Thursday, May 17, 2012

SEMI ADDRESS

Moved, forwarded, freighted, relocated, lifted, packed, schlepped, dragged and hauled--

Every box, carton, suitcase, bag, bin, case, chest, coffer, container, corrugated box, stuff-sack, crate, package and packet--

Onto a big box with wheels and then pulled away by Larry to a new address: semi-trailer #385... to be parked in a secret place (protecting the innocent).

Thank-you volunteers— Bob, Candy, Dick, Greg, Joan, Larry, Len, Nick, Stan!



Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Eyes on Africa

I met a young retired teacher formerly with the Los Angeles School district via cell phone yesterday. She has a program called Eyes on Africa which is a great idea and is helping hundreds of people in many African countries. Take a look at Eyes on Africa's awesome video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e22sla_kbeE

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Monday, May 07, 2012

As of today, Monday May 7, there is a semi-trailer parked at the south end of the garage we rent near Eagle Lake, but this one isn’t going to Africa, it’s going to Pennock instead!

As you may know, Kandiyohi County Road 9 is being rerouted east of its present path and will intersect with our storage garage. Working next to the shooting range is tough enough without adding careening cars and tipsy trucks between books and baggage! ;-)

The goal is to load everything we have onto the trailer by the end of the week. If you can help, that would be wonderful! If you have forgotten where we are, a map has been attached to this post at the website. http://e-quipafrica.org

Initial schedule for loading the trailer:

• Tuesday, 8:30am—Noon
• Thursday, 8:30am—Finish
• Friday, 9:00 until actually finished if necessary

Seeing you there would bring us much pleasure!

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Remember this container? It left Willmar, Minnesota on November 15, 2011 and arrived in Tema, Ghana on January 23, 2012. IT IS STILL IN THE TEMA HARBOR! The deliberations are still going on between National Catholic Secretariat, (NCS) the organization who is in charge of clearing it, and shipping officials.

E-quip Africa receives no communications from anyone about it. When we inquire we are told that NCS will handle it and to stay out of the proceedings. I am told the demurage and rent on the container has reached over $8,000.00 USD, more than it cost to ship it from here to Tema in the first place!

What would you do?

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Final reminder to update your legacy Blogger account

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To transfer your blog to the Google Account system you need to visit the Legacy Migration page at http://www.google.com/appserve/mkt/OBTng1nw2rZbVY right now to make sure that your account and associated blogs are claimed. If you've forgotten the Blogger password that is associated with this email address, you can use our Account Recovery page at http://www.google.com/appserve/mkt/2d25xb9K4oVTX3 to request password information to be sent via email.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Looking Ahead


Just looking at the data on items boxed and labeled since the last container was shipped in 2008 and seeing we have 379 items. That probably represents 1/3 of the material stacked in our warehouse! So how many containers will we ship this year? We have the funds for one!

The breakdown by category--Boxes of:

Books...........................249
School supplies..................70
Religious books & Bibles.........18
Sewing supplies/machines.........11
Other items......................41
____________________________
....................Total........379

We have about 70 computers and monitors at the warehouse that will go on pallets, 10 or 11 computers and 20 some monitors on my truck, plus 5 computers in our basement. Those items should fit on 5 or 6 pallets and... oh yeah... one car! Guess we'd better fill the car and its trunk with stuff too!

A bit of a problem though... the garage doors are frozen shut. (See photo) Freezing and thawing will do that to unused doors. Hopefully with the temperatures near 40 this week, we'll only have to deal with the thawing.

Lots of work ahead, so if you are reading this and are in the Willmar, Minnesota area with free time in April and May, please stop by, give a call or click the "Contact Us" button at this website.

Thanks! :-)

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Sunday, February 06, 2011


Doug went to Bird Island, Minnesota on Wednesday and a fine trip it was! Even took county roads all the way, seeing a lot of farm fields covered in snow, wind whipped and sculpted snow shining in the bright sunshine.

But the purpose of this travel was to pick up computers and monitors being replaced by laptops--St. Mary's has a benefactor who provided the new portable computing machines. I met Julie and her colleagues and some students--all very welcoming and helpful. The feeling in the school was one of genuine hospitality and inclusion, so very positive! Obviously a great place to teach and learn.

The old Nissan is loaded to the max with their cast-off gear, but it managed to get me home to Willmar with extra squat tires and a few lugs going uphill. A snow plow just north of Bird Island nearly did me in. I was on the phone at the moment and the white-out after passing lasted for what seemed like an eternity. Luckily I was still on the road when I started to see colors other than white.

Thank you St. Mary's of Bird Island! Because you thought of E-quip Africa, more students in Ghana will learn how to use a computer, and Doug will have good memories of a nice Bird Island pick-up!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Microsoft MAR Program


The Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher (MAR) program takes getting used to. There are many rules and regulations governing the installation of their operating systems, (Windows XP Pro and 2000 Pro) as well as MS Office 2003. A refurbisher may install MS software if the computer is being donated to an “Eligible Recipient” for a cost of $5.00 per Certificate of Authenticity (COA).

Any bona fide Non Governmental Organization (NGO) with a mission benefiting humanity is eligible to receive refurbished computers with Windows installed; however, schools may not receive computers with MS Office 2003 installed as they are supposed to take advantage of Microsoft’s special pricing for educational institutions.

E-quip Africa received an email saying we were in error in donating computers with MS Office installed to Archbishop Nzimbi Secondary School in Kenya and that we needed to respond with a plan in 14 days. After searching their guidelines at length, the fine print which prohibits the donation of Office to schools was at last found. A response was sent saying we would not make this mistake again. After thinking it through a second email was sent which appears in quoted italics below:

Dear MAR Team,

I’ve been thinking about our “situation” of not being able to install MS Office on computers going to K-12 schools in Africa.

I am sure you are aware of huge needs of education in Africa. I have hundreds of photos I could show you of schools in Ghana, which is a fairly well-off country with government support of education at a higher level than many African nations; if you saw these you would realize the huge gap in educational opportunities between us and them!

My question is this: Does Microsoft really think an African public or church school will have any room in their budgets for purchase of multi-license office software? Do you think they even have budgets? If one of your goals is to reduce piracy of MS products, then I suggest you need to reexamine your policy toward educational institutions in third world countries and their procurement of MS Office! I can tell you, you will not sell MS Office licenses in the schools I visit. However, they will be using it. If it doesn’t come “legally” from E-quip Africa, they can and will easily find pirated copies to install. It’s the way the third world works.

