Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Person's a Person No Matter How Small!

Mary and I were very overwhelmed by all of the children when we first got to the mission center. It took us a couple of days to learn all of the children’s names, their personalities, and likes. We quickly realized that these are some of the most caring, loving, and giving children. We are going to introduce you to these children over the next couple weeks.

Speaking from personal experience, we all know it is the youngest siblings that rum the house holds. This is no different in the KCI Mission center. These 5 children I am about to introduce you to are the best fed children in the house and receive the most cuddles from the other children. They spend their days playing, laughing, and dancing which means they are usually the first ones to fall asleep. Finally without fail these are the children that get carried to bed every single night. Without further adieu I would like you all to meet: Madjoa, Ester, Helena, Yaw and, Hannah.
Madjoa is our youngest child at the mission center (6-8 months). When she first arrived she was very malnourished and weak. Someone in Asikuma found her in a waste bin in town. Madjoa was brought immediately to the mission center where she received a bath, food, and some TLC. She now spends her days in the arms of her numerous friends, being fed, talked to, and constantly loved. Since Mary and I arrived a little over week ago she has grown so much before our eyes. She can now hold her head up by herself and her limbs seem stronger. She is looking forward to learning to walk once her legs are strong enough. She likes a fresh diaper, a full bottle, and when you call out her name.

The next youngest resident is Helena the destroyer (about 12 months). If there is something to get into Helena will find a way to get into it. Just today she spent 15 minutes dumping water onto the freshly washed clothes. She can often be found running around in nothing but a diaper and a smile. Helena is a people person. From the moment Mary and I arrived at the mission center she has been very loving towards us. She’ll show you extra love if you have food in your hand. Helena spends her days in the kitchen or following around her partner in crime (PIC) Ester. Helena is your classic, happy go lucky baby. She likes anything that has to do with food, being carried around the mission center, and taking her daily baths.

Queen Ester (about 13 months) is only a few months older than Helena, but she has a serious big sister complex. She is called Queen Ester because whatever Ester wants she finds a way to get. When I pick her up she doesn’t want to snuggle with me, but she does want me to carry her to another room or to another person. Ester takes a couple of days to warm up to a person. She does not instantly love, but if she does decide she trust you you’ll see she has the kindest smile I have ever see and a contagious laugh.  Just like Helena, Ester can eat. She receives her our bowl at dinnertime and still walks up to each child as they are eating to receive a bite of their food. Ester enjoys telling elaborate stories in her native tongue (gibberish), playing peek-a-boo, and bossing around anyone who will follow her instructions.

Hannah is 4 years old, but has the sass of a 16 year old. If Hannah does not like something you will know about it instantly. She can also be very sweet. She loves to give away hugs and smiles to everyone she meets. When Mary and I pulled into the mission center she was right there to greet us. It seemed like she had found her way into my arms before I was even on the front steps of the mission house. She spends her mornings going from volunteer to volunteer until everyone in the house has had a chance to hold her. Then she runs around playing with the other children and dancing to just about any beat she can find. Once Hannah has lunch she settles in for a well-deserved afternoon nap. She enjoys sitting on anyone and everyone’s lap, showing off her latest wardrobe change, and long hugs.

Finally, Yaw is the little big man of the house. Although he is the youngest in age (4) he is wise beyond his years. He knows exactly how much of a ruckus
he can cause without actually getting into trouble. On numerous occasions he has also managed to get two of the bigger boys to put all of their food into his bowl so they can share. This way Yaw gets all of his food and a little extra to hold him over. Mary and I call Yaw monkey boy because he is always goofing around. He loves to laugh. Yaw’s favorite word seems to be No. If he doesn’t want to do something he will NOT do it. He also has this uncanny ability to fall asleep anywhere. I have seen him sleep just about everywhere in the mission house and it is hardly ever somewhere that looks remotely comfortable. Yaw enjoys jumping around, pulling pranks, and sneaking food from the kitchen.

We are excited to continue to get to know these unique and loving children over the next couple months. Stay tuned to meet some more of our amazing children!

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 or visit Kingdom Cares International.

