Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Liberian Librarians

Kevin Schaner is at Camphor Mission for four weeks working with Mary, the new Librarian at Camphor Mission. Mary is terrific. She is excited about books, a great reader, eager to initiate opportunities for teachers and students in the library, and already resourcing teachers and their classrooms. Kevin has been excited to work with Jesse, a new English/Literature teacher in the upper grades. Kevin said today was one of her best days ever! Jesse and Mary are excited to do some team teaching in the library with the older students and classroom sets of literature books. Both Mary and Jesse are answers to hopes, dreams, and prayers.

Kevin also hosted a library training at Camphor for teachers from other schools. Stay tuned for Kevin's stories upon her return.

Home in Ohio and in Liberia

Some of you know by now that I, Kathy returned home to Ohio due to some medical issues in my family. Danny remains in Liberia until mid-March finishing up contracts and projects on the guesthouse at Camphor Mission. Please keep both of us in your prayers!

Danny reports much good progress on the guesthouse. Electricians, carpenters, masons, and plasterers are all at work putting in windows, doors, generator house and water tower, ceiling tile, and more. It is great to have Mr. Gbaa, Adelphus and Solo all back on the mission.

Danny was also able to get 45 half bags of rice, 50 lb bags, for each of the staff! So when they picked up their pay for the month of February today they were surprised to receive a half bag of rice! Needless to say, people were very appreciative and happy! Praise God! A half bag of rice costs $17-20. Some people make just $50-60 in salary. The rice was a great blessing! Thanks UMVIM visitors!

Solar Suitcase

Thanks to We Care Solar and the Hope Ridge UMC for providing solar energy at the Camphor Mission Clinic! What amazing steps to saving lives and offering hope to a community.

Images from Camphor UMVIMs 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Reflections from Team 3

One of our experiences for Team Three this year has revolved around twin babies that were brought to the guest house by their Grandma. She brought them to the white folks because she did not have money for the clinic fee (@30 cents). The mother for the babies had died from malaria two weeks before and the babies were not eating. they were about 5 to 7 months old, difference of opinion in family. There was no woman in the small village that had milk (breastfeeding twins would be a huge demand anyway). The babies were beautiful, but looked dehydrated, especially the little boy. Danny suggested that we take them to the clinic for a plan by the staff there. Mission funds paid the fee necessary. Meleiah Toby examined and weighed the children: Sam weighed 5K and Baryuo, the girl, 4K. Baryuo was doing better however, eating more and was more responsive. Sam had a depressed fontanel (which means not enough fluids being consumed). Meleiah and John Toe, the pharmacist, made a plan for the grandma and aunts that were caring for the babies to feed them plantain powder mixed with other powder and water. They walked home with the babies about two miles to a nearby village Barduah.

That evening at debriefing, we talked about the babies and the slight chance they had of survival with no mother to breast feed them. We prayed about the babies. During the night Jack had an idea to help with the nutrition for the babies. He had brought Muscle Milk as a supplement for his own protein needs while in Liberia and had almost a full can left. He brought the can to me to see if it would be appropriate for infant nutrition. A quick review of nutrients looked promising to me, Deb Moore and Danny, so we took the Muscle Milk to the clinic to Meleiah and John Toe. Jack organized a trip in the Range Rover to pick up the grandma and the babies to come back to the clinic for education on using the Muscle Milk as a supplement. They figured out the right amount to give the babies their daily protein requirement (10ml) and sent them home with a few days supply in a plastic bag along with directions to mix the powder with the food they were giving the babies. God provides guidance when we ask!

We walked the next day to the village and checked on the babies, they were both eating and looked a little better. The little girl was wearing a wet diaper, so we knew she was getting at least part of the fluids she needed. (Believe me, walking back and forth to that village is work! Several hills and the weather was 90 degrees plus.) Sam was having some wet diapers according to the aunties. The next day was Saturday and we had a reason to drive past the village. We found that they had run out of the plaintain powder and were giving the babies the Muscle Milk in a bottle. The problem of course is that the village does not have a well, so the babies were drinking creek water (where everyone washes their clothes, takes baths and deposits human waste). The bottle also was visibly dirty. Back to the drawing board for education! We talked to Grandma and said we would see her the next day for more powder (and more education.)

Monday the family did not come to the clinic as planned. We felt sad that they did not come, wondered if the lack of funds was the reason. Jack went Wednesday to the village again and checked on the babies. The babies looked alert and the family was happy that concern was still being expressed for their children.

