A new year has begun and as usually we are very busy at FHTH Ghana. Before New Years evening we held the annual Christmas/New Year party and again this year it was a great success. This party is a very good opportunity for all families in FHTH to say thank you for the year that has just gone and wish good luck in the New Year for all of us. Every single family values this event very much! The party also gives the families the chance to meet each, help each other and we all talk like we were one big family. Huge thank you to Thermit who sponsored the party and made this possible.
Employees / volunteers / visitors
In the beginning of January our new employee Tanko Karim started. The first three month is introduction. So far things are going really well and we are delighted to have him at the center. He has a lot to learn, but he is open, positive and genuinely interested in our work. In January a new voluntary, Alberte, also arrived. She is going to be with us until the end of April. Alberte is really good with the children and we are very happy to have her with us.
Late January, Lisbet arrived. She was a volunteer at the center in January last year. The reunion was great, and since a lot has happened this past year, there was much to talk about.
A week later we got another visitor Jesper, an employee of Thermit, and it gave us the opportunity to hold an opening ceremony of the kitchen building, which is sponsored by Thermit.
It was a really good brunch party with all the center’s residents and the craftsmen who enjoyed it to the full. Some days later Lisbet and Jesper moved on.
Late January our car broke down in the town of Sunyani, three hours drive from Kumasi. Ben commuted several times back and forth and spent the night in the town to keep an eye on the mechanic, to make sure he did his work and to pay spare parts and so on. This is normal in Ghana, not like in Europe where we can deliver the car and get it when it is repaired and the bill is ready. So it has really taken a lot of our time, and in addition it has also been very expensive. When the mechanic in Sunyani could not solve the problem we got the car brought to Kumasi, where our mechanic got started the next following few days. There are still little things to be taken care of (something with the brake and the water tank), but it can run and it’s good.
There are big distances to everything in Kumasi, and we are therefore very dependent on the car to get it all done.
We have come a long way on the building site, although there is still much to be done:
The wall is built and finished, the two gates are inserted, but the wall is still to be plastered and painted.
The kitchen building stands ready, but we are still looking for sponsors so we can make the kitchen cabinets, kitchen- and outdoor sink.
The tower to the water tank has been finished and the water tank is installed, here we just need to get the tower plastered and painted.
The four round huts have all got the roof on, here we need to make the ceiling, floor, getting the walls plastered and painted.
The toilet building is almost finished, but we still need to make the roof, ceiling, floor, plastering the walls, to get all painted and installed toilets, baths and sinks.
Septic tank is built and constructed so that it is both sewage and toilet waste.
We still haven´t got any electricity, this is not so easy because there are no electricity in this area at all. We are waiting to hear from the power company how much it will cost. Our dream is to get solar energy, and we therefore hope we can find some sponsors for this.
We send a big thank you to all the sponsors who have made this great project possible for us!
Although there is a long way to go, we are optimistic and pleased that we have come so incredibly far in just one year.
Since our donations to the building now have run out, we are looking for help to continue. We therefore hope that some of you will be interested in helping, or perhaps know of companies, scientists, foundations or individuals who would be interested in helping.
-In advance, we thank you all.
New (temporary) center
Initially, we had hoped that we would be ready to move into FHTHs own center when the contract expired in mid-February. Unfortunately it was not possible and we therefore asked the landlord to renew the lease, as you pay in advance for a longer rental period. When the landlord informed us that the rent would be put up by a third, we all agreed that we needed to just find something else. After a few days of searching, we found a fine house, the same size as the former, but half the price. Additionally, this house is closer to the site, so it will now be much easier for us. We have rented the new house for a year, which was the shortest period the landlord would agree to. We were fortunate to be able to borrow a small pickup to move, even if it meant we had to run many times. We were exhausted and tired when we were finished. There have been a lot to see for ever since: The children have had to move school as we now live in a new area. We have found a good school for them, where they started immediately. They take the school bus back and forth every day. Ben has moved the electric fence from the old to the new center. Now it just need to be connected by an electrician – as does the washing machine, which for a long period has teased us. We have done housecleaning in the old house, and we are now ready to hand over the keys.
