Tuesday, December 8, 2015

✓ Teacher Conferences


Mary and I make sure that we communicate with each one of our teachers at least once a day. We want to know what is happening in the classrooms as well as our teacher’s lives. For example, Mr. O’Pare owns and operates a farm. He walks an hour to school and an hour home from school each day. When he returns home he spends the rest of the day tending to his farm. We love that our teachers are comfortable enough to tell us these personal things about their lives. We have also talked with our teachers about their formal education. Some of our teachers have studied education to some capacity, some have traveled to weeklong training seminars, and some of our teachers just graduated senior high school. We have teachers at all different professional levels in our school. This means some are more comfortable in a classroom setting and some of them are still trying to figure out their place in the classroom. Besides seminars we make sure that teacher are constantly asking questions about material or teaching practices that they do not understand because we want what is best for our teachers not just our students.

We will be returning to the United States to spend the holidays with our families. This means that school will be in session for about a week where we will not be here before our students also break for the holidays. We spent the last couple of day’s conferencing with each of our teachers to make sure they have everything they need to be successful for the week during our absence. This also gives the teacher time to ask any individual questions they have for us. We made sure that each teacher would have his or her everyday classroom supplies (white board markers, chalk, counters, etc).

We also used this time for the teachers to assess how effective Mary and I have been in assisting them inside and outside of the classroom. One thing I love about working in this school is everyone, the students and the staff, are very blunt. If you are not doing what you are supposed to be doing someone will call you out. This being said all of there teachers had very helpful feedback. They let us know the things that they liked and want us to continue to do. Some examples are teaching when a teacher is sick, teaching individual lessons for teacher, modeling teaching practices in the classroom, providing the students and teachers with supplies.
 
Mary and I know that there is always room for improvement. Our teachers gave us very specific feedback about where they would like us to focus on helping them next. ICT, Information Communication Technology, is a big area of improvement for the KCC school staff. A lot of our teachers do not feel comfortable teaching this subject because they do not have the proper training and we are lacking the textbooks to support the teaching. Each one of our teachers also expressed the need for more technological support in their classroom. They want things like laptops and projectors for each classroom. We are working on securing a few more laptops to be shared through out the classrooms and teachers. Right now we have one laptop that we share in all ten of our classrooms.  

Taking the time to communicate with our teachers is very important to us. We want to teachers to feel like we are all on the same team. This means that we have to take the time to hear their suggestions for the school. Although Mary and I both have degrees in education we are not experts. Especially when it comes to the Ghanaian education system. Each one of our teachers and us brings something different to the table. This being said we are so thankful for our teachers being so welcoming and inviting us into their classrooms and culture. I feel like we have taught our students and teachers a lot over these past four months, but they have taught Mary and I plenty as well. We all share the bond of being lifetime learners.

We will keep you updated on how the KCC school is doing. Mary and I will both be independently posting about the first half of our experience and things we are looking forward to when we return in January. We are always more than willing to answer questions or give more information. If you feel compelled to make a donation or support the school in some other capacity please either email us at kccschool15@gmail.com or visit https://acts2collective.cloverdonations.com/donation/

Peace and Blessings,

| Anna |


Sunday, November 29, 2015

'Tis the Season!

Despite the fact that it is still 90 degrees and humid here everyday, Christmas is coming to Asikuma! The energy level in the house continues to rise, believe it or not this is possible, and the preparations have begun.

Since the weather won’t make it feel like Christmas, we decided we needed to put some decorations up around the house to get in the Christmas spirit. Anna and I held true to our no Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving rule (even though Thanksgiving is not celebrated here) and waited until this weekend to begin crafting with the kiddos. Each kid got the opportunity to decorate their very own stocking that we will be hanging in the hall. We also are in the process of making snowflakes (this also includes an educational lesson on what snow is – the pictures Anna and I both received from the first snowfall at home definitely helped with this J). Merry Christmas banners are being made and decorations for each room’s door are a work in progress.

