Archive for October, 2009

Light for Children July 09′ Report

October 15, 2009

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14 August 2009

Light for Children July ‘09 Report

Ghana in the news: Ghana’s economy receives $600m boost from the IMF

On 17 July it was announced that Ghana is to get a $600m three-year loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – an organisation that oversees the global financial system and offers loans to developing countries.  The loan has been agreed amid concerns about the impact of the economic recession on developing countries.

In general the Ghanaian economy has proved “relatively resilient” to the economic downturn, as it is supported by the high prices of cocoa and gold. Ghana is the world’s second-biggest cocoa producer, Africa’s second-biggest gold exporter, and is also set to become the continent’s newest oil producer.

However, the IMF noted that Ghana has been hit recently by high food and fuel prices, and that the main political parties – the NDC and NPP – spent heavily before last year’s highly contested elections.

The IMF recommends the current NDC Government reduces its budget deficit and supports its currency by strengthening tax collection, keeping the public sector wage bill under control and avoiding large subsidies for petrol and utility bills. Unfortunately, if this advice is followed, it will likely mean higher electricity and fuel bills for Ghanaians in the near term.

On the topic of oil (600 million barrels discovered offshore by Tullow Oil in 2007) Takatoshi Kato, the IMF’s deputy managing director, said that the revenues expected to be received in 2011 could potentially bring Ghana into middle income status.

But he added: “The horizon for oil production could prove relatively short, and it will be important that the new revenues be used wisely.”

Peter Allum, the IMF’s mission chief to Ghana said, “The income from oil will make some differences to living standards in Ghana but not of a magnitude that you can afford to use it imprudently, and you need very strong budget mechanisms to make sure that money ends up in programmes where money is needed.”

Analysts fear that Ghana may fall prey to the “resource curse” – where an influx of money from oil can deter countries from diversifying into other economic sectors, and in countries where institutions are weak and governance poor, oil riches can also exacerbate corruption. Poverty and corruption are rife in oil producers such as Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and Angola.

However, if Ghana’s record for good governance, as emphasised by US President Barrack Obama’s recent visit, continues, there is no reason why the IMF loan and oil discovery can’t propel Ghana into a new phase of economic progress.

July activities for Light for Children

July has been one of the busiest and most exciting months of the year so far for Light for Children. A combination of new arrivals, familiar faces and steady progress has made for extremely positive atmosphere in the city!

New arrivals

On 1 July British volunteer Kirsten and two Swedish volunteers, Elsa Ankar and Amanda Lundquist, arrived in Kumasi. Elsa and Amanda will be working at the Mampong babies home – an orphanage situated near the village of Nsuta, around 1 ½ hours outside of Kumasi.

On 7 July seventeen (yes, seventeen!) students from Hong Kong University and other universities in China arrived under the supervision of Ada, a past Hong Kong University volunteer. The students took part in an orientation session at the conference centre of the Kumasi Metro Health office on 8 July.

Volunteer Mareike from Germany rounded of this month’s arrivals on 18 July.

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Monthly socialisation meeting

Light for Children’s monthly socialization meeting was held on 11 July. All volunteers, including the 17 new arrivals were in attendance. Misaki Asari, the JICA volunteer, made beads with some of the clients and they were sold to the new volunteers.

International co-operation

On 10 July the Light for Children team met with the school authorities of two senior high schools in Kumasi and Jachie Pramso – Yaa Asantewaa Girls Senior High School and Jachie Pramso Senior High School. The meeting was held to discuss the possibility of providing additional lectures in physics and mathematics online, through Hong Kong University

The 16 July saw a visit by the Japanese International Co-operation Agency coordinator to the Light for Children office to discuss co-operation issues. Present at the meeting were Yaw, Light for Children co-founder and director, Mike, Light for Children coordinator as well as volunteer Misaki Asari.

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Mobilise Against Malaria (MAM)

A meeting of MAM stakeholders took place on 30 July. At the meeting, roles to be played by stakeholders like L.C.’s, sub metros, civil societies, etc were made known to other members and stakeholders.

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The same day, posters and other learning materials donated by Swedish volunteer Tove and her friends, were presented to the Islamic school and orphanage at Aboaso.

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Our group of Chinese student volunteers prepared to leave Ghana on18 July, and were treated to a send off party by their host mother who was also celebrating her birthday at the same time.

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What Took You So Long.org?

On 20 July, Sebastian Lindstrom (Light for Children co-founder and director) arrived with a group of young people who make up part of the worldwide What Took You So Long movement.

The What Took You So Long Foundation is a movement to aid grass-roots NGOs in Africa that have no previous international exposure. Throughout the summer Sebastian and his young travellers (including a documentary film maker and photographer), have been trekking across Africa by local means, meeting workers and founders of ground level NGO’s. The aim is that during the trip, information, knowledge and skills can be shared, and upon the groups’ return, that the work being done can be reviewed and supported by sustainable development experts and international donors.

