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The first, Eva, originally from Switzerland but serving with OM in Africa for the past several years, arrived to teach local women the basics of business and marketing strategies as part of an OM Ghana effort to reach the community with discipleship and practical skills training.
The women who took part in the free business seminar had previously tried to start businesses in the city of Kumasi, where the OM Ghana field base is located—but to disappointing results. While OM had sought to assist them by providing start-up funds for their business ventures, the women’s plans did not result in successful businesses, leading OM Ghana personnel officer Portia Owusu-Amoateng to reevaluate their needs.
“You need to teach people how to fish,” she says. “You can’t be spoon-feeding people.”
And so OM Ghana moved into a new phase of training, which also included biblical discipleship, in order to enlighten the women to business tactics and managing a successful venture with limited funds.
Eva’s topics included risk management, marketing, trusting God, and making financial decisions. The women also had the chance to practice what they had learned; they were given 20 Ghanaian cedis (U.S. $5, approximately), and sent out with business ideas.
Despite questioning how little they were given for start-up funds, Portia says, all of the women returned after two weeks with profits—proof that the training helped them take a big step toward financial responsibility.
“We were expecting positive results,” Portia says. “The ladies say they’ve been enlightened.”
OM Ghana received additional training from Rebecca and Maria, two OMers also serving in Zambia. Rather than people of the community, however, OM Ghana workers were the targets of the two-week program, which highlighted strategies for ministering to children living on the streets.
OM Ghana’s Gibson Thomas, who comes from Papua New Guinea but has served in Ghana for two years, says that the training was meant to address not only the needs of street children, but methods for effectively reaching them.
“Some of us don’t know what to do,” he says. “We just think we’ll go and rescue them, and we think we’ve done the job, but actually we’ve just started the work.”
Gibson says the biggest takeaway from the training was the fact that each child living on the street is an individual with unique experiences and problems, and as such, helping children involves a focused investment in each one.
It’s easy to wonder why churches are not doing more to help, he says, but the training helped him realise the complex stages of helping children on the streets. You don’t just take them off the streets and give them to their families and hope everything is magically better, he says.
“The next day you’ll go back and find out a child ran away and is living on the street again, because that’s what he’s used to.”
Instead, building trust and showing genuine concern is the most crucial element.
OM Ghana Field Leader Chris Insaidoo says that the training program will not only help OM Ghana in their own efforts to bring children—mostly girls—off the streets of Kumasi, but it will also help them reach out to churches effectively to provide training for other ministries.
In addition, Gibson says that the training could help OM Ghana expand its influence to street children.
“It’s not going to be an easy job,” he says. “But to start somewhere would be great.”
Published: Wednesday, 29 March 2017
Credit: Andrew Fendrich