Apart from the decorations, all the kids have been put into one of four groups. The groups can earn daily points for going to school on time, going to siesta, getting their homework done, and going to bed without putting up a fight. They can also earn points for going above and beyond, helping someone not in their group, doing an extra job around the house, etc. Along with earning points, they can also lose points for not listening, not being kind to one another, etc. The goal behind the groups is to have the big ones looking out for the little ones and to embrace the Christmas spirit by giving to others and working as a team. We are two weeks in and have noticed some differences in some of the kids. There seem to be fewer tears in the morning because the big ones are helping keep track of school uniforms and there is less complaining at bedtime. This means no complaining from Anna and me.

The groups also get the opportunity to compete as a group. We have had two household spelling bees where extra points can be earned. The groups have done a great job working to learn words that we have posted throughout the house and working together. It is so exciting to see them encouraging each other and supporting each other. The staff here has a few other challenges and activities up their sleeves leading up to the big day. Each group will be responsible for cooking one meal together and the concluding event will be to see which group can build the highest tower using a variety of supplies. Each group will receive an award at the end and the winning group will receive a bonus Christmas present.

The staff at the center is also putting together some Christmas performances. The kids are being asked to memorize bible verses, prepare a Christmas song, and the center is preparing to do a nativity play. We are very bummed to be missing all of this and have already requested a reenactment when we return in January.

Although the focus of Christmas will remain on Jesus’ birth in this house, the kids will be blessed with a few gifts. Some of these gifts will be purchased by the staff at the center using their own and donated funds, some will be donated by former volunteers, and Anna and I will also be bringing gifts back when we return in January for a little belated Christmas. We are hoping to bring back small individual gifts, but also practical gifts for the house as a whole. If you are interested in making a donation (new or gently used) please see the list below. We will be in the states from December 10th – January 5th and would be more than happy to connect with you (kccschool15@gmail.com) and collect any of the items or you can make a donation using the link https://acts2collective.cloverdonations.com/donation/ and we will do the shopping.  Thank you for helping to make the holidays possible for these 31 amazing kids.

~Mary

Mission Center Christmas List:
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Shoes
  • Clothes
  • Colored Pencils/Crayons
  • Backpacks
  • Pens/Pencils
  • Plastic Bowls & Cups
  • Plastic Silverware
  • Towels
  • Bed Sheets
  • DVDs
  • Puzzles
  • Activity Books
  • Flashlights/Batteries
  • Books (picture & chapter)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

31 & Counting

Sarah is a very special little girl. I first had the pleasure of meeting Sarah when I visited Ghana in August of 2014. The group I was with visited an orphanage in Kwahu where she was staying at the time. We were only visiting for a short time, but I very clearly remember Sarah dancing, laughing, and playing with anyone who she came in contact with. One of the most vivid memories I have of Sarah involves a pair of sunglasses and a camera. Sarah put on one of the KCI girls sunglasses and insisted on having her picture taken. After we had all taken her picture she walked around to look at each person’s photos of her. She smiled and laughed the whole time. Sarah, like most kids in Ghana, loves to see what they look like in photos.*

Flash forward to November of 2015: Auntie (Comfort) brought Sarah home to the Kingdom Cares Mission Center. Some of the children currently living at the mission center came from the Kwahu orphanage so when Sarah arrived some smiling familiar faces and some new ones were waiting to greet her! Sarah quickly began playing with a group of boys and little Esther who were playing over by the ramp outside of the office door. The way she was talking with the other kids and laughing made it seem like she had been here since the beginning. I am very impressed by her willingness and enthusiasm to interact with others!

From what I observed so far Sarah is stubborn. It’s her way or the highway as they say. This being said she stands up for what she wants. She is not afraid to argue with the other kids for the best spot on the couch or why she deserves to be the first to person to get dinner that night. When Sarah isn’t arguing for herself she is usually arguing for one of the little ones in the house. She has quickly fallen in love with our littlest house member Madjowa. Whenever Sarah sees Madjowa in a room or on the porch she walks right up to her and places a kiss on her check! Sarah is also waiting to greet us with a big hug anytime was walk back from school to the house. I don’t know what is bigger: her heart or her smile!