On 21 July the group visited Amankwaddai, a local village where Light for Children intends to build its own orphanage with the help of volunteers.  The team presented a selection of gifts and daily use items to children of the village and met with community leaders to discuss plans.

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The 22 July saw the group take part in an activity day at Divine International School at Abuakwa Maakro. Members of the group gave Light for Children’s Journey of Hope presentation on HIV and life choices, then played a football game with the school team

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Light for Children June 09′ Report

October 8, 2009

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22nd of July 2009

Light for Children June 09’ Report

Obama stresses good governance is key

Written by Rhianydd Griffith, LIFOC volunteer)

After much anticipation Barack Obama has delivered his first speech in sub-Saharan Africa as US President. Mr Obama arrived in Accra late on 10 July, fresh from the G8 summit in Italy where heads of state agreed on a $20bn (£12.3bn) fund to bolster agriculture – the main source of income for many sub-Saharan Africans

The importance of Obama’s visit has been articulated no better than by the man himself who stated on arrival “I have come here to Ghana for a simple reason. The 21st Century will be shaped by what happens not just in Rome or Moscow or Washington, but by what happens in Ghana as well.”   And in Accra, Obama stood in front of assembled legislators and the gathered crowd to deliver a momentous message, not only praising Ghana’s progress, governance and economic growth but including the positive statement that Africa is in charge of its own destiny.

Focusing on internal development, Obama identified democracy, opportunity, health and the peaceful resolution of conflict as four key areas critical to the future of Africa and of the entire developing world. He emphatically stated that “Development depends upon good governance,” and highlighted to legislators that, “That is the ingredient which has been missing in far too many places, for far too long. And that is a responsibility that can only be met by Africans.”  Speaking to Africans as a whole, Obama said “You have the power to hold your leaders accountable, and to build institutions that serve the people,” emphasising that although the West can assist with aid and infrastructure, it is African governments who really need to step up and take charge of progress.

Nowhere in Africa has a population’s democratic power been exercised more clearly than in Ghana. An Obama spokesperson described Ghana as a thriving democracy and a truly admirable example of a place where governance is getting stronger. In such a country Obama indicated that the purpose of foreign assistance must be to create the conditions where it is no longer needed. His speech has been seen as a strong and inspirational message to Ghana that change will come, but will be most effective when made from the inside and out.

June Activities for Light for Children

New Arrivals

Light for Children has seen another stream of new faces this month as the Western summer (and Ghanaian rainy season!) begins.

On 3rd June Heather Whyte arrived from Canada. Throughout the month, Heather has been working at a small medical lab in Nsutta – a village roughly 40 minutes from central Kumasi. As well as her lab technician work, Heather has also been taking part in an outreach program within the local community where she has used her medical background to help track babies’ growth, vaccinations and vitamin A.

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On 8th June four students from Hong Kong University touched down in Accra. The students took part in orientation sessions and a workshop arranged by the LIFOC team at the KMA conference hall on 10th, 11th and 15th June. Four more HKU students – Crystal, Jonnie, Kat and Elise – arrived on the 18th demonstrating that LIFOC’s long term relationship with the University remains strong. All students have been working at a local school helping Light for Children with its teaching and presenting activities.

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On 22nd of June Crystal, Jonnie, Kat and Elise took part in an orientation at the LIFOC office with Ben, LIFOC’s ninth and final new volunteer from Hong Kong. This was followed on 23rd June by the orientation of 6 Swedish volunteers who completed LIFOC’s new arrivals group this month and have been working at Missionaries of Charity “New Life Home” – a home for disabled and/or abandoned children and adults.

Maternal and child health

On 18th June the LIFOC team attended a regional health forum organised by the the Ashanti Regional Coalition of NGOs at the SSNIT Conference Hall.

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The forum was on ‘Maternal health: Concern for all, the role of civil society organisations’ and was in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service. The vision and mission of the Coalition is to build a strong and dynamic ‘Civil Society Umbrella’ Organization that will contribute to building Ghana free of diseases and ill health and to positively influence health policy. Some of the specific intervention areas of Coalition mentioned were community mobilization information, education and communication on health, sexual reproductive health, maternal and child care, HIV/AIDS, malaria and many others.

Dr Joseph Oduro, Deputy Director of Public Heath G.H.S. in the Region said maternal and child health are two important indicators used to determine the level of development in the country and that not only NGO’s, but other groups such as media broadcasters, the police and traditional leaders should contribute to addressing the problems.

Socialisation Meeting

Light for Children’s monthly socialization meeting took place at the Cultural Center on the 20th June.

