SHGO update

Accra, Ghana. January 13:

Tonight marks our final evening together in West Africa before heading back home to the U.S. tomorrow morning. We began our incredible odyssey in Sierra Leone traveling to our Seven Hills Global Outreach schools, medical clinic, birthing center, and hiked into the bush to visit 7 of the 22 villages we support with clean water wells and community sanitation. Sierra Leone is particularly close to me due to the depth of poverty which exists. It is by far the least advantaged of the 8 countries we operate in support of the foreign born staff who work at Seven Hills throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Our week there was both challenging and exhilarating as we were met with so much openness and affection by hundreds of children and family members throughout our time there. Sierra Leone may lack in many of the material things and resources that we take for granted in the West, but they are rich in their humanity, generosity, and ability to look beyond all forms of diversity and toward “hope” for a better tomorrow. Here in Ghana, yesterday was truly a transformational experience for the team here with me. We traveled for hours out to 2 villages we support with microcredit loans, clean water, and the beginnings of a small business enterprise (bee keeping). If you haven’t yet read yesterdays post about our visits to Netawuyta and Okishibri then please do - once again we were all moved by the graciousness of everyone we met in these rural farming communities. As I try to do on every trip where we work to advance and uplift people - the last day in country I attempt to expose those students or donors I’ve brought to some cultural or less exhaustive activity. Today, we traveled to Cape Coast Castle for a moving and emotional tour of the once British fort that during the 1700 and 1800’s funneled over 12 million captured African men, women, and children through and sent them to America, the Caribbean, and South America as slaves. The visit was sobering to us all as we walked through the crammed subterranean cells no bigger than 20 by 20 feet in size housing over 250 slaves in total darkness for up to 3 months before being put on slave ships; many did not survive the stay at Cape Coast or the sea voyage and died. What struck us all was that somehow and through some perverted sense of righteousness, human beings could come to believe that it was justified to treat people of a different color and customs as less than human. Our team from SHGO will never forget the details of this visit. We then traveled to the Ghanaian home of one of America’s most prolific authors and intellectuals - W.E.B. DuBois.  Dr. Dubois was the first African American to receive a doctorate degree from Harvard University in 1896 and then spent the rest of his life attempting - through his teaching and writings- to bridge white Americans with their African fellow citizens. And so today was less about the specific work we do in Ghana supporting, through our partner, nearly 4000 people - today was more about reflecting on the common humanity of ALL people be they of a different race, religion, ethnic background, possess a disability, or how they express their sexuality.  I think what makes America great is that we are a country of immigrants - we all came from someplace else, with one exception; Native Americans. Whether your lineage is Irish, Polish, Russian, Italian, Portuguese, Kenyan, Ghanaian, Sierra Leonian, Brazilian, or whatever land your forebears came to our country from - we are now all one people. E pluribus unum, out of many one. I’ve attempted to represent the diversity of our staff at Seven Hills for years. Seven years ago we began Seven Hills Global Outreach as a way of expressing our kinship and recognition for the many hundreds of our employees who have come to our organization from, often times, poor countries in order to find a better life. We at Seven Hills employ people from 42 different countries and so in many regards we are like the United States in that our organization brings together the best from around the world to accomplish something great together. And that is to ‘serve’ children and adults in need. When I started Seven Hills Global Outreach I had no idea how important an aspect of our organization’s culture it would become, but each time I work in one of the countries we serve I’m reminded how much we have in common. I look forward - as do those with me tonight here in Ghana - to returning home and the comfort and loved ones we rely upon. I so look forward to working on our strategic plan, visiting our programs, and continuing my battle to improve the lives of our patients, clients, and the lives of our staff. I am re-energized to further our shared mission of service.  I will also greatly miss those who have traveled with me on this tour. Two of my Clark students who have been truly remarkable; Spencer and Kellee of my SHGO staff, and two friends who share the same passion for service to others. And finally, I will miss the thousands of children and women in Sierra Leone and Ghana I’ve come to know and love. Home tomorrow - and back to Seven Hills!