That’s the reality of the situation. What advice would you like E-quip Africa to give to the schools we supply with refurbished computers? What can I tell them when they ask about some type of office software? Is there a loop-hole in your policy that I am missing? Or is Microsoft the big ugly giant most of the world believes it to be? (Hey… I don’t think that because I’ve always been treated fairly, honestly and generously by Microsoft, but I don’t need to keep my ear to the ground to hear the complaints.)

Yours truly,
Doug Wilkowske
President E-quip Africa


As Sid Hartman says, “We’ll see what happens.”

Saturday, December 27, 2008

THANKS FOR YOUR HELP IN 2008!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008





As this is being written on November 11, the container is finally being opened and the contents distributed from the Port of Tema, Ghana. It will be interesting to find out how this was carried out because there were several plans being considered, many of which were very costly. Mr. Aidan is in charge and I trust this respected CRS field agent will coordinate things well because of his life experience, his altruistic nature and integrity.



We must ask the question, "Are the contents of the container worth the high costs of shipping to Ghana plus the costs of import duties, harbor storage and handling and carriage to the final destinations?" With prices what they are, a re-evaluation of this process is indicated.

Watch for the next installment!

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Facebook Badge

Let's see if this really works!

Doug Wilkowske's Facebook profile

Yes it does! This is a Facebook Badge and I have no idea what it is good for. I guess it gives readers a way to contact me. I wonder if it automatically updates when I change settings at Facebook?

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Beautiful Photo

Hey... I found this photo at "Trek Earth" where people post their travel photos. It was taken by John Paskey and is a great shot taken from the roof of Cape Coast Castle. Cape Coast is in the middle of everything, more than half way from Accra to Takoradi and a frequent stopping/touring place when we travel in Ghana. This photo is so well done and says so much about that location, time of day, life in Ghana, etc. (I'd put the photo here, but I don't own it so the link will have to do.)

Here's the link: http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/photo967397.htm

I only have 5 photos at Trek Earth and mine don't compare at all to this picture. They are at this link:

http://www.trekearth.com/members/dwilkows/photos/

Doug

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Group Travel Meeting, Tuesday, October 7

Greetings everyone!

Doug has talked to a number of people over the last couple of years who have expressed an interest in possibly traveling to Ghana. There seems to be justification for an information gathering meeting just to see how serious this interest actually is. Here is the nitty-gritty:

Date and Time: Tuesday, October 7th, 2008, 7:00 p.m.

Location: St. Mary's Church, 713 SW 12th Street, Willmar, MN

Hope to see you there!




video

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

It's Outta Here!










Pictured above--



1. The E-quip Africa warehouse before
2. The container is on its way
3. The E-quip Africa warehouse after

It is a great feeling to see the loaded container leaving the warehouse area on the first leg of a long journey to the port of Tema, Ghana. The help from volunteers, St. Mary's Church, Polamer Moving Services and many businesses and individuals in Willmar, St. Paul, Minneapolis and other communities from New York to Washington state has been indispensable! Thanks everyone!

More later when the statistics are finalized.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


The big box is full and the doors are shut! Aurora Trucking will pick up the trailer tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. pulling it into a train yard in Minneapolis. Huge thanks to everyone!

This morning’s crew was Stan Rytel, his assistant Dale, Dick and Joan Kuhn, John Lindstrom, Don Kellen, Carrie VanEpps and Mary and Doug. Thanks also to all of you who called this week and offered to help but couldn’t connect with us because we quit early. Your thoughts and moral support are vital to our success. There will always be a next time and we’ll welcome you anytime.

The next container? Stan was guessing we had enough “stuff” left to fill ¼ to 1/3 of a 40 foot box and that’s similar to the percentage of dollars left in the E-quip Africa checking account. Guess it is time to go begging again!

The next working session? Look for an email invitation to meet in the evening or on a weekend to reorganize and clean up at the garage. It’s a chance to take inventory, gather ideas and add a little structure to the operation. The most often repeated phrase around E-quip Africa is, “Doug, you can’t do it all yourself!” So we will welcome help, suggestions, and plans for making this easier and assuring its continuance. Besides…after sweeping up several pounds of dead Boisea trivittata this morning, it’ll be good to have a fresh start!

Doug

Doug Wilkowske

E-quip Africa

P.O. Box 3178

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Container is 80 percent filled!



E-quip Africa August 20 Update:

Thanks again to great volunteers, the container is packed to perfection and 80% filled. Starting at 8:00 a.m. Thursday morning, August 21, we will finish the job.

Brandt Haglund, Stan Rytel, Dale, The Forklift Driver, Ralph Rye (driving out from Minneapolis), Dave Burns, Andrew Follmann, and Doug and Mary contributed a lot of sweat equity in the warm August weather today to help us reach the 80% mark. THANKS!

See you tomorrow morning if you can make it!

Doug

Doug Wilkowske

E-quip Africa

P.O. Box 3178

Willmar, MN 56201-8178

(320) 894-1680

Container Packing is going well!



Report for Tuesday, August 19, 2008:

Thanks to a lot of great volunteers we have the container half full tonight! YES!

The weather has been similar to Ghana's so we’ve altered our work times a bit, starting early in the morning (7:00 a.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, Aug. 20) and quitting by Noon or so. We'll start in again at 5:00 or 5:30 pm. Check us out tomorrow if you can get away.

Thanks to Mike and Pat, Dick, Dave, Matt and Anna, Andrew, Brandt, Bob, Stan, Doug and Mary for a lot of sweat and hard work today!

Doug

E-quip Africa

P.O. Box 3178

Willmar, MN 56201-8178

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Container Load and Pack Schedule




E-quip Africa Volunteers will meet at the storage facility during the week of August 18-22, 2008 to pack and load a 40 foot container headed for northern Ghana. Here is the schedule:

Monday, August 18, 9:00 am-Noon: The container will be dropped to 5643 - 37th Street NE, Willmar, arranged by DHL Global

Monday, August 18, 1:00 pm--8:00 pm: EQA Volunteers move computers from shelves to container; build computer pallets inside container; apply shipping labels

Tuesday, August 19, 9:00 am-1:00 pm: Polamer Moving Services will direct loading of container; EQA Vols to assist Polamer, check and record items for packing list, lift boxes into container

Tuesday, August 19, 3:00 pm-8:00 pm: EQA Vols build monitor pallets; lift boxes into container; record items on packing list; move Cape Coast items to staging area; apply shipping labels

Wednesday, August 20, 9:00 am-1:00 pm: Polamer Moving Services will direct loading of container; EQA Vols to assist Polamer, check and record items for packing list, lift boxes into container, build pallets if space allows

Wednesday, August 20, 3:00 pm-8:00 pm: EQA Vols build Cape Coast pallets; check and label Cape Coast boxes

Thursday, August 21, 9:00 am-1:00 pm: Polamer Moving Services will finish packing, loading and seal the container; EQA Vols to assist Polamer, finalize packing list, clean up and reorganize garage

Thursday, August 21, 3:00 pm-??: Finish project work as needed

Friday, August 22, 8:00 am: Container will be picked up and trucked to a MSP rail yard for shipment to a port city and eventually Europe and Ghana, Africa

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Third Container


E-quip Africa is busy arranging the shipment of our third container. We are "negotiating" with a freight forwarder at the moment. We understand it is chaos in the ocean freigt business these days, but are still optimistic about shipping the container this month. Stay tuned for progress.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

It's been a long spring & summer!


