Helping the forgotten children of Ghana
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[ E-MAIL ME IN GHANA: tphelps@daystarbotanicals.com ]
 
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     June - July, 2007: Blessings from Africa! I know the postings are rather infrequent, but it isn't often that I have opportunity to go to the internet cafe. And sometimes when I go the electricity is off, so nothing can be accomplished. However, I am now working on a Visa extension through the Immigration Services in Accra, so I have the resources of a very decent cafe´ called "BusyInternet".
Gladys is studying hard
at our L.O.T. Primary School.


     Last month we were in the midst of a typhoid fever epidemic here at the Home. We had 5 children struggling with it—some were very sick. I had some of the children tested who were symptomatic. One of my "hats" is that of the Home's doctor, so I take care of their medications and treatments the best I can, not knowing the local plant remedies—but I am learning a few. We do have plenty of garlic, ginger, onion, and papaya leaves, which I've learned are boiled in a tea and used as a cure-all. If bitterness is an indication of potency, then "pawpaw" leaves should be very effective. One Monday, I took 3 children to the hospital. We waited for 4 hours before we saw any kind of healthcare worker. The place was in horible condition and very crowded with all manner of sick people. Once seen, our children were never checked by a doctor, never had a chest x-ray, and the nurse never even listened to their lung sounds, and yet she was very quick to write many prescriptions for drugs. I told her that I truly thought one of the children had typhoid, but all she was going to treat was the child's cough. Finally, I begged them to test her, and indeed, she was positive for typhoid. This little girl had been so very sick and had now developed pneumonia as a latent effect of the typhoid. She was also vomitting severely. On top of it, too many of these children and staff have malaria as well, causing them chronic pain and sickness. Anyway, I was finally able to get the necessary medication for the typhoid. Actually, I have found a pharmacy where I can get the herbals and medications with no prescription at all. I just pray I don't get any of these terrible diseases myself.
     (UPDATE: July 19—Since writing this original posting I have gotten very sick, with extreme weakness, severe coughing, terrible dizziness and delirium, pain all over the body, blinding headache, high fever and chills with soaking sweats, no appetite, and occasional vomitting. After weeks of the coughing and now being confined by weakness to the bed, our workers insisted on driving me to the hospital for some blood tests and chest x-ray. I was in a horrible state and was seen right away. The results are that I not only have pneumonia, but the dreaded malaria parasite as well! Refusing to be admitted to the hospital, I was taken back home. It seems my weight is now 62 kg—just 137 lbs.—and I have been so weak that I haven't been able to get out of bed without assistance. I am taking a 7-day course of Amoxycillin 1 Gm twice daily and three powerful malaria drugs that make me feel even worse. I despise using these drugs, but I really don't know what else to do, under these circumstances. Earlier this week the workers thought they were going to lose me as I was so very sick and weak. They have stayed with me day and night. I am so grateful for their care and support. Other than LifeForce, a few pieces of orange and banana are all that I've been able to eat each day for nearly two-weeks now. I've never felt such weakness in my life. Malaria is a trial that I had prayed the Lord would not lay upon me as I know that it can be very serious and must be endured for the remainder of ones life. Meanwhile, I will offer updates of my condition when I can. Of course, when I finally post this I will have to be well enough to travel to the internet cafe´.)
On our farm we have acres of yams, cassava, corn,
and of course, pineapple.

     One bright Sunday last month we finally had the opportunity to go somewhere other than the market or immigration services—we went to the coast to an area appropriately called "Cape Coast", about three hours away. The Cape Coast Castle, a "World Heritage Site", was a main port for transferring slaves from all over Africa to Europe, the Carribean and the Americas. It was a horrible place with tiny dungeons and prison cells where they were kept until the ships arrived. They were treated like animals and many died there before the ships even arrived. We took three of our children on this trip so they could learn about the history of this place.
     Afterward, we actually found a nice restaurant with a fine buffet. Our children had never dined in a public place and displayed a general lack of etiquette due to being brought up in a mud-hut village, and now in our Children's Home—where meals take on a bit of a "boarding house" feel. We tried to make a few corrections and teach them some proper points of etiquette, but I'm not sure they really learned very much. It was obvious they had never seen so many varieties of food in one place before. It was a good experience for them. BTW, "manners" is an area that we are trying to address back at the home.
Joe braves the canopy walk
at Kakum National Park.