Dr. D. Jordan
- (“Dr. J”)
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SHGO update

Accra, Ghana. January 12:

Today is our first full day in Ghana after arriving last evening. We started off at 7:15 am for a 3 hour drive north to the village of Nitawuyto to take part in a village celebration for the clean water well we funded for them  in 2016. In January 2016, I brought another Seven Hills team to Ghana and visited Nitawuyto for the first time. We had helped our partner install a Bee Hive / Honey production initiative in the village as part of our efforts to stimulate sustainable economic development. However, before we left a girl of 10 or 11 stood up in front of her entire village  and read me her appeal for a clean water well. She had to walk 3 miles, each way, twice a day to fetch water from the nearest stream and as such she was missing a great deal of school. Her strength of character was indescribable and not funding the well wasn’t an option. And so, when we arrived this morning the entire village of several hundred people were waiting for us and greeted us with the only “gift” they had to offer; their beautiful singing and dancing. The same young girl was there once more and I recognized her for the courage. The well is now a source of village pride and our hope is to raise the $2,800 needed to install a community pit toilet for the entire village in the next several months as there are no sanitation facilities. We had an incredible visit and were, once again, surrounded by the warmth and affection of desperately poor people. In the afternoon we traveled southwest toward the village of Okishiburi where we’ve worked the past 5 years in providing micro loans to farmers. We were once more treated to a beautiful reception of children dancing and playing traditional drums. We were even encouraged to join in the dancing to the utter delight of the entire village who no doubt must have enjoyed seeing 7 very uncoordinated people from the U.S. trying to dance in traditional ways. Tonight we ended our day with our customary sharing of our individual “pearls”; or one remarkable highlight of the day. For some of our team it was the dancing, for others it was a feeling they had that had moved them, but for me - it was seeing that little girl I had met a year before who had the courage to stand up and tell her story to a group of strangers from America. If she had not done that, the likelihood of her village having a well today would be remote. Siwen reminded us all tonight in her pearl that this trip to West Africa brought home to her with certain clarity that “we are all human and feel love and joy and pain and are sometimes frightened and that poor people are as valuable as any rich person”.  That about sums up our entire work at Seven Hills Foundation and Seven Hills Global Outreach. No matter who we are - where we live - or our own peculiar life circumstances, life is precious and our collective purpose in life is to take care of each other as best we can. Tomorrow is our last day in West Africa and I’ll share my thoughts about this year’s trip to Sierra Leone and Ghana. Good night.


Dr. D. Jordan
- (“Dr. J”)
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SHGO update

Freetown, Sierra Leone. January 11:

After a week in Sierra Leone, we are about to fly to Accra, Ghana this afternoon. The photos I’m posting today (see them all here) reflect our arrival back in Freetown, our last picture outside our hotel in Bo, and a series of remembrances from our time with our partner here, Zion Ministries.  Everyone is well, a bit tired after our many travels, but nonetheless excited about seeing Ghana and the work Seven Hills does in that West African nation. Our partner in Ghana is Barbara Asempa from the NGO called HOCAP.  Seven Hills funds a large micro-loan initiative in the village of Okishibri supporting over 400 farming families and last year - through the help of our donors - we funded a clean water well in the village of Nyetawutu, 3 hours outside of the capital.  And so, as we anticipate all that we will see and do in Ghana we cannot help but reflect upon our days with children and women in the remote bush villages we support through Seven Hills and Zion Ministries.  Personally, I have been so thrilled at the level of engagement and true understanding of our team of 7 coming from the US.  My students from Clark University have jumped into this experience with zest carrying children, walking for miles, and living in rudimentary accommodations. It took our team a day or two getting accustomed to no running showers and sporadic electricity, but they did so without complaint.  Our time in Sierra Leone is over but the memories of each other and the hundreds of Sierra Leonian children we met will last a lifetime.  Time to board our flight from Freetown to Accra! Thank you for following our trip on this Seven Hills Global Outreach blog - and more tomorrow from the last leg of our trip: the beautiful land of Ghana.


Dr. D. Jordan
- (“Dr. J”)
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SHGO update

Bo, Sierra Leone. January 10:

