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 ( and collect any of the items or you can make a donation using the link and we will do the shopping.  Thank you for helping to make the holidays possible for these 31 amazing kids.


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 or visit

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!


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 or use the link on the right side of the page!

Peace and Blessings,

| Anna |