It's good to get back to the blog. E-quip Africa is not forgotten, we're just in summer hybernation. True Minnesotan's like to sleep in the summer and come out of the ground for fall, winter and early spring!

Our warehouse is full of computers, monitors clothing, medical supplies and books again so the task before us is to raise enough money to ship a container by the end of 2007. That's only $8,000.00 USD, so nothing too much. Just in case you would like to help us, please visit the E-quip Africa website for our contact information. We will add a pay-pal method of donating soon, but in the meantime the snail-mail is just fine.

We are currently blessed with the presence of E-quip Africa's Ghana Representative, Eddie Amoah. He is here visiting E-quip Africa and several friends he has made from our various travels to Ghana. Harold and Mary Jo, two great EQA volunteers are hosting his stay and doing a wonderful job showing him what life is like in Minnesota.

We are working on some documents which can be viewed at this Google Docs link:
OR this one:
http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddrqf23p_0dxgcbq
We would welcome your comments or suggestions and help. If you are a writer and would like to turn the Memorandum of Understanding into an application, your help would be gratefully received.

Thanks,
Doug

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

NO TIME FOR BLOGGING


The photo above is the reason E-quip Africa exists. Here you see happy junior secondary students at Lighthouse Prepatory and JSS in Atimatim, a suburb of Kumasi, Ashanti Region, Ghana anticipating an increase in their computer skills in their brand new lab. This is an example of what is possible through the generosity of businesses, individuals and E-quip Africa volunteers. THANK YOU!

Unfortunately, Doug was on such a tight schedule he didn't have an opportunity for much blogging from Ghana during the three week visit, January 23--February 13. Hopefully some updates can be done from home--keep tuned.

Double click > below for the video, "School Bell, Ghana Style"

video

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Arrival in Accra

Greetings from E-quip Africa in Ghana!
We are here! Harold, Mary Jo, Dennis and Doug arrived at Kotoka International Airport Tuesday evening at about 7:30 and stepped off into the heat and humidity of West Africa. The trip though immigration and customs was uneventful and very welcoming.
We are staying at a very nice hotel with a lot of native wood--very beautiful construction. The breakfasts are included--cooking is great--and the coffee is brewed! (The usual here is Nescafe instant!)
Wednesday was spent traveling the streets of Accra to banks, print shops, restaurants and pharmacies--we need malaria preventative for Harold and Mary Jo. The highlight of the day was our visit to the Methodist Conference Center of Ghana, located in "Wesley House" in Accra. Dennis was really in his element here! We met the Executive Bishop of Ghana (Rt. Rev. Kow B. Egyir) and the National Director of Education (William Davis). They were most welcoming and are looking forward to partnering with E-quip Africa.
Today we will see the Kwame Nkrumah Shrine and drive down to Cape Coast where we will stay the next two nights. Ralph and Rachel will join us there.
Until next time...
Doug

Friday, January 12, 2007

Safari anyone?



It's a good thing that West Africa is NOT noted for its safaris!

Ready... Set...




Tonight made it all seem real. We are actually going to travel to Ghana once again, leaving MSP January 22 on KLM’s 6056 to Amsterdam and then down to Accra. After this initial meeting of the four travelers from Willmar (Harold, Mary Jo, Dennis and Doug) we can begin the process of packing and selecting what comes, and what stays. Having all the phone numbers and contacts we need to make is essential—hopefully we won’t leave the important info at home. We hope a volunteer from the Willmar United Methodist Church is able to drive us to MSP in his van—if not, then we look for commercial carriers.

This trip will take us to Accra, Cape Coast, Kakum National Park, Sekondi-Takoradi, Axim, Nzulezu, Tarkwa, Obuasi, Kumasi, Ahwiaa, Kintampo, Damongo, Mole National Park, Larabanga, Tamale and Saboba. We’ll be joined by Ralph and Rachel in Accra and possibly Anna a week later. Tonight we discussed luggage, clothing, food and destinations. E-quip Africa’s Vice President (Mary) worked out a sensible method of paying for our transportation and lodging. It should save us a lot of headaches in Ghana! Our insurance is paid up, our shots and proof of immunization ready, our passports in order and tentative itinerary formulated.

So why are we going? In October, 2006, E-quip Africa shipped a 40 foot ocean container full of computers, hospital beds, used clothing and you name it to Takoradi. It now needs inspection and distribution. More than that, the recipients of these things are required by their cultural values to thank someone in person... and we’re it! So the E-quip Africa volunteers do all the work and we get all the praise and fun! Hey! Nice work if you can get it.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

E-quip Africa Hosts Lunch Wagon--Cook out at Cashwise Foods





Many thanks to E-quip Africa volunteers for organizing, manning and publicizing the "Brat Stand" at the main entrance to Cashwise Foods in Willmar! All those good looking, fun people sold a lot of bratwurst to grocery shoppers on this beautiful July day in West Central Minnesota and it looked like they had a great time doing it. Each dollar earned means that more computers will travel to Ghana via container and we will be closer to reaching our goal of a shipment by the end of this year.
Thanks everyone!

Photos:
Top-Joan and Cathy cooking brats and foot-long hot dogs
Middle-Dick, Mary and Anthony behind the counter
Bottom-The lunch counter at Cashwise Foods

Friday, July 15, 2005

About E-quip Africa


E-quip Africa is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit incorporation founded by Doug Wilkowske in Willmar, Minnesota to bring personal computers and other school supplies to much needed areas in the developing world. So far Equip Africa is working in Ghana, located in West Africa. E-quip Africa was formerly known as Project Rescue and is an organiztation that is only a few years old.
As with most non-profits Equip-Africa currently has a lot of work to do with very little funding. If you are interested in making a donation to E-quip Africa please contact Doug at:

E-quipAfrica@charter.net

If you happen to live in Willmar, MN you can donate your gently used computer to E-quip Africa. To accompany each computer system, E-quip Africa requests a small cash donation used to pay for refurbishing, storage and shipment of the equipment. This fee is comparable to the charge made at landfills for electronics disposal. If you are located elsewhere, please contact Doug via email for possible pick up of equipment.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Last day in Accra -Heading home


E-quip Africa

Greetings from Accra one more time!

