Ghana School Feeding Program in Crisis (special report #2)

Anna-Claire Terry
Special Report #2
11-20-14

In late 2005, the government of Ghana founded the Ghana School Feeding Program in response to the crisis of public schools not being able to afford to feed all of the children who attend school.
The strategy of the program is to increase domestic food production, household incomes and food security in some of the most poverty stricken regions of Ghana.
Another goal of the program is to put locally grown foods in the schools for children to eat instead of food being brought in to every school by the government.
Sarah Achempong, grade school teacher in Ghana, said that this program is a good thing because Ghanaian children already have so much to worry about in a normal day, and what they are going to eat should not be one of them.
According to Achempong, the average Ghanaian elementary aged child will wake up a day break, complete all of their chores, and be at school by 7:00 or 8:00 a.m. Children are often walking miles to school with poor or no shoes. They spend the day at school, and then have to make the same walk back home at the end of they day.
“The children need schools to provide food for them to help them perform their day-to-day activities,” Achempong said.
The Ghana School Feeding Program has been instrumental in helping feed 1.6 million children in 4,000 schools. The program did this by hiring out local caterers to cook in the schools for the children.
Despite the program’s success, it has hit a bump in the road. Beginning a few years ago, the government became unable to fund the program.
The executive director of Ghana School Feeding Program, S.P. Adamu, told Ghanaian media that the program was broke and would not be able to pay its debt to caterers.
In September, caterers in the Volta region of Ghana threatened to go on strike because the government owed them approximately one million dollars.
Government did admit that it actually owes caterers all over the country under the Ghana School Feeding Program a total of about 100 million dollars.
The Ghanaian government now turns to interest groups to bring in money to fuel the Common Fund and help pay the caterers.
According to Nii Lante Vanderpuye, Deputy Local government Minister, in the government has paid 151 days, which represents 147 million Ghana Cedi. The government is left with a debt of 101 Ghana Cedi and 76 days to pay it.
“I don’t know how the caterers could really go on strike and stop feeding the children,” Achempong said. “They are just kids and the money issue is not their fault. They still have to eat.”
Achempong also said that the food that is in schools now is not of good nutritional value, but that it is better than nothing.
Achempong described how students eat in schools. At lunchtime, children will line up outside under a tree and go through a buffet type assembly line. Most of the time the food is only rice with some form of sauce or spiced or flavor. Achempong said that the school she works in does not have a lunchroom and that techeres will simply take their classes outside and give them food.
According to Achempong, instead of using dishes, the staff spoons rice into small plastic bags and gives each child a bag of rice for their meal.
Ricky McWhorter and Sara McWhorter have been doing work in Ghana for 10 years, and have extensive experience in public schools. McWhorter said that it is easy to tell that most of the school children are dealing with extreme poverty on a daily basis.
Ricky said that many children have bloated stomachs and hair that have taken on an orange tone from malnutrition.
“ I think the government had a good thing going in the schools with GSFP,” he said. “Even though food is limited, it seemed like that was one less thing kids had to worry about when they came to school.”
Ricky said that he realizes that there is a definite lack of resources and that poverty is high where government assistance seems to be low.
However, he said that despite their health challenges, children in Ghanaian schools are highly intelligent and could be considered ahead of American children in some ways.
Ricky recalled a child named Joseph at an orphanage grade school. Joseph, a first grader, stood in front of Ricky with his tattered book in hand and sang “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” in French.
“I’m always so impressed with their discipline and their great desire to learn,” Ricky said.
Ricky also said that even though schools do not do a great job of providing nutrition for their students, he felt the credit should be given to the Ghanaian people for how they take care of their schools.
“It’s funny when you compare them with us,” Ricky said. “They take such great care of the mud huts or concrete stables they have for schools when we have very nice schools in the states that we don’t always care for the way we should.”
Sara said that the time she spends teaching and working in Ghanaian schools teaches her that we, as Americans, have no business complaining about how our government does not do enough for our schools. She said that although it could be argued that more should be done for U.S. schools, there are countries out there that can barely afford to feed the children in their schools.
“It seems to me that the government does the best it can for the most part,” Sara said.

Officials working with the GSFP plan to continue to work with schools to the best of their ability and will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation.
Vanderpuye also told media that the Local Government Ministry plans to ensure school children with quality food “not withstanding government’s inability to raise the needed funds to pay caterers.

Health Conditions in Ghana… Can matters be helped?