Today is our last day in Sierra Leone and we all leave with a sense of melancholy given the warmth of hospitality and genuine affection shown to us by everyone at our partner organization, Zion Ministries. Though this is one of the poorest countries on earth, the people of Sierra Leone are rich in their demonstrating friendship to those with open hearts. As has always been the case, on the last day in any country I try to use it as a day of reflection and a little enjoyment. Today we traveled three hours north to the city of Makeny to see the different terrain and walk through the markets.  We did some sightseeing and shopping but somewhere along the way we also had an unfortunate experience - however, one that ended well.  While in Makeny, one of our SHGO staff, Kelly, had a young man run up to her and steal her cell phone. Truly, a frightening experience for anyone. As the thief ran away, four other young men gave chase, captured him, and escorted the thief to the police office. Her phone, though damaged, was returned to her. I cannot imagine many places in the US where the local citizens would go out of their way on behalf of a foreigner. Regardless of their motivation, the phone was returned and the criminal brought to justice. The rest of our day was spent recalling our week together in this amazing country. Over dinner this evening, Pastor Kanu and his wife Cynthia presented our SHGO team with beautiful traditional African shirts, but more importantly, shared with us how incredibly moved they were by our becoming part of this African family. I too, am so moved by those on our team. For me, Sierra Leone has been a part of my life for over seven years and my work here is heartfelt. I did not expect that visitors for the first time would embrace the country and its people as quickly as they did. For that, I am incredibly grateful to Siwen, Qixian, Michael, Noel, Kelly and Spencer. Tomorrow morning we leave our partners in Sierra Leone and fly south along the western coast of Africa to Ghana, where we meet with our Ghanaian partner Barbara Asempa from HOCAP in Accra.  It’s in partnership with HOCAP that Seven Hills Global Outreach supports nearly 4,000 people through our micro-lending program to over 400 farming families. We leave Sierra Leone in the morning with some sadness, yet gleefully anticipate meeting our Ghanaian friends later tomorrow evening. And so our work at SHGO continues, supporting very poor children and adults in eight countries around the globe; many of whom represent my staff colleagues who work at Seven Hills Foundation. Everyone is well and anticipating our adventure in Ghana.  More tomorrow evening from Accra.


Dr. D. Jordan
- (“Dr. J”)
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SHGO update

Bo, Sierra Leone. January 9:

Today was another day celebrating the determination of the Sierra Leone people; and in particular the children. We began the day visiting with the primary and secondary school children at our Bo School. This is a new school we dedication one year ago and already we have nearly 400 students! One of the very pressing needs that the school has is internet connection and computer technology as a means of allowing children to pursue science, mathematics, and language composition studies. The teaching staff are praying for it so that they can better prepare students for a technological world. It’s been determined that no public school in Bo has access to the internet for classroom purposes. If we - as a private nonprofit school could access the internet we could attract so many more children to attend school. We then traveled to our rural Bandawa campus primary school where we were greeted by signs and over 120 very happy children. Our team passed put pencils and schools supplies we brought over. We then toured our medical clinic and birthing clinic to see where women can safely give birth for no fees rather than risk the uncertain level of care and expense at the government hospital in downtown Bo. The government public hospital in Bo - like most all government hospitals across the country, are grossly understaffed and ill equipped to handle the number of emergency patients they see. Many of our Bandawa campus patients walk to our clinic for care rather than risk treatment in Bo. Needless to say our team members were each in despair after seeing the lack of basic cleanliness and care offered at the government facilities. After lunch we then walked through the crowded downtown Bo market where everything imaginable is sold on the street. All in all another fascinating day seeing Sierra Leone and its many challenges. Our needs at Seven Hills Global Outreach to continue our efforts in Sierra Leone are many. Funds for ‘one meal a day’ to serve to the 150 children in our primary school is greatly needed (33 cents per meal per child for 9 months per year would be a blessing; we need internet connection and the monthly cost of wireless service ($3000 for modems, wiring, etc - $120 per month for internet service - and 10 laptop computers would be a lasting gift). There are so many needs here in Sierra Leone but the return on that investment is life long offering hundreds of children and their families the promise of some future. The photos which follow are from our school visits today and our visit to the Bo government hospital. Stay tuned in for another update tomorrow.


Dr. D. Jordan
- (“Dr. J”)
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SHGO update

Bo, Sierra Leone. January 8:

Today was another memorable day here in Sierra Leone. We started the day by attending a traditional 3-hour Sunday worship service at Zion Church with our partner here in Sierra Leone. This was a new experience for several on our team, but in order to understand the African tradition you have to seek to understand their deep sense of spiritual beliefs as part of their everyday lives. Pastor Kanu had us seated in front and we were all warmly greeted by all in attendance. After lunch back at our guesthouse, Noel and I had to run out to our medical facility and meet with several people from an international aid agency seeking a possible affiliation with our medical clinic. My hope is to both expand our medical outreach and perhaps have the Bandawa health facility act as a pilot for other rural medical facilities throughout the country. The highlight of our day began at 3:00 where we all gathered, along with 350 villagers, who in many cases walked for miles, to come to a “Thanksgiving Ceremony” for the work done by Seven Hills Global Outreach in Sierra Leone which began in 2010. What a joyful noise heard across our campus and deep into the bush surrounding us. Tonight - as we do every evening - we ate dinner together, discussed our 2 books we are reading each day, and ended with perhaps the most moving part of our day when I ask each traveler to share their individual “pearl”.  Tonight this led to a long discussion about religion and faith within African society and how their religious beliefs serve as a foundation for many who face daily struggle. Our team on this SHGO trip is comprised of individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives and that only adds to the richness of our unfolding experiences together. In addition to religion from an African perspective we discussed racial strife in America, politics, Buddhism, international perspectives between China and America, and other issues which only serve to bring us all closer together. This trip has been a revelation for many through witnessing first hand the effects that poverty can have on a people. From the need for clean potable water, to improved sanitation facilities, to seeing first hand the joys and hardships in the faces of everyone we meet. Over my years working in Africa - and Sierra Leone in particular - I’ve come to understand that struggles can also make a people stronger, and even more at peace with simple joys. Family is paramount; working collectively to address common needs such as building a footbridge over a stream; and the ever present communal care and protections given to children within a village. I think we, in the developed West, could learn much from these simpler values. Everyone on our SHGO team is well and continually seeking answers to questions as issues arise. I’ll report more tomorrow when we welcome the children in both our Bandawa rural primary school and Bo primary / secondary school back to classes after an extended year end vacation.


Dr. D. Jordan
- (“Dr. J”)
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SHGO update

Bo, Sierra Leone. January 7:

It was quite a remarkable day today walking nearly 10 miles through the bush from one village to another seeing women and children as well as the clean water wells and village toilets funded by Seven Hills Global Outreach. Our day started at 9:00 am with the temperature already 90 degrees. Our first walk was to the village of Komende where we funded the construction of a village toilet facility 7 years ago and where we are now funding the hand digging of a water well. We were met by all of the villagers singing and dancing as their gift to us. Within a month 300 villagers will have the first clean water they have ever had. I met the same village chief I had met 7 years earlier and it was quite amazing that he remembered. Our SHGO team all danced and sang along with the villagers. From Komende we walked to the village of Pellahun, a smaller village of 150 people, and once again was met with singing. On the way we had to traverse 3 streams with single pole footbridges. Needless to say our team got wet but took it all in good humor.  The distant village of Bandawa was next and we were given a grand welcome once more along with a demonstration of the clean water well funded by Seven Hills just months earlier. Finally - after 4 hours of hiking from one village to another we arrived at our Seven Hills Global Outreach - Zion Ministries ‘Bandawa Medical Clinic & School’. Our clinic campus supports nearly 9000 children and adults providing primary healthcare services, a school for nearly 200 children, and well and sanitation services funded by our many U.S. based donors. Following lunch we walked another 4 miles on trails to the villages of Tobu and Ganga. We were amazed, again, at the love and generosity given to us by the many hundreds of remote villagers who expressed such joy because of the new wells and toilets we have made available to them during this past year. Everyone on our team remain healthy. Each is filled with awe at both the degree of poverty which exists in each village; yet, people are so filled with a simple contentment and hearts of gratitude. We are all quite exhausted tonight but spent our evening meal recalling our day together. I have for years, whenever I’ve taken students or others to locations around the world where we work, ended each day by asking each member to recall just ONE “pearl” from the day. My intent has always been to force each member to critically think about something they might have seen, touched, discussed, or experienced during that day. It has been my nightly ritual for years with every team of students or others I’ve traveled with. Last evening we began this ritual and the comments were thoughtful yet measured. Tonight’s sharing of “pearls” was spontaneous and deeply personal.  If I were to capture the collective feelings expressed by our team this evening- I would refer you to the photo on the left taken by Siwen Wang of the arm of Qixian Wang being held by a little girl in one of the villages. It - I think- expresses the power of when we allow our hearts to be opened to the needs of others - we become as one. The photos linked below are of our remarkable team of travelers. We look forward to another incredible day in Sierra Leone tomorrow.


