Carroll County Times

Former Carroll resident bringing clean water to families in Ghana

According to Debi Frock, founder and executive director of Ghanaian Mothers' Hope Inc., just $25 can provide a family 25 gallons of water every day for 25 years. Frock hopes to provide Ghanaian families with clean water by training village mothers to use filters.

"We chose to train mothers on how to use the filters because they need to use clean water for everything that involves their children," Frock said. "Everything you prepare and everything a child touches needs to be clean in order to be healthy."


UNICEF estimates 5 million Ghanaians still lack access to clean water, and roughly 4,000 Ghanaian children die every year from diarrhea as a result of unclean water.

To help fund the project, the Church of the Ascension in Westminster will host a bingo at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25.


Cheryl Vecera, Church of the Ascension's parish administrator, said the event will help bring clean water to people in need.

"I've been to Ghana with Debi. I was totally taken aback that people still live in mud huts with no clean water and electricity," Vecera said. "So many of us here take clean, filtered water for granted. If we can get clean water to families then we won't lose the children. It's terrible over there. It's a major health issue."

Frock, a former Carroll County resident, became interested in the welfare of Ghanaian families more than 10 years ago after a mission trip to the West African country.

In 2005, with the help of Marjie Mack and Bruce Neuman, Frock founded Ghanaian Mothers' Hope Inc. to help build a $70,000 preschool for an outlying village.

In 2007, the organization returned to paint and equip the school with everything needed to educate village children. That year, thanks to the funding churches in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, St. Paul's Anglican Preschool opened to serve the children in Akramaman, a village in the Ga West District, 90 minutes from the city of Accra. This year, after adding a kindergarten, the school graduated 34 students, a number that has increased annually since the school's opening.

St. Paul's has been so successful with its programs that the Ghanaian Ministry of Education requires attendance and graduation before beginning the first grade.

Over the past 10 years, Frock's organization group has hosted more than 3,500 children for reading camps, trained more than 900 mothers through a variety of health education programs and opened a health clinic that serves more than 25,000 people in the surrounding villages.

"This school, and these students, are the future of our community, we owe her [Frock] so much," said Daniel Budu Asiedu, Ga West municipal director of education


In 2008, Frock was given the title of Queen Mother in Akramaman, a title reserved for those who have most greatly contributed to the wellness of the village.

"We worked with the adults and saw the children's needs for education, good health care and clean water," Frock said. "Now every summer I go over for two months with a group of missionaries."

Frock, who now lives in Sarasota, Florida, but frequently visits Carroll County, said the mission trips have helped her see the constant evolution of the country's needs.

"When you're on the ground, you need to listen to the people you're serving. As you work through the years, you learn there are more issues and things that need to be addressed to empower the whole village," she said. "Water is one of those issues."

Explaining that some villagers draw their water from a small pool in a creek bend, Frock said disease pathogens in the water is a contributing factor to an infant mortality rate nine times greater than that in the U.S.

"Clean water is critical to the health of children in these remote villages," Frock said. "Water-borne disease leads to the death of 1 in 5 children. That is unacceptable."


Frock said missionaries have tried to build wells in the country but were unsuccessful.

"Wells have moving parts and they break. If you don't dig them deep enough, they become salted. So we started looking for programs to help us meet their water needs," she said.

Now Frock has partnered with Water With Blessings, a nonprofit in Kentucky, which provides Sawyer PointONE All in One filters to village mothers.

"This [filtration] system requires no power," Frock said. "Each system, that costs about $100, could purify 135 gallons of water daily for 20 years. That is enough water for four families."

The program, called Water Mamas, trains mothers to use and maintain the filters. After training, a mother shares her knowledge with three other families.

"It's almost a lottery program. We find mothers with small children and 10 names are chosen. The 10 chosen also know which mothers didn't get chosen so they can be adopted by the water mamas," Frock said. "I've seen a tremendous change in the attitude of the women. When we first started, they said they weren't smart enough to learn this information. Now they realize what they can do to help themselves."


Sister Larraine Lauter, Water With Blessings' executive director and co-founder, said the program is in 31 countries. They have trained over 9,000 water mamas since 2011.

"We recognize that the very best technology will fail without strong programming," Lauter said. "It increases the impact exponentially as the mother's share their knowledge with other families around them. If it is properly cared for and protected, the filter will last a lifetime."

Lauter said the program highlights how compassion can build and transform communities.

"When you set people up to be source of compassion, you're doing something even more valuable than providing clean water. The program works because mother culture is the same everywhere. Mothers are the same in Ghana as in Honduras," Lauter said.

Ronald Fisher, former rector of the Church of the Ascension, said the church has been very supportive of Frock's project.

"Debi has always had a heart for children and teaching them to know and love the Lord," he said. "Debi is a very capable businesswoman, and she has the skills and mindset to know how to turn the heartfelt call into real practical applications."


JoAnne Kreider, a member of the Church of the Ascension, said Frock is a real advocate.

"She's a dear friend and still a member of our church. Our church has been supportive of Debi's project for years," Kreider said. "Whenever she's had a project, we support it. When she first talked about how little money it cost to buy these filters and how much they get out of it, how could you not want to help them?"

Times correspondent Bryan Woolston contributed to this article.


Carroll County Breaking News

As it happens

When big news breaks, be the first to know.


If you go:

What: Water Mamas Bingo

When: Friday, Sept. 25. Doors open at 6 p.m., games at 7 p.m.

Where: Church of the Ascension, 23 N. Court St., Westminster

Cost: Tickets $12 in advance at the church or through Eventbrite $15 at the door.

More information: Food available. Prizes include Longaberger baskets, Vera Bradley bags and Pandora Charms. Call 410-848-3251 or email