Sarah loves playing with other kids. I think that she will make a fine addition to our house dance parties. I am hoping to learn a couple of new dance moves from her, although I do not think I can master the moves with the same amount of spunk. Sarah does not like to be stationary for long periods of time. She is always walking around like she is on a mission. I have yet to see Sarah sit down long enough to eat an entire meal. She also does not like to be confined to her room during siesta or bedtime, but we are working on it! Sarah loves to be the life of the party, spread laughter, and dance into your heart.  

We will keep you updated on how Sarah, the other children, and the KCC school are doing. We are always more than willing to answer questions or give more information. If you feel compelled to make a donation or support the school in some other capacity please either email us at kccschool15@gmail.com or visit https://acts2collective.cloverdonations.com/donation/

Peace and Blessings,

| Anna |



*It is not uncommon for someone to not know what he or she looks like. Mirrors are not very common in Ghana and cameras are a luxury. People are often brought to tears or laughter by the sight of their own face.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

High Standards

Well, we have officially been in Asikuma for three months. Our initial plan for being here was to write a curriculum for the Kingdom Cares Community School. However the more people we talked to and the more we learned we quickly discovered that there are in fact guidelines the school has to follow. As we have mentioned several times we knew that while being here we were going to have to change and adapt our plan several times, so we did just that.

We are currently in the process of writing a set of standards for the teachers to use to guide their teaching. Since many of the teachers here lack formal training they teach solely from the textbooks (the opposite of how we were taught to teach J). Therefore, Anna and I have been trying to support them so they feel more comfortable teaching the material without reading it directly to their class from the text. Therefore, we decided to write them a set of standards for each subject. The standards all begin with “students will be able to…” and identify the main ideas or skills students should take away from each section or unit of the textbook. Our goal in providing these to the teachers is that they will be able to assess their teaching at the end of the lesson. They’ll be able to ask themselves are all my students able to add one-digit number? If the answer is yes, then they can move on to teach the next skill. If the answer is no, then they will be able to reteach the skill to a small group or the whole class or teach it in a different way.

The standards are written based on the syllabus outlining what the students need to learn for each particular subject. This syllabus is provided to us by the GES (Ghanaian Education System). The series of textbooks our school has purchased/is in the process of purchasing align with the GES standards so we are using these to guide our standards writing. Additionally, we are using the Basic Education Certificate Examination. This test is what students have to pass to continue their education in Ghana. Therefore by using this as a guide we are hoping to ensure that we do not miss any crucial skills they will need to eventually pass the test.

We are in the process of finishing up our math standards for the last class. Following the completion of this, we will move on to English using the textbooks we were just able to purchase thanks to several generous donations. Our goal is to hold a seminar for the teachers on how to effectively use the standards to impact their teacher and from them to be able to continue using the standards long after we are gone.

None of this would be possible without the education and experiences we received from Drake University. We continue to be thankful and appreciative of all the love and support we receive from family and friends, but especially want to thank our classmates and professors from Drake who provided us with the opportunities and training these teachers never received.

Please continue to follow our journey and support us in any way you can. We have just purchased 10 English textbooks for each class, but are still working to purchase math and science books for the students to use. Thank you!

~Mary

Friday, November 6, 2015

[Pen] Palin' Around


On Week 11 we have started a pen pal program with Siouxland Christian School! Instead of doing individual letters between students we are doing letters between classes. We will have all of our classes from KG2 through P6 exchange letters and pictures. This will help the students work on their vocabulary, questioning, formal letter writing, and it will help the students learn about another culture!

This week Mary and I co-taught our first lesson on writing in the KG2, kindergarten, classroom with their teacher Ms. Eunice Atinga. We started off the lesson by reading the students the letter from Mrs. Thomas’s kindergarten class. The letter include a class description, the teachers name, what the students were currently studying, and a list of questions they had for out students in Ghana. They also sent a picture from their class pajama day! Our students were so giggly as they were looking at a picture “from America”. They loved to see the students in their classroom.

