By Kathy L. Gilbert*
BUDUBURAM, Ghana—“The most listened to woman on radio in North America” is using her big voice to speak for voiceless children and adults living in a Liberian refugee camp.
Delilah, a nationally known radio talk show host, founded Point Hope in 2004. This smaller community inside a huge Liberian refugee settlement is an oasis of beautiful crops, clucking chickens, well-fed fish and a bustling school filled with happy children dressed in bright red gingham.
It all started when one woman asked another for help.
A single woman with two starving children in the camp sent Delilah an email in 2004 asking for help. That email led to a community of malnourished, starving children into a place where whole families are learning the life skills they will need to live independent lives.
At the height of the Liberian civil war in the 1990s, more than 60,000 refugees were relocated to a camp in Buduburam equipped for a population of 4,000. Delilah said she felt God urging her to visit the camp and since her involvement, the camp has clean water, medical care and schools.
However, Liberian refugees were given a June 30, 2012, deadline for revocation of refugee status in Ghana. Many refugees have no place to go back to in Liberia, said Adam Sandow, Point Hope program director.
That is where Point Hope Village comes in. Land has been purchased to build a village for those refugees who want to stay in Ghana – but much more financing is needed before the vision will be complete, Sandow said. A completed village will include family homes that will allow for interaction within the groups for familial relationships that are normal for African villages as well as medical, community centers and schools.
Point Hope was introduced to United Methodists during the Aug. 13-17 Pan African summit held in Ghana for United Methodist health boards. The conference, sponsored by Imagine No Malaria and the United Methodist Committee on Relief, trained health-care coordinators in grant writing, budgeting and accountability skills. Both Imagine No Malaria and UMCOR are collaborating with global and local communities in their goal of eliminating malaria in Africa by 2015.
Three staff members from Point Hope came to a few days of the conference to take advantage of the skills offered. In return, some members of the United Methodist group were invited to tour Point Hope.
The community is self-sufficient, growing its own vegetables as well as raising fish and chickens.
While the children are in school, the adults are out plowing the fields or tending the livestock. They receive hands-on training for one year, children attend school for free and medical needs are provided.
A women’s empowerment program teaches sewing, basket, beading, and cosmetic making as well a batik wax-dyeing technique that creates one-of-a-kind fabric.
At the end of a year, a family is given a wheelbarrow full of farming tools and they can choose to stay in Ghana or return to Liberia.
After the tour, the Point Hope Batik Women Cooperative Group agreed to work on a sample batik cloth with the Imagine No Malaria logo and the words “GYE NYAME” which means “UNLESS GOD IS INVOLVED.”
“Point Hope is just another example of the collaborative opportunities before us as we expand our reach through partners to heal a broken world,” said the Rev. Gary Henderson, director of the Global Health Initiative, Imagine No Malaria.
*Gilbert is a multimedia reporter for the young adult content team at United Methodist Communications.