Welcome to the first of my daily blog updates on our 2018 trip to Sierra Leone and Ghana. Each day I’ll be sending back an update of our experiences and photos of our work and the many friends we will be reunited with in each country. Our January 2018 trip includes former SHGO Director (who I enlisted all the way from Oregon to join me and serve as logistical director for the trip) Ashley Emerson and two of my brilliant Social Entrepreneurship students at Clark University – Carmen Wise and Krissy Truesdale.
I’ve been traveling back and forth to eight developing countries representing the Diaspora staff of Seven Hills Foundation since 2010. Since then, we’ve been blessed to now support over 17,000 men, women, and children who are often poor beyond description. I do this to honor the 1500+ employees of Seven Hills (out of 3900) who came to the United States as either immigrants or refugees and chose Seven Hills Foundation as a place to work and dedicate their talents to those in America with a variety of life challenges and disabilities. I speak to groups around New England often about both the social and net economic value immigrants bring to the communities in which they live. We at Seven Hills are so grateful to all of our staff colleagues for the work they do and, in particular, to those who left their homelands to come here and support our work. In turn, I have always felt an obligation to support their loved ones in the countries they left behind.
In Ghana, we support – through Seven Hills Global Outreach – 4000 individuals through our extensive “microloan” initiative to farming families throughout the Tema district and beyond. Our partner in Ghana is Barbara Asempa and her nonprofit organization Home of Care and Protection (HOCAP). We return this January to explore the possibility of bringing a “cold storage” social business to the Tema district so that farmers can retain their harvested crops longer and sell to market at prices which can sustain their families.
In Sierra Leone, we provide support to over 13,000 women and children in 22 villages throughout the greater Bo region of south central Sierra Leone. In Bo and the surrounding region, we have a four acre campus which has grown to include a primary care medical clinic, a maternal (birthing) center, and a school for over 150 primary school children, and public health outreach (clean water wells and village toilets) to 22 remote villages. In the city of Bo, we have built – all through donors – a primary and secondary school for 400 children which is now the best academically achieving school in Bo. My efforts now are to bring solar powered electricity to both our campus and the city school; where there has never been electricity!
The work of SHGO has always been meant to broaden our humanitarian efforts and to support our Seven Hills staff. In these regards, we’ve succeeded. However, much needs to be done to uplift the poorest of the poor who struggle for the simplest of things; clean water so that children under 5 don’t die due to diarrheal disease; one toilet for an entire village; primary education for village children who walk five miles to our campus; one decent meal a day which we offer through SHGO; and basic maternal and primary healthcare available at our medical clinic; or the dignity of “work” which our microloan initiatives in Ghana and Sierra Leone offer.
Please join me starting Thursday, January 4 as I post daily updates on our experiences. I want to thank Ashley, Krissy, and Carmen for joining me on this trip as I know they will offer so much (and receive so much in return) to everyone we meet in West Africa.
Dr. David A. Jordan