Once we had read and answered Mrs. Thomas’s class’s questions about what the weather was like in Ghana, what kinds of animals we lived with, and what kinds of clothes we wear we brainstormed a list of things we wanted to know about America and their classroom. Our students wanted to know if students in the US wear uniforms to school because in our school we wear uniforms. We were also curious about what they like to eat and if they have FuFu for lunch. We also wanted to know what kinds of animals they have around them.

We also included information about how we are working with numbers and counting in mathematics, we are working on writing, spelling and letter sounds in reading, and RME (Religious and Moral Education).  At Siouxland Christian School they talk about Jesus and at our school we worship on Wednesday mornings. This is where all of the students come together to sing, clap, pray, and praise Jesus. The students noticed that both schools talked about Jesus, and this made them chuckle. Every time they noticed something was the same in Ghana and the US they broke out in laughter.
 
Finally we took a class picture to send with our pen pal letter!  We are looking forward to hearing from our kindergarten friends and starting the pen pal process for the other classes.

Please continue to follow us on this journey and share what we are doing. We are always more than willing to answer questions or give more information. If you feel compelled to make a donation or support the school in some other capacity please either email us at kccschool15@gmail.com or use the link on the right side of the page!

Peace and Blessings,


| Anna |

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Professional Development

In several of the recent blog posts Anna and I have alluded to seminars that we are holding with the teachers. Although this was not something we had initially planned on doing, it quickly became apparent to us that many of our teachers lacked training and seminars would be a good way to provide them with resources and tools they needed to become more effective teachers. 

Our school currently has nine teachers and we have recently hired two more that will start soon. Out of our current nine, two teachers attended a one-week training prior to the school year starting. Three or four of them taught at the former village school and have several years of teaching experience, but no formal training. The rest have no experience and no training. Therefore, Anna and I decided that one of our main focuses needed to be getting the teachers up to speed.

We have given our teachers a survey to ask about what areas they would like training in. In addition, we make daily observations and rounds at the school that we use to make notes on common struggles or challenges the teachers are facing. We are looking for areas that all of the teachers could improve on. Once we have identified common needs, we begin to develop our seminar around those one or two topics. For example, we have covered topics such as how to teach vocabulary in a meaningful way and effective ways to teach reading/English. 
This week we will be covering classroom and time management.

One of the huge struggles we’ve had at the school is in regards to time: teachers not following the timetables (schedule), lunch break lasting for two hours instead of the scheduled one, school starting 45 minutes late, teachers grading assignments during class while the students sit and stare at each other, etc. This lack of schedule often results in students being off-task or misbehaving and the teachers have little to no idea how to discipline them without using the cane (a very common practice in Ghana, but not permitted at our school). Therefore, we decided to develop a seminar based on these concerns.

Anna and I will be talking with the teachers about the importance of consistency both in regards to following the timetable and discipline. We will be providing them with a list of productive things they can have students do when they finish an assignment early, such as reading a book, math facts, writing a letter. The seminar will also encourage teachers to shift from negative reinforcement to positive reinforcement for discipline. We will discuss the benefit of setting up rewards, such as an extra break or no homework pass, if students are doing what they are supposed to. This will hopefully eliminate the need to discipline if students are motivated by extrinsic factors. Small details too such as the teacher separating problem students and moving around the classroom will help minimize problems before they arise. Most of these techniques are things that seem like no brainers to trained teachers, but may be concepts these teachers with no training never would have considered.

It is our belief that in order to truly improve learning at this school it is going to have to come from the teachers. The material being taught does not matter if it is not taught well. Therefore, Anna and I continue to be excited by the growth and the effort we are seeing the teachers make and are excited to see how this will impact our students. We will continue to identify areas of need and provide as much support and as many resources as we can to support our teachers and students.

As always, if you would like to make a donation to support the school please use the link on the right hand side of the blog. If you have questions or want more information on ways to get involved please email us at kccschool15@gmail.com. Thank you for continuing to follow and share our journey with us!

