Tag Archives: Ghana

World Vision Wrap-Up

World Vision

Image via Wikipedia

I can’t say how thankful I am for everyone of you who supported me through the marathon and especially through my fundraising efforts for Team World Vision.  It was a humbling honor to run on behalf of my African friends and to share their stories with you over the last months.

It really has been fun to combine two of my passions into such a powerful event.  Thank you! I am excited to announce that as of writing this post, we have raised $2,086 for Team World Vision!!! This exceeded the $2,000 goal!!  Thank you!!

Below you will find a list of the posts where I shared about my passion for Africa and my experiences there.  You can also read all of the posts by clicking on this link.  In the order they were published:

That pretty much sums up Team World Vision.  I’m not sure when/if they actually close down the fundraising page, but you still have the opportunity to give today.  Thank you!!

Team World Vision

Team World Vision is a fund raising arm of the organization which uses ordinary people like me, to get ordinary people like you involved in ending poverty and injustice across the world. I have decided to commit the 26.2 miles of my first marathon to the memory of and in honor of the children I have met during my international travels. I can’t remember all of their names, but I have many pictures and stories.

On the right side of my blog there is a widget that will allow you to support me during this race or you can visit this secure page. I have set a goal of raising $2,000 which will help children have a chance at living to become adults across Africa.

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September Highlights

I probably say that every month seems to fly by, well September was no different.  The middle school I work at started right after Labor Day and it has meant some busy weeks. It is good to have the students back though, they help give purpose to my work – since my job is focused on finding opportunities for volunteers and community organizations to engage them, this makes sense! I also celebrated my second anniversary!!

It is a little odd to interrupt the flow of marathon related posts considering that the marathon is a few short days away, but it is good to look back on the month while I still have it fresh in my mind.  As you know marathon training has been going well and weeks 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17 were successfully completed!

If I wasn’t out running a long run, it seemed like I was racing and happily setting PRs. This month I just raced the City of Lakes 25K – my furthest race distance and left feeling super excited. I really enjoy running in Minneapolis because there are so many different place to go running.  I just wish there was more dirt trails near my house! Some of my favorite places to run include the Minneapolis Riverfront and Pike Island.

I continued sharing about my experiences in Africa and different programs of World Vision.  I wrote about Hurricane Relief, making Caregiver Kits with Cindy McCain and Laura Bush, the World Vision Experience, and I shared from my journal some of my initial thoughts about Ghana.

Blogging is fun, so I’m glad to see that the new USATF CEO has started his own blog.

Last Year a friend wrote a guest review of the Lewis and Clark Marathon, it was much better than this year’s rain soaked affair.  My blog last year was called Run Central Indiana and it was the featured blog of the week over at the Phedippidations podcast.  Two important but often forgot about training tools are accellerations and strides.  I ran a DINO Series race (15K trail races) and wrote a nice review and had fun despite the muddy conditions. Finally, I shared what was currently on my mp3 player.  The list has changed some but some of the shows are still there!

Monthly Mileage

Running – 160 miles

Biking – 146 miles

[tags] Highlights [/tags]

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Reflections on South Africa

I couldn’t find my journal from South Africa, so I’ll show you some pictures and tell a brief story about each.  This might be more enjoyable for you anyway!

In South Africa we spent a lot time in the classrooms at various schools. We split up into small groups and “taught” various classes. We talked about goal setting, child abuse, HIV/AIDS, drugs and other topics before opening the floor for questions they had for us. Many of these related to the USA, 9/11 (we went January of 2002), what we liked about South Africa, and more. This is a picture from one of the classrooms.

At a different school a group of kids really wanted me to go to the store with them. Ultimately, I relented and we walked a short distance to a “convenience” store. The big draw for the students was an arcade game. I can’t recall the name of the game, but I remember the shock I felt when I realized that these students were giving up their lunch money to play this stupid game. It was upsetting to me, but ultimately it was the student’s decision to make that choice. But why store owner would you do that to kids?