The new house is really beautiful, with a lawn throughout the land, which we missed in the old house where all the outdoor area was cement. The only problem in the new house is that there is very bad phone line, and even worse internet connection. In addition there are in this area very often “Light off,” which is currently a major problem throughout Ghana as there is not enough power. We have power failure five nights out of seven (from 18 to 06), and almost as many day hours. It is expensive to have the generator on all the time, so every day we have to make a priority.
Family no. 1:
Mother: Sidonia Dagaar
Children: Ernestina, Kwabena Joseph, Akosua Mary and Kwaku Emmanuel.
The family is well. They have moved from a shed into a room, in a half finished building. The mother, Sidonia, even arranged to have made a door and put boards on the windows, but came to us for help to pay 100 cedis (200 kr.) in rent. The family is happy to stay there, where conditions are much better, although it is still very simple. The house is within walking distance to the children’s school. Ernestina was home on Christmas vacation, and visited us daily at the center, together with the boys. She has since she starting school called us several times to tell us that she is fine.
Now that we have moved to another district, it is no longer possible for Kwabena and Emmanuel to come to the center in the afternoon. We are not quite comfortable with this, because we know how much they need our support. We are therefore considering now various options for still being able to help the children in everyday life.
They have been here in the weekend and the reunion with the other children at the center was huge, even when it is only a few weeks they’ve been apart.
Family no. 2:
Mother: Olivia Owusu (Yaa)
Child: Viola Owusu (Vera)
Yaa has opened her fine shop, which have already been very successful. She is happy and very dedicated about her work. The shop is open on weekdays from 8-18, and has already got several young girls in apprenticeship. The store front is decorated as a wedding party, to advertise that she also organizes parties. A buddy of ours has designed a great sign for the shop, it just needs to be put up. We are very pleased for Yaa and the success she has made already, but she’s away so many hours every day, and Viola pays the price. In addition, we also expect that she helps with the housework, and not just come home when food is served every day. We are therefore planning a meeting with Yaa, so that together we can create a work schedule for her that will benefit us all. Originally the plan was that Yaa and Viola had to move from center when Yaa had opened her shop. Because of the robbery last year Yaa is still not feeling secure enough to live alone, and we have therefore accepted that they can be at the center of a period.
Yaa have met a man, and they plan to get married in a year, if all goes well. We hope the best for them.
Viola is doing well, and is proud of her mother, although we can also see that Viola seeks her mother’s attention when she comes home in the evening. Viola is happy about the new school and has already made many new friends. Often she also talks about the old school and that she misses her friends there. In Ghana, it is not normal to meet up with classmates in private, and therefore it is difficult to stay connected. She is sorry about that.
Viola is well functioning, happy and loves to tease and be silly.
Family no. 3:
Children: Enock Akrugu and Samuel Akrugu
Samuel is still really happy to go to boarding school. Ben’s younger brother started this year at the same school, so they enjoy each others company. Samuels school results are still not promising, so this semester we have threatened to take his
football boots from him when football might take too much of his time. Last semester he didn´t pass all the important subjects that are necessary for him to enter the university next year. He admitted that it is not due to football, but he just can not concentrate on the school work. He promised to work hard, and we have said to him that it just has to be a promise to him. He has big ambitions, and we will be sad to see him disappointed in the end.
Enock has been registered to write the final exams, which takes place early summer. He has also completed his list of priorities over which schools he would like to attend to. We really thought that Enock would not want to go to a boarding school since he has always struggled with the school work. We thought he would choose a technical college. However, he has other plans, and he will start at an economy line. We have discussed it back and forth with him, but he is confident in his choice, and we support his decision. It is a big step for him but he looks forward to it.
Family no. 4:
Father: Kofi Boakye
Mother: Afia Badu
Children: Kofi Boakye Frank, yaa Akoto, Yaw Awuah, Evans Boakye and Akwasi Adjei.