This experience has been enlightening, frustrating and mixed happy/sad. It was a lesson in resources lacking, education lacking and cultural gaps in communication. The sad part was the loss of a mother in a family by a preventable disease and the risk that placed for the babies survival. The happy part was God's inspiration to find a protein source in a protein poor environment. We ask all of you who follow this blog to pray for God's will in this situation.

Linda Bloom
Team Three Leader

UMVIM Team 3

Team 3 is in Monrovia seeing the sights and reflecting on their time of work and relationships at Camphor Mission Station. We have traveled to West Point, visited the National History Museum, been hosted in Bishop Innis' home for dinner, participated in the Liberia Annual Conference devotions, and shopped our way through Monrovia. Saturday we will head to Harrisburg and White Plains where the East Ohio Conference is in partnership to revitalize communities. Sunday will find two of our pastors preaching in churches before we travel back to Ohio. This experienced has blessed us with humility, new insights, graciousness, and so much more that we are excited to share when we get home.

Two more weeks of guesthouse construction and all will be back in Ohio.
Peace Kathy

Friday, February 24, 2012

An email from Jean Forbes, Camphor Mission 2010

I have been following the blogs. Great news of so many wonderful things happening at Camphor! It is nice to read the accounts written by VIM team members of their experiences.

Last Sunday David Wilcox (Wooster UMC) challenged our church to spread God’s love to someone this week. My grandchildren were visiting and listening to the sermon. When we got home, I asked the 9 year old boys how they were going to share God’s love. Braden immediately said we could tell the children in Africa that we love them. Ryan said we should send them money. I reminded him that we had done that at Christmas time. They do remember my stories of Africa and the children there. I don’t know how you can communicate this but you should know that we all think of you and your work there and know that you are spreading God’s love each day in your relationships at Camphor. May you be blessed by those relationships.

Jean Forbes
Thoughts shared with UMVIM Team 3 at morning devotions.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Team 3 Updates

So much is happening!
All of the girl's dorm is tiled! We will work on the Matron's room next week. Red tile and new curtains! Way to go Laura and Lisa.
Also, the boy's and girl's in the dorm are getting mosquito nets and new mattresses!
Lindsey and the students have almost completed the Map Mural! It looks marvelous! So fine the Liberian's say!
The 3rd unit of the guesthouse has a roof on it!
The generator house is going up thanks to John.
Picnic tables are being made for the boy's dorm thanks to the boys and Bunky.
The Solar Suitcase is hung in the clinic and working along with Linda and Deb.
We have hung up the volleyball net and a pit is being cleared for play.
Kevin is planning library training for next week with our dynamic new librarian Mary.
And we will be at a well dedication on Monday in two of the villages, Bill and Jack are thrilled.

We have visited with friends, Solome and others.

Praise God for answered prayers and the ability to be here and get ministry completed.

Fresh Water Wells, Camphor Mission Station

From Bill Reedy, Seville UMC: 16.Feb. 2012,

Camphor Mission Station, Grand Bassa County, Liberia, West Africa.

The fresh water work of 2012 at the Camphor Mission set a goal of 10 fresh water wells. Jack Hopkins has served as the project manager for the well project. By the time we arrived on 12 Feb., two wells had already been completed and dedicated. Since my arrival, I have worked on two wells. The first (#3/10 was in a village approximately 2 miles from Camphor named Wheazon) was completed and is ready for dedication. The second, (#4/10 was in a village approximately 3 miles from Camphor named Nyaneedah), was completed today with the exception of the pumping mechanism. Both dedications will take place on Monday. The pump for Nyaneedah will be installed in two days. This well has 3 meters of water currently and it only took 26 vertical feet of digging. I am very pleased that I will be at the dedication on Monday as the village of Nyaneedah is like a village where Seville UMC in Seville OH. has provided the funding for two wells.

The criteria for the well locations was that a village supplied a total birth attendant (TBA), and they either have children or residents who work in some capacity at the mission station. Since there is more need than ability to supply, the villages who are approved for wells have been identified by Reverend Kulah of the Garfield UMC, located on the campus of the Camphor Mission, in addition to input from Joshua Reeves, the Well Manager - who is Bassa, knows the area and the need.

It has been very gratifying work. In both villages where I have worked, the chief and many others have repeatedly told me "Swo" - which is Bassa for thank you. One chief looked me in the eye and said that you must do this because you love me. I responded that God loved him and was working through Camphor to bring this fresh water. I also told him he was to be commended for looking out for his village and permitting this well to be completed there. As I looked at all the young children playing in the dirt - or carrying water several kilometers from home, I was struck by what a positive step this is for the little ones who will have clean water. They are Liberia's future. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here, and appreciate the support of everyone who has contributed to the success of the work here at Camphor.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

East Ohio UMVIM Team 3

The house is decorated for Valentine's Day!
Everyone received a Valentine from Laura on their pillows!
The day is off to a good and early start!