Anna-Claire Terry
Op-Ed Assignment
10-3-14

In 2001, Ghana established the Ministry of Women’s and Children’s Affairs. The ministry’s purpose is to coordinate and monitor gender responsive issues.
This ministry is supposedly centered on the protection of women and children in Ghana, but has it actually done its job?
It seems pointless to even found such a ministry when government officials, especially those over healthcare, or in a continuous cycle of corruption. Studies by the National Bank show that 95% of resources to healthcare have been allocated by corruption. There are reports of the negative effects corruption has had on citizens health and welfare.
Child and infant mortality rates are at an all time high. A study conducted in 2005 showed that corruption had lead to a delay in infants being vaccinated and discourages the use of public health clinics.
The whole point of the Ministry of Women’s and Children’s Affairs is better the lives of women and children. It would look at this ministry was established to simply pacify the outrage of citizens who have lost loved ones due to the government’s negligence in healthcare.
Granted, Ghana is an extremely poverty stricken country with limited resources, but a government that will not utilize the money it has to help its citizens cannot be helped. This ministry has not been functional, or the health and death rates in women and children would have improved in the last 15 years instead of gotten worse.
The Ghanaian government has increases expenditures for healthcare more than threefold over the last ten years, and healthcare is still somehow not making it to citizens.
It is also important to recognize that the ministry has achieved great things like disability policies and gender equality in some areas. However, healthcare has fallen by the waist side.
In a poll taken in Kumasi, Ghana, 65.4% of the participants said that unfair and inadequate salaries are a factor in the extreme corruption of the healthcare system.
Twenty-one percent of the participants said that they think that corruption in the healthcare sector comes from citizens’ inability to pay bribes. The payment of illegal money has basically become a requirement before anyone can access any service needed.
Only a small 13% of the participants blamed the healthcare issues on the unavailability of sufficient tools and resources to worth with. This statistic speaks volumes about what is actually going on in Ghana.
Of these respondents, 38.9% said that they have lost a family member because of a delay in surgery or medical care, stemming from corruption.
Many of the survey participants said that healthcare workers have demanded unofficial payments from them in hospitals before they would give consultations, examinations and medication. Where is the protection from things like this?
The study showed that the most corrupt healthcare personnel are doctors, followed closely by pharmacists.
There has been no action by the government to put a stop to this.
Negligence by hospitals and healthcare administrators has become such a normal occurrence in Ghana that people don’t even think to report it anymore.
Expecting mothers, infants and children have suffered the most from the lack of healthcare.
Healthcare services are ineffective and unavailable, and it all comes back to transparency. The government needs to be more transparent about where designated money for healthcare is going. Government officials need to be help accountable.
Perhaps a solution would be to raise the pay and incentives of healthcare providers to promote honest work.
It is easier said than done, especially in a country that can barely provide clean water, but a national healthcare system or insurance would benefit the population greatly.
Anti-corruption programs should be more seriously advocated.
The problems Ghana has in healthcare can be seen as a direct reflection of general governance problems. This kind of corruption can slow the development of countries like Ghana.
Corruption goes beyond the Ghanaian healthcare field. It also effects education and economics. However, the saddest effect corruption has had on this country is the effect it has on human life.

Advanced Reporting: Sex Education in Ghana, West Africa

Greetings, readers!

I know I have been MIA for a while, but I am back with a report that has a different twist than what you’ve seen on my blog before. As I’ve said before, I love top travel. This report is about Ghana, West Africa, a country that I have visited several times. Check it out, and I hope you enjoy learning about some of the health challenges in Ghana.