Frank has once again changed apprenticeship and is now apprenticed as a carpenter, at a family friend. Frank is very uncertain and can not seem to stay in one place for a very long time. We hope once again that he will settle down at this place, so he can learn a skill. If at all it is possible for him? We really want to help Frank further, but find it hard to see how.
We have been with Yaw to a check up the hospital, it went well. Yaw has for a long time been doing well, so we are very pleased. The mother was with us at the hospital, but she stayed in the background while Yaw (as always) told far and wide about the family’s problems and that the mother hasn’t given him any breakfast and even took his money. The mother just laughed and said he was lying and “I will pay him back….”The mother has a very low intelligence. Yaw also told us about the father hitting the mother when he is drunk, but all the mother said was:” I am stronger than him, so I am not afraid”. I tried to explain to her that it was good for the children to watch this but she just laughed.
The father still drinks. He has been doing really well after a long period of illness and we had given him a mini-loan to sell sandals. He closed down his bar, which is a good thing. Sales of sandals went fine for a period until he started drinking again and at an unexpected visit around breakfast one day, we found him at the neighbors bar drunk and without shoes. That day we took the shoes from him and then we heard he beaten up his wife, because he thought she has told us about him drinking again.We have not seen him since. When we come to visit, he hides in the room. He is ashamed hopefully.
We have offered to help him to the hospital, and our psychologist team is ready to receive and help him. He will not do it and we can not force him. He is a huge load full for the family.
The children go happily to school every day, and it’s really good for them to come out and mix with other adults and children. They are all well, and happy about their schools. The two youngest children still show clear progress in the new nursery, we are so pleased about that.
Family no. 5:
Mother: Christiana Serwaah
Children: Lucy Amankwa, Stephen Amankwa, Felicia Amankwa, James Amankwa, Elizabeth Amankwa, Philippa Amankwa, Nana Emmanuel Amankwa (Kwaku).
After New Year Felicia started at technical college on food and nutrition line. She lives at the boarding school, and are really pleased with the new surroundings. She has already made many friends, and really enjoy it. Felicia and her siblings are all very shy, and it is certainly very good for Felicia to go to boarding school, where she will function much more independently.
The four smallest children James, Elizabeth, Philipa and Emmanuel Kwaku are still doing well in their new school. The school is not far from their homes, so many of their class mates also live nearby. The children play together in the afternoon when they come from school until their mother comes home. She still sells soya kebab, in the area where they lived before. We have often talked to her about this, as it seems illogical to travel straight through Kumasi to sell every day. She says she can not find other places to sell, but maybe it’s because her husband lives and works in the area where she sells?
The mother, Christiana, is physical doing well and she hasn’t been ill since she was last hospitalized. She regularly goes to the doctor for a check up, and we help her pay for medicine.
Family no. 6:
Mother: Talata Felicia Kobina
Children: Harrote Kobina (Bebee) and Angela Kobina
Angela came to us with the desire to visit her mother and Harrote during Christmas holiday. Angela was proud and happy when we packed a bag, and she went home with her mother. She came back a week later and it has all gone really well. Angela had been a little upset some nights where she wanted to go home to the center.
Subsequently, she talked a lot about her mother, her work, the food they ate and so on. But when we talked about repeating the success, she was not open to the idea. She’d rather be at the center. We will try to regularly send her off for a weekend, so she stays in touch with family, but it’s hard, because there is no support from the mother. We have not heard from the mother, Talata, in a really long time, and she has not visited the center since Christmas party.
Harrote is still pleased with his new school, and he is doing really well academically. The mother, who can not read, handed us his examination report, and only when she saw our happy eyes, she knew he had done well, to her surprise. Harrote was completely embarrassed.
Angela is doing well at the center and she thinks that the moving house and changing school has been really exciting. She is happy.
Family no. 7:
Father: Kwabena Awuah
Mother: Mary Akomah
Children: Stephen Akwasi Sarpong, Francis Sarkodie Awuah, Stella Owusuaa and Liane Konadu.