~Mary~

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Status Report

We have been in school now for 2 months and have made some progress in all different areas of the school! We are happy to keep checking off things on our school year to do list! Here is a brief overview of what we have been able to achieve over the last 8 weeks!
    >Each student in our school has access to at least one pencil, pencil sharpener, eraser, pen, and exercise book. Each teacher has received a class set of these utensils to ensure students have everything they physically need to be successful in the classroom setting.
          
          >Thanks to some generous donations we have purchased new desks for every classroom in our school (KG1-JHS Form 1). There is a carpenter in Asikuma that hand makes each desk and bench for our school. He has already completed the desks for JHS Form 1. P6, P5, P4, and P3. He is currently working on completing the regular desks and benches for P2 and P1. Once these are finished he will start working on 10 round tables for our Kindergarten (KG1 and KG2) classrooms as well as 60 tiny little chairs for our pupils to sit in!

         >Our teachers have started lesson planning! Lesson preparation is so important, which is why we have stressed to teachers that they need to be completing their Lesson Notes everyday for every subject. Although some of our teachers are having a little trouble with the format and concept of planning a lesson before teaching the lesson, they are trying!

         >We meet with out teachers outside of school twice a month for professional development. This time is so important for our school staff.  It allows for us to check in with our teachers and it gives them a time where they can ask questions, share their comments and concerns with us. We love talking shop with our teachers and demonstrating different techniques for them. So far we have covered reading strategies, how to teach vocabulary, time management, and classroom management. We will continue talking about classroom management at our teaching seminar this week since there is so much that can fall under this topic!

    ·        >Since we started the seminars with our teachers have slowly started to incorporate these techniques into their classrooms! We have seen our teachers start using informal assessments, think-pair-shares, preteaching vocabulary, using key sentence frames, adding visuals on their classroom walls and adding them to their daily teaching, bringing in things like sticks and stones to use as a math manipulative, taking multiple student answers to in class questions, having students collaborate in small groups, and bringing in TLM (Teacher Learning Materials) that help to enhance their lessons and their students understanding.

    >Each child who lives in the mission center has a uniform to wear to school everyday! This may seems like an easy task, but I assure you it was not! Before we arrived in August someone had donated money to make uniforms for the children who were currently living in the mission center, which is amazing! Since we have had so many kids join us at the mission center we were short a handful of uniforms. People are probably thinking why didn’t you go to the uniform shop and just pick up a few more uniforms? It is not that simple here. In Ghana each school has a different uniform, our uniform was designed by Wisdom! So each uniform is hand crafted for a certain child. This means that a seamstress has to travel to the mission center and take a series of measurements for each child’s top and bottom piece of the uniform.  Someone then has to travel to Accra to gather the fabric and materials for the uniforms. Each step of this process takes time and money. The seamstress visited the mission center yesterday to take the last batch of measurements and grab the two rolls of cloth to make the Kingdom Cares Community School uniform.

          >Finally we have completed the addition onto our existing school structure. We added a new structure with two classrooms to support the P6 pupils and house our new JHS Form 1 program. JHS stands for Junior High School and Form 1 would be the first year in the program. There is also JHS Form 2 and JHS Form 3. Building this structure allowed us to better meet the needs of the students we currently have in the school program as well as expanding who our program can reach.
      
    Although their seems like a never ending list of things to do on a daily basis it is important to take a step back and look at the big picture and what we have initially accomplished. Not all of these things were the first on our to do list these are all things that needed to be done along the way. Like we said from the very beginning being flexible is very important in any school setting, but in the Ghanaian school system especially. Mary and I have had to shift our focus on what we are doing in the school a few times based on new challenges that have come up along the way.  Here are some of the big things that Mary and I are currently or constantly working on.

         >We will continue observing our teachers on a daily basis. We watch the different teacher’s methods as well as how they engage/interact with the students. We also hope that by being in the classrooms on a constant basis we will make sure the teachers feel like the are valued and supported within the school setting. This also gives us a chance to answer any last minute questions they have and grab any last minute supplies they might need such as a white board marker, colored chalk, a chalkboard ruler, etc. What we see in the classrooms also help us to pick the topics of our next seminars.