The time here has really flown by--I can hardly believe it is July 9th, fly day, when the doors of the big British Airways jet slam shut and whoosh, the A/C comes on and you are frozen, dried out and breathing used air.

These last couple of days have been interesting. A visit to the U.S. Embassy Annex to the citizen services department taught me that no young Ghanaian has a chance of coming to the U.S. for a visit unless there is proof he or she will return. I went to see for myself and to check out the process for an acquaintance in California who has invited a senior secondary school student she has supported for the last several years. The official reply to the student was that the two had never met fact to face. The real answer is that there is no guarantee of return. There was no example given of what might be considered a safe bet for a student to return, but my friend Israel who is big into the college scene here says if a person is working toward a degree at a college or university in Ghana they will be granted a travel visa to earn money over the summer break. Once that happens and they return, they are trusted in the future.

Students here are eternally hopeful, and why not, they watch TV where Ghana's own channel has a show called Greetings from the World. It shows young Ghanaians in Atlanta, New York, etc. sending messages home and smilingly living the good life with a look of "too bad for you back home" look on their faces. One student I talked with was told that if he donated blood regularly this would improved his chances of getting a travel visa! It is hard for them to understand that hard work and education is the best path to follow--that's hard for youth of any nationality to buy into, but thousands do so.

The Administrative Bishop of the Methodist Church in Ghana and I are now good buds! We composed a letter on Thursday to the Minnesota Conference and the Global Board of Missions officially asking for financial help in rebuilding the Axim Methodist Primary School. There is no guarantee either group will listen, but sooner or later the request will reach the right ears and there will be a healthy school building in Axim once again.

This morning I met with one of the neatest NGOs I have run across called The Ant Foundation. Their slogan is "Go to the Ant!" If my memory serves correctly, the complete phrase is, "Go to the ant thou sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise!" Now I don't know about you, but none of my friends are in the sluggard category so I am not sure if the advice is timely.

The NGO however is headed by a social worker whose mission is to serve widows and orphans in Ghana with training and help to raising their economic conditions and life in general. They have the official Ghanaian credentials for NGOs and have programs in Mid-Wifery and Agriculture. They are now considering a small computer training facility. They are located in Mampong between Accra and Koforidua on top of the escarpment (ridge) north of here.

A return visit to the Ghana Environmental Protection Agency found two project managers working on educational materials for schools which E-quip Africa can easily distribute with its computers and Rotary Clubs can use with their membership, to start getting the word out that computers contain hazardous materials and cannot be disposed of without proper care. GEPA also asked EQA to link them with the Minnesota EPA and/or the U.S. EPA to share knowledge, practices and proceedures--GEPA wants to develop policy in the longer range of things. They also wish to be linked to the computer recycling industries in America with the eventual goal of establishing that type of business here. Any help with this or suggested contacts would be appreciated. You might say this is beyond the scope of EQA, but we do need to look at how Ghana is being impacted in every way by bringing these computers--the last thing we want to do is to use Ghana's landfills instead of ours.

The visit to Catholic Relief Services was a pleasure--it was awesome to be sitting in the national office of such a highly respected World-wide organization devoted to raising the socio-economic condition of some of the world's poorest people. I can't believe I was actually there talking like E-quip Africa was partnering with them, but it may well come to pass... keep praying! They know EQA is long on heart, desire and willingness but short on cash and experience. They are looking for our promotional materials which are a scarcity, but are developed to some extent. Once they look at our stated purposes and method of procurement and delivery and have inspected the operations at Star of the Sea Cathedral, they will make a decision about support for a pilot project in the north at Yendi. The Program Quality Coordinator said a decision would be forthcoming before the end of the month when he goes on leave back to his native India.

I was able to hand them a "Strategic Plan" we can use to evaluate organizations and schools who apply to receive computers which Israel helped me develop this week. It involves plans for facility, instruction, business and sustainability/accountability which need to be in place before computers can be shipped and came out of my experiences with Rotarians and Kobby Ennin, computer master at Star of the Sea, while visiting the many schools throughout Ghana over the last month. That document helped keep the door open and get the attention of CRS.

Bags are packed to the hilt with wood carvings and garments. I plan to arrive at Tokota Airport early knowing the bag will be entirely unpacked and inspected before it can be placed on a plane headed for London Heathrow. I only hope they will let me assist in repacking it so the beautiful carvings stay whole.

I will be seeing many of you soon... let's plan a get-together to share ideas and thoughts for the future of E-quip Africa.

Bye, blessings and love from Accra,
Doug

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Back in Accra


Hello everyone,
I am back in Accra, probably the craziest place in Ghana. The taxi ride over here to the internet cafe is something no one would ever believe--it was an adventure to remember--a ride where you definitely want to keep your arms and hands inside the vehicle.

I will be revisiting the Ghana Environmental Protection Agency to finalize an earlier discussion and hopefully be of help to them by matching them up with knowledgeable people in the U.S. The photo above shows you why we think our shipment of computers to Ghana should be paired with educational efforts about safe disposal of e-waste, especially computer monitors which contain several POUNDS of lead!
Also, I will meet with the director of the Tamale office of Catholic Relief Services to explain our plans up there with the schools in Yendi. CRS is a world-wide organization receiving U.S. tax dollars for some of its programs so this is a giant leap forward for E-quip Africa to be talking to anyone connected to them. Hopefully they will see fit to help us financially in shipping computers. Someone from CRS is coming to Takoradi to inspect the computer school and internet cafe at Star of the Sea Cathedral this week while I am bringing copies of EQA's legal documents showing that we are a registered nonprofit. Your prayers are especially needed this week.

Another stop will be at the HQ of the Methodist Church in Ghana. I have an appointment with the Administrative Bishop for the country and will tell him about the Axim Primary School and its needs. Together with the Ghana Government, we will find a way to rebuild the school. I am suggesting that the Bishop write a proposal to the Board of Missions for the Methodist Church in the USA as well as the Minnesota Conference asking for financial help. A member of parliament has indicated the Government of Ghana will add funds to those we are able to raise. So... all you Methodists... keep up hope and keep pitching, because I think we might be on to something.

I will see many of you soon--my flight is in 4 days.