Often when the mother came to us at the center, to beg for food or money, because the father did not regularly came home with money for the family, we agreed to help. Again we offered the mother to give her a loan to sell, and she was so pleased. Previously we have helped her to sell, but every time the man has destroyed the business, as he will not want her to work. She started again to sell underwear, which she carries around on her head, and the business has since gone really well. Her husband, the children’s father, is as expected not happy about it, and since then has not talked to us or visited the center. He is rude and weak. He sees money as power, and he wants the control over his wife, which simply means that he will let the children suffer at any cost.
We are happy for the mother’s business, and that she now every day come home with money -and a little power and can take care of her children.
Stella seems to have overcome the abuse in the fall. She will probably always have scars, but she’s happy again and functioning both in school and at home. The kids miss us after we have moved from the center, just a few hundred meters from their house. The mother says that they ask for us every time they go past the center on the way to or from school.
Family no. 10:
Mother: Ama Bonsu
Children: Vicencia Gyasi Baye, Anthony Twuniasi, Akua Bonsu and Kojo Kliti
Akua and Kojo are doing both well in their kinder gardens. The mother says that all the kids are always excited to get going in the morning. When we visit them, either at home or at school, they always meet and embrace us. It’s wonderful. They always have a lot to tell, and the parents and grandparents who Akua live with, always ask questions in relation to the school. They are very interested in their children’s schooling.
Family no. 12:
Mother: Georgina Atta
Children: Mizpah Eshen, Daniel Eshen, Magdalena Eshen, Habeku Eshen, Nehemiah Eshen + 3 older children.
The biggest problem in this family is the mother who is very difficult for us to work with. She often seems like she doesn’t care about the children’s welfare, or maybe it’s her pride, and fear that we are interfering too much. It is therefore difficult for us to advise her, as we otherwise do in all other families. It’s hard to catch her attention, and she is always busy with everything else when we visit them. It’s sad for the kids, especially Nehemiah and Habeku who need extra support and they do not seem to get. Luckily the triplets and Daniel are now regularly in school, and we have moved our focus on schools rather than at home. The kids are excited to go to school and are always very happy when we come to visit. Daniel talks and talks, and tells us if there are problems, or if there is something he needs. The triplets teacher always calls us if there are any problems or if there is something missing, so it works very fine.
Family no. 13:
Grandmother: Mary Adugyamfi
Grandchildren: Joyce Adugyamfi and Erica Adugyamfi.
In the fall, the relationship between the girls and their father got worse. We tried to advise them, but their father would not listen to our advice, and it was therefore difficult for us to help.
After Christmas we found out that the father had punished the girls by not allowing them to write their term’s exams, it was too much for us. As it was not the father who had paid for fees or examination costs it was totally disrespectful to us as sponsors. We therefore decided that we would be forced to stop sponsoring the girls if their father would continue to be their guardian.
Fortunately it did not take long before the grandmother deeply unhappy came to us at the center. She had heard what had happened, and her son had spoken bad about her, when she had tried to speak her mind on the matter. She wants the best for the girls, and knew it would not continue to go well, if they stayed at their fathers place. She felt powerless because she did not even have the financial means to take better care of the girls. To see them in conflict with their father, who is unemployed and even drink, made her very unhappy.
We, therefore, offered to help Erica and Joyce to start at boarding school, and the grandmother was very pleased. –and so were the girls.
Unfortunately the school they should attend closed their boarding school down due to renovation, so we were forced to find another school for them. We contact “Gods Grace” (where the little ones in family 19 attend) and visited their boarding school to look at the facilities. We are already very pleased to work together with the school and we decided to register the girls here. The grandmother and the girls’ aunt were with us, and were both really happy and grateful. The following day we bought all the necessary things the girls needed, and then we drove them off to school. They have now gone to school for two months and has settled well. They are delighted with their new lives.
Family no. 16:
Children: David and Liane
Both children and Esther are well. Liane grows really well and Esther still takes her to the nurse once a month to be weighed and get vaccinations. Esther came to us at the center during the Christmas holidays and was worried about David. She said that she felt that in the nursery there were too many kids and not especially good conditions and it worried her. She asked us, therefore, for help to find an alternative for David. We were open to the idea and together with Esther we went out to look for another nursery for David. He has now started another place where there are better conditions and where he thrives much better, so that’s good.
