Today was a travel day as we departed Accra, Ghana and left our host and SHGO partner, Barbara Asempa and her HOCAP organization. Our short stay in Ghana was productive with our work assisting the health assessment community in the village of Nyitawuta and our trip to Cape Coast Castle to learn about the tragedy of the slave trade, and the atrocities of Africans enslaving Africans, compounded by European nations and the Americas. As we do in every trip we take, historical or topical nightly reading discussions are part of the closing of the day. In Ghana, I selected for our reading, Saidiya Hartman’s book “Lose Your Mother”. The work is the historical story of the African slave trade with her own frustrations and angst in being a child of two worlds: an African-American growing up in New York and the progeny of Africans from Ghana. Understanding varied cultures and different perspectives and viewpoints has always been a fundamental part of our work at SHGO, so understanding the prominent position slavery had in Ghana offers us an insight of the challenges Ghanaians and African Americans face today.
A 2 hour flight from Accra to Monrovia followed by an hour flight to Freetown (and a boat trip from Lungi Airport - to our Coastal Freetown guest house are depicted in photos attached). Tonight we met with our long friend and partner in Sierra Leone, Pastor Michael Kanu, to plan out the week ahead. Tomorrow we visit a hospital in the capital city and then a three hour van ride to our final destination of BO, Sierra Leone, where Seven Hills has - with Pastor Kanu and Zion Ministries - established a medical center, two birthing clinics, a dental clinic, two schools serving over 500 children, a church, and 22 village wells and community sanitation facilities. We are currently attempting, with the help of our donors, to install a solar outdoor light in each of the 26 villages we support. On Wednesday, we will be walking miles out into the Bush region to visit several villages that have previously had little outside contact. Our hope is to one day soon, bring a clean water well and community toilet to them. Our days start early and end quite late, so tonight our team is trying to catch up on their sleep. We are all well and our collective enthusiasm has only increased. Earlier this evening, one of our team turned to me and said, “If anyone would have told me 6 months ago that I’d be on a SHGO mission trip in two developing countries, I would have thought them crazy. Who in their right minds would do that? Now I understand, it’s been the most amazing and rewarding experiences of my life”. More to follow tomorrow - and so from Frances, Ali, Andy, Peter, Tracy and myself - a good night.
Dr. J -