Peace and Blessings,

| Anna |

Friday, August 28, 2015

Desks, Textbooks, and School...Oh My!

After a weekend full of fun and games, yesterday was our first full weekday in Asikuma. Anna and I were both excited to see what a “normal” summer day looks like for the kids living at the mission center. The school term does not start until September 8th, but the other volunteers have been working hard to implement some summer classes for the mission center kids as well as anyone else from the village that can come.

Unfortunately, what we observed yesterday in the summer school classes was a mix of lacking supplies/resources, engagement, and experience. Although the school is doing the best they can they do not have desks for the children which means the students are either sitting on the floor using the bench as a table or they are trying to write in their lap. Additionally, there is a lack of paper, pencils, books, etc. This made engaging the students extremely challenging. Many of them know limited English and so without the ability to read, write, and copy they were struggling to make sense of class. Thus, many of them would just leave class frustrated, some in tears, as a result of not being able to be successful. Finally, the majority of the volunteers are not trained teachers. This means that they are doing the best they can but without resources it is even more difficult to meet the needs of all of the children because they have such a wide range of abilities. Anna and I left the morning classes feeling very discouraged and overwhelmed.

Thankfully, just when we needed it the most, Wisdom asked us if we would be willing to attend a “brief” meeting about the school. We knew better than to assume brief would actually mean short, we’re on Africa time after all. However, we agreed and walked back to the school to meet the new headmaster and about half of the teachers. I won’t bore you with all the details of our 2.5-hour meeting, yet I will tell you that we both left with huge smiles on our faces. We covered topics ranging from resources needed for the school to be successful to discipline to promoting literacy and the use of English. Everything we that was shared by the headmaster and teachers and all the various points discussed, Anna and I agreed with. This made us confident that we don’t need to try to reinvent the wheel, but instead will be able to spend our time making small changes and suggestions that will benefit the students and the teachers.

We will meet with the whole staff, eight teachers and headmaster, next Monday for a day of in-service training before school starts. Anna and I will be presenting about how to best meet the needs of all students especially with literacy and English. One of our goals is for the teachers to begin to see the importance of allowing students to work in groups and learn from one another. We will also be listening to the headmaster and trying to get a better grasp of their education system and have our questions answered. We are anxious for school to start, but thankful for the time we have to prepare.

We could not be more appreciative for all the love and support we have received, especially as we were leaving the states! We are loving every minute of our time here but it’s always great to hear from people back home. Please continue to follow our journey, spread the word, and support us financially if you feel compelled. We are currently raising funds for 50 desks and clastextbooks so we are prepared for the beginning of the school year. As always, let us know if you have any questions or would like additional information!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Obrunis* Abroad

38 hours, 3 separate planes, and a taxi ride later Mary and I arrived in Accra, Ghana on Thursday night.  We spent the evening eating pizza and catching up with some old friends in the capital city. The next morning we continued our journey to the Kingdom Cares Mission Center. Another 3 hours in a taxi went by before we arrived in Asikuma. We were greeted at our new home by several familiar faces and many smiling kids.

We have spent the past two days getting settled in, learning the names of our 32 newest roommates, and acclimating ourselves with the Ghanaian culture. Although they have been very full days and we find ourselves quite tired in the evenings, I think we have received more hugs and cuddles in the past two days then I could possibly count. The love and happiness that surrounds this center is absolutely incredible.

So far we have played with a deflated basketball, a skip it, rocks, a flashlight, and shoes. It amazes me how kids who have so little can find such happiness in everyday objects. As I sit here writing this blog Helena, one of our youngest roommates, is using a piece of fabric to try and capture birds on our porch.  The children are so content with what they have it is refreshing.

As far as education is concerned we met a wonderful volunteer named Emily. She is working with the Olive Branch program and has been working on a summer school program with a handful of the kids here.  Yesterday we got to sit in on a class with the older girls. They were not supposed to have school because it was Saturday, but they insisted on having class anyway. Their excitement and eagerness to learn is unlike anything I’ve seen before. We have girls at all different abilities. I worked with a wonderful girl named Gifty who seemed very advanced with her math abilities. Mary worked with another named Abbi who struggled with recognizing and writing her numbers. It makes me wonder about their past educational experiences. I question how these two girls coming from the same place and being about the same age can vary so much in academic ability.

