Ghana, Africa 2005
Joshua Muir, Live Events Producer, spent over a week capturing footage of the Hands On Mission team in Ghana, Africa during the summer of 2005. Here is his story of this marvelous experience . . .
At the end of June, I had the good fortune of being sent to Ghana, in West Africa. My job was to document the Hands-On Mission Team’s work going on in that country. After two long flights, I arrived on a Wednesday evening greeted by the entire team and their hosts, Captains Danso. It was a wonderful introduction as I left the airport and faced a very large crowd of locals looking for friends coming off the plane. And through the crowd I see the uniforms of the Salvation Army. We immediately drove to a small restaurant for a late-night snack of Chicken and Rice. The team, who had already been in country for two weeks, brought me up to speed on what they had been doing and what was planned for the week I would be there.
We went on to the place the team was staying. It was a very nice place run by the Assemblies of God and kept for missionaries. It was most accommodating, especially compared to what I expected in my mind. This place had all the luxuries of our hotels and motels, air conditioning and a full bathroom, TV, and refrigerator.
My first day involved a trip to the Parliament House. The city, Accra, we were in is the capitol of Ghana and the seat of government. A Salvationist has worked as assistant to many top level officials and had arranged a tour of the parliament building as well as a chance to sit in on the day’s meeting of parliament. It was very nice to be able to see the government working so well and to see a Salvationist working so closely and loyally to the government.
The remainder of the day we spent at the Anidaso Fie community center. This is run by the Salvation Army in the city and provides many opportunities for local people to help others and provide for themselves. The members work together to make soap and clothes that they sell to support the center’s activities. These include a health clinic, where people can come to receive free health care and consultation. They also run an “A, B, C” Clinic. This is where people can come and talk confidentially with a counselor about AIDS and get free testing. The team had already spent several days there and had built a strong connection with the people there. This was their last day with them.
Friday was Ghana’s Day of Independence. We joined a rally attended by thousands of Christians. It was fun to see. At one point while I was trying to get some wide shots, a group of children ran up to me and swarmed around me and the camera. I was a little nervous until I realized they just wanted to see me and the camera and talk.
We went on to the Mamprobi corps in a suburb of Accra for the start of a nationwide Salvation Army Student Fellowship Convention. This was the first time the territory had been able to put together such a large gathering of young people. Very similar to our Youth Councils, the weekend involved many spirited worship meetings as well as some seminars and discussion groups. Nearly 200 attended and it was a very exciting weekend. They all slept on classroom floors and had to eat conservatively but they all seemed to enjoy it.
After the weekend we moved out of the AG House to move to the “rural” area. We drove about 60-75 miles outside the city (a five-hour drive) to a small village called Duakwa. The Salvation Army operates a rural rehabilitation clinic and Maternity Ward. People can come here to receive low-cost health care for chronic problems such as epilepsy or disabilities caused by diseases like polio. Many children live there with there parents while they undergo physical therapy and are fitted with appropriate braces, shoes or crutches that can all be made on-site in the workshop staffed by carpenters and leather-workers. They also provide a maternity ward staffed by several midwives that can assist in the entire pregnancy and early child care process. There is also a medical clinic for minor problems with a well-stocked pharmacy. The nearest hospital is several hours away so for many this is the only place to receive medical attention.
The entire operation at Duakwa was amazing! The facility is very nice and they are able to do so much for the people in the rural areas. In addition to the work they do on site, I was fortunate to accompany some staff members on a visit to the even more rural areas. A two-hour drive took us out to some incredible villages out in the rainforest of West Ghana. Like taking a step back in time, seeing these villages that still flock to see a car coming through their dirt road was truly an experience I never imagined I’d have.
As with all such things, the trip couldn’t last long enough and before I knew it, I was returning back to America. Now I think back on it and it feels like a dream. I saw some incredible sights, but more than that I smelled the smells, tasted the tastes, and was totally enveloped by Ghana. I am amazed at the work of the Salvation Army on a global scale. It is a blessing to be a part of an organization that is recognized both in New York City and a place like Duakwa, Ghana as a safe place to go. I think that speaks well for our mission and am so excited to be a part of it.