Doug


Doug Wilkowske
E-quip Africa

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Friday, July 01, 2005

Tamale & Yendi


Hello everyone,

The trip north to Tamale has been an adventure! It takes 6 hours from Kumasi to Tamale on the State Transport System bus (STC) and in our case it was air conditioned by "The 16-80 AC System." (The passengers open all 16 windows and the driver goes 80 km per hour! He manages to do this even in heavy goat and pedestrian traffic, jacknifed semi trucks and a few scattered cattle! Actually it was a fine trip with 3 stops for food and rest. Luckily the TICCS Guest House (Tamale Institute of Cross Cultural Studies) was not full so we could check in to this beautifully quiet garden spot. (See photo at top of this post)

The Bishop of the Yendi Diocese was contacted and we journeyed by local bus out to Yendi, an hour east toward the country of Togo. The bus was loaded to the point of filling all the fold down seats for the aisle. I saw one chicken (the bird) boarding and many, many bags of provisions being transported from the metropolitan area of Tamale to the surrounding countryside. I sat next to a young lady with a child on her back--He did not make a sound as many of you know from attending long church services here, the children are always very very quiet. We knew when to get off because there was a big discussion in the front between the driver and conductor and I heard "Obroni" mentioned several times. Obroni means white man, and everyone had turned around and was smiling at me.

The Bishop had assembled a group of 8 people representing the 126 schools in his diocese. They are one of the main education providers in this northeastern region--they and the Moslem schools. The group was turned loose by the Bishop to add their pieces to the puzzle--he provided the opening prayer. Already I was liking this man's leadership style. It is not only fitting for beginning this process but is also fitting to the area with its history of ethnic disputes and violence. To make a long story short, the meeting was attended by the assistant director of the Tamale office of Catholic Relief Services. I have no details to report at this moment, but the outlook for financial help for shipping our next container from this world wide organization which is in part supported with Federal funding from the USA, has brightened considerably. The CRS representative wants to make the Yendi & Saboba projects a showcase--a pilot for further endeavors. Please say a prayer or two for this collaboration to become reality. Also after the prayer, please call Harold and Mary Jo Larson and say thank you to them. I told the representative about the Larsons visiting his office in January of 2002 and the effect it had on them. He took notes so we will probably be reading about them in the national media!

SABOBA: a community 46 KM northeast of Yendi reachable in the dry season over less than wonderful roads, but is a community of beauty, peace and enthusiasm for education. The SabTech Technical School is located there. As we toured, we saw electricians placing the last of many, many electrical outlets in a beautifully planned, Air Conditioned computer labratory, only waiting for computers. The director was trying to decide if he should go with a commercial service where a company comes in with an instructor and 30 or 40 computers, charges the students a fee and takes control of all computer education on the campus. We have seen this in other schools. It has its merits, but local control is lost. When Kobby explained how Star of The Sea/Willmar Computer School and Internet Cafe uses its income to pay for the program, his decision was made to wait for E-quip Afria computers so that he may replicate the Takoradi program. I appeal to all of you to help E-quip Africa in this exciting time of meaningful service to Ghanaian education. While I did not "Promise" computers, the hopeful expressions on the faces of so many people in the last two and a half weeks has left us with no option but to succeed, and to succeed well.

Last evening I met three officers of the Tamale Rotary Club, all very impressive gentlemen. Their projects include drilling bore wells and health education. They will help E-quip Africa in future development and were happy with the gift of the last of the Blood Pressure monitors from the Willmar Rotary Club and Steve Cederstrom's Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in Willmar. A BIG THANK YOU FROM GHANA! We journey back to Kumasi on STC today at 4:00 p.m. and then to Takoradi on Saturday. Takoradi will be a reorganization point for my return flight on July 9 from Accra. Thank you all for your hard work. Thanks to my son Chris for setting up this blog spot. I am not sure this is working--I didn't really log in, but hope this will get posted. (Chris--let me know what I am to do exactly--OK?) Just in case I will copy/paste to the usual Yahoo.com source.

Love and blessings,
Doug

Monday, June 27, 2005

Leaving Kumasi -Heading north


Hello Everyone,

Our stay in Kumasi, the cultural center of the Ashanti people who have the strongest and best preserved heritage of all Ghanaian groups, is coming to a close. I am thinking back on my visits here, in Accra, in Elmina, in Takoradi and feel very humble to be associating with these very fine, trusting people.

When this dream of bringing computers to Ghana began it was with a lightness that said maybe we can and maybe we can't, but nothing ventured is nothing gained so let's give it a try. That attitude has changed drastically now--it is not a matter of maybe any longer. I look into the trusting, hopeful faces of the Ghanaian people who are desperate for any chance to improve their lot and I know E-quip Africa has no option but to succeed and to do it as quickly as possible! So get ready, Willmar, get ready St. Paul and Minneapolis because we must start a fire in the Minnesotan's we know to develop a worthy program to serve the needs of the good people here.

My stay in Kumasi has been through the Graces of the Kumasi East Rotary Club. What a wonderful group of people, specifically my host, Mr. Cosmas Forson. He has provided my transportation, and wonderful knowledge of how things work in Ghanaian society, especially in the area of education and business. Mr. Forson has accompanied E-quip Africa on each school visit in the area and will will visit 9 schools before leaving tomorrow morning. He has shown me a plan where E-quip, with local Rotary help, will supervise the installation of computers and report to us on the progress of each group. The schools will be held responsible for following a set of steps to 1.) be considered for receiving computers and 2.) for development of their program. With his offer of Rotary help in this supervision, I know there will be good programs here. You see, in Ghana, educated and successful people all tell me that maintaining a program, maintaining equipment, maintaining even the building housing all this is a weakness of Ghanaian society. This is not my Western judgment at work, this is coming from native Ghanaians who have known and understood the system all their lives.

Mr. & Mrs. Forson invited to their 30th wedding anniversary celebration on Sunday. His driver 'picked' me early in the morning to attend a 4 hour Mass at All Saints Catholic Church near central Kumasi. The Archbishop of Kumasi was the presider--according to the Forsons he is the world leader in what is called 'inculturation' in the Catholic Church. It means the inclusion of local customs and ceremonial actions into the Mass. So I was witness to drumming and dancing demonstrations the likes of which I have never seen and certainly never in church! This Mass was also a celebration of the 10 anniversary of the new church building which is shaped much like St. Mary's in Willmar and holds about the same number of people. The Mass was said in the Fante language, but if one is familiar with the parts it is still easy to follow. There were many special presentations, blessings and awards. Also the Sunday School children did a marvelous presentation including dramatic story telling, dancing and singing. The were all dressed in the traditional Kente cloth with gold head bands and were a sight to behold! The last song they sang was a tear jerking "Jesus Loves The Little Children--all the children of the world--red and yellow black and white--all are precious in his sight--Jesus loves the children of the world."

