Close

TEL International

Archives: News

Bringing Water to the World

Bringing Water to the World

One of the major challenges the people in West Africa face is the lack of a good clean water source. Without clean, safe drinking water, diseases, dehydration and even premature death constantly plague the people. Children are especially susceptible to disease because their immune systems are experiencing everything for the first time. Daily thousands of mothers are forced to make a choice to watch their children die of dehydration, or give them what water they can from a polluted, dirty, water source, full of parasites and bacteria.

The risks of drinking contaminated water are just as great as drinking no water at all. For every five children that die in developing countries, one will die because of water-related diseases. The choice between life-threatening dehydration and life-threatening water related disease is not a choice that any person should have to make.

Through our water, sanitation and hygiene program, TEL International is bringing living water by sharing Jesus Christ. We partner with the local faith community in the village and provide them with a reliable source of water that is safe to drink through interventions like: wells; rainwater catchment systems; piping systems to irrigate crops; and purification equipment to treat water contaminated by bacteria and other waterborne disease-carriers.

A big piece of what we do is make sure they (the village) is poised for long-term success. More importantly, the choice between dehydration and sickness is no longer a daily decision. Thousands have been impacted by the work of TEL International. We have been given an opportunity to go into places where clean water doesn’t exist and profoundly change people’s lives. It’s an amazing ministry and I’m proud to be part of it.

Teach the Children What Makes for Peace

Teach the Children What Makes for Peace

The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 14:19 to pursue what makes for peace. Peace has been on my mind a lot lately and it must have had a permanent location in Paul’s mind also. He calls our God, the “God of Peace” seven times in his epistles. In Ghana we have just recently had a victory for peace.

Last year there was a peaceful presidential election and a victory was declared. Then came accusations of cheating and corruption. The legal process was started and soon the highest court in the land was hearing the case that was televised for the whole nation to watch for over four months. After the plaintiff party made their arguments and the defending party made its arguments it was stated that the verdict would be announced at the end of August. In I Timothy 2:1, Paul writes: First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. So, we prayed. At the General Assembly of our partner church, we prayed. On television, leaders from all the religious groups urged peace and prayer. So the nation prayed.

I heard reports of people stockpiling food and supplies in the nation’s capital. I knew of people who planned not to drive in the city and postponed trips fearing violence. The verdict was made: the election results stood and there was a collective holding of breath and there was peace! How beautiful are the feet of those who carry the good news of peace! God has granted us peace in response to our prayers and the nations pursuing what makes for peace. It struck me that the children were watching. Now they know some things about justice and peace. This is what they should expect as they grow up here in Ghana and this is what they will pursue in their future.

Prayer of Thanksgiving and Intercession:

Dear God of Peace, we give you thanks for leading the nation of Ghana into peace. Thank you for all the leaders of all the religious groups who pursued peace in your name. Please intercede in the Middle East and in every corner of the world that is threatened with war or is experiencing war and bring them peace. Give us the strength to pursue what makes for peace and to teach our children to do the same. In the name of the Lord of Peace we ask: Amen

Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela

Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela

In 1964, while being tried for High Treason (punishable by death or life imprisonment), Nelson Mandela began his defense statement from the dock by saying, “I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts…” What a curious sentence to begin with when one’s life is at stake.

Most modern moral leaders of great caliber received a quality education. Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Albert Luthuli, to name just a few whose political careers flourished in South Africa, received quality educations. For anyone, but especially for people of color who have directly or indirectly been oppressed by white supremacy, education often liberates the self and society.

On 18 July 2013, the South African Synod of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) and the Inanda Seminary choir paid tribute to Nelson Mandela in song and prayer at a special service held at his 1962 capture site. The purpose of the prayer was to wish ‘Madiba’ a Happy Birthday as well as to pray for him and the nation in the midst of his prolonged illness.

The relationship between ‘Madiba’ and Inanda Seminary is long. While on Robben Island, his daughter-in-law was sent to school here. On 13 August 1999 and again in 29 May 2001, ‘Madiba’ visited Inanda Seminary in his effort to restore its infrastructure. In many ways, ‘Madiba’ saved the school and began its physical resurrection. Inanda Seminary’s vision is to “equip its members for higher education by providing strong academics and Christian leadership under girded by its core values” (honesty, loyalty, respect, self-discipline, sociability and responsibility).