     Being full of good food, we took a 45 minute drive up into the rain forest of the Kakum National Park, where they have many animals in the wild, including more than 300 elephants. The highlight was crossing 120 feet above the ground in the forest canopy along a rope-style bridge. The children were frightened at first, but they inched along trying not to shake the bridge too much. From this vantage point we could see monkeys and birds in the trees and an amazing view of the surrounding area. Our guide was a botanist, so he told us all about the various trees in the forest and their uses. Many of them had medicinal values. It was so nice to get away for a little while as we have all been exhausted and weary from our work, and needed a brief reprieve.
     Usually on Sabbath mornings I like walk down the path to the village with the children, about a mile, to go to church. But, this past week I opted to spend some time with my dear Mother. After the children had already gone, the two of us went for a little stroll down that same path. Along the way I showed her some of the mango trees, a couple of orange trees, and a cashew tree. It appeared, however, to be completely barren of fruit, except that we found two beautiful peices of cashew fruit hanging at shoulder level at the very back of the tree. What a treat and a blessing. We were like two kids who had discovered precious treasure. I took some pictures of the beautiful sight, then picked them, and later, ate the succulant fruit. It was rather sour, but very juicy. The nut hangs onto the end of the apple-like fruit. Very unusual.
The precious cashew fruit.

     There are also a wide variety of birds here in Africa, from soaring hawks, hovering hummingbirds, late night owls, and brightly arrayed field birds. Some of them have rather unusual calls that I cannot begin to describe. Each morning at 5:30 there is one who seranades us with a cheerful "chip-chip-or-will". What's quite funny is that sometimes he seems to forget his lines and gets the song all turned around. We have a number of hawk couples who live very near as they can be seen hunting for small prey over the fields surrounding our Home. There is also a rather unique specimen with a very long forked tail that follows behind rather gracefully when in flight.
One of the many colorful varieties
of birds that frequent our fields.

     Driving in Ghana, especially in and around the capital city of Accra, is a risky proposition. In traffic it is everyone for themselves with very little courtesy ever shown. Taxis and "tro tros" are switching lanes constantly and often there are five rows of vehicles attempting to occupy just three lanes of road space. "Round abouts" or traffic circles pose an even greater challenge as many roads empty their bumper-to-bumper traffic into one central "malfunction junction", as I've been known to call them. Our local workers who've travelled with me into Accra have awarded me an "honorary tro tro license" for my ability to manuver through the congestion. Needless to say, driving here isn't like a relaxing Sunday outing through the beautiful Virginia countryside.
     On any given day back at our Home, when not in the classroom, the children love to come into my room to read the many books that are ready for their enjoyment. Most are books about animals and nature and some are Bible story books. They will spend hours looking at the pictures, never seeming to tire from "reading" the same stories over and over again. Of course, the big treat is when I have story time and read them their favorite stories, such as "If you were born a kitten", or stories from Arthur Maxwell's "Bible Story" series.
Rebecca is getting seated for breakfast.

     We have entered the rainy season, which also offers "cooler" temperatures. During this time the thermometer hasn't gotten above 105F degrees, noticably better than before—but the humidity is often worse. After enduring 130F degree heat, it's amazing how pleasant 90F degree temperatures now feel. This is also mosquito season, which I've had to learn the hard way.
     I haven't seen many snakes, but yesterday someone caught a large constrictor just a few yards from our Home. They brough it in to my room, (where I'm still confined to bed), so I could take a look. With brilliant diamonds marking his back, he was very handsome. I am told that locals catch these snakes to eat.
     I am grateful for your email. It's always uplifting to hear how you are doing in the rest of the world. It is very easy to become extremely isolated over here, not knowing of any news of a local or worldwide nature. So again, thank you for taking the time to drop me a line.
     Knowing that I'm not well, the children and staff have been extremely helpful and kind. I'm actually on the road back to recovery, so they shouldn't have to worry about me much longer. Now, if I could just get my strength back. Patience, Ted. Patience!
     (UPDATE: September 2007) Because of my continued struggle with Malaria I have had to cut my tour short and return to the U.S. It is with painful sadness that I have had to depart. I have truly left a piece of my heart with the dear children and wonderful people of Ghana, and the Least of These Children's Home.
Here are some of our older, but still precious children,
with Joseph, one of our teachers, in the middle.

 
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From far away Africa,

Ted Phelps
DayStar Botanicals and Lifestyle Education
tphelps@daystarbotanicals.com ]

  • For more information about Trips With a Mission and the Least of These Children's Homes, go to: TripsWithAMission.org
  • To sponsor a child or to make a tax deductable donation, call: (303) 660-8866.