After the Mass the Forsons took me to meet the parish priest, but they knew the Archbishop would be there and so we were invited to have lunch (a light lunch it is called) with the Archbishop! He inquired about my purpose in visiting Ghana and immediately added a school to the list we should visit! I spoke to him about the shortage of priests in the USA. He responded with a description of the shortage of educational facilities in Ghana, not only for priests but for all people... Protestant, Pentecostal, Catholic, Mormon, Moslem peoples. This man will drive a hard bargain when asked if Ghanaian priests can be spared here for work in the USA. A dialogue will begin between him and the Bishop of New Ulm diocese--he is eager an excited to meet Bishop Nienstedt.

Another wonderful Rotarian here in Kumasi is Mrs. Agnes Ofosu-Korahtema. She is the Principal of St. Monica's Training College (a teacher preparation school for girls) in the city of Mampong. It was her school van that brought us around to several schools and back home again. It was in her home where we ate a delicious Ghanaian meal of fish stew and fufu. It was her speeches that inspired all of us as she told young Ghanaian girls the importance of staying in school and going on to college. I wanted to book her for a speaking tour back home, but she is so busy in Ghana, I don't know when that would be possible. She and Cosmas are pictured above as we visited one of schools in the Kumasi area.

I am staying at the Sanbra Hotel where the Kumasi East Rotary Club meets. It is a great place where obroni Doug is called by his first name by waiters, laundry people, cleaning staff--always greeted with smiles. The food is wonderful here and one may order obibini food (local dishes) or obroni food (food for the white man). The best is a wood fired Margarita (vegetarian & cheese) pizza--it is fabulous. Also very nice Chinese cuisine here.

I have purchased many things: My plan is to use some as gifts--some have also been requested by some of you, but also I hope to raise money for E-quip Africa by selling these items. I have so much stuff, I may have to Fed Ex it home! As Mary can tell you my resistance to purchasing the beautiful hand made African items is nonexistent! Each shirt I see on the street is more beautiful than the previous one. Each carving is better done than the first!

So many people in Ghana do not understand why E-quip Africa has not started a business here--a for profit operation to fund the NGO (nonprofit). They are convinced any obroni operation here would be successful, especially in the area of education with ties to an educational institution in America so students would have the opportunity to come to the USA for at least one year of studies. They say there would be long lines to sign up.

I must go before we lose electricity or the internet. My greetings and best wishes to all and a huge thank you to all who have helped and worked so hard back in Minnesota. I think of all of you often and hope some day you will be able to see what I am describing for your very own eyes.

Akwaaba!

Doug



Doug Wilkowske
E-quip Africa

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Takoradi to Kumasi


Sent: Wednesday, June 22, 2005 4:07 PM
Subject: Kumasi Report
Greetings from tropical Ghana,
It is pouring down rain--like torrents of water dropping out of the sky. Hey, it's the rainy season.

First an update on internet access: Thanks for the emails and please excuse me for not answering, but it takes a good 10 minutes to open, read and reply to an email... actually more like 15. I am an hour and 10 minutes into this session and have read 7 emails and updated one address. It is my fault for coming with a western idea of how the internet should function. I need to take time to listen to the rain!

We did some work on Apple Macintoshes at Star of the Sea and a couple of the boys now know just what their value is. We also explored the Apple II GS machines as good old learning machines so they should be appearing in classrooms soon.

I met several times with the Sekondi/Takoradi Rotary and at their board meeting we finalized plans for The Willmar Rotary to partner with their city library project--it will be long term and an ambitious undertaking but will provide a metro area of nearly a million with a library. It will be exciting to see it grow. The photo at the top of this post is of a model of the building. Pretty impressive! After the evening meeting we went to a new Chinese restaurant to welcome two new members--it was a great celebration.

Kobby, Beattie and Doug got up at 4:30 this morning for a bus trip to Kumasi--about a 5 hour trip. The buses here are state subsidized, costing about $7.00 for the ticket--they are deluxe air conditioned coaches and very comfortable even showing movies. We saw "Red Scorpion" between Cape Coast and Obuwase!

Upon arriving in Kumasi we checked into the hotel where Rotary meets and found they would be meeting at 1:00 so I attended a second meeting in less than 24 hours. The former secretary and person I had been corresponding with passed away last month so I met a group of officers new to me. We had a great time and I toured parts of the city with one of the members after the meeting. He will send his driver tomorrow to take care of our transportation needs while visiting schools. The blood pressure monitors were big hits with both Rotary organizations and put to use immediately on themselves. Both groups are hoping to see other Willmar people here besides this one!

Kobby, the computer manager at Star of the Sea Cathedral is with me and his brother also. Kobby will meet with school people tomorrow and Friday as we plan what kind of computer installations will be made. It will be a busy couple of days, but each new school is an adventure. These visits also make me realize the importance of following through and providing the goods within the next few months. Please say a prayer or two for that to happen--the number of good computers needed here and requested directly keeps rising faster than the creek outside this internet cafe!

My apologies to those of you requesting changes in email or to be added to the list. With the slow speed here I can't get it done in less than 4 hours! No lie! So if you would be good enough to forward this to anyone who asked to be added, it would help a lot. Also I tried printing out the requests for clothing and carvings but it got lost on the network here and will take another hour to find and print again--of course I don't have pen and paper for note taking either. Oh well, I will just buy everything in a very large size so it will fit everyone!

Better go--Lots of impressions I will share with you all at home. Thanks everyone for the work going on back in Willmar, Hawick, MSP and wherever. See you later,
Love,
Doug

Doug Wilkowske
E-quip Africa

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Saturday, June 18, 2005

Ruminations in Takoradi



Sent: Saturday, June 18, 2005 7:09 AM

Subject: Prices, the internet, soccer, etc.
Hello everyone,
I am minding the store for Star of the Sea/Willmar Internet Cafe--Kobby, the manager, is on lunch break so I get to use his computer! The photos show the cafe and Kobby & Pius.

I was just thinking about some things that I learned while traveling--just tidbits:

Next time you buy gasoline, think of the price of petrol in London! It is .87 pence per liter which translates to $7.31 U.S. Dollars per gallon! In Ghana the price of petrol is 6,666 cedis per liter or $3.11 USD per gallon--people do not FILL their tanks here... only a little now and then.

For what it's worth, the internet is made very difficult and frustrating for persons in developing nations by commercial interests in the US, UK and elsewhere. Most Ghanaians I know have Yahoo addresses and we wait and wait for Yahoo screens to complete with advertising that is full of large graphics and animation--all totally unnecessary and unavailable to users here. It is so frustrating! What is needed is a simple email service with NO ads, no nothing so people can access the internet without the mess of nonsense they get at Yahoo, MSN, and all the portals I use. Can anyone direct me to places where this does not happen? If any of you are members of the Digital Divide Network, this is a good topic to explore there.

