As we know from our previous METI Project trips, trust and relationships are the keys to success. We need to build a relationship with our partners to execute any strategy. We have been working on this project for a long time, and thankfully its roots lie in a string of relationships.
We met John Becknell and Aarron Reinart about two years ago. Their company, Safetech Solutions, LLP, provides leadership and system development, and they both have extensive backgrounds in international humanitarian work and international EMS development. Over dinner one evening, they learned about METI and we learned about a possible project in Ghana.
The genesis of the Ghana project came when John met Joe Aidoo, an airport driver in Southern California who had immigrated to the U.S. from the village of Enyan Abaasa in Central Ghana. Over the next year, Joe and John became good friends during John’s many airport trips. One day, without knowing that John worked in EMS development, Joe mentioned that he was trying to help his village obtain ambulance services. John’s investigations into the situation eventually led him to believe that there could be a fit with METI’s mission.
John first began corresponding with village leaders and the National Ambulance Service of Ghana. His efforts eventually led to METI being invited by the village to visit Ghana and explore the possibility of helping to develop ambulance services. The airport driver, Joe, helped us plan the trip and has accompanied us on this journey. He is assisting us with introductions and logistics, and is sharing his family’s home with us. All of this has been knitted together through the building of relationships and trust.
Today, we toured the village, visited remote clinics, and began to understand the real struggles faced by this area. The PA in charge of the “system” that they have in place is magical. She is a businesswoman with a medical degree, and is the key to this district’s health-care progression.
Everyone here has a given name, a surname, and a “forward” name — a name that indicates what day of the week they were born and whether they’re male or female. We will call the PA Suzie, her Christian name. Suzie was trained in Ghana at a regional hospital north of the city, and has been in Enyan Abaasa for 7 years, with great satisfaction and with plans to improve patient outcomes. We all received our names today.
We were running late for the “Durbar,” a formal, official, welcome ceremony, scheduled from 1400-1700…Three hours!! Wow! We cannot say enough about our experience thus far. We were brought to four different houses of worship today.
It was Easter Sunday, but no different than any other for them here in this village. The sounds of music and cheering, preaching and yelling, joyfully filled the streets. They were dressed in white and black, signifying resurrection; the headwraps are traditional.
We were introduced four times in front of the worshippers, each service interrupted briefly during our entrance. We were careful to respect the culture and do or say the right thing to ensure that our gracious hosts understood our level of appreciation. To those who are truly gracious and giving, their generosity will outnumber your good will any day. The village members thanked us, and they prayed for us, multiple times, for our safe travel and safe return to the U.S., as well as our return back to Ghana in the future.
The camera flashes were overwhelming and gave us a taste of what it must be like to be followed by paparazzi. People placed cameras and cell phones two feet from our heads as if we were some famous novelty that they needed to Facebook to their friends about. How was this happening? They couldn’t eat an Easter meal? It was even more striking since some people didn’t have shoes, but they all had cell phones. That illustrated a priority for the people here.
Communication and family was everything. It wasn’t about a single possession, it was about a love for the community and a longing to welcome and worship and celebrate all that is good. In a place where so many things could be viewed as less than good, it was quite a feeling to experience.
After we left the three churches, we visited the village Mosque. As we arrived, the Imam stood outside and welcomed us to come in and pray with his congregation. This was our fourth, and most powerful stop. In a place that seems to want for nothing because they have each other, there was true peace. There was no conflict amongst members; there was no disrespect for other beliefs or cultures.
We ended our day with about 1,000 — yes one thousand! — villagers, standing in the chapel square, celebrating our arrival and our initiative as a team. A couple of hours later, the team was speechless. As we danced, toasted, spoke, prayed and drummed, we were given handmade clothing.
It’s impossible to share the experiences in our hearts as we launched an initiative like no other. We are newly inspired by the goodness and strength of those we met today. We are reenergized to be resourceful and make a difference. We wish for you that you could be here and experience the magic of what we found, in others, and in ourselves.
Take a moment to watch the videos that we posted, as words can simply not explain.