Esther cares a lot about her children’s welfare and we see her often frustrated because there is not enough money, because there are problems with the man or other things.
Very unexpectedly, we got a call from the man who thanked us that we have found and paid for a new nursery room for David. It has never happened before in the almost four years, we have supported the family. Esther was equally shocked. We were delighted.
Esther really wants to start working again, but finds it difficult to sell sandals, as she did before. In particular, it will be difficult with Liane on her back. She therefore suggested that she rather wants to sell grocery items, on a table in front of the house where they live. We think it sounds like a good idea, and will therefore introduce the idea to the sponsor.
Family no. 17:
Mother: Stargina Ama
Children: Nana Aquah Lord, Henry Obinim, Louis Obinim and Benedict Nhyira Appiah.
All the boys take the school bus together every morning, and are really happy to go to school. After school they are mostly left to themselves, and we have often experienced the oldest of the boys strolling around the streets. The mother just looks down at the ground when we confront her with the problem. She knows it’s wrong, but fails to look after them any better. We talk often for a long time with the boys and give them good advice, but now that the center is moved, we live far from them and in the future primarily we will meet them in school. In school they are always happy and love when we come to visit. Louis, the oldest goes to kindergarten 2, and is one of the best students in the class. It is fortunate that they understand how important it is to keep up at school, which is in great contrast to their lives outside school.
Family no. 18:
Mother: Doris Apana
Child: Benjamin Apana
Fortunately, it turned out better than we ever dared to hope with Doris. During the month of December, she was feeling much better, and she has since New Year only a few times had psychotic episodes. We therefore decided in January, in consultation with the psychiatrist and psychologist to let Doris start school. School is going really well. Doris is happy to be going out every day, and although she is tired when she gets home, she has yet more energy than before. She has received a daily structure again and it’s really good.
We have informed school management and teachers about Doris’ situation, and they have been very understanding. Doris has once had a seizure at school, but the teachers were very helpful, whereas the other students ran away and were afraid. Doris must avoid getting stressed, as it can easily trigger the disease. She is still in a process where she must learn to manage the disease. We remain with her to check with the psychiatrist, now once every four weeks.
It has been very hard for Benjamin, his mother has been so ill. He worried a lot, and it is obviously not healthy for such a small one. He is very observant, and was always the one that first discovered when Doris was about to have a seizure. He was watching over her. Benjamin lived for several months inside with Ben and I, but is now moved to Doris, and it means a lot to him.
Family no. 19:
Father: Williams Asamoah
Mother: Stella Antwi Asamoah
Children: Christabel, Kingsley, Kelvin, Armstrong og Nana Aduah.
Christabel is really happy to be in Senior High School. She calls when there is something she needs, and then we visit her at school, or she comes over to the center. Both her and the mother show great appreciation for our support, it’s lovely.
Kingsley is registered to having to write the final exams here in early summer, and be so after the summer also start in Senior High School. He has also completed his priority list of schools he wants to enter. He has high ambitions and we support him as best we can.
The three smallest, Kelvin, Armstrong and Nana Aduah have it all really well. When they come home in the afternoon Kingsley looks after them until the evening when their mother comes home. The mother is no longer selling donuts, as it went up and down with the sale, and she easily had spills. She now sells rather different smelling things in the city.
Family no. 20:
Mother: Ama Francisca
Child: Liane Amponsah
After Christmas we found out that Ama was no longer an apprentice hairdresser. When we confronted her with it, she told me that she had quarreled with the other girls on the learning space, and therefore had been away from there. We asked her to go back there and solve the problems that might be, so she could continue her education. That she promised to do!
We have now found out by visiting the salon, she never went back there, and then the last three months has not done anything. Ama says now that she will not back there, and that she will find another place. We have made it clear to her that we do not agree, and that we are not ready to pay for a new apprenticeship for her. It’s obviously disappointing both for us and for the sponsor that she could not complete the training. We hope that she can find another place, or perhaps find some work, so she will be able to support Liane.
