Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jeff's trip to Ghana - 2010

Having returned from a two week "working" tour of the Moringa Project in Ghana, my only fear with this entry to our BLOG is that I don't find the words to adequately express how truly important this project is to so many desperately impoverished, but no less deserving, hard working and wonderful people. Abu, Yusif, Rafani, Isaac, Sarah, Joanna, Sowah, John, Kate, Fati, Ebo, Hackman, Quaino, Bugier, Kassman, and easily over 100 other villagers, volunteers and workers that I labored alongside while in Ghana, I honor you and I am humbled by you. I am so very proud of what you have accomplished with the relatively meager resources Moringa USA has been able to find ways to supply to you to date. Clearly you understand and trust that you are building a future for yourselves, your children, your village, and your country. You could not be more deserving of our help.

Before I begin, I can say with certainty that very few, if any, Americans reading this entry can comprehend the complete lack of the most rudimentary resources on hand and available in Africa that we in America assume are just as easily available to all.

My leading photo will mean little to those among our Moringa supporters that are not woodworkers but considering the majority of our donor base consists of humble American woodworkers and carpenters like myself, you will understand this photo immediately and why I choose to present it. Note on this glue-up, we had to find some way to get it done, given that there were only two C-clamps to be had in the village. Nonetheless, we had to meet the challenge to devising a way to glue and clamp a configuration that needed 12 clamps.

Because I had the privilege of living in a country where we have public libraries, where I was given the gift of a public education, where information is free for me to find it if I am ambitious enough to simply look for it, I was able to meet this challenge. Because of the educational opportunities afforded all western countries, improvising alternatives to basic problems in physics is possible. There are no such educational resources in West African countries, even in Ghana with the highest literacy rate in that part of the continent. This is evident in Baako as the community and surrounding villages has no library. Even the local school I visited with a student body of 200 plus kids had little more than a dozen books that I could find and these books were spread between 8 classrooms with roughly 30 kids to a class. In my opinion, anyone of these fine carpenters could have done what I was able to do had they had even the most fundamental book of simple physics.

This is why I selected this first picture as a backdrop to set the stage for what I must tell all our supporters of what I found life to be in the Central Region of Ghana. Here are some quick examples: any kind of healthy food was hard to come by. A bed consists of a floor (or if you are lucky) a board with a mat on top of it. No doctors or clinics within 100 square miles, books are not to be had and the luxury of a piece of paper and a pencil was like a gift from the heavens. No post office in the entire district of 244 settlements. Few wells for drinking water. Electricity, even when available, is unreliable. Phone lines are non-existent. Shopping for consumer products is erratic and typically only second hand goods are available. Roads that were last paved by the British circa 1950, and not maintained since (except by local farmers who patch the holes), but more on that later.

Now try to enter that world, then look at what these wonderful people have built. By themselves, 100% by hand labor, in circumstances that make even the simplest of tasks difficult. And I have not even mentioned the punishing heat (temperatures between 100 - 114 degrees F during my stay) that makes even modest physical effort stressful and back breaking daily toil incomprehensible.

Nevertheless, the communal will of the people was harnessed under Abu's and Yusif's leadership and the power of hope was the engine, and when I walked into the village, I found this waiting for me. We had a vision that crossed oceans and cultures, and together we simply made it happen through one essential ingredient, "TRUST". How to express the emotions I felt when I saw that we not only had a dream, but we put feet under that dream, and what we carved out of the jungle was now the finest building in all of Baako. Our Moringa Community School of Trades.

I will post more information on my experiences in the weeks to come. Right now I have work demands so that I may make a living for myself and my family as none of our Moringa USA team earn any wage from our work on this project. For those of you that are already donors... Be very proud. You have lent your muscle to this project, and look at what was created. For those who now can see what we do and have done, join us, and enjoy the satisfaction and pride that comes from showing your true strength by lifting others up.

Sincerely, Jeffry Lohr

Please donate today to MoringaCommunity.Org.
You can be confident your money will go exactly where it is intended. Everything is ready to go but we still need $5,850 for 6 utility poles installed and get the Moringa Community Center connected to the main power grid.

Sidebar, Only Jeffry's plane ticket was paid by Moringa. All other travel expenses were funded personally.