Team 3 has jumped right into the work of building relationships and structures at the Campohr Mission. Midwives are busy with big bellies at the clinic and vaccinating babies. A group is walking out to Wezion, one of the villages where a well has been dug and culverts will be put in place this week and clean water available. Lindsey, Bill, and Deb visited Cecelia, the Directoress of the mission and did some computer lessons last night. Mr. Gbaa is back on the mission working with John, an American mason, to build the generator house and water tower. The zinc should be going on the roof of the third unit of the guesthouse today, Valentine's Day! Praise God. Lindsey is in town with Danny looking at the completed Map Mural at Bassa High to see what she will be working on at the Camphor School. Kevin is in the library as I type with Mary the new librarian. The teams are being blessed and being a blessing.

Pray for our time at Camphor, the students and teachers, and the people in the surrounding villages. Pray that God would be glorified through all that we do!

Hopes and goals for the week.
Computer lessons with staff
Building of the guesthouse
Continue tiling the girl's dorm
Picnic tables in the boy's dorm porch
Create space for volleyball and hang net
Library training
Mardi Gras celebration and Ash Wednesday service
Super Bowl Football/Soccer Match
6 Wells completed by next week, BIG PRAYERS FOR THAT!
Completion of Map Mural
Art classes with the staff and students

Stay tuned for more updates!
Kathy Dickriede

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Part of Team 3 has arrived

Part of Team 3 arrived for the Liberian Annual Conference. Lisa and Laura are here with dresses already made from Liberian lappa/fabric. We have worshiped with dynamic speakers and music in Gbnanga at the Annual Conference.

Back on the mission, Lisa has taught Zentangle to 6 of our staff and students and our with 2 of our missionary friends.
We have finished painting the exterior of the boy's dorm.
We moved forward with tiling in the girl's dorm.

Deb Moore arrived, the midwife from Michigan. She has already begun working in the clinic with Meliah and Mary our Officer in Charge and our Traditional Birth Attendant.

Jack continues to work on well digging. We have 4 wells completed and 2 in process. It looks like all 10 will get dug in this dry season.

Work on the third unit of the guesthouse is moving again. We have had a delay with transportation and lumber but the carpenters have been on the mission for 2 days now and a roof is forming. Zinc will be in place on Monday or Tuesday. It is exciting to see it coming into shape. Mr. Gbaa will begin work on the generator house and water tower on Monday.

We feel the prayers from our friends around the world. We have had good times with the children and youth on the mission. The kids have been helpful with all of our projects and ministry. They are eager to help us and spend time learning new words and tasks. We have been blessed in many ways by our relationships on the mission. Irene has been taking good care of us, preparing our food, cleaning, and doing laundry.

We are well. Keep praying about how you are going to be involved with future ministries at Camphor Mission. Prayers, donations, time on the mission, and more.

Thank you for staying connected!
Kathy Dickriede

Friday, February 3, 2012

Malaria's Defeat, Africa's Future as reported in the Huffington Post 1/29/12

Africa is taking command of its future by tackling an ancient plague: malaria.

Supported by the lessons learned from the decade to "roll back malaria," which produced a 33 percent decline in malaria deaths in Africa between 2000 and 2010, 41 African presidents have now signed on to end deaths from the disease in their home countries as part of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA).

ALMA is a great illustration of President Barack Obama's pronouncement, made before the parliament in Ghana in 2009, that "Africa's future is up to Africans." The world's support is indispensable, but Africa is getting the job done through mutual accountability, innovation, and collaborative problem solving.

Recently, I committed to weaning Liberia off foreign aid in the next decade. For other African countries, it will take a bit longer, but with sound policies, genuine leadership, and reliable partnership from the world, I believe Africa can be free of the need for development assistance in a generation.

Until that day, we must commit ourselves to ensuring that foreign aid dollars are well spent. That's why African nations have agreed to publish their progress (and setbacks) in the fight against malaria via the ALMA Scorecard for Accountability and Action (updated quarterly at

This week in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia, I will assume the Chairmanship of ALMA, and I want to begin by thanking my predecessor, the founding chairman of ALMA, President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, for his vision, leadership, and service.

During his two year tenure -- and thanks to the generous support of the American people and institutions they help fund like the World Bank and the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis, and Malaria -- Africa has witnessed an unprecedented increase in the delivery and use of life-saving tools in the fight against malaria: insecticide-treated mosquito nets, targeted spraying, rapid diagnostic tests, and effective treatments, including preventative care during pregnancy.

