep him company. Akwasi would occasionally sneak in and join his brother Paul in the KG1 classroom despite the displeasure of the teachers since he was not enrolled. Yet each time he went to school, he was sure of a nutritious cup of QPM porridge.

In February 2015, SHI intervened and Akwasi was enrolled at Beposo Islamic Basic School. He is happy going to school to learn and making friends. His teachers tell SHI he never misses school and one of the things he enjoys is the QPM porridge.

Thanks to four months of eating a nutritious daily meal of QPM porridge at the school feeding program, Akwasi has shown significant improvement in his health and confidence.                

Esther and Simon have openly expressed their appreciations to SHI, especially, the staff in charge of the quality protein maize feeding program for renewing their thoughts and restoring their confidence in their son Akwasi (“Yaw” for short). They have awakened to the fact that Yaw is not different from the other children and with the needed parental care and guidance he will grow to become a responsible adult to take care of them in their old age. Akwasi has since received a school uniform and a backpack and the family is happier than before.

Akwasi ("Yaw") in February 2015
Akwasi ("Yaw") in February 2015
A healthier Yaw, 4 months on the feeding program
A healthier Yaw, 4 months on the feeding program
An appreciative & healthier family
An appreciative & healthier family

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Children line up to get their meals
Children line up to get their meals

Bedaabour is a farming community in rural Ghana with about 1,000 people. They are mostly farmers growing cocoa, rice and vegetables. It has no electricity but is blessed with one borehole as a water source. Like many rural communities, pupils rarely stay in school beyond Junior High, partly attributed to economic hardship, low enrollment and poor attendance. Parents are usually unable to pay school fees regularly, to provide breakfast regularly, or to purchase the school supplies to sustain their children’s interest in learning.

In January 2014, Bedaabour Islamic Basic School became a beneficiary of the Self-Help International (SHI) School Feeding Program, which provides breakfast prepared from Quality Protein Maize for school children. Both the parents and teachers have since supported the program relentlessly. In March 2014, the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) cultivated one acre of maize (corn) to ensure the school had a regular supply of maize for the breakfast porridge. The PTA has resolved to grow maize yearly.

In addition to maize, the school plans to have an acre of rice to feed the increasing number of pupils in 2015.

Initially, the school had no proper kitchen and cooking was done under a wooden shed; flies and dust were major distractions, a situation which affected food quality and pupils’ health. Due to the poor roof, cooking was halted whenever it rained. With Self-Help’s support, the school has constructed a new kitchen. Self-Help also provided health and hygiene education to the volunteer who prepares the daily meals, lessons she has shared with the students, including information regarding hand washing.

The feeding program has directly contributed to increased student enrollment and improved daily school attendance. Enrollment at pre-school and kindergarten grades increased by 13% from 87 students to 99 students, necessitating the construction of an additional classroom.

With improved enrollment and attendance, the need for a latrine became extremely urgent. The PTA has provided the school a temporal latrine. Provision of a latrine coupled with proper hand wash has brought about significant improvement in pupils’ health. Sicknesses related absenteeism has reduced. In the past, pupils would run home to answer nature’s call and would not return for the rest of the day. These cases have stopped now that students can answer the call at school.

In a country where corruption among political leaders is rife, it is gratifying to observe that through the Feeding Program, people of Bedaabour, especially parents and teachers of the Islamic Basic School, have exhibited patriotism, communal and ‘can do’ spirit, something which have eluded many Ghanaians.

Your donations, which brought the school feeding program to Bedaadbour, has helped this community come together in support of its children. Thank you for your generostiy.

Old kitchen
Old kitchen
New Kitchen
New Kitchen
Happy kiddos at the Beddabour Islamic School
Happy kiddos at the Beddabour Islamic School

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Sugar, cups, spoons, baskets from SHI
Sugar, cups, spoons, baskets from SHI

Fankamawe, a rural community in Ghana has no electricity or pipe borne water. There is one bore hole serving the entire community of 300 people. They are predominantly farmers and the women do palm oil processing to earn additional income for their family upkeep.

