Our Support of Missions Kekeli, Inc. – a mission in Ghana

supported by First Reformed Church of Bethlehem

The First Reformed Church of Bethlehem supports three missions. Two are in Oman: 1) Rev. Aaro Rytkonen, executive director of the Al Amana Centre and 2) Rev. Joshua Bode, pastor of the Protestant Church in Oman. The third mission we support is Kekeli, Inc. which was started by a member of our congregation and works with marginalized children and adults in Ghana, West Africa.

 

Kekeli, Inc. – a mission in Ghana

supported by First Reformed Church of Bethlehem


Carrie Brown with Rosamond, one of triplets, two of whom were born with hearing impairments.

 

Carrie Brown grew up in our church, having attended since she started coming with her parents at the age of six. As she went through school, her great joy was in her art classes, especially photography. During studies for her master’s of art degree, she had the opportunity to do an internship in Ghana, West Africa where she spent six months documenting life in a fishing village. She fell in love with the country and the people and was determined to return. After graduating from Savannah College of Art and Design, she worked and saved to go back and volunteer, teaching photography in three schools. It was there that she met some students with special needs. She realized the stigma that these children and their families faced every day, and she felt drawn to working with them. 


In 2008, she started the nonprofit Kekeli, Inc. and went back to Ghana. Over the past twelve years, her mission has grown and changed from teaching photography to helping marginalized children and their families learn about their rights and advocate for them. Her dream is to establish a model inclusive school where disabled children can learn along with their non disabled peers.


The first step in achieving that dream occurred on February 14, 2019, with the commissioning of the Resource and Assessment Centre where children can be assessed for their physical and cognitive needs and receive speech therapy, physical and occupational therapy, and other forms of assistance. Plans are being made for two more buildings: one for nursery-kindergarten and a second for grades 1-6.


Derek stands with his mother outside the new Resource and Assessment Centre. He was born with a severe hearing impairment. In 2014, his mother enrolled him in a mainstream kindergarten with Kekeli’s assistance. Today he is in 3rd grade and receives support at the Resource Centre.Sedem, a child with Down Syndrome, receives speech therapy at the Resource Centre. Speech therapy interns from a local university are working with him.

Sedem, a child with Down Syndrome, receives speech therapy at the Resource Centre. Speech therapy interns from a local university are working with him.

Kekeli Update – April, 2020

In the Time of COVID-19

 

Kekeli’s work has been altered significantly because of the coronavirus. All schools have been closed, which means that the Resource and Assessment Centre is not working with students at present. However, there is still a lot of work being done. The 200 children and adults registered have been divided into five groups so that each staff member has a list of families to call. Staff are working from their homes. They will check that families are safe and review the physical therapy exercises that children have been learning. One major concern is to make sure that families have food, and Kekeli will be working to provide low-cost nutritious food. They will follow up with doctors at Ho Teaching Hospital when they learn of medical issues.

 

As of April 20, there have been 1,042 cases of COVID-19 in Ghana with nine deaths. Most of these cases are in the area of Accra, the capital, but there are ten cases in the Volta Region where Kekeli is located.  The President of Ghana lifted the lockdown that had been in place for three weeks in the Accra area, but the closing of schools, the requirement to wear masks, and social distancing are still in place.

Rev. Joshua Bode Pastor to the Protestant Church in Oman (PCO)

Josh Bode and his family lived just down the road from us when he was pastor at Woodstock Reformed Church in Woodstock, NY. Prior to serving there, he worked at Albany Medical Center in the chaplaincy program with our former pastor, Rev. Harlan Ratmeyer, and sometimes preached at our church. We knew Josh---and we were excited when he was called to serve in Oman. His role is pastor of the English speaking Protestant churches in Oman. The Protestant Church in Oman is comprised of numerous denominations from more than a hundred countries that meet in Muscat, the capital. Josh expressed his passion for this ministry by saying, “I have a heart for missional ministries of presence, not where I come to fix you but where we encounter each other in relationship and together discover how the Holy Spirit is creating both of us through our engagement, even across deep differences and conflict.”

 

Josh and Erica and their children had the option of returning to the US when COVID-19 broke out but decided to stay in Oman for a number of reasons. He reports that they are all doing well and staying healthy.

 

For more information, Google rca.org and search “Protestant Church in Oman.”