Monday, August 13, 2012

Business interviews- Raymond Town and Balama

inside Lawrence Forkpah's clinic

Lawrence's pharmacy 

 Day 7  Wednesday July 25

We started our visit in Raymond Town with Lawrence Forkpah (FOR-pa), the nurse.  He has a passion to work with these far out villages that have little access to healthcare.  He is employed by Phebe Hospital on a part-time basis as an emergency room nurse.  That has allowed him on the job training for the work that he does in the villages.  On the morning we talked with him he had already treated a lady with pregnancy complications.  A group of 25 men had walked with this woman in a hammock between two of them for quite a distance.  The men would alternate who was doing the carrying in order to ease the burden of the long journey.  Lawrence was able to get the woman stabilized while he called an ambulance to come from Phevbe to get her.  Another group of women was waiting to see him when he arrived.  They graciously allowed us to meet with him for a good 30-45 min. before they could be seen.  Then, as we were leaving someone came up who had been seen at Phebe and then sent to Lawrence for medicine.  Even the hospital was referring people to him because they knew that he had medicine available.  He is asking for a loan to increase his inventory which would make it more beneficial for him to spend more time in the village and less time at the hospital.  His request would be of great benefit to Raymond Town and the other villages.

Palm oil press donated by USAid

1 of 2 USAid containers donated to the community to soon hopefully house a  wholesale warehouse
After meeting with Lawrence we went to visit where USAid had left a palm press.  It is now just sitting outside of the town being wasted. Notice the dust in the picture above.  The green building behind the container above houses the palm press.  It is actually several pieces of large equipment that is not really practical for the villagers to use in the production of palm oil.  I wish I had taken a picture of the much small, more mobile palm press on wheels that one of the locals had fashioned.  It allows for the villagers to take the press to the trees and thus be more efficient in the process.
This type of "waste" is not that uncommon across developing countries.  The developed world too often thinks that we have all the answers to the world's problems.  It's as if someone thought "If only they had a palm oil press their would be much better off."  And so without consulting the village or the palm growers the decision was made to construct a building and inside it house a large palm oil press.  What our team has learned through the process of reading When Helping Hurts:How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting Others or Yourself is that the solutions to poverty are not simple and they cannot be one-sided.  It is much more effective to come alongside and work with someone than to do for someone.  Both parties are richer for the process and the results are much longer lasting.

outside Rufus' shop in Balama
After seeing the palm grove we went to Balama Town proper.  It is bigger than it appears to be from the main road.  The first gentleman we met was Rufus.  He is a past loan recipient and was apparently very successful.  That is until tragedy struck his family.  His son as many of the young men in the village was climbing up a palm tree one day to retrieve palm nuts from which they would make oil.  Unfortunately, he fell from the tree and broke his arm in three places.  Rufus was forced to auction off his inventory to pay for the hospital stay for his son.  Not to be held down Rufus is well one his way to rebuilding his business.  His plan is to begin this month selling "small, small things" and from the profits he will increase his inventory and soon his shop will be back up and running in its former condition.  BTW, Rufus is such a successful businessman that his is the first house in the village with indoor plumbing!  

Andy sharing the gospel from a SlipDisc

VBS science experiment
After lunch we had VBS again at the school.  The weather continued to play tricks on us throughout the afternoon.  I was doing recreation that went along with the story of John the Baptist.  It was a reverse tag game which was hard to explain for two reasons: 1) language 2) they didn't seem to have a concept of tag!  Add to that the off and on rain that put me in and out of the room and it made for an interesting afternoon.  While the game was not played as I have seen it played in the past each group seemed to be enjoying themselves.  Before playing the game I had the opportunity to share the Gospel with the group using the SlipDiscs that we had taken with us.  The experiment above is one about displacement.  Principal Goumo (GO-mo) did a great job explaining this to the children and was able to make great connection to the students.

Once we got back to the Crystal Palace in Gbarnga on this night we began to identify the items that we would donate to the school, the orphanage, and the rest of the ministry.  Jessy helped us determine where the most need was and to whom we should donate which items.

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