Fankamawe is 4 km (about 2.5 miles) from the district capital, Nkawie. The road to the community is not tarred and very dusty, especially, in the dry season. There are no vehicles plying this road regularly so people trek to get basic supplies from the capital. It has no school and children must travel 8 km (about 5 miles) daily to and from school in Nkawie. It is difficult for children under six years of age to trek this far to school and as a result they stay at home all day and this deny their mothers the much needed time to focus on their jobs. The children play most of the time in a dusty environment; a condition conducive for worm infestation.

A school being built by the government for the community is taking much longer than expected to complete. A three-classroom block started by the government in 2009 is not finished and it does not look like it will be done anytime soon.

In February 2014, Self-Help International (SHI) staff visited Fankamawe and discussed challenges confronting the people and possible remedial measures. After subsequent visits and discussions, Fankamawe now has a school for the children under six years of age in the community. There are three female volunteers on whose shoulders the school rests; Alima, Zuwera and Safinatu. Zuwera is the teacher while Alima and Safinatu are the caterers. It is worth noting that the response by the community to start a school that would provide breakfast for the children every morning was unprecedented. Almost instantly they provided maize needed to feed the children for a whole school term.

The QPM breakfast is attracting children from neighboring villages and school enrollment is increasing progressively. Enrollment has increased from 28 pupils on Nov. 3, 2014 to 35 on Dec. 17, 2014.

As the children continue to attend and stay in school, they acquire knowledge, stay healthier, and their parents have ample time to focus on their jobs raising the necessary income for proper care of their families.

Your donations, which brought the school feeding program to Fankamawe, have made the difference in encouraging this community to better invest in their children. Thank you for your ongoing support!

Pupils attend classes in the incomplete building
Pupils attend classes in the incomplete building
Maize supplied by the community
Maize supplied by the community
One of the community meetings at Fankamawe
One of the community meetings at Fankamawe
Zuwera serving children breakfast
Zuwera serving children breakfast

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Children sing QPM koko song
Children sing QPM koko song

Yesterday I visited the community of Kontomire to see first-hand how the QPM feeding program is progressing after one year of operation.  The journey began early, with a 90 minute drive from the office to the rural village.  The final 6 miles involved a lot of bumping and jostling as Benjamin, Self-Help’s country director in Ghana, deftly navigated around the gaping holes in the road that would have taken the truck out of commission for a day or more.  He noted that this community was particularly grateful for Self-Help’s support, since few NGOs would be willing to work with such a remote community due to the challenges of transportation.  As we turned on to that final stretch, Bridget climbed in with her infant son Fifi to join us for the rest of the journey.  Bridget is a junior high school teacher, but due to lack of residential housing at the school, she commutes more than an hour to work each school day if she pays for a taxi, or longer if she goes by food on the treacherous road.

Upon our arrival in Kontomire, we met with the teachers, who shared that the program is “an immense benefit” because it helps them to relate to kids, and for that they are very grateful.  The main challenge is that the program depends heavily on the willingness of the parents and community members to donate QPM. To address this challenge, the community secured a ½ acre plot to cultivate QPM, and harvested 1 ½ of the 5 bags of QPM needed for the school year. They are also working with the chief to secure an additional ½ acre plot along the edge of the school grounds for the teachers and junior high students to cultivate for an additional maize supply. They would like to extend the feeding program beyond the KG1, KG2, and class 1 up through the junior high school, but understand that the feasibility depends on a consistent supply of maize. 

After the meeting, we spoke with the caterer, Auntie Nana, who prepares the QPM porridge each morning – called “koko” locally.  She said that before the feeding programs were started, many children reported sick and went home.  But now that they are eating daily, their “sicknesses” – more likely actually hunger pains – have subsided, allowing them to spend more time in the classroom and attentive. The enclosed kitchen where she prepares the porridge was built by the community with material contributions from Self-Help, and is well-maintained.