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Most children and caregivers on the LIFOC programme attended, and the children had a great time interacting with our new volunteers

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Light for Children May 09′ Report

October 8, 2009

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Light for Children May 09’ Report

Why Obama is coming to Ghana

Written by Rhianydd griffith, LIFOC UK-Coordinator (rhi@hotmail.com)

President Obama has worked quickly since he entered office. However after almost four months as America’s first African-American President, he had yet to arrange one of the most widely anticipated trips of his early term. That is, until on 16 May the White House passed over Kenya, where Obama’s late father was from, in favour of Ghana when it confirmed it as the destination of his first presidential visit to sub-Saharan Africa.

Obama will travel to Accra on 10 July for an overnight stay at the end of a trip to Russia and Sardinia. The visit will surely attract global attention – not least because of the President’s  selection of Ghana as the nation of choice. Mr Obama’s advisers concluded that a year after Kenya exploded in political violence, it remains tense and an unsettled place. Ghana, by contrast, is an outpost of democracy.  A White House spokesman says “The President and Mrs. Obama look forward to strengthening the U.S. relationship with one of our most trusted partners in sub-Saharan Africa, and to highlighting the critical role that sound governance and civil society play in promoting lasting development”

When the President steps out into Accra this summer, it promises to be a moment of enormous historic and symbolic resonance – one by which both Ghanaians and westerners can be inspired. In certain ways President Obama’s situation mirrors that of Ghana’s. He is a President that represents change, libralism, progression and reason. But considering America’s economic troubles and damaged foreign policy, he has a mountain to climb before he can transform the “change” that dominated his campaign into a reality.

Similarly Ghana has been singled out in Africa as a country that has potential, particulary since its charactarisation by many as a mature democracy,  a phrase used to describe a country that has had not just one — but two — successful handovers of power from one legitimately elected leader to another. Most of the nations in Africa have unfortunately flunked this test.  Over the past four years, foreign investment has grown over twentyfold from around $100 million in 2004 to $2.6 billion this year, according to Rosa Whitaker, a former Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa who now advises the government.

But like Obama, it is impossible to forget that Ghana has a mountain to climb before the country can come even close to beating disease, eliminating corruption and achieving its coveted middle-income status.  Despite the economic growth, the average Ghanaian earns just $3.80 a day and dies before the age of 60. Much of the country has no reliable water or electricity and many of its children live as orphans. “If you think Ghana is doing so well, then hand me your British or American passport and I’ll hand you mine,” quips Kwesi Aning, an expert on politics who heads a department at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre.

So considering Ghana’s almost precarious position, soon to be bathed in the light of President Obama’s visit, the essential question is; can Ghana keep on climbing?

And the answer, of course, is “Yes she can!”

May Activities for Light for Children

Written by Mike Owusu, co-founder / Programme coordinator (inlawp5@yahoo.com)

New Arrivals

Light for Children has had the pleasure of welcoming 5 new faces this month. Sunday 3rd May saw the arrival of Swedish volunteer Theresa Aronsson, closely followed by JICA volunteer Misaki Asari from Japan on 4th of May.

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On the 5th Light for Children welcomed a second volunteer from Sweden in the person of Patricia Fortes Da Cruz. On 11th May, Kwame Nkrumah from the University of Science and Technology arrived to begin a three months placement and finally volunteer Fung Tung from Hong Kong touched down on 14th May – the first day his Ghanaian experience.

The fighting malaria movement continues

This month saw Light for Children continue its commitment to the Mobilise Against Malaria movement. On 12th May, Light for Children director Mike and co-founder Yaw, took part in a full day of education sessions on malaria which took place throughout the the Atonsu – Agogo community. Although most members of the community are aware of the dangers of malaria, there is unfortunately still a minority who are  unsure of the facts surrounding the disease.   The day was followed by an education about malaria gathering at the Atonsu Sawmill on 13th May.  Following these  revealing sessions, the Light for Children team is  even more focused on reaching those most in need of education on malaria treatment and prevention.

Light for Children has also continued its initiative to raise awareness of sexual assault in young people. On 15h May, 2009, volunteer Fung Tung joined Light for Children assistant Cecilia in giving a presentation on Child Assault at Swift Academy.

Another presentation on Child assault took place at Solid Hope Academy at Asokwa on 20th May. Following the presentations, the team returned to the Academies later in the month to collect assignments done by the children, on what they had learned during the presentations. Awards were presented to the pupils who did the best assignments in order to add to their enthusiasm and memory.

Light Children’s monthly socialization meeting  for HIV positive children and their carers took place, as usual, at Kumasi Cultural Center on the 16th May. Many of the children are progressing well on their anti retro viral medication

Light for Children has continued to act to reduce the stigma surrounding HIV and to promote positive life choices this month.

Light for Children’s Journey of Hope presentation was given at Arising Star, Gyinyase on the 22nd of May, and on the 30th, the team branched further into the community with an HIV presentation to Susanna Wesley Auxiliary Group of Atonsu Emmanuel Methodist Church about the social cost of HIV infection, stigma and other related issues.

The end of the month meant time to say goodbye and good luck to Canadian volunteer Kirsten, who was given a certificate of achievement after three months with Light for Children.