          > My good friend from Iowa who has been to Ghana a few times contacted us a few weeks back asking about the whiteboard situation in our classrooms. He visited the mission center in August and noticed that only two of our classrooms have whiteboards. The rest are still using chalkboards, which for the most part are big pieces of plywood covered in black paint. He generously donated money for each of our 10 classrooms to get a large whiteboard. We are currently working with Wisdom to get the whiteboards purchased and installed in the school!

    >We are also in the process of getting class sets of textbook for each grade. The tricky thing is each subject has a different textbook. The nice thing is once we have purchased the textbook for the subject you can use that textbook for multiple years. The first subject we are purchasing for each grade is reading. We feel that reading textbooks are the most beneficial for students to get their hands on.  It is easy for students to develop misconceptions about print if they never have a chance to hold a book and explore all of the print details.

    >When Mary and I first came to the KCC School we had planned on creating a new curriculum for the students. We quickly learned that this was not an option since our school has to report to the GES (Ghanaian Educational System) even though we are a private school. The GES supplies each school with a syllabus outlining what the students need to learn for that subject, thus dictating what the teachers need to teach. The school had also already purchased a series of textbooks that aligned with the GES syllabus.  So what Mary and I have started working on is creating and compiling a set of standards for each subject and grade that outlines what each student will need to know by the end of the year (similar to that of the Common Core). We will be looking at the syllabus supplied by the GES, the textbooks, and the Basic Education Certificate Examination. The basic Education Certificate Examination is what the students will need to pass to continue their education in Ghana. If a student does not pass this exam they will not be permitted to move on in the formal education system.

    Finally Mary and I will continue to teach lessons in the different grades and subject areas. Sometimes we teach because a specific teacher asks us for help on a lesson and sometimes we teach for the enjoyment of teaching!

    Please continue to follow us on this journey and share what we are doing. We are always more than willing to answer questions or give more information. If you feel compelled to make a donation or support the school in some other capacity please either email us at kccschool15@gmail.com or visit Kingdom Cares International.

    Peace and Blessings,

    | Anna |

    Thursday, October 15, 2015

    From Drake to Asikuma


    When Anna and I take a break from our crazy life and stop to think about where we are at and what we are doing, we can’t help but think how lucky we are. Lucky to be a part of these incredible lives. Lucky to have such a great team that we are working with both in Ghana and in Iowa. Lucky to have each other to embark on this crazy journey with. Lucky to have the support from our family and friends back home, especially our Bulldog family.

    As Anna and I were preparing for this journey we spent a lot of time talking to professors and staff at Drake. We were seeking their support, resources, and expertise. We were both amazed at how the connections we made over the last four years came together to support the KCC School and us. Our incredible friends that we had made over the four years also have banded together to support us in anyway possible.

    However, what really left me speechless was when the Bulldog community extended beyond our specific networks. Maddy Gildersleeve, a sophomore at Drake, who neither Anna nor I had ever met before, contacted us this summer after one of our mutual friends explained to her a little bit about what Anna and I were up to this year and advised her to reach out to us. Maddy expressed her passion for the education of girls in developing countries and her desire to increase awareness and attention to the cause on Drake’s campus. She expressed its importance to her by saying “I think it hits home for me so much because I realize if I was born to a different set of parents in one of these nations I could be in the same shoes as the girls struggling there. These girls have husbands twice their age, multiple children and little to no education. And so many of them are so strong and still fight to earn an education and make a better life for themselves and I am so impressed by their strength.” And so she asked us if there was a way for her to get involved in Kingdom Care’s efforts from Drake’s campus.

    Front of T-Shirt
    Back of T-Shirt
    The three of us exchanged many emails and brainstormed several ideas of how to make something like this come to life. Maddy suggested getting Drake’s Greek Life involved and although both of us were never in a sorority, the support we have received from the community has been overwhelming and we have been running with the idea ever since. For the past four days on Drake’s campus there has been a Panhellenic Philanthropy going on. Shirts are being sold with the majority of the proceeds supporting the KCC School. 30% of the proceeds are also going to the philanthropy of the chapter that sells the largest percentage of shirts. In addition, Maddy has created a GoFundMe (https://www.gofundme.com/panhelphilanthropy) to raise additional funds. Anyone can buy a shirt or make a donation. If you are interested in a shirt please email us at kccschool15@gmail.com.

