Christian Outreach to Northern Ghana

                                                      P.O. Box 167 Bazua-Bawku, UER, Ghana, West Africa

www.christianoutreachtonorthernghana.net

Description: C:\Users\Camille\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\X31NWS46\MC900441842[1].wmfJABEZ FARMS                                                                                   Project Manager: John Forkuor 020-723-2473  email: kforkuor@yahoo.com   P.O. Box        Kintampo, B/A

“…Each smallest act of kindness-even just words of hope when they are needed, the remembrance of a birthday, a compliment that engenders a smile-reverberates across great distances and spans of time, affecting lives unknown to the one whose generous spirit was the source of this good echo, because kindness is passed on and grows each time it is passed, until a simple courtesy becomes an act of selfless courage years later and far away.” H.R White, ‘This momentous Day’, cited by Dean Koontz in his novel “From the Corner of His Eye”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Dear Sir/Madam

The Christian Outreach to Northern Ghana wishes to express its profound gratitude and appreciation for your support in donating academic materials to the Abom D/A primary school in the Kintampo district. The presentation was received with much joy by the school and the community in general, with all stake holders optimistic that this donation will have a tremendously positive impact on the lives of the pupils involved.

As a donor, we wish to share with you pictures of the presentation in the hope that it will motivate you to continue to support the work of the organization. Please find below pictures from the presentation:

The pictures above show the academic materials presented to the school. They included integrated science textbooks for primary 4, 5 and 6; citizenship education for primary 6; English reading books for primary 3 and 6; 3 dictionaries; 20 exercise books; 3 sets of pens; 3 mini boxes of erasers; some sharpeners; paper glue; a box of pencils; first aid box; crayons; water based painting colors; a ringing bell.

The next three pictures show the three teachers who teach in the school from nursery through to primary six. The school is understaffed and the teachers overworked. Nonetheless, they all make a coordinated effort to ensure that the pupils get the best possible attention and education that could be provided within the available resources. When asked why there were only three teachers, the head teacher explained that there used to be other teachers who came to help but these have subsequently stopped coming since the government refuses to subsidize their expenses. Consequently, even though there remain some qualified youth in the community who could assist in teaching, they are reluctant to do so without any financial incentive. In addition, the head teacher also explained that persons who are asked to teach in the school as part of the National Service program refuse to show up as a result of the remote location of the school and the lack of basic amenities (electricity, water and sanitation).

 

 

                                            

Please find below a picture of one of the school’s classroom blocks. This is followed by a picture of the metal which was used initially as a ringing bell for the school. Some pupils are pictured demonstrating how the metal was used as a bell. The pupils were excited and happy that they had a new ringing bell to use.

   

 

                                                                

           

The pictures that follow show some of the community members that were present during the presentation. They included the chairman of the School Management Committee, the local chief and other prominent members of the community. They expressed gratitude and also resolved to get involved in promoting the welfare of the school and teachers and thus promoting the education of their children.

 

 

On behalf of COTNG and the Abom D/A primary school, I wish to say thank you for making this donation possible. Your act of kindness will surely affect the life of many in a positive way. Please do not hesitate to contact the organization if you want to contribute or volunteer your services in any way, your assistance, suggestions and recommendations are warmly welcomed.

May the good Lord richly bless you and keep you, may He make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you.

Thank You

John Boulard Forkuor

 

 

 

REPORT FOR OCTOBER THROUGH DECEMBER 2011

I have been in charge of the management of Jabez farm since October 2011. For the period October 2011- January 2012, I was charged with the responsibility of clearing the farm of weeds, preparing fire belts and thus protecting the farm from bush fires, rebuilding the farm house and harvesting and shelling the corn that was planted. I had a tractor and three permanent workers at my disposal and financial resources to hire additional help as and when necessary. Because the dry season set in about six weeks earlier this year and as a result the grass started drying a lot earlier, I made a decision to put the harvesting and the building on hold and concentrate on clearing the weeds (dry grass) from the fields in order to minimise the risk of bush fire. I planned to first clear the weeds, harvest the corn and whiles the building is on-going by hired workers, have the permanent workers build fire belts around the fields, and use rakes and hoes to clear and make rings around each mango tree to ensure that in the event of a fire outbreak through the fields, the mango trees will be minimally exposed to the heat that will be produced.

