Saturday, October 30, 2010

2nd and a half of 3 (or maybe 4?) -part camp series

While Elizabeth and I were sitting in the bright, lime-green Harmony “office” going over things this past week, I told her that some people had expressed interest in her story and would like some more information – especially about whether or not she’d made her decision about continuing with her work. So, before I do the next part of the 3- or 4-part series of things I’m doing on the camp, I thought I’d do a quick update on Elizabeth.

When we finished talking our “business” this past Wednesday and I started to ask her a few more personal, follow-up-to-the-story questions, she asked me to come walk with her - that she wanted to show me something. I thought it was so we could have a chance to talk privately without the others in the office overhearing her personal struggles. After about a 1 1/2 minute walk around the corner from Harmony, we came to a burnt out, roofless, crumbling-walls-falling-down 2-bedroom building. We’d barely had time to talk about her decision or anything else. This was where she used to live, she said. The group of people with disabilities on the camp had decided that they wanted to start learning Twi – the most commonly spoken Ghanaian language. Elizabeth helped to arrange an instructor for the classes. One day a couple of years ago she had a conference in Accra. While there, she received a message that there was a problem at her house on the camp; however, she couldn’t get back until late at night. It turned out that some people on the camp thought that, by making arrangements for people to learn the local language, she was encouraging Liberians to integrate into the Ghanaian society, and, as a result, she was hurting everyone's chances of getting resettled to the US – so they burnt her house as a warning. Luckily, she and her children weren’t home at the time – sadly, they lost all they owned. That's when she decided that for her and her family's safety, she'd move to the nearby town of Kasoa, where her rent is 60.00 Ghana cedis per month – that’s about $57.00.

In slowly walking back to Harmony and then accompanying me to where I needed to go for transport back to Accra, she told me she couldn’t easily leave Harmony or the work she’s been doing. She cares about the people she’s involved with, she’s known some of them for many years, and, for a couple of reasons, it wouldn’t be easy to hand it over. Primarily, she feels passionate about what she does and the people for and with whom she’s doing it; and also, there’s no one around who could reliably continue her work. So, her decision is to stay.

A couple of weeks ago (on the day that I describe in that last blog entry) she was doing what I do on those kinds of frantic days when I’m running around, feeling like I’m being played, sweating, feeling the thirst and the hunger and not knowing when I’ll get a chance to at least resolve those needs, and all the while wondering whether this running, worrying, sweating, etc. is just an ongoing exercise in futility - - - she was venting to someone who could be trusted and who would hopefully understand, she was letting off steam, expressing frustration and maybe expressing what she’d love to do that would give her peace at that very moment – while knowing that what she was talking about was something she really wouldn’t do.

I’m honored that this amazing woman trusts me.


At 8:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm sure there ae other readers who also want to help Elizabeth with her rent. You said how much it is but forget to say how we can send it through SMA so as not to waste a bunch of money on bank transfers.

So, HOW do we send this and earmark it for helping Elizabeth? Inquiring minds want to know!!!

Me Again.

At 8:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. 60 Ghana cedis is about 45 USD (57 US was at the old exchange rate but things have changed). But no one should send that through the mail because it probably won't reach Steve. So Steve or anyone else from SMA how can we send a little to get to Steve to give to Elizabeth?

At 8:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Everyone,

In the past, I've made donations to SMA that get to Steve pretty quickly. Here's where I've sent them:

SMA Lay Missionaries
Attn: Theresa Hicks
256 Manor Cir
Takoma Park MD 20912

Make check payable to "SMA Lay Missionaries" and include a note that says the donation is for Steve Phillips's work in Ghana and it should get to him pretty quickly. Make sure that you let Steve know the money is on the way and how you'd like to direct it and Steve can make it happen.

And Steve - thanks as always for keeping in touch and keeping us aware of your work.

At 7:41 PM, Blogger steve said...

Thanks Anonymous commentor people - the exchange calculation was completely off - oops. To think I was once a math teacher. I didn't teach that kind of stuff, though - just algebra. Exchange rate calculations are complicated. So thanks for helping.
Also - thanks for giving the contact information and donation information for sending something. That's still the way to do it -
take care


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