I met the president of an NGO called NEW BEGINNINGS here in Takoradi. He and his organization have similar philosophies as E-quip Africa. He is in the book distribution business financed by his work at a motorcycle shop. A topic for EQA board of directors might be collaboration with him. I will need to do some research on the history of his program to make sure it is what it says it is, but he genuinely seems to work for assisting the poorest of the poor. Here in Ghana, what appears to be may not always be the case, however.

This man also has a culture group which put on some dance demonstrations for our travel group last year--it is called the Obibiman Culture Group. They are doing a special show this weekend. A group like this could tour churches in the USA with their exciting musical presentations. So all you promoters and public relations types... how could we make this a reality. I could see them telling their story and soliciting books for their program which could either piggy back on EQA's container or fundraise for their own container. It is an idea, and we should evaluate their production (on DVD or video tape) with a critical eye.

This same man is a member of the Western Bikers Club, an association of motorcycle riders. Now, they may look like the HELLS ANGELS, but the ones I met are very tame. They have presented a plan to all the local hospitals along the coast offering their services to transport emergency medical supplies, blood, testing results, etc. from hospital to hospital free of charge. I think that is a good idea and will try to see what the medical community thinks of it.

I have met twice with my Rotarian friend, Kwiku Bedu Mensah. He is an appointed assemblyman, which means he is on government committees involved in his special interest areas, namely the environment. I will receive valuable consultation from him regarding the process EQA has entered with the Ghana EPA.The Willmar Rotary Club's international project most likely will center around the library. I am moving to Bedu's hotel today and will spend most of the weekend with him discussing the world situation. I will have their board's attention for 1 hour before the general weekly meeting on Tuesday--they do things just like in Willmar! I will come away with a good plan and the club will receive the BP kits as gifts from our club. They are eager to start working!

I must go now... the manager is back and tells me there is an important football match (soccer) starting in 1/2 hour--Ghana vs South Africa for the right to go to the World Cup.

Bye!
Doug


Doug Wilkowske
E-quip Africa


Friday, June 17, 2005

Update from Takoradi -17 June 2005


Sent: Friday, June 17, 2005 4:43 PM
Subject: Ghana Update from Takoradi 17 June 2005

Hello Everyone,

Thanks to those of you who responded. It has been difficult to find a fast internet connection so I'm sorry to be so slow in responding. It seems E-quip Africa needs to beg for faster equipment!

I'm in Takoradi, the city where Fr. Francis Tawiah is the cathedral administrator, so I am being treated very well. I came here on Wednesday, June 15 after spending a day at St. Teresa's Minor Seminary in Elmina--it's near Elmina Castle that both Ghana travel groups toured. I know the Bible teacher there, Fr. Ignatious Oyinlolah (yes... Ignatius of Loyola, or just plain Iggy for short). It was peaceful there--a wonderful place for a retreat, really away from the world. The photo above shows Fr. Iggy on the campus of St. Teresa's Minor Seminary.

I have been working in a new computer lab at Star of the Sea (SOTS) school. It is a Macintosh lab, probably one of very few in Ghana. The Macs are great for teaching beginning computing, especially all the tools for paint and draw. Upper elementary students can learn how to save and how to find what they save--all the basics that will transfer to the PC platform later. Those Macs have seen many miles, but they all work--even the oldest, most decrepit Imagewriter printer we could dig up! It was fun to run across Mary's and my old Mac up there--I could show the tech crew some pictures of Minnesota!

E-quip Africa brought a DSL modem and two high speed switches for the internet cafe. This should give them a very competitive speed here in town. I've used several of the cafes and they are OK, but not real impressive. We'll see if the usership rises at SOTS Internet Cafe.

The computer school has been going very well at SOTS with approximately 120 graduates who have improved their computer skills so they can continue in their present job or advance. The only setback was when a group from Takoradi Technical Institute arrived with the intention of "helping" them fix some of their computers. Star of the Sea says that really caused a big loss of time for them because TTI sent students who didn't know what they were doing and the techies at SOTS had to put things back together after they left. The manager was more kind than I would have been by seeing the positive side of things, that the TTI students were able to learn from this! Well, yes, at the expense of Star of the Sea/Willmar Computer School and Internet Cafe's program. In any case, they are over the setback and things should go well with the faster internet connection.

I'll be visiting Takoradi Polytechnic and talking about establishing a computer refurbishing center so our good volunteers like Dick Kasper won't have to spend every waking minute at refurbishing. In addition, it will give Ghana students a chance to learn the process, hopeful in their own classrooms. SOTS has expressed an interest in doing this also and they do have an extra room where it would work out. I would love to see them have a recycling component with it, using methods our Minnesota recyclers use. E-quip Africa could use a lot of help in this area--so my brother Roger, the Recycler, can you do some research. Also we'll need to take a field trip to rural Belgrade to visit Greg Martin's computer recycling business--I wonder if he would like to come to Ghana to do some training?????

I will spend the day with Rotarians tomorrow and on Tuesday. The local club has several projects going, any of which the Willmar Rotary Club could be a part of. They will be of great help in learning how E-quip Africa should proceed in collaboration with Ghana EPA setting up guidelines for safe disposal of e-waste. USAID has responded also and I am hoping to have an audience with them before leaving.

I will try making contact with the AXIM Methodist Primary School (AMPS) on Monday. It looks like the Methodist Conference will not be able to help AMPS rebuild it's school, but there are other ways to get the job done. It is unthinkable to let that school disappear into the jungle! If time I will try to visit the HG of the Methodist Church in Ghana. If the US churches get a plea from Ghana, perhaps they will lend an ear.

It is hot and humid here--today the temps must have been near 90 with 95% humidity. It rains every day and night--there was a torrential downpour last night just after my dear wife called me at 4:00 in the morning. Hey--she misses me, so it was quite OK!

I will be in Kumasi next week--am looking forward to that because two of the techies from SOTS will travel with me to help the schools new to computers plan for their arrival.

Thanks for all your prayers and support.

Things are great in Ghana!
Doug

Doug Wilkowske
E-quip Africa


Monday, June 13, 2005

Second Post from Ghana


Sent: Monday, June 13, 2005 2:04 PM
Subject: Second post:

Hello everyone,
Thanks for your replies. I am unable to read or reply to them at this cyber cafe because of the impossibly slow connection--25 minutes to get to this screen! Yesterday's email was from a very fast connection--no different than at home--today I am in a different neighborhood near my hotel.