CLEARING OF WEEDS

Since the one of the fields had burned down earlier, there were three main fields to work on.. Of these fields, the largest, with the most matured trees also had the most matured weeds. Consequently, I decided to use the resources available to me to work on that field. In addition, I had to hire workers on a daily basis to assist with the work as needed since the progress of the work was slower than I expected. It took almost six weeks to get the weeds on this field down to a tolerable level. Find below pictures of the field about a week after it was cleared of weeds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

      

After clearing the first field, I hired some women to harvest the corn on the school field while the tractor and the permanent workers worked on the next field. At the same time, I hired workers to circle weed around the mangoes on the school field just to ensure that in the event of a fire outbreak, its effects will be minimised. Since the second field was not as large as and did not contain as many trees as the first field, it took just about a week to get it done. While this was on going, the harvesting was also being done and both sets of work were completed just about the same time. Please find below pictures of this field two days after the weeds were cleared:

 

                                      

 

After the weeds on the second field had been cleared and the harvesting of the corn completed, the weeds on the school field along with the remaining corn stalks were cleared using the tractor. Notice though that around this time the circle weeding around the mangoes on the school field had also been completed. Pictures of the school field can be found below:

Notice that at the north end of the last picture, some corn was still left standing. This is because the abrupt end of the rain fall season meant that the crops on that field failed to mature. I have also provided below a picture of the corn that was harvested:

Thus, by the 19th of December, the three fields, plus the small field near the house had been cleared. In addition, the harvesting of the corn had been completed and the corn conveyed to the farm house. Hired help were, at this time working on removing the husk from the corn in order to prepare it for shelling.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH

On the 19th of December 2011, James, Alex and I went to Abom D/A primary school to donate academic materials to the school. As indicated in my earlier communication, funds were raised locally, in the name of Christian Outreach to Northern Ghana. Although I did not get as much donation as hoped, I had enough to put together some academic materials for the donation. We arrived at the school in the morning, where the head teacher had organised for some influential members of the community to be present. Coincidentally an official from the education office was at the school on an official duty and he witnessed the donation as well. During the donation, both James and the head teacher emphasised and urged the community members to support the activities of the farm since the community stood to benefit greatly. The community members agreed to lend any support needed to the farm and to help protect it from bush fires. Find below some pictures from the presentation:

After the donation, we headed out to the farm where the permanent workers were working on creating fire belts around the various fields. After inspecting the work already done and what was being done, James emphasised to the workers the importance of keeping bush fire out of the farm. This was on Monday, the 19th of December 2011.

EVENTS AFTER THE 19TH OF DECEMBER

On returning from the farm, I started preparing the report for the previous three months and also doing some personal research regarding viable food crops that could be cultivated at minimum cost during the coming year. I visited the Agric station in Techiman and was redirected to the agric station in Wenchi where they had developed a new corn variety that, according to the agric officer, produced approximately 40 bags of corn per acre. However, before I could pursue this lead and visit the agric station in Wenchi, I got a call on the evening of Friday, the 23rd of December 2011 that all the fields of the farm had burned down. I informed James about this and made plans to visit the farm early the following day. I got to Apesika around 9.00 am on the morning of the 24th and proceeded to the farm with Cletus and Majid on the tractor. Whiles we were about half a kilometre from the farm, we saw smoke coming from the general direction of the farm and thus hastened to find out what the source was. Apparently, the school farm was untouched by the fires of the previous day and had just begun to burn. Consequently, we rushed to tackle the fire and we received help from other members of the community who were passing by. I have provided below pictures of what I witnessed on the morning of the 24th when I got to the farm:

The picture above shows a section of the biggest field on the 24th of December 2011. Below is a picture of the next field, followed by the third field and lastly the school field:

As already indicated, the school field remained intact, with the exception of a few places that got burned. However, as the picture above shows, the circle weeding that was done here ensured that the fire stayed well away from the mango trees.