Ama is frivolous and lying often for us. We always find out that she is lying, and so she becomes upset. She is like a little child who fails to take proper care of themselves. On top of that she saw Liane, so it goes without saying that she has a hard time taking care of her. Liane is too often ill and Ama always rings us if there is anything wrong with her. We want the very best for them, but it is not always we have time to jump and it is a problem that Ama is always awaiting our help. Their family doesn’t help them and we are the only support they have. Luckily Liane goes to nursery every day, and she is really happy.
Family no. 21:
Children: Joshua and Freda (Mume).
Since the new center is located far from the family home, Patience has been forced to stop working at the center. We now want to help her doing something else, for example, to sell eggs as she did formerly. It is a great loss for us at the center because Patience has been a really good nanny for Fredrick and a good extra help in everyday life.
Joshua and Freda are doing very well. Joshua enjoys his Junior High School. They are both really excited to go to school.
For Christmas they got family gifts from one of their sponsors in Denmark. They were all delighted. Freda got a nice doll with a doll bed, standing right next to her bed. Enock got a used iPod, and one of our volunteers has helped him to open an account so he can download apps, it’s really exciting for him.
Family no. 22:
Grandma: Cicilia Owusuaa
Children: Akua Nhyira first
Akua Nhyira second
After Christmas the girls started in nursery. It is already clear to see how beneficial it is for them to get out among other children. They have become more active and they are already far better stimulated in language, movement, play and so on. The grandmother has started selling soap, which she sells from a basket on her head. It’s good to finally see progress in this family
Family no. 23:
Child: Fredrick Osei
Fredrick is doing very well at the center. He is a happy and curious boy who is always exploring. He is still behind in his development, but he’s healthy. He now has four teeth and the next one is coming. Fredrick is now big enough to start in nursery, and because Patience no longer comes to the center, we are now looking for a good nursery for him.
Esther, Fredrick’s mother, still visits Fredrick regularly, most often on Sundays. She still does not work, but now has at least found a place to stay. She does not have much and often she asks for money for the bus or money for medicine when she is sick. Fredrick and the mother have no special relationship. Maybe Esther simply can’t have a relationship with anyone? Mentally, she is not very old and probably she has never had any adult she could have a relationship with?
Kingsley, Fredrick’s father phoned one day to tell that he had been arrested for rape, but said he was innocent. He probably wanted our help to resolve the matter with the police. We told him we would not have anything to do with it. The day after another person phoned (perhaps a family member or a friend), to tell that Kingsley had confessed and that they would come to discuss it with us. Again we said that we would not have anything to do with it. Esther has followed up on the case and came on a Sunday and informed us that Kingsley has now been on trial, and was sentenced to 15 years for raping a four-year old girl. We are still shocked! He is now in Kumasi Central Prison, and Esther visits him once in a while. I do not know if she fully understands what it is he is sentenced for!?
Family no. 24:
We visited the family and found that Doreen and Stephanie was not home, Stephanie was not in school either. It turned out that they had traveled to Stephanie’s father’s hometown, as family members here had asked them to come. Stephanie’s father (she did not know him) died last year, probably to AIDS. Doreen claims he is the only man she has been with, so he must therefore have infected her. The family wanted Doreen to bring Stephanie, so they could perform various rituals, so the father’s ghost will not be able to haunt her and also kill her.
A week later they were back and Doreen rang us. We made it very clear to her how disrespectful it was just to leave everything without letting us know. After all we do pay the school fees, canteen- and pocket money. When she later came to visit the center to ask for forgiveness, we told her our opinion about rituals. We also questioned why she follows the family’s commands when they do not even help her financially to look after Stephanie.
Doreen is weak and had been afraid of what the family would say and therefore she did it.
She promised to inform us better in the future. We took her to the chemist to buy her medicine. Doreen is now showing up to all her appointments at the hospital, and each day she takes her medication. She is obviously far better now than when she was not on medication.
Dorcas is still selling fruit. We helped her with the starting process last autumn and we are glad she is still doing well.