Dear Fellow Rotarians,
I am at a loss for words. I’ve spent the last week leading a team of Rotarians from all over the East Coast of the United States in Ghana in West Africa. I spent months planning this trip, writing a guidebook that answers every question about what to expect on our trip. I planned for lost luggage, lost team members and much more.
We had one eager team member who applied for the Ghana Visa too early and was almost left in New York City. Fortunately, we were able to get her on the airplane to Africa and to buy a new Visa once we landed in Accra. So far, I haven’t lost any team members! They are all relatively healthy as well. We are having a great time.
What is it like taking a large team to Africa? It is probably one of the most rewarding thing in my life. I’ve tried to give the team a warm Ghanaian welcome like I’ve received on my earlier trips. A large trip is a real blessing because each person on the team sees Ghana and our work in a different way. It is like having eighteen different eyes in which to see our work.
I was moved that the team loved my “favorite villages” in the West Mamprusi District of the Northern Region. They also learned that almost every village in Ghana where we’ve worked is my favorite. A highlight for the team was greeting the chief of Sagadugu. It was good to see the pastors of most of our eight churches. I had to explain that we were just passing through on our way to Bolgatanga. The team got excited about buying goats and food for children in the villages where I support eight churches.
The vastness of the work that Rotary has done in Ghana is almost beyond my imagination. It takes having a big team to slow me down long enough to realize what we’ve accomplished. It is a real joy to have the Rotarians in District 7550 in West Virginia. They were some of the first Rotarians to believe in me and what could be done in Ghana. We are transforming lives and making a difference. We have friendships that will last a lifetime.
Rotary International Vice President Anne Matthews and the rest of the team have been very encouraging of our past and future efforts. We drilled two boreholes in Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region with a grant led by PDG Ben Coe and Sam Purington of the Watertown, New York Clubs and funded by the Davidson County Community College Rotaract Club in North Carolina and Chatham and Rocky Mount Rotary Clubs in Virginia.
We spent Sunday as a day of rest at the Mole Game Park. The Domango Road is not as bad as it used to be so it only took two hours to travel 60 miles instead of four hours! The pace of the trip is fast, but I’ve had to slow down with eighteen people traveling together. It has been good. You’ll have to hear from the team members whether they’ve enjoyed the journey of seeing Ghana with me.
We have a grant for over $115,000 that we need funded for new and repaired boreholes near Techiman, Ghana. We also want to improve the Holy Family Hospital that services this region. We also want to continue our work to help people with Buruli Ulcer which is a flesh eating disease. The Techiman Rotary Club was chartered in May 2013, but they already have a huge list of new projects. I’m hopeful that I can get that grant funded in the next few weeks so that we can be making a difference in central Ghana.
I was touched by the speech from a woman at a basket weaving center near Bolgatanga. She passionately told us that because Rotary located a well near the basket weaving center in 2009, 600 girls have the opportunity to go to school. The mothers use the income from the basket weaving to fund their daughters to go to school. I never understood that clean water could lead to a better education for girls. The woman’s speech will remain in my heart for a very long time.
What do you say about a journey that has changed my life? I also received word that our first borehole in South Sudan hit water. We need prayers that the drilling contractor can hit water on even more boreholes (deep wells) in South Sudan. Life is crazy, but I’m reading wonderful updates from Makoy Yibi who is a Rotarian in South Sudan who is excited to see Guinea worm disease decrease again in 2014. We are traveling all over Ghana and yet I’m dreaming of peace and prosperity in South Sudan at the same time.
I appreciate all of you. You are on this distribution list because you’ve helped to give a child water to drink or improve their health through better knowledge and care of Buruli ulcer and guinea worm disease. The celebration of the end of Guinea worm disease in Ghana was wonderful in Tamale. Thanks for your support, encouragement and prayers.
I’d like to recommend team member and Past District Governor Sue Poss’s blog which can be viewed at: http://experiencerotaryghana.wordpress.com/about/ . It has been difficult to write when I need to take care of the team, pay the bills and figure out what happens in the morning that comes so quickly. Sue Poss is weaving a fascinating story that tells what we are trying to accomplish. I realize that I can tell you the stories later. Right now, I need to give my time to the Ghanaian Rotarians and this team from the USA. All the best.