We did have time to stop and reflect on what we had experienced as well as the opportunity for some “touristy” type activities.  This included a little safari one day where we spent some time driving around in Safari style trucks, equipped with an elephant gun, just in case!  This was on of the giraffes we saw. We also saw some elephants, a lion, lots of warthogs, and some random other animals.

One week was spent in the northern part of South Africa, near the Botswana border. For the most part we ended up spending a large chunk of the week playing with kids. We spent time playing soccer with some older kids and visited a drop-in center for street children. These children had no place to go and couldn’t afford school.

The drop-in center provided food and structure for them. Staff would teach and counsel them, while helping them overcome their addictions. Most of these kids were addicted to sniffing glue – it helps take the edge off the hunger pangs.
We spent a few hours playing and interacting with them, before we were supposed to go to a village. As we were preparing to leave the center director decided that his kids should come with us and had them all get in the back of his pick-up truck. He then offered for a few of us to ride with them. We did and had the opportunity to interact with the kids a little more directly.


This is a group of villagers from the village we visited after the drop-in center. We spent a few hours playing soccer and interacting with some of the village youth. As we were leaving we saw this large group of villagers loading up a wagon with their personal belongings. Through our interpreters we discovered they were preparing to go out to the fields for a month. They were leaving their homes for a month to try to scrape out a living.
They were very enamored by us and wanted us to hold the babies, thinking we would be able to magically heal and bless them just by our touch. We struggled to communicate with them but some of the group was able to interact.

This last picture is a random village that we drove by. I put it here to show you some of the conditions that people live in around the world.It was seeing places like this that rocked my world and opened my heart to those who have nothing. Before this trip I knew I wanted to be involved with changing communities, but thought that meant the inner-city or rural American communities.

After seeing places like this I realized that there is something bigger that needs to be done around the world so that the poorest of the poor can have even the basic things that we take for granted.

Team World Vision

Team World Vision is a fund raising arm of the organization which uses ordinary people like me, to get ordinary people like you involved in ending poverty and injustice across the world. I have decided to commit the 26.2 miles of my first marathon to the memory of and in honor of the children I have met during my international travels. I can’t remember all of their names, but I have many pictures and stories.

On the right side of my blog there is a widget that will allow you to support me during this race or you can visit this secure page. I have set a goal of raising $2,000 which will help children have a chance at living to become adults across Africa.

[tags]  World Vision, Team World Vision, South Africa, Africa[/tags]

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First Impressions and Reactions in Ghana

Homemade Cargo Bike

Homemade Cargo Bike

Below is a journal entry from my first day in the rural village in Ghana where I spent my eight-week Master’s internship. A quick background on what I was doing – my internship was working with a Multi-purpose Community Telecentre (basically a community center with a technology focus).  I was mostly helping them with program evaluation and did some teaching. A lot of my time ended up being about experiencing the culture and learning about village life.

The below excerpt was my first day in the village but also a major event for the Telecentre.  One of their projects is teaching bicylce repair and selling new and used bicycles.  I’ll try to insert relevant links if I can find them if I can.  Johnny is running the bike program, Osei was my supervisor, Samson was a news reporter from Ghana TV and John represented ITDP.

June 4, 2003

Today is a big day for the center. I didn’t realize how big until later. Today was the big bike show, the chance for the center to showcase the converted bikes as well as the new bikes being sold. A whole bunch of us began by putting together 20 of the new bikes so that they could be ridden. Johnny had done a great job training his students and they made the process go very quickly if not haphazardly because of the lack of tools. Many people were arriving and they bike ride began.

Homemade Tall Bike

Homemade Tall Bike

I rode, it was funny because almost everyone took off like a bullet! I took it slower and began passing people, especially up the hills! Ghana Information Services (a Land Rover with a microphone) proceeded us down the road so many people were near the road! Many started cheering Obruni [Twi for White Man] when they saw me so I would wave and say hello. Also some of the groups would cheer m on to pass someone while others would cheer for the guy I was passing.  We rode to Konongo which is about 8 miles round trip with some good hills.

