SUSTAINABILITY AMID CRISIS
Sustainability is at the heart of all our poverty alleviation work and has become a part of our DNA.
During our Annual General Meeting, Dr. David Mensah shared that in spite of being in the midst of a worldwide health crisis, incredible work and progress has been made.
Dr. Jennifer Wilson remarked,
This story needs to be shared. We need to let everyone know the importance of sustainability. They should see the impact of sustainability in the face of crisis.
For thirty years, each of the programs and projects that we developed and implemented were for the purpose of laying down the foundations for our friends in Ghana to be able to sustain themselves, now and in the future.
Families have income and food on their tables as a result of the women’s co-op program through peanut farming and the newly planted 200-acre corn farm.
The fishery program continues to supply fish to recipient communities providing protein which is essential in keeping a healthy diet.
The poultry program has been blessed with a great volume of eggs. Supply extends to the hospitals now, providing adequate nutrition to the patients and staff.
“Why hasn’t Ghana significantly been affected by COVID19 as we thought it would be?” Dr. Wilson asked.
The Ghanaian government’s precautions and protocols, including checking passengers at bus stations and collecting phone numbers, coupled with the resiliency of Africans when faced with infectious disease, have limited the spread of the virus in rural areas. Most importantly, the President has called for fasting and prayer.
As mentioned on our June Impact Updates, the chiefs were advised of the COVID situation before it hit Ghana, and they quickly implemented washing stations in their communities.
COVID19 crisis highlighted the need for a strong local health system. The construction crew is motivated and inspired to finish the Leyaata Hospital as soon as possible. In addition, during their personal time, the NEA staff can be seen carrying concrete blocks and cleaning the construction site or doing other tasks to keep the work moving.
It’s very exciting to see the progress made in the hospital. Most of the buildings have roofs, and other internal and external work is advancing.
An integrated approach is at the core of our program implementation. The scholarships we offer complement the success of each sector. Currently, we have scholars studying nursing, engineering, education, medicine and theology.
WATER & SANITATION
Over 120K people now have access to clean water, making it possible for each of the community leaders to ensure that members maintain good personal hygiene, especially during this COVID crisis.
Year after year, the church is flourishing. This year, two new churches have been established. We have a construction crew (led by one of our local pastors who is a builder by profession) busy with the Carpenter Church building’s completion, which will have the capacity to serve over 500 members. Our youth leaders are also actively sharing their faith and drawing other youth in the communities.
30 YEARS ON . . .
In November of 1990, the Mensah family left Canada to start work in Ghana. At the time, David and Brenda’s daughters – Elizabeth, Deborah, and Carole – were aged 7, 5, and 3.
While it was an exciting step into the work God had called our family to, there were also some concerns around the impact it would have on our daughters. While people still face incredible challenges with healthcare access in Northern Ghana, 30 years ago, things were so dire that it was safer to have blood tests done at the veterinary lab than at the regional hospital. Having three girls at vulnerable ages for illness, was certainly on our minds.dR. DAVID MENSAH
Added to that were questions about how Elizabeth, Deborah, and Carole would get a quality education when many primary schools in the region had classes that could sometimes have as many as 60 students per teacher. The alternatives were a boarding school that was 15 hours away in Ivory Coast or homeschooling. The Mensahs also knew that starting up NEA’s work would be challenging, and taking the girls from the home they knew to something so unfamiliar brought concerns about how they would adapt and remain connected with family in Canada, as well as develop new relationships in Ghana.
Looking at where Elizabeth, Deborah and Carole are now, thirty years on is a testament to God’s faithfulness when you step out in courage.
Even through difficult illnesses and injuries, there was always healthcare when it was needed most. We realized the gap that existed in education and saw that homeschooling would not be sustainable, so we set up an international school which not only provided the girls with quality education but also helped hundreds of other Ghanaian and immigrant students to excel. Most importantly, dinner table discussions about NEA’s work embedded a sense of purpose that has led each of our girls on different paths that have ultimately brought them back to be a part of the work.brenda mensah
Elizabeth has a Ph.D. in International Relations and Conflict Management and has been working in International Development for over 15 years. This past December, she became senior Queen Mother of the Mo tribe. The Queen Mother role is a leadership position that will enable her to work in areas of justice and peacebuilding for women and men in the tribe, region and beyond.
I see this new role, which has come to me through our family line, as both a great honour and great responsibility and am trusting that God will give me wisdom as I serve.dr. elizabeth mensah-bowler
When she was eleven, Carole decided that rather than being a veterinarian (a career path idea prompted by all of her pets), she wanted to be a doctor because she could help more people. In June, Carole finished her Pediatric Residency in Brooklyn, New York, during the COVID-19 pandemic height. She has already started on her path to help people and hopes to bring those skills home to Ghana in the days ahead.
Having a special focus on pediatrics, I’m amazed by all that GRID & NEA have done over the years to prevent deaths in the vulnerable ‘under-five’ population. I’m also thrilled by seeing that even more lives will be saved through it. I look forward to using my skills to that end in the day ahead.carole mensah
From a young age, Deborah always displayed a passion for the health and well-being of mothers and babies. She graduated with a Master’s Degree from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and has worked in Public Health and Development for over ten years. Most recently as the Executive Director of Save the Mother’s Canada and as the Vice-Chair of the board for the Canadian Council of Christian Charities.
Deborah also helped design and implement NEA’s Leyataa Ane Program, which has received accolades from the Canadian government.
It’s incredible to see how neonatal mortality declined from 40/1000 to 4.9/1000 NEA’s catchment area of 160 villages, throughout the four-year project. I can just see the thousands of babies’ faces who were saved.deborah mensah