Despite this encouraging progress, much work remains to be done. So I want to make the case for why Africa's future depends on winning this fight -- and why it is should matter to all of us.

If you care about the health of mothers and children, you must care about malaria.

Malaria is one of the top three killers of children under the age of five in Africa, claiming a young life every minute. It is a nightmare for parents: in the morning, your child can be laughing and playing, seemingly healthy. By nightfall, she can be fevered and comatose, fighting for her life.

In this age of modern medical advances, it is simply unacceptable for a child to die from a mosquito bite, but help is on the way. In clinical trials, a new malaria vaccine protected over half the children who received it. If, as expected, the vaccine is licensed for use in a few years, it won't replace the need for bed nets, but it will mean that more mothers will be spared the horror of watching their child die from a preventable disease.

If you care about education, you must care about malaria.

Malaria alone accounts for 50 percent of preventable absenteeism in African schools, causing up to 10 million missed days each year. Severe cases in childhood can inflict permanent neurological damage, and babies born to pregnant women who contract malaria are at risk of low birth weight and lasting learning disabilities. Simply put, we cannot train Africa's next generation effectively if we do not protect them from malaria.

If you care about peace -- and the prosperity of every woman, child and community -- you must care about malaria.

Just as deadly mosquitoes suck the blood from our children, malaria drains the lifeblood from our economies, and with it, hope and opportunity from our lives. Most adult cases of malaria don't end in death, but they do keep entrepreneurs from their businesses, farmers from their fields, and market traders from their stalls. The disease costs Africa an estimated $12 billion a year in lost productivity.

But to understand malaria's true impact, consider that the disease can rob individual families in poorer communities of as much as 25 percent of their disposable income. By controlling malaria we eliminate a major obstacle to sustainable economic development and stability in Africa.

Africa must demonstrate its own commitment to this outcome by expanding domestic funding of health. Innovative finance approaches -- such as pooled commodity procurement or airport surcharges -- will be a major topic of discussion at the ALMA meeting this week. We should also commit to using the resources in hand, including investments made in our countries by the World Bank, to fuel continued progress in the malaria fight.

Of course, Africa's challenges don't end with malaria. That's why I look forward to working with my fellow African leaders to broaden ALMA's mission to other issues that affect maternal and child health.

Although President Obama was speaking to Africa that day in Ghana two years ago, he was speaking about all of us. "Your prosperity can expand America's," he said. "Your health and security can contribute to the world's. And the strength of your democracy can help advance human rights for people everywhere."

Africa's future is up to Africans, yet our mission belongs to the world.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the president of Liberia, was a recipient of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.

Team 2

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Blog written by Jennifer Olin-Hitt

Janjay Erickson woke up at 4:00 this morning to make the bread - small doughnuts, really. Each Wednesday morning she fries up roughly 100 doughnuts, puts them in the plastic container that she hoists atop her head and walks the three miles from her home at Camphor Mission to market to sell them. The sale of 100 doughnuts ($7USD) brings in enough money to supplement her husband's income so that her family can eat for the week.

This morning I walked with Janjay to market. I walked alongside my new friend and her husband down several dusty roads and through a few villages. Every now and then we heard a vehicle creeping up from behind. We stepped off the path, took shelter along the edge while a truck passed by - filled with nine or ten adults also on their way to market. As they passed, they slowed and opened the cab door, indicating that there was room for a few more passengers. We declined. We were walking today.

At the river we crossed the sturdy bridge made from dense fallen African trees. Janjay's feet walked a line as straight and steady as the length of her upright spine that balanced her wares. She walks miles, her gait both purposeful and serene.

Janjay's husband, Rev. Zach Erickson, knows the walking roads of Bassa County, Liberia. The pastor of J.F. Yancy United Methodist Church, is also a science teacher at the Camphor Mission School. In addition, he is completing his science degree at Grand Bassa Community College in the near-by town of Buchanan. He has no car (very few LIberians do). He has a bicycle, but the condition of the roads make it difficult to use. And so Rev. Zach walks. On any given Sunday, Rev. Zach walks the two hours to meet his congregation to preach the Good News of Jesus. On any given weekday, after teaching Camphor students general science all morning, he heads out to walk the fifteen miles to the community college. He makes it in time for evening class. He walks back to the mission long after dark. He is getting the science education that feeds his deep interest, the degree that he trusts will improve the quality of life his family lives.

As Rev. Zach, Janjay, and I walked to market this morning, he sang songs of his deep faith, faith in the sustaining power of Jesus. "This is my story, this is my song..." The story of Rev. Zach and Janjay Erickson is a story about walking and the strength that they find along the way. I was blessed to walk alongside them this morning.