I did take my time, letting people pass me until they would look back and smile! When we got back I was very hot and very sweaty! The show began with a prayer in Twi. John, Johnny, and Osei all spoke. Osei was very powerful and inspiring. Also the Deputy Minister of Roads and Transport spoke as well as some other officials from the national government. All praised the program as innovative and an example to the rest of the country. The program was recorded for a segment on Ghana TV next week.

Also during the program a group of girls did some traditional dances which were interesting, they were poetic. Also the chief and his elders were present wearing full traditional garb. A single piece of cloth wrapped toga like around the body and was held together by the left hand. Each was unique but the chief’s was very intricate looking and it had some gold pieces and very colorful. Also there was an umbrella that was held over him.  I learned later that the size of it represented his power. Chiefs have authority over the land and are to be respected in the community. It runs parallel to the state government. Samson wants me to write about about the psyche of development to understand the people working in development and also to understand what development does to the people being affected. After the program

ITDPs Bike by Trek

ITDP's Bike by Trek

I did a little dance with some of the girls who laughed hysterically!

I met one of Osei’s students who lives in Konongo. He will be working at the centre as well so that will be a great learning experience. Unfortunately, I forgot his name. I also met Effa, one of Johnny’s good friends who offered to show me around the area and also to help understand the culture better. I am a little concerned that he is more financially motivated than truly wanting to getting know me and show me his culture. Samson and I continue to have great talks. He is very interested in using his TV skills to help his country develop. I gave him some ideas of things to look into such as micro-credit lending and also Mister Rodger’s Neighborhood to interact with the kids. We had a brief talk about the transforming power of Christ and how we can be joyful despite suffering.  Later John, Johnny, and I did some welding. We just messed around with some of the steel tubing but it was an interesting way to spend part of an evening. I’m beginning to feel tired of being the only one not drinking, while I know I can I feel it is a conviction I must hold on to.

Pa ni (sp?) = respected elder

Nsu = water

I also realized that while water inside a satchel [plastic bag like container] is filtered, there are probably plenty of germs on the satchel itself as you squeeze the water into your mouth. There are lots of little lizards running around. Also there were a lot of crows this morning. All black with a little white stripe just behind the neck. Also something I never thought about before today’s bike ride was having to watch out for wandering goats on the road!

Galatians 2:10: Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Thank you for taking the time to read some of my rambling thoughts on one of my first days in Ghana. This is also a good insight into some of the great things that are happening across Africa.

Team World Vision

Team World Vision is a fund raising arm of the organization which uses ordinary people like me, to get ordinary people like you involved in ending poverty and injustice across the world. I have decided to commit the 26.2 miles of my first marathon to the memory of and in honor of the children I have met during my international travels. I can’t remember all of their names, but I have many pictures and stories.

On the right side of my blog there is a widget that will allow you to support me during this race or you can visit this secure page. I have set a goal of raising $2,000 which will help children have a chance at living to become adults across Africa.

[tags]  World Vision, Team World Vision, Ghana, Telecentre [/tags]

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Running in Africa

Mwamanongu Village water source, Tanzania. Image via Wikipedia

My experiences with running in Africa are quite different than those that I have every day here in Minneapolis.  First, the temperature was hot – but there was no air-conditioned room to retreat to post run.  Not a lot of people were running for recreation in the areas of Ghana and South Africa were I was at, especially Americans!! Running in an area always provides a little different perspective than driving around in a car.

South Africa

Since I was part of a team there were a couple of us who went out on several occasions for short jogs.  Here we were fed fairly nutrious meals and were shielded for the most part from some of the nastier aspects of water borne illnesses, etc.  It was also not oppressively hot during the days.  The recollections I have of running there are few, but I know we ran in