I have tried below to provide an analysis of what has happened (causes and effects).

CAUSES

Given the fact that the farm was considerably cleared and fire belts made, I am tempted to blame the fire on a nameless individual and put it down to sabotage. However, without any hard evidence to back this claim, I am obliged to seek answers elsewhere. From my personal observation, I have concluded that the fire started within each field separately and about at the same time. The curious fact is that most of the nearby fields remain untouched. Only Jabez farms appear to have been affected by fire at the time of my visit. The assembly man of the community claims that some Fulani herdsmen passed through there and set the fires deliberately. He claims he had sent four boys on a motor bike to bring them back. However since this line of action had been pursued previously with the first field to burn to no avail, I do not expect anything positive to come out of this development.

Since I do not have any concrete evidence as to what could have caused the fires and I, as a result do not want to speculate on what might have caused the fires to burn the fields spontaneously, I will go on and discuss what could have been done differently to prevent this damage.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN DONE

In the first place, I believe that given the fact that the circle weeding so effectively prevented fire from the school field, I believe that if this had been done for the other fields, this damage could have been considerably reduced. Nonetheless, even though I had in mind to do this, time did not permit me to get this done.

Secondly, I believe that if the fields had been clear of weeds throughout the year, the damage could have been reduced, since the tractor would have been used to turn over the soil during the fire season in order to prevent fire outbreak even if fire is deliberately set within each field.

Again, I believe that the fact that there was no permanent worker staying out there on the farm was also a contributory factor. I assume that if there were about two people staying out there during this fire season, perhaps the fire might not have caused as much damage as it did. This is because none of the workers was present when the fire started and they had to be called by passers-by from the village of Apesika. In view of this, I have questioned whether my decision to wait on the building and clear out the weeds on the fields first was appropriate and a good management decision. It certainly did feel like the right decision to make at the beginning of November when the rains had stopped abruptly for about 6 weeks and the weeds were quickly drying.

EFFECTS

Although, the fire went through the fields, they did not have as much effect on the mangoes as to kill them. This is mainly because the weeds had been cleared and the the mangoes are mostly matured trees. As a result, I envisage that the main effect of this fire will be the lack of harvest from the fields this coming year. Nonetheless, I remain hopeful, as the pictures below will prove that most of the trees will recover during the next year:

As the pictures above reveal, most, if not all of the trees still have a good amount of green leaves. On first sight, it appears that all the mangoes have been burnt as the initial pictures might have indicated. However, on closer inspection, it becomes evident that most of the damage done was to the leaves and that largely the plants (stem and upper parts of the leaves) remain untouched. Thus, I envisage that the trees will survive and will make new leaves come the next rainy season. This however is based on my personal observation and conclusion and not on hard facts. As already indicated, the school field remained largely untouched as at the 24th of December. I plan to interact with agric officers and find out the possible effects of this fire on the trees, I will let you know as soon as I have any other evidence.

PERSONAL COMMENTS

As already indicated, as the manager of the farm and projects associated with it, I am greatly saddened of the events of these past months and I can only imagine the disappointment and grief that the financiers as well as the directors of these projects must be feeling.

I strongly believe that this is not and should not be the end of this project. There has been a lot of investment and I believe that benefits can still be reaped from this project. I hope that all concerned will decide not to abandon the project but to see this as another wrong turn in the road. There is still time to retrace our steps and follow the right path. I am motivated, now more than ever to see this project succeed and I have a strong desire to continue working on this project and to see it succeed.

This is a brief presentation of what has happened so far. I am waiting on your comments and I am prepared to answer any question you may have.

I remain yours in Christ,

John Boulard Forkuor