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,