2015 Education Trip (Community Health Evangelism) – by Beth

Community Health Evangelism

The purpose of the Heartbeat for Africa trip was to serve the West Africa Community Health Evangelism (CHE) network director in any role he thought would expand and strengthen the CHE effort.  This partner, Dayo Obaweya, asked us to come alongside to encourage and equip some Ghana ministers who desire transformation for their communities.  Their ministries are growing and effective, and some of them have assistance from churches and non-government organizations, but they look to the CHE network to introduce the CHE concept and to do the initial training in CHE.  Our role was specified by each local pastor, and over the course of the trip included training for Children’s CHE, Women’s Cycle of Life CHE, CHE program training of trainers, and performing health assessments.  We worked alongside Dayo, Andrew, Samson, and Mandy of Medical Ambassadors International.

CHE health assessments are a census that can reveal a pattern of health problems within a community.  The assessments, which usually draw 100 or more participants each day, collect general health information and include a brief clinical evaluation by a local medical professional.  If a health problem trend is found, the community might choose to address it together as a community effort.  When that happens, the community could go on to invite a full CHE community transformation program.  On this trip, we did health assessments with groups in Navrongo, Bolgatonga, and Zuarungu.

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CHE health assessments

Another way to assess community interest in CHE is to offer one day of Women’s Cycle of Life (WCL) lessons to women a local pastor has invited.  We had this opportunity through Pastor Clement in Zuarungu and with Pastor Grace in Frankadua.  In each case, the women were enthusiastic about being change agents in their communities to bring about holistic health – meaning harmony with God, harmony with others, harmony with the environment, and harmony with self.  Maybe we planted more seeds than the regional CHE master trainers can tend to!  I’ll tell you more later on about that issue.

The CHE WCL curriculum has lessons about health, relationships, and God’s view of the worth of women.  Our partners chose Women’s Hygiene, Nutrition for Women, Preventing Complications in Pregnancy, Three Stages of Womanhood, Forgiveness, and Beauty and God’s Word, among other lessons

In Navrongo, Pastor Lamisi invited us to hold WCL training for women she invited from her Wemo Atu Widows and Orphans Ministry.  At City of Refuge (CORM) near Doryumu, we continued WCL training for women from their 7 Continents ministry.  In both groups, women were enthusiastic about the idea of holistic health and healthy women, healthy families, healthy communities.

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WCL class picture

Alongside the health assessments and WCL, several HBA team members were leading CHE TOT 1 training workshops (training of trainers.)  In these workshops men and women who have a heart for transforming communities learn the CHE teaching method, some key concepts that are fundamental to CHE, and how a CHE program is implemented in a community.  They become part of the network of CHEs and CHE trainers.  Pastor Clement invited us to do a TOT 1 in Bolgatonga, and Pastor Johnbull set up a TOT1 at CORM with people from their Catalyst ministry.

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Certificates for completing CHE TOT1

Members of our team were involved in another CHE program:  Children’s CHE.  They trained a group of teenagers and adults in Aveyime who can start kids clubs to implement CHE in families and communities.  I observed one of the last sessions of the training when they each practiced leading a lesson from the Children’s CHE curriculum.

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Training Children’s CHE leaders

Our main purpose for this trip was education, but we were also able to visit the African Internship Training Center (AITC), which is a partner of HBA and my church.  Besides being a CHE training center, AITC offers training to older orphans where they learn life skills, CHE principles, sustainable development practices, and a trade.  The first boys are currently in apprenticeships with local tradesman off campus during the day, but they came to AITC to meet us the day we visited.  They each spoke to us in their new English and described the trade they were learning.

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AITC boys and their house Mom

Pastor Grace, who arranged for us to introduce WCL training in a church in Frankadua, invited us to visit her ministry, the Baptist Vocational Training Center.  Her ministry is to restore girls – through spiritual, physical, and emotional rehabilitation and training – who have been released from Trokosi slavery.  Like CORM and Wemo Atu, BVTC’s ministry requires more explanation.

 

People Served by BVTC, CORM, and WAWOM

Girls are offered as fetish slaves to Trokosi earth priests as atonement to remove family curses.  Trokosi slaves serve a priest by working his fields and being domestic and sexual servants.  The practice of Trokosi slavery is ending, but this cannot be fully accomplished unless there’s an alternative livelihood for rescued slaves.  Pastor Grace at the Baptist Vocational Training Center (BVTC) near Frankadua minister to girls who have been released from Trokosi slavery.  At BVTC, the girls are rehabilitated to physical, spiritual, and mental health.  After that, they learn a trade – such as fabric dying, sewing, and weaving – so they can be fully restored to live outside the shrine.

Wemo Atu Widows and Orphans Ministry was started by Pastor Lamisi.  Widows in the northeast region of Ghana lose their livelihood because traditionally their farmland and children are given to her deceased husband’s family.  Widows undergo rituals to shame them and, if the husband’s family wants to cast them out, sorcery is used to accuse them so they can be banished.  Much progress has been made to improve human rights in this region, but thousands were already victims.  Lamisi shepherds her flock spiritually while she convinces the government to implement their enterprise programs in her region to benefit her widows.  She sees her widows as change agents who can help implement a CHE program in their area.

City of Refuge Ministries (CORM) started as a rescue for children who were given to small-scale commercial fishermen to perform labor.  Families believe the children will receive shelter and care and learn a trade, but the work conditions are harsh and dangerous, and the children are undernourished and receive no health care or education.  At CORM they receive all these things, and in a loving family environment designed by CORM founders Johnbull and Stacey.  CORM expanded their school to include children from the community, and they started 7 Continents to minister to mothers of the rescued children with the idea that with improved lives (spiritually and economically) they would not have to let their children go to slave labor.  They also offer an in-country training program for missionaries.  Johnbull envisions starting a community CHE program from CORM.

 

Opportunities

Getting back to the shortage of CHE trainers:  with BVTC, AITC, and CORM you can sponsor a student, and with Medical Ambassadors International, you can sponsor CHE trainers.  For trainers to attend TOTs and other training requires travel and time away from work, which very few can afford.  The CHE master trainers, who work with communities and oversee their CHE programs, serve full time, so they need financial support.  Please see www.heartbeatforafrica.org for details.

One thought on “2015 Education Trip (Community Health Evangelism) – by Beth”

  1. David says:

    Very inspiring story

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