While the basis for this cycle was first conceived of in 2014, it was the subsequent visit to Ghana in September 2015 that spurred us on. It followed from an initial visit in July 2013, with a group of friends, to the O Africa orphanage and health clinic in Ayenyah. In the classroom, the football field and dirt tracks we met many of the children whom we would get to know very well in September 2015.
What brought us to Ghana most recently was an infrastructure project, directed by NMS International, as well as wanting to have a bit of fun abroad. On behalf of the Ghanian government, NMS had been building and upgrading the medical infrastructure in Ghana, one of many worthy development projects which they are involved in, throughout Africa. As of March 2016, the first newly completed hospital opened its doors to new patients with great success. It is based in Dodowa; approximately a dozen abandoned vehicles, 3 roadside purchases of street food, a police barricade and throngs of jubilant children outside the capital, Accra. We are proud to say that our sweat and toil contributed to the plastering, concreting and welding of the site. Even better, we ended up providing daily amusement during the many fast paced hours we spent with the local builders as they laughed at our inability to render the walls without becoming freckled with plaster, let alone work without dripping from head to toe in sweat. Further hospitals are on track for completion by the end of 2016 and into 2017 around the rest of Ghana but sadly we will not be there to be the evenings entertainment. More seriously however these hospitals will no doubt have considerable social and human welfare benefits for thousands of Ghanaians.
10 minutes drive or a few more abandoned cars and smiling faces down the road from the new hospital is the Ayenyah O Africa orphanage which NMS has been involved in supporting. Their collective work has helped to transform the orphanage from a collection of ramshackled huts into a thriving community. Whilst the situation for many of the children and foster families could be improved further, they now have access to schooling, sanitation, electricity, basic health facilities, a football field, basketball court and pastoral care.
In September 2015, on behalf of NMS, we directed the project to upgrade the Community Based Health Planning and Services Clinic (CHPS). The project involved the expansion of the health clinic to incorporate a suitable vaccination area, the refurbishment of the existing interior as well as the upgrading and restocking of medical equipment and supplies. When we first entered the CHPS clinic we found holes in the roof, dangerous tiling in the maternity unit and a small fridge, packed to bursting, with spoilt and out of date vaccinations. One of the few operational aspects were the smiling and stoic staff, who treated us to many varied meals of Ghanian cuisine. We were thrilled to help resolve the issues as well as maintain our personal engagement with the community and the children of Ayenyah, whilst still being thrashed at football.
NMS’s partnership with the Ayenyah community and orphanage has not finished as they are now a major sponsor of the school now run by A Child Unheard. The money raised through the cycle will help complement this by providing vital funding for ACU's newly established learning centre to offer support to traumatized and abused children inside a massively overstretched foster-care system.