Good meetings today... We met with a wonderful NGO (nonprofit) called the Ant Foundation doing some fantastic work just north of Accra with very poor. I think E-quip Africa can help with a few computers and those of you who know about resources in the mid-wife field perhaps can help with a few connections. They are a most impressive organization--little but with hearts of lions.

Our second meeting was with the Ghana Environmental Protection Agency where E-quip Africa entered into a verbal agreement to collaboratively develop guidelines for the safe and proper disposal of e-waste for the nation of Ghana. It was a bit humbling, but they are very eager to develop these guides and standards. E-quip Africa's responsibility will be to secure information, knowhow and trainers who can come to Accra to do in-services for the staff at the Ghana EPA. A second area of collaboration will be in helping develop a recycling industry here, so there will be an economic advantage from this as well as an environmental one. What we are attempting to do is to help the Ghana EPA develop national policy so you can see why this meeting was both exciting and humbling. (Photo above is at the EPA)

One of the goals of writing these updates is to let all this ferment in the rich minds of you who read them. When I return I hope you will share any ideas you might have about any of this. Please feel free to forward this to anyone you think may be interested or could be of potential help.

The third visit did not pan out today, but we will try before the flight home in July. The USAID office in Accra has been difficult to reach. We got as far as the director of education activities who was in a meeting all afternoon. I was given his e-mail address instead of voicemail with the instructions to describe our program and set up a meeting in July. I will do that after finishing this.

Tomorrow I will take the State Bus to Cape Coast where Fr. Ignatius Oyinlolah will pick me. We will back-track up the Accra-Takoradi highway to visit Francis Abiadoo and his family in Mankesiin. Then we will visit St. Teresa's Minor Seminary to assess their computer needs. Wednesday it is on to Takoradi and several meetings there.

Rotarians: I was not able to find a Rotary Club in Accra, but will meet with an officer of a club or the district when I return in July. I see Rotaract signs all over the place in the schools I have visited, so there is activity. The BP monitors arrived in fine shape--we were able to purchase 6 with your generous gift from Willmar. Have a great meeting on Wednesday!

All for now...

Doug


Doug Wilkowske
E-quip Africa

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Greetings from Ghana


Sent: Saturday, June 11, 2005 6:41 AM
Subject: Greetings from Ghana

Greetings from Ghana!

The trip so far has been great. I stopped over in London to see Raymond and his family. His mum was visiting also so I was able to see her as well. His two children (Rama-3 years & Raya-1 month) are fine--Rama is getting to be a big girl, loves to be read to, so Grandma and she will read together with the books we brought. Mary Jo, the quilt and dolls were huge hits with Resi and the girls. Rama has attahed herself to the nurse doll and so the angel becomes the property of Raya. Resi is as beautiful as she is sensible--thank God Raymond found her!

I arrived in Accra at 7:45 local time on Thursday, 9 June with Israel and Reggie (Raymond's brother) waiting outside the terminal behind the fence. It was not so much of a zoo this time, or else I am getting used to it. Perhaps since I was one lonely obroni, I was not worth everyone else's attention.

I am staying at the KAD Hotel (pronounced cod, like the fish) which is very near where Israel lives. I have a car and driver arranged by Israel's senior brother Immanuel so I go where ever, when ever--it is easy to fall into this routine.

My first working day here was long and partially successful. I visited the Action Progressive School out in Legon, a northeastern section of Accra near the University of Ghana. It is a very impressive school! They draw students from Togo, Benin, all parts of Ghana and elsewhere with a total of 1,850 students. The school has two sections. The original is called the remedial section and is for students who do not pass their examinations the first time around. The second is new with construction starting there only 4 years ago. Two floors of a four story building are finished and a building for student assembly and testing is being built. The new computer lab is to go into the second floor of the clasroom building and they are requesting 150 computers from E-quip Africa. The remedial rooms are older and the existing computer lab is located there. The machines are older and slow, but they learn MS Word, Excel and Power Point on them. The student hostels are near the old section also and I was able to see Francis' Abaidoo's room. (Francis is the student Mary Lou Werner supports.) I took a lot of pictures for you Mary Lou and even found out some costs!

Just a little thought to the board members of E-quip Africa: Action Progressive School is a private school and is run as a business. From my visit I know that profit is not their reason for existence. All energy there is directed at education and it is a fine school. We need to think about our policies--do we support private as well as public schools? Fr. Francis' Bishop Essuah JSS would be considered public I think, because the teachers are paid by the government--at Action Progressive they are paid through tuition. I don't know if that matters or not, but the thought crossed my mind.

My next visit was to the Catholic Secretariat's Office and Fr. Andy Soley. I was told that under no circumstances would the Catholic Secretariat accept goods destined for any destination other than Catholic organizations! He explained at length about the precarious nature of their tax exempt, duty-free status and how he could not put that in jeopardy by receiving goods that went elsewhere. I understand and will need to find another way to import them to Ghana without paying the maximum tax. Everyone pays the ECOWAS (Economic Council of West African States) tax no matter what your orgainization's name is, but it is the Ghana Import tax we can avoid. If the other churches that support the schools we are visiting have the tax exempt status, then we can use that but it looks like their goods would have to be shipped via a different container. I will visit the shipping companies to see if one container can contain goods for multiple recipients--if so perhaps the various schools could just be present to pick up the goods right from the Tema harbor. Anyone have any thoughts? Ideas? Anyone want to do some research from home? We were also wondering if Rotary could be designated as the recipient and/or if they enjoy tax exempt status here in Ghana. My Rotary friends in Takoradi will have that answer. Possibly the Ministry of Education and Sports will need to be involved, however, I hear from Kjell Rye that THEY choose the schools which receive the goods, not the shipper. I would not like operating that way. It means that the schools in the south and the schools in the neighborhood of the officer of the Ministry of Ed would receive the equipment and not places like Larabanga and Yendi.

Our next visit was to the USAID office in Accra. Our car was immediately set upon by two burley guards who demanded we open the hood and trunk. You can guess why! After they knew we were not a threat, we were told to come back on Monday because everyone leaves at 1:00 p.m. on Fridays! Hmmm! Those soft government jobs! It was not a memorable welcome!

The last visit of the day was at Catholic Relief Services. I met with the programs director and explained our story. He was attentive and made special not of the short brief I had prepared explaining our purposes. How might we collaborate, he asked. I suggested CRS could begin by helping with transportation costs for the materials going to Yendi. It will take much more follow up but at least I have met some real people at the headquarters and E-quip Africa will not be unknown to them.

Bye


Doug Wilkowske