    While funds are important, we really worked hard to create an event that would hopefully mean something more to both our students in Ghana and the students on Drake’s campus. Therefore, in mid-November the girls from all of the sororities will gather to write Pen Pal letters to the students at our primary school. The goal of their letters will be to introduce themselves and convey to our primary students the importance of education and working hard. Once we receive these letters, Anna and I will teach writing lessons in the various classrooms and our students will compose a response. Our goal is to make this a sustainable event that continues even after we have returned to the states.

    Anna and I cannot express our gratitude and thanks to Maddy and the Drake Greek Life Ccmmunity enough. The funds that have already been raised and continue to be raised through their endeavors will go a long way in supporting education here. They will go toward providing the school with textbooks, school supplies, and other learning materials. Additionally, the positive message and role models our students receive will leave a lasting impact.

    As always, if you are looking for more ways to get involved, have an idea of your own, or have any questions please contact us at kccschool15@gmail.com. Anna and I could not do this alone and we are grateful to each and every one of you for following and sharing our journey and all the little things you have done for us along the way!

    Thursday, October 8, 2015

    Mark My Words

    Mary and I have the pleasure of interacting with the same handful of people on a daily basis. We have introduced to you Comfort, out housemother, and Wisdom, our make it happen man. The final member of our three-man team is Mark. It would take me days to express all that Mark does for Kingdom Cares International, the Asikuma community, the volunteers, the teachers and of course the children, but I am going to try and highlight some of the amazing work he does.
     
    It is easy to tell when Mark in on the compound. The first thing you hear is the roar of a motorbike, which is immediately followed by the chanting “Doctor, Doctor, doctor”. It is not just the kids who are chanting either. I have caught Comfort chanting for Mark a few times too. The children love having Mark around and we do too. He ALWAYS maintains a positive attitude and keeps a cool head. Whenever Mary and I have questions he is more than willing to answer them or lend a hand if a situation comes up.

    One of Mark’s many roles is disciplining the children. The only time a child is hesitant about going to talk with Mark is when they know they have done something wrong. The children respect Mark immensely, so having to talk to him about their poor choices is daunting for them. Again, Mark always keeps his cool and talks with the child about the situation at hand and decides the best was to discipline the child. He firmly believes that there is a difference between discipline and punishment.

    Another one of Mark’s many roles is a translator. Mary and I host bimonthly seminars for the teachers in our school. Mark is always at our seminar taking notes and helping to re-teach areas he thinks the teacher will find difficult to understand. Mark also helps to translate for the few kids in our house that speak only a few words of English.

    Mark also handles most of the medical needs for the children in the house. If someone gets a cut playing soccer or trips over a rock Mark is there to pick him or her up, dust him or her off, and bandage him or her up. He also handles more serious complaints like headaches and severe stomach pains. He talks with the child to find out their symptoms and then quickly makes the best decision for the child based on his medical experiences. The children feel safe and trust Mark’s opinion on what would be the best thing to make them feel better. Every “patient” also gets a healthy dose of love and sympathy as part of their treatment.

    The final and most important role that I see Mark filling day after day is a loving caregiver. When the children come into contact with Mark they feel valued and loved. Living with 33 other children can be hard sometimes, but it is people like Mark who will make a lasting impression on these children’s lives. He is there when they need to cry, cheering them on with they are promoted in school, checking in on them in the middle of the night when they are sleeping, and kissing their boo-boos.



    I am truly amazed and humbled by the work that Mark does for the Kingdom Cares Community School and the mission center. This place would not run a smoothly as it does without Mark. My hat is off to the man that wears many.

    Please continue to follow us on this journey and share what we are doing. We are always more than willing to answer questions or give more information. If you feel compelled to make a donation or support the school in some other capacity please either email us at kccschool15@gmail.com or visit Kingdom Cares International.

    Peace and Blessings,

    | Anna |