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  • Writer's picturePeter Demko

Accra, Ghana. January 13

Tonight marks our final evening together in West Africa before heading back home to the U.S. tomorrow morning. We began our incredible odyssey in Sierra Leone traveling to our Seven Hills Global Outreach schools, medical clinic, birthing center, and hiked into the bush to visit 7 of the 22 villages we support with clean water wells and community sanitation. Sierra Leone is particularly close to me due to the depth of poverty which exists. It is by far the least advantaged of the 8 countries we operate in support of the foreign born staff who work at Seven Hills throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Our week there was both challenging and exhilarating as we were met with so much openness and affection by hundreds of children and family members throughout our time there. Sierra Leone may lack in many of the material things and resources that we take for granted in the West, but they are rich in their humanity, generosity, and ability to look beyond all forms of diversity and toward “hope” for a better tomorrow. Here in Ghana, yesterday was truly a transformational experience for the team here with me. We traveled for hours out to 2 villages we support with microcredit loans, clean water, and the beginnings of a small business enterprise (bee keeping). If you haven’t yet read yesterdays post about our visits to Netawuyta and Okishibri then please do - once again we were all moved by the graciousness of everyone we met in these rural farming communities. As I try to do on every trip where we work to advance and uplift people - the last day in country I attempt to expose those students or donors I’ve brought to some cultural or less exhaustive activity. Today, we traveled to Cape Coast Castle for a moving and emotional tour of the once British fort that during the 1700 and 1800’s funneled over 12 million captured African men, women, and children through and sent them to America, the Caribbean, and South America as slaves. The visit was sobering to us all as we walked through the crammed subterranean cells no bigger than 20 by 20 feet in size housing over 250 slaves in total darkness for up to 3 months before being put on slave ships; many did not survive the stay at Cape Coast or the sea voyage and died. What struck us all was that somehow and through some perverted sense of righteousness, human beings could come to believe that it was justified to treat people of a different color and customs as less than human. Our team from SHGO will never forget the details of this visit. We then traveled to the Ghanaian home of one of America’s most prolific authors and intellectuals - W.E.B. DuBois. Dr. Dubois was the first African American to receive a doctorate degree from Harvard University in 1896 and then spent the rest of his life attempting - through his teaching and writings- to bridge white Americans with their African fellow citizens. And so today was less about the specific work we do in Ghana supporting, through our partner, nearly 4000 people - today was more about reflecting on the common humanity of ALL people be they of a different race, religion, ethnic background, possess a disability, or how they express their sexuality. I think what makes America great is that we are a country of immigrants - we all came from someplace else, with one exception; Native Americans. Whether your lineage is Irish, Polish, Russian, Italian, Portuguese, Kenyan, Ghanaian, Sierra Leonian, Brazilian, or whatever land your forebears came to our country from - we are now all one people. E pluribus unum, out of many one. I’ve attempted to represent the diversity of our staff at Seven Hills for years. Seven years ago we began Seven Hills Global Outreach as a way of expressing our kinship and recognition for the many hundreds of our employees who have come to our organization from, often times, poor countries in order to find a better life. We at Seven Hills employ people from 42 different countries and so in many regards we are like the United States in that our organization brings together the best from around the world to accomplish something great together. And that is to ‘serve’ children and adults in need. When I started Seven Hills Global Outreach I had no idea how important an aspect of our organization’s culture it would become, but each time I work in one of the countries we serve I’m reminded how much we have in common. I look forward - as do those with me tonight here in Ghana - to returning home and the comfort and loved ones we rely upon. I so look forward to working on our strategic plan, visiting our programs, and continuing my battle to improve the lives of our patients, clients, and the lives of our staff. I am re-energized to further our shared mission of service. I will also greatly miss those who have traveled with me on this tour. Two of my Clark students who have been truly remarkable; Spencer and Kellee of my SHGO staff, and two friends who share the same passion for service to others. And finally, I will miss the thousands of children and women in Sierra Leone and Ghana I’ve come to know and love. Home tomorrow - and back to Seven Hills!

Dr. D. Jordan - (“Dr. J”)

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