Then began the main event: an assembly of the entire community in which the chief, head teacher, country director and I all addressed the community, recognizing how much progress has been made in our partnership, and challenging the parents to continue to support the program. Despite some wonderfully drumming between talks and lots of joyous song and dance, the highlight for me was when Mavis, Victoria, Yaa Angel, and Serwaa, student beneficiaries, sang about koko (the local term for the QPM porridge):  

Go, go, go
Go to school
And eat koko
QPM
Koko is sweet!
Koko is sweet!
Koko is sweet!

Another student, Mariama gave a speech of appreciation to SHI for offering free QPM breakfast for the past year.  Then a group of students enacted a play recounting the true story from a few months ago in which community members who didn't understand the QPM program went to the Headmaster with false accusations about the program, he clarified about the benefits of QPM and confirmed that the program really is free, and, once on the same page, everyone agreed that the program was in fact very worthwhile. Then the head teacher, Emmanuel, appealed to the community to provide the school with more chairs for students in class 1.  The grade is more congested this year due to increased enrollment associated with the introduction of the feeding program last year – a very good problem to have.

Finally, the chief appealed to Self-Help for continued assistance in building a library and information communication technology (ICT) center in the coming year, since the community has recently gained electricity.  This heightened interest in children’s education is new and an exciting sign of the community’s dedication to their children’s success.  An appropriate building has already been identified, so Benjamin and I agreed that if the community continues to demonstrate support for the QPM feeding program by consistently donating the necessary maize, we would set about working to provide assistance in filling the ICT center/library with computers and books.

Your donations, which brought the feeding program to Kontomire in the first place, have made the difference in encouraging this community to better invest in their children.  Thank you for your ongoing support!

Auntie Nana, caterer, serves students QPM porridge
Auntie Nana, caterer, serves students QPM porridge
Woman answers call to support community programs
Woman answers call to support community programs

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Enrollment has increased since the program began.
Enrollment has increased since the program began.

It is a common practice for schools to have Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs). Such associations exist to meet and plan together with the school board. It is however uncommon for members of the association to come together and work with their hands. The feeding program in most participating communities is helping to change the trend. Parents now come together and farm to make sure there is a regular supply of maize to support the program. A member of the Kontomire PTA, John, tells Self-Help the school farm has helped to strengthen communal spirit; parents are getting to know each other much better. He hopes that it extends to the larger community to encourage implementation of community projects like construction of latrines and safe drinking water sources. Projects like these will help reduce the incidents of disease and illness.

John recounted the commitment with which the association rallied behind the idea of building a kitchen for the school. The kitchen is needed to make sure the cooking is done in a safe and hygienic environment, and without any disruption from rains. Construction is ongoing but they now have a roof and some protection from the rain.

The community tells SHI they have seen improvement in school enrollment, especially among Kindergarten 1 (KG1) and Kindergarten 2 (KG2), and Class 1. Enrollment increased from 139 in term two to 158 in term three representing a growth of 13 percent. More children now attend school. The challenge to provide breakfast for children before going to school is being addressed by the feeding program and relieves parents of worry.

In June 2014, SHI interviewed two KG1 children; Janet and Victoria, both six-years-old.

Janet eats breakfast before going to school but her friend Victoria goes to school each morning on an empty stomach. Both of them eat the QPM breakfast SHI provides. Janet says the food makes her strong while Victoria says she is able to concentrate on her studies much better. Victoria and children like her would not go to school without the feeding program. The feeding program has contributed to increased enrollment and attendance and helps less fortunate children like Victoria.

Increased enrollment, though positive has exposed another weakness in the school; infrastructure. The school does not have enough classrooms and furniture to cater for the growing number of children in the community who want to go to school. However, with the growing enthusiasm and spirit in the community, the possibility of the community coming together to build more classrooms could be a reality.

Your support has helped this community, and others like it, come together to provide food for their children. Thank you for your donation.

Janet, age 6
Janet, age 6
Victoria, age 6
Victoria, age 6

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Self-Help International

Location: Waverly, IA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @SelfHelpIntl
Project Leader:
Nora Tobin
Waverly, Iowa United States
$38,090 raised of $43,000 goal
 
692 donations
$4,910 to go
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