Mary and I are excited to work with Emily for the rest of the week to start finding out the different strengths and areas of improvement of the children at the KCI mission center. This will help guide the planning process for school once it resumes and allow us to adapt the curriculum to best the meet the needs of all our learners. This seems like a daunting task, but Mary and I are up for the challenge.

We are looking forward to finding out more about the students and the amazing staff, and volunteers we have the pleasure of working with as well as ourselves.

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 or visit Kingdom Cares International.

Peace and Blessing,

| Anna |

* P.S. An Obruni is a white foreigner. If you plan to visit Ghana be prepared to hear this from every new person that you meet or see.  

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Stop...Anna time

WHERE DID THE SUMMER GO? In just 7 days Mary and I will be boarding a plane and starting our journey to Asikuma, Ghana. We have spent all summer working, trying to raise awareness for our school, and fundraising.

Mary is always on top of things! She naturally has already introduced herself to all of you so with only 7 days left I think it is finally time for me to do the same.

For those of you who don’t know me I am…DRUM ROLL PLEASE……
Anna Suminski! I was born and raised in the city of Saint Charles, Illinois with my mother, father, and older sister. I just graduated from Drake University with a degree in elementary education and endorsements in reading and English as a Second Language (ESL).

I have always had desire to travel, but was too scared to pull the trigger. When I originally thought about studying abroad in college I signed up to go on a nice boat trip in the Bahamas. Unfortunately I was put on a long waiting list. I was complaining about not being able to go when I was walking through my sophomore dorm and one of my best friends, Leah Bromaghim, told me that I should consider going on the Ghana J-Term. My parents were walking with us and were not very keen on the idea of their baby girl traveling all the way to Ghana. After a serious conversation and a little bit of charm my mom said that I could go on the trip. I emailed the professor for the trip, Jill Johnson, and asked if I could be added to the class roster. Jill had to work some magic of her own because the course should have technically been closed, but I was thankfully added on the trip! The funny thing is I was never supposed to go to Ghana and now an embarking on my third trip to this remarkable country.

I knew that I wanted to go back to Ghana after my first experience in the village school. There was a little boy who had been very helpful at the school who I found out had a large infected cut behind his ear, but his family could not afford to take him to the medical center to receive the proper care that he needed. So a group of us who were at the school at the time decided to take him to the medical center at lunch to get his ear cleaned and the medicine needed for the wound to heal. We made it about half a mile down the road from the school when we heard something behind us. I turned around to see a little boy crying and running towards us. He looked so scared. I found out his name was Stephen and did not want to be away from his brother. We asked him to go back to school and told him his brother would be back soon, but he continued to follow us. So I picked up Stephen and I held him in my arms until he fell asleep. Once we arrived at the medical center and got everything taken care the boys were so grateful. They were so happy and all we had to do was show them basic love and made sure their basic needs were met. There were many other students at the village school that were in the same shape as these boys. All these children need is someone who is willing to give them a chance and help them learn the skills they need to succeed. I want to be that person.

I know that when people think of Africa they think of all of the unknowns. I understand that I am only 22 years old and I understand that there are still a lot of things that I don’t know yet about life. But there are some things that I feel like I know whole heartedly. I know that I can help these students. I know that I can help to equip them with education that they need. I know that I can love them unconditionally. I know that I can make sure that their basic needs are met. I know that I can learn a lot from the people and this place I am going to be living at for the next couple months. I know that this journey is going to be hard at times. Most importantly I know that I am truly excited, and of course a little nervous, for this next chapter of my life as an educator, a traveler, and a follower of Christ.

I do want to give a quick shout out to my loving family for supporting me through out this whole thing! You guys are my rock and I wouldn’t be able to do this with out them. I also want to give a shout out to our great friends that have supported us along the way and the Kingdom Cares staff! You have all been instrumental in helping Mary and I on our journey.

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 or visit Kingdom Cares International.

Peace and Blessing,

| Anna |