Ghanaian Sex Education

By: Anna-Claire Terry

According to the records UNAIDS, there were 260,000 people living with HIV AIDS in Ghana in 2002. That year there was a reported 21,000 HIV deaths.
In 2013, 12 years later, Ghana saw a dramatic drop in cases of HIV AIDS. By this time, 220,000 people were living with HIV AIDS in Ghana. The HIV AIDS death rate was down to 10,000.
There is evidence that health officials in Ghana have known the causes of the spread of HIV for a long time, and sex education programs were not implemented in public schools until 2012.
Media in Africa have been praising Ghana and other West African countries for the recent decline of HIV. AFRICAW, an online news outlet, said “The number of HIV cases has reduced a lot with the girl-child sex education programs.”
The question is, why did it take this country so long to find ways to prevent a disease that kills so many each year?
In studies for the prevention of HIV, two main factors are emphasized: health conditions and sex education.
Sherry McWhorter is an American registered nurse who has done medical and mission work in Ghana for the past 5 years. She referred to the health conditions in the parts of Ghana she has worked in as “below standard.”
McWhorter said that healthcare facilities in Ghana lack basic medical technology that countries like the U.S. and have.
“Because Ghana is poverty stricken, they lack the funds to acquire the basic equipment needed to help maintain general conditions to prevent the spread of disease of any kind,” McWhorter said.
McWhorter pointed out that HIV is spread through bodily fluids and that there is no efficient way to clean every bit of bodily fluids in hospitals where resources are so limited.
McWhorter added that a large portion of the water supply in Ghana is not purified and comes from bodies of water that are not clean. This aids in the spreading of several diseases.
“Another problem is that a lot of people in Ghana have tribal tendencies,” McWhorter said.
McWhorter said that it is not unusual for men in certain villages to have up to five wives. Monogamy is not emphasized, and there are fewer “one to one” relationships in Ghana.
“It’s part of their culture and their history,” McWhorter said.
James Acheampong has worked in the medical field in Ghana for four years. He addressed the problem of sex education being nonexistent in school systems until fairly recently.
“More people are being infected with STI’s everyday,” he said. “Most teenagers, although sexually active, feel reluctant talking about sex and the use of contraceptives.”
Acheampong said that it is the younger adults that need the sex education most because sex is new to them. Acheampong said it is better to make them aware of the risks as teenagers.
UNAIDS’s statistics show that the age range where HIV AIDS is most prevalent is ages 15 to 49. The number of Ghanaian children who have been orphaned because of AIDS has reached 180,000.
Both Acheampong and McWhorter agree that the biggest factor in the spread of HIV AIDS has been a lack of knowledge and understanding.
“Sex education could be missing in this country because education in general is missing in many places. Some of these schools don’t even have books, much less sex ed programs,” McWhorter said.
Acheampong pointed out another problem with the general idea of sex in Ghana. He said it is sometimes too censored and not talked about enough. Therefore, sex education took so long to arrive in classrooms because it simply isn’t something Ghanaians are accustomed to openly talking about.
“We should try as much as possible to demystify sex and make it common knowledge amongst people so that they know exactly what they are getting into before they even decide to try having sex,” Acheampong said.
Acheampong said that the message being carried across needs to be modified. Acheampong said it would be better if the messages were made into videos that could be easy to remember and broadcasted to reach more people.
McWhorter, on the other hand, said that she thought Ghana was doing a good job of being direct about the risks of sex.
“You can be driving down the road and see a huge billboard about condoms and safe sex,” she said. “They’re not afraid to just come right out and say it.”
There have also been steps taken nationally to raise awareness of ways to protect oneself against HIV AIDS.
According to GhanaAids.gov, the Ghana Aids Commission has set up an “HIV Vaccine Awareness Day” and called for a scaled up action to find a vaccine for HIV.
“We are working actively and in partnership to combat HIV and AIDS through advocacy, joint planning and monitoring and evaluation of the eventual elimination of this disease.”
The commission plans to get more information about HIV and AIDS out to the people by promoting the benefits of HIV testing and counseling, encouraging community engagement in educational programs, and having ambassadors in the HIV clinics in the greater Accra region.
“Knowing what all can go wrong when you have sex cannot always work,” Acheampong said. “We must also stress abstinence, not only on moral and religious grounds, but also on health grounds.”
Acheampong said that there is no doubt that the government is taking steps to raise awareness about the dangers of unprotected sex, but that this action should have been taken a long time ago.
Acheampong also said that it is not enough to simply tell people the bad things that could happen, but that citizens of Ghana need to be taught that it is safer to abstain or keep sexual relations monogamous.
McWhorter said that she does not think that the Ghanaian government’s decision to put sex and HIV AIDS education into schools is too little too late.
“It’s never too late to try to fix things,” McWhorter said.

Heather Kather and the Lee County Humane Society

I chose to do my video project on the Lee County Humane Society because they give back. They give back not just to the animals they shelter, but to the Auburn community. I’m a mentor for Project Uplift, a program that allows college students to mentor elementary and middle school children for 3-4 hours a week. The humane society is always open to Project Uplift Children. My mentees’ favorite thing to do is go to the humane society and walk the dogs.

I’m an animal lover, so I couldn’t think of another place on a mission that I would be more excited to create a story about. The Humane Society gives animals hope. A life that may have had a rocky start can be made up for when they find a new happy home.

You can check out the video here.

 

Heather Kather, one of Auburn University’s very own alumna, is the director of the Humane Society in Lee County. It wasn’t hard to tell that Kather is passionate about her job.

There were a few difficult things about creating this story. First of all, it was hard to catch the staff at a time when they could spare someone for an interview. It is a 24/7 job to care for 50 plus animals. I went to the Humane Society for a quick interview, and Kather and other employees couldn’t meet with me because they were “short staffed” that day. I had to come back the next day when they seemed just as short staffed. However, we managed to squeeze in an interview. I had to make tough decisions when it came to cutting good material that couldn’t really be heard over dogs barking. It wasn’t easy to find a quiet place to talk. Barks and yelps could even be heard clearly from the interview room.