Dr. D. Jordan
- (“Dr. J”)
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SHGO DAJ update

January 6th:

Our Seven Hills Global Outreach team left Freetown bright and early this morning to our destination of Bo in south central Sierra Leone. Leaving Freetown we drove through an impoverished slum where tens of thousands live on $1 a day and during the rainy season their shed homes are underwater. There is great poverty throughout the country, but it becomes more overwhelming in the city where so many are crammed together. On our way, we stopped at the only nonprofit drug and alcohol treatment facility in the entire country, serving 40 patients. We also stopped at one of the many village markets which sells fish, vegetables, and any imaginable piece of recycled clothing you could imagine. We bought fresh oranges a girl was selling for 2 cents apiece. We arrived at our guest house in Bo at 5:00 pm and will rush off to our first meeting with community leaders at 6:30. Tomorrow we visit our medical clinic, birthing center, and set off on a 10 mile walking trek to various remote bush villages throughout the area we serve in partnership. We are all looking forward to crossing streams and walking into the various villages I’ve come to love the many times I’ve been in Sierra Leone. Siwen and Qixian, my Clark students, have been remarkable in their interest and genuine concern for the people of this country. Noel and Michael- an IT executive from New York and human services CEO from Boston, respectively, are committing their vast intellectual capital to grappling with an understanding of how to affect sustainable change for the good in a country with such severe challenges.  Spencer and Kellee of my staff are making certain everything is running smoothly- as always.  Pics today include  Qixian, Siwen & Pastor Kanu, my ” Sierra Leonian brother” at the drug treatment center; Spence and Qixian at a village market stop for oranges; Michael and Pastor ; and a shot of the vast open bush savannas stretching from Freetown to BO.  On a personal note- I’ve been coming to Sierra Leone for nearly 7 years , as we’ve helped in the building of the Bandawa Health and Education campus, and the beauty of this country and its people has never ceased to amaze me. Though much is lacking in terms of economic, social , and environmental issues - there exists here a ‘strength of will’ to live and try again tomorrow. I’m pleased that we at Seven Hills are committed to the partnership we began with this country some 7 years ago.  Everyone is well and we look forward to taking in as many experiences as we can while here. More on our West Africa 2017 journey tomorrow..


Dr. D. Jordan
- (“Dr. J”)
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January 5th:

After 16 hours travel we have arrived safe and sound in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Tonight we will be staying in Freetown with a tour of one of the government hospitals in the capital tomorrow followed by a tour of the downtown outdoor markets.  In the afternoon we head to our destination of Bo, Sierra Leone (3 hour drive) and the home of our Seven Hills & Zion Ministries medical and school campus. So - our experience begins in one of the poorest, yet beautiful countries on earth.  More to report in tomorrow’s blog post.
Dr. D. Jordan
- (“Dr. J”)
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Departure Day - January 4, 2017:

To friends, families, and followers of our January SHGO trip to Sierra Leone and Ghana: over the next eleven days, our SHGO team (Siwen Wang, Qixian Wang, Michael Weekes, Noel Alexander, Spencer Gale and Kellee Kosiorek) and I will be part of the ongoing work begun in Sierra Leone and Ghana nearly seven years ago. Over that time, a number of Clark University students, donors, SHGO staff, and interested humanitarians have committed themselves to helping women and children in under resourced areas of the world. On this trip we will be furthering our work in the ‘Bandana Medical Clinic and Birthing Center’, help teach school children serving twenty-two remote villages, help with the planning of new clean water wells and community toilet facilities in villages which have never been privileged to have either, and see the transformative power of economic development using “microcredit” loans made to poor farmers. The intent of our SHGO trips to our partner organizations around the world is to help - in small and large ways - uplift people in need through self-determined, sustainable development work. I can think of no finer group of people than those leaving with us from Boston in just a few minutes. After a brief stop in Paris, we fly to Freetown, Sierra Leone and arrive tomorrow. Look for my daily blog updates and photos of our team as they work, learn, and become transformed themselves. More tomorrow!


Dr. D. Jordan
- (“Dr. J”)
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SHGO Trip to West Africa

Update from West Africa
On January 4, 2017, SHGO travels to West Africa to visit partners in Sierra Leone and Ghana working with local partner organizations as they address significant social challenges concerning access to clean water, education, and rural healthcare. Check back here for daily updates and photos to learn more about the important work and progress in these critical areas.

Follow our progress on Twitter @SevenHillsGO.


Dr. David A. Jordan

Dr. David A. Jordan, DHA
President
Seven Hills Global Outreach