Quality education for black girls in Africa is crucial for their own and their societies’ success. Higher education gave Mandela the intellectual and legal tools to eruditely articulate his cause and case to his judge and the world. Perhaps, more importantly, ‘Madiba’s’ education engendered within himself the dignity, integrity and pride required to defend himself against those who considered him inferior.

Happy Birthday, Nelson Mandela. Get well soon.

Entering Through the “Door of Return”

Entering Through the “Door of Return”

Something within my spirit has always drawn me toward Africa. In 1991 Essence Magazine published an article on the People of Ghana, West Africa. Being a “long range planner,” my husband asked “What do you want to do for our 20th Wedding Anniversary in 1992?” Immediately, I answered “I want to go to Ghana.” Surprisingly he said “OK!” The moment we stepped off the plane in Accra, the capital of Ghana, I knew I was in the place of my ancestors. I saw people who looked like me and several of my relatives so much that I started conversations, only to hear an accent and a language very different than mine. During the visit we were up nearly every morning with a driver and an interpreter to travel the roads, meeting the people, and experiencing the culture that reminded me of growing up in “The Old Neighborhood,” of Dallas, Texas USA.

Since 2006, my travels to Ghana have connected me with the people and transformed my life. It was during one trip that a Ghanaian woman said to me, “I am sorry, our people were enslaved in America . . . Remember we were enslaved but not slaves. They took so much from us … Our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, our doctors, our mid-wives, cooks, seamstresses, teachers, mathematicians, and on and on.” Finally she said, “Now look at you and look at us.” Ever since that trip, I have made it one of my missions in life to encourage as many African Americans and other Americans to experience the people of Ghana. When our African ancestors left slave dungeons in Ghana, they went through a door, known as “The Door of No Return.” Now we go through that same door and re-enter and the sign reads “The Door of Return.”

Through TEL International we have experienced hands-on sharing and being the good news of Jesus Christ. In Ghana, we have donated funds to install water wells, taught children through educational programs, health screenings, provided school supplies, clothing, toys for children and the painting of different facilities. The National Convocation Executive Committee will hold their March 2014 Board meeting in Ghana. We will be transformed, as we “Be still and know” God in Ghana, West Africa.

Enhancing Welfare for Children in Difficult Living Situations

Enhancing Welfare for Children in Difficult Living Situations

The Council of Churches in Sierra Leone (CCSL) is an umbrella Christian Organization comprised of twenty Protestant church denominations and ten para-church organizations. The Council exists to empower and work with its member bodies and communities to fulfill their ministries in obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In the 2011 population estimate, Sierra Leone’s population totaled 6 million; of that number 2.3 million were 18 years old and younger. Within this population are an increased number of street children. Several local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) including the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone (CCSL), are trying to address this issue by working with street children in an effort to reduce their numbers and reduce their vulnerability level. The current economic situation in the country has led to an increased level of hardship for these unfortunate street children.

The Council of Churches in Sierra Leone (CCSL) has identified 140 vulnerable children between the ages six to 18 years among the street children in the City of Kenema in the Eastern Region of Sierra Leone. These children are described as particularly vulnerable. Some have parents who are blind beggars, some are children of physically handicapped parents, and others are the “true street children” – those abandoned or separated from parents and relatives or whose parents have died. These children are those without recourse and resources to shape their lives and guarantee a positive future. At present CCSL has a program in Kenema where it is providing educational assistance to seventy children. Thirty-one of these children are in the secondary school level, with the remaining 39 in the primary school level. Due to the number of street children, CCSL has decided to increase the number of street children it is presently assisting from the current number of 70 to 140 to include all of those mentioned above.

To improve the quality of life of these vulnerable children and orphans and their caregivers in Kenema, CCSL will provide educational assistance, caregiving, love, and support. They hope to provide educational support for children currently living in the street and reintegration of many of these children back into their family units. CCSL also will provide women with basic business skills and provide parents and/or caregivers with income-generating loans. CCSL hopes these interventions will result in the following: street children being reintegrated into a safe family environment; street children receiving assistance to go to school; support of families of children reintegrated into family care and into schools; and regular monitoring of the situation of children who are re-integrated into their families.

Successful implementation of this program will require collaboration, awareness-raising, participation, monitoring, evaluation, and sustainability. Parents and guardians will be encouraged to continue to keep their children in school. The government and other stakeholders will be encouraged to establish and carry out policies to keep the children out of the streets.