If there is anything I would change, I would find a way to get more footage of humans actually interacting with the animals. I would like to tell a story more by showing what the subjects do rather than by letting them sit in front of the camera and explain what the do. I’ll definitely provide more interaction footage in my next project.

Overall, it was a great experience and I enjoyed getting to see all of the loving animals. They really do have a way of lifting your spirits. I would adopt them all if I could.

Here are a couple of videos from a Humane Society in Michigan and the Humane Society of the United States who are doing great work as well!

 

The “Flower Child Look”

You may wonder, what is so special about a headband made of flowers? The flower headband is important because it has inspired an entire look. Not that this look is new. It really originated back in the 60s. It’s funny how everything comes full circle, don’t you think.

With Sigma Nu’s annual Woodstock party happening this weekend, I thought I would write about this look because there would be so many girls running around Old Row sporting this look. Woodstock is a party where a 60s style music festival is the theme of the party. It’s one of the most anticipated Spring events on Auburn’s campus. Although it’s a party that mostly freshman and sophomores attend, I would recommend all Auburn students check it out before they graduate.

The look is often associated with lace tops and ripped jean shorts. It’s all about about the flowy top. A flat sandal also seems to be trending this new fad. All of these outfit components can be anywhere from Wal Mart to Anthropologie.

When girls refer to their look as “hipster,” this is the look they’re referring to. This is one of the biggest Spring trends this year. Because of this trend, high wasted jean shorts are making a huge comeback.

I’m sure everyone has noticed this look on school campuses or out on the town.

Here are a few examples:

ImageHere is your ever popular flower headband.

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So what do you guys think about this look? Love it or hate it?

 

Lily and Laura Bracelets

Lily and Laura Bracelets have been trending for almost a year now. I usually think an arm cluttered with too many bracelets is tacky. However, Lily and Laura have changed my mind. I’m likely to be seen with four of these stacked on my wrist. These are great to wear in clusters or one at a time. They come in any color combination imaginable. They seem suitable for any girl from age five to age 40. They’re perfect for that “boho chic” look.

I’ve even see people wearing these with Nike shorts and tshirt. Go figure. 😉

Santa and the Easter Bunny have left these at my house. I’ve seen these everywhere. You can find them here in Auburn at places like Kinnuncan’s, Therapy and Behind the Glass. They’re usually priced at about $15-20.

A good thing about these bracelets is that they slide over almost any size wrist. They are handmade with tiny glass beads. They are custom designed in Nepal and crafted in the Kathmandu Valley.

They make perfect gifts, and having a wide color variety of these could actually be all the arm candy you’ll ever need.

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If you’s like to check out the designers’ website, you can find it here: Lily and Laura Bracelets

Five Places to Shop in Auburn, Alabama (Google Map Engine)

My Google Map locates five great places to shop in the Auburn area. All of these stores have fashionable clothes that are reasonably priced. These are the perfect stops for game day dresses, or a casual outfit for a night out on the town.

The first is Amoure Boutique. This store probably has the cheapest prices. Also, if you’re into the whole Piko fad, this is THE place to go. They have a whole rack of Piko tops in every color of the rainbow.

Behind the Glass is my personal favorite. They carry a lot of Free People and Ya. This store is two stories. The jewelry and clothes on the cheaper side are on the first floor. If you’re looking for something more formal or a little nicer, the second floor is where you need to be. Don’t forget to check out the shoes because Steve Madden and Sam Edelman shoes make an appearance every season.

Therapy is probably the most expensive boutique in Auburn. Need a cocktail dress or a nice skirt for an interview? This is your place. My favorite thing about this boutique is that it always carries Lily Pulitzer accessories. It’s also one of the hot spots for statement jewelry.

Ellie Boutique is a place that isn’t unique to Auburn. Ellie can be found in  several college towns. In my opinion, Ellie carries more clothes that follow the current trends. Chevron print, for example, was in full force in Ellie when it was the thing to be wearing. I think they’re going pretty strong with the lace craze right now.

Last, but not least, is Kinnucan’s. This is also a place that isn’t uniquely Auburn. You may have thought that it’s just a place to buy outdoor equipment, but they actually sell some of the hottest brands in shoes and clothing. I’ve mentioned several trends on this blog. Those include Nike shorts, Chacos, Kendra Scott and Ya. These can all be found at Kinnuncan’s.

The best part about all of these stores is how close they are to each other. You can hit all of them in one swoop of downtown Auburn.

Here’s the map!

https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=z60PtTDpSgXA.kDfqF_8w68JQ