Mission partners can use a little to get a lot done
March 13, 2019
Back in 2013, I joined a German colleague who was working in Ghana on a visit to a rural health clinic run by the Presbyterian Church of Ghana. The clinic was in the community of Kwahu Praso, about three hours northwest of Accra, the capital of Ghana, and for several years, it had been receiving financial support from German Protestant congregations.
The clinic provided a wide range of basic health services to its rural community, like giving vaccinations and treating malaria. But I was especially struck by the busy maternity ward. Each month, more than a dozen women — and sometimes up to two or three dozen — gave birth in the Kwahu Praso Presbyterian Health Centre.
Inside the delivery room of the clinic’s maternity ward, I couldn’t help but notice a very rudimentary delivery table. The clinic administrator said it had been made by a local blacksmith from pipes and rebar bought in a nearby market. That delivery table left quite a strong impression on me, for two reasons.
The thin cushion, metal stirrups and plastic bucket didn’t look very comfortable (although perhaps nothing is comfortable when giving birth), so I felt a sense of compassion for the women who were using this table. But at the same time, I was impressed with how resourceful the clinic had been. It was incredible that a local blacksmith had built this table, meeting the clinic’s needs with local ingenuity, rather than waiting for an outsider to bring in supplies!
The past couple of years, as I’ve visited churches in the U.S. to speak about the mission and ministry of our West African Presbyterian partners, I’ve shown the picture of this delivery table as an example of how our partners are doing so much good work with so few resources. It provokes a strong reaction.
One of the groups from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) who has a mission partnership in Ghana is Living Waters for the World, from Synod of Living Waters. LWW installs simple water purification systems and teaches about water-related health and hygiene with partners in 10 countries worldwide, and Ghana is one of them.
Working with the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, LWW has been able to provide water purification systems to about a dozen institutions in the country. The systems have done well in schools and health facilities, where there is a great need for clean water and enough expertise to sustain a purification system. Idlewild Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee, has been the main sponsor of Living Waters’ work in Ghana.
When I learned that LWW would be coming to Ghana, I was excited to discover they would be installing a water purification system at the Kwahu Praso Health Centre. The system would certainly be a benefit to this rural health clinic. I was also looking forward to visiting the clinic once again to see how they had progressed over the past five years.
When I arrived in Kwahu Praso in late 2018, LWW had already installed much of the water purification system. Now that a dozen systems have been installed, the Ghanaian team can do an installation in a fast and efficient manner. When I peeked inside the maternity ward, I was surprised to see that same delivery table, only with a fresh coat of paint and newly sewn cushion. It was amazing to think that perhaps 1,000 babies had been born on that table over the previous five years.
When I think of that ward in Kwahu Praso, I’m reminded how the PC(USA) is supporting partners in Ghana in the area of maternal and child health. Presbytery of Lake Erie is giving funds for the renovation of the maternity ward at Wapuli Clinic in the north of Ghana, and the First Presbyterian Church of Fairfield, Connecticut, is funding the expansion of another ward at Dzemeni Clinic on the shores of Lake Volta. Both of these clinics are run by our partner, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana.
Together with the LWW clean water system in Kwahu Praso, I know these projects will enhance the health and well-being of people in Ghana, and especially the health and well-being of women and children in these rural communities.
Rev. Joshua Heikkila, World Mission regional liaison for West Africa, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Today’s Focus: Mission Partners in Ghana
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
Gracious God, we thank you for adopting us into the family of faith. Challenge us to find ways to join hands with others, that we might together glorify your name. Amen.