Agricultural Development at Mt. Selinda

Agricultural Development at Mt. Selinda

In 2007-2008 Zimbabwe experienced hyperinflation on the scale unknown in history. The hyperinflation (some reports say 231 million per cent in 2008 and, interestingly, Forbes Asia put the rate at 6.5 quindecillion novemdecillion percent – 65 followed by 107 zeros) resulted in a total collapse of the economy putting an already struggling country into hunger and despair. The hardships are felt deeply in the rural areas where unemployment hovers around 80 per cent. Global Ministries has been instrumental in funding initiatives to bring about economic recovery.

The Food Security project to which I am assigned aims to improve the food quality and quantity for people in rural areas. Secondary goals include providing needed employment financial support for the Mission. The Food Security Project has made strides in renewing the long vacated agricultural program at Mt. Selinda Mission. In conjunction with local leadership and with the help of OGHS dollars, a used tractor was purchased and overhauled to clear the overgrown fields. The first year 9 hectares (22 acres) were cleared and planted with maize and pinto beans. The second year 20 hectares (45 acres) were farmed, and year three saw 25 hectares (63 acres) worked. The original goal was to double the acreage each year, but the goal was not met due to draught and cash flow issues. Hand labor is used for planting, fertilizing, weeding and harvesting which, over three years, has contributed $12,000 to the local economy.

In addition to growing crops, the Food Security Project raises pigs and chickens. Farm raised chickens and pigs are donated to the Children’s Home to provide needed protein. There is also a large garden project. The seeds are provided by the Food Security Program and the garden is tended by the children at the Children’s Home and by hospital employees. The garden provides broccoli, kova, cabbage, rape and carrots to the hospital and children’s home. Manaka is a mother trying to send her children to school. When she receives word that Mt.Selinda is looking for farm labor, she packs her baby on her back, her maize and a pot on her head, and walks the 40 miles to Mt. Selinda. She will stay in the area with relatives or members of her ethnic group, or maybe under a tree, until the work is complete.

In the future, the Food Security Project will expand to the sister mission at Chikore. There are also plans to grow macadamia nuts as an export product. Plans are underway to build a farmstead to provide storage and security to the machinery. All projects look to sustainability to provide food and income well into the future. Thank you for giving through One Great Hour of Sharing. Your continued support ensures that this project and others like it can continue to provide hope and nutrition to people in rural Zimbabwe and around the world.

Tree Planting in Ghana

Tree Planting in Ghana

In February 2012, the ARC organized a workshop on Tree Management and Conservation for faith bodies in Northern Ghana. The purpose of the workshop was to highlight the challenges of land degradation and the threat of desertification that has inundated and continues to threaten the Northern Regions of Ghana. The selected participants came from the Inter Faith Platform, relevant government institutions, program officers of Faith Based Organizations, civil society organizations, and religious leaders. The EP Church, Ghana’s involvement was as a result of previous work done and experience gained in the development of community woodlots through tree planting activities that the church had undertaken in the Northern Region between 2002 and 2006. Participating religious organizations in the February 2012 workshop included the Catholic Church, the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, the Methodist church, Evangelical Presbyterian Church, and major Muslim organizations. Participants were taken through a three-day training workshop that educated them on the correct approaches to tree planting and growing on dry lands, as well as nursery management skills.

A second workshop took place in May where selected participants, representing their various religious organizations, were taken again through the rudiments of tree nursery development and operations. Participants spent one full day at the central nursery of the public Forestry Division where they were taken through the practical methods of collecting seeds, raising tree seedlings, and how to construct ridges successfully. This was a hands-on training session that had practical sessions to specifically equip the participants with practical skills that would enable them to undertake the development of tree nurseries at their various constituencies with very little or no support from the forestry department.

In Northern Ghana, a total of 20,000 seedlings were procured from the Forestry Department and distributed among major religious organizations for planting during the main rainy season. They included the Catholic Churches in Damongo, Wa and Tumu, Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Tamale Metropolis, Methodist Church at Yendi , Presbyterian Church of Ghana at East Gonja, Ahmmadiya Muslim Mission at Yendi and Salaga, Federation of Muslim Women Associations at Tamale, Central Mosque in Tamale, and the Al Sunna at Bolgatanga. Planting took place in the months of June and July when rains were heaviest and the seedlings expected to be very well established before the dry season.

A total of 23,900 seedlings were actually planted and the average survival rate was 72.22 percent, covering a total land area of 32 acres. In Southern Ghana, the EP Church, Ghana started tree planting in the new community of Adaklu Waya in the Volta Region on a five acre plot. A total of five thousand seedlings were planted out of which a survival rate of 80 percent was recorded.

As a result of these plantings, 32 acres of vegetation cover has been restored in Ghana, which goes a long way to contributing to mitigating the negative effects of climate change in Ghana, especially Northern Ghana, where studies have shown that climate variability contributes to poverty through food insecurity and seasonal migration. This project also has positively affected the threat of desertification due to the southward drift of the Sahara desert. Knowledge and skills transfer have taken place during project implementation where local communities and their leaders acquired new skills which they never had or otherwise would have had to pay for. Communities involved have developed resilience to the effects of climate change.

The project faces many challenges to include: the maintenance of the planted fields by communities; inadequate knowledge of spraying weedicides and pesticides; inappropriate clothing gear for tree planting activity; and inadequate funding.

The Partnership between the ARC and EP Church, Ghana should be strengthened even further to enable both to achieve tremendous success in the area of environmental protection which is key to addressing the menace of climate change in Ghana.

TEL International welcomes gifts for the EP Church, Ghana participation in these educational and practical activities in order to create bigger and better impacts on the people in some of the environmentally degraded areas of Ghana.

Mission History from an African Perspective

Mission History from an African Perspective

Almost all of the books one finds concerning the history of mission work in Africa have been written from the perspective of missionaries or western observers. The voices of indigenous Africans, who were in almost all cases the most effective agents of Christian mission, are seldom heard. With the release of Precious Mt. Silinda by Mrs. Kate E. Sukuta and her son, Dr. Sydney Sukuta, this void is beginning to be filled.

Almost all of the books one finds concerning the history of mission work in Africa have been written from the perspective of missionaries or western observers. The voices of indigenous Africans, who were in almost all cases the most effective agents of Christian mission, are seldom heard. With the release of Precious Mt. Silinda by Mrs. Kate E. Sukuta and her son, Dr. Sydney Sukuta, this void is beginning to be filled.

Precious Mt. Silinda examines the impact of Christian missionary work in Africa since the dawn of the twentieth century from an African perspective, focusing specifically on the history of long time Global Ministries partner, the United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe. As coauthor Mrs. Kate Sukuta notes, “I feel as though God put me in a unique position to witness over a century of Christian work through my parent’s s eyes, starting when Mt. Silinda Mission and the United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe (UCCZ) were simultaneously founded in 1893, followed by my and my late husband’s Christian work to date. As we enter the twenty-first century I feel obligated to share this gift God gave me with the rest of the world, for perhaps this is part of my mission and purpose in life. Even though this “Century Missionary Report Card in Africa” represents my specific interpretations, opinions, and views, I am almost certain that most African people who share a similar background with me will generally agree with my overall conclusions.”

Mrs. Kate Sukuta is a second generation member of the UCC Zimbabwe and much of the historical information comes from her personal experience. Her son, Dr. Sydney Sukuta, is a former member of the UCC Zimbabwe and now works as a professor in California.

Prayer Request for Kenya

Prayer Request for Kenya

The following is an excerpt from an up-date of the USA Embassy regarding the bombing that took place Monday in Nairobi. Let us continue to pray for the country and the victims of the bombing:

“In the last few days, there have been three separate incidents in Kenya involving grenade attacks or explosive devices. On May 26, a grenade exploded at a construction site within the Ifo refugee camp in Dadaab, and another exploded at a hotel in Wajir, about 75 miles away. Three Kenyans were injured in these attacks. On May 28, an explosive device caused a large explosion in the central business district of Nairobi. More than forty people were injured and several sustained critical injuries.” Thanks for your prayers,

Ons Plek 2010 Report

Ons Plek 2010 Report

Each year between 100 and 150 girls between the ages of six and 18 leave home to fend for themselves on the streets of Cape Town. The girls usually have left their homes to escape physical abuse and neglect or they have been sent away when their families can no longer support them. The girls report that they eat better on the streets than they do at home. These female street children are the poorest of the poor. To these girls, Ons Plek provides accessible early intervention and intake 24 hours a day. Ons Plek provides the girls with a safe environment and shelter, while providing appropriate programs for the girls based on an assessment of each girl’s circumstances.

Ons Plek has a simple and passionate mission… to make a substantive improvement in the lives of female street children. Ons Plek is a place where girls find an opportunity to rebuild their lives and their self-esteem, a place where a sense of belonging helps them to take responsibility for themselves and for others. Ons Plek works toward girls being successfully re-united with their families and, that failing, that they will be sufficiently empowered at Ons Plek Projects to grow into healthy, independent, functioning members of society. Girls participate fully in decisions about their lives, residential staff members share the lives of the girls, and office staff members do their jobs with limited resources. Ons Plek is not an escape — it is a real home in a rough life.

Ons Plek is the only comprehensive program for girls on the streets of Cape Town. The intake shelter is situated in the Central Business District of Cape Town, an area where children and youth run to for relative safety if city security systems allow them. The sources of the children’s problems are not easily solved – deepening poverty, abuse, lack of affordable safe housing, unemployment, crime, family instability, alcohol abuse, family violence, etc. Girls come voluntarily or are referred from different sources. Some girls roam around their home community with inappropriate friends, often hanging around cheap local liquor and entertainment centers, before seeking help. Girls who seek help are often teenagers but also younger girls, sometimes girls with babies. Children tend to cope with an inordinate amount of trauma before leaving their home environments. These psychological scars may take a long time to heal for many of the girls. Those girls who find it the most difficult to reintegrate with mainstream society are often also living with learning difficulties and even severe mental health problems. Unaccompanied foreign minors are very vulnerable and often end up as street children. The work of the three main facilities is all interlinked. The three programs integrate to form a whole. Ons Plek’s levels of care included the intake shelter doing comprehensive assessment and development care and Siviwe, a second-phase shelter focusing on therapy and development. Ukondla is a community project with prevention as a priority.

Ons Plek generally works with an average of 100 to 150 girls per year. However, statistics for last two years are an interesting reflection of what is happening in society as well as how effective the programs are. At any given time, there are usually about 130 girls in care at Intake (Ons Plek) and Second Stage Shelter (Siviwe). In 2009, there were 82 children. There were fewer children on the street and there was a sudden decrease in referrals. This was true for other homes and shelters as well. Then the numbers began to climb dramatically from December 2009 and Ons Plek became very full. They usually reunite half of the children with their families per year. In 2010, about 25 percent went home. Of these, eight had been with Ons Plek for several years and only after years of work were the families ready to reunite.

Twenty-five children were unable to settle into Ons Plek, some revolted and ran away repeatedly or vanished soon after being admitted. Of these, 15 were drug users whom Ons Plek and other homes were unable to help. There are almost no free treatment centers for girls on drugs in the Western Cape. Many came having had short treatment courses which are now closed down and began using again. Six of the 25 were habitual street children who moved between home and street following a family tradition of doing so. Only three of the 25 had a caring family member who repeatedly tried to help. Ons Plek continues to make intensive use of local and international volunteers and student interns (33 in 2010) who work part-time or full-time for Ons Plek for periods ranging between three and ten months. They provided a range of activities, including computer skills training, reading, art, drama, education, leadership training, swimming, and baking. In addition to the work with with girls vulnerable enough to dwell on the streets rather than in their homes, Ons Plek is running preventative programs to preserve families. Dropping out of school is often a precursor to “dropping out of home,” a homework support program helps girls stay in school.

At Ukondla I, a group of 19 children attend homework support, enrichment programs, and weekly counseling sessions regularly. The program runs Mondays to Fridays and is similar to the in-house support program at Ons Plek. Staff members regularly visit all the children’s family homes and their parents are now very supportive of the program.

A second homework support program is now open and working with 20 children who have been on the waiting list as well as for children of battered women during their stay at a nearby shelter. When the women leave the shelter their children can continue to attend Ukondla II while their mothers establish themselves in a new life.

In South Africa, it was impossible to ignore the World Cup, and the girls were included in the fun, without putting them in danger or providing a little too much temptation. They went to the FIFA FanFest the day it opened, which gave them a lot of amusement. They danced to the music, blew vuvuzelas, and enjoyed the festivities. In the house, the girls were encouraged to watch matches with the childcare workers; the girls also painted South African flags while doing arts and crafts and took part in playing soccer at a local park with the dedicated volunteers.