|The sun, obscured by dust.|
Reed Family: It's been almost a month since I wrote last - the holidays were a little more difficult for me than expected, so I took some time off from writing the blog. The last time I wrote, Hannah had just arrived in Ghana and it was great to have her home. She caught up on sleep, spent some time with her friends here, went on a youth retreat with the church, and hung out with Noah and I. On her last day here, we decided to have her hair braided, West African style, which she hadn't done in all of our time here. So after six painful hours with six young women at work, she got on a plane and headed home.
Noah turned 17 today (January 16) - so very hard to believe - and has pretty much reached the six foot mark - also hard to believe. He continues to do well in school, is busy applying for scholarships for Calvin College, and had his very first job interview today for a summer job. One of the applications for scholarships wanted him to identify one goal that would define him, which caused for some great conversations and further identification of his gifts, passions, and talents. At this point, he is looking at foreign service work, with a potential career in the United Nations or for the US government. He hopes to study political science, international relations, and other related fields. I think that is a great fit for him and am pleased to think that his experience in West Africa over the past seven years will have impacted his future in a positive way.
My work continues to go well, but not without its struggles. Below is a brief report on each of our partnerships:
Nigeria: As you have probably seen on the news, there have been two issues plaguing Nigeria - the Boko Haram, a Muslim group who wants Shiria law in place, has been attaching various churches and Christians. A state of emergency has been put in place for three different states, including the Plateau State where our partnership is located. The Christian Coalition in Nigeria has declared that if the government is not able to protect them, they will protect themselves. Secondly, on January 1st, the government removed a gas subsidy, causing the price of gas to double. Nigerians view this as the only benefit that the average person receives from being such an oil rich land, and therefore are angry it was taken away, despite promises that the money will be funneled into social programs. There have been country-wide strikes for the past five days, causing airports, roads, banks, schools, etc, to be shut down. Our partners report that the informal sector continues to function and they feel relatively free to move around, but we do ask for prayers for peace as the government negotiates with the union leaders.
Ghana: In the basic business principle class that we offer our SME (small and medium entrepreneurs) members, we teach very basic book-keeping for about six of the thirty-six hour class. It's a good start with simple skills but for businesses that really want to grow, it doesn't go deep enough. This past week, Dr. Lynn White from Trinity Christian College in Chicago, came to teach thirty of our high impact entrepreneurs accounting. Twenty-five hours of double entry journaling and ledgers, adjusting entries, closing entries, trial balances, and post-closing trial balances. It was great!! Not only did our SME members learn a lot, but the Hopeline staff also benefited from this.
We looked specifically for our members who could handle higher level math and had access to a laptop. Everyone was given excel documents as well as paper copies of the material and they had a great time learning this new language together and learning how the computer can do much of the work for them. Each day ended with some level of frustration for the business owners but it was amazing how much people understood by the end of the week. I believe this will have a great impact on their businesses. Our thanks to Dr. White and Trinity College!
|Dea and Amy, in the hospital, before surgery.|
Liberia: Today is the inauguration ceremony for President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Thirty heads of state will be there to celebrate this day with the country. The highest priority for 2012 is the high number of unemployed and uneducated youth, with an emphasis on vocational and technical training. This vibrant, strong 72 year old woman will serve this country for another six years, Lord willing, and bring it further down the road of peace and development. The work with LEAD continues to go well. I am planning to return to Liberia in February to do an intensive week of training with the staff, reviewing policies and procedures, the business curriculum, as well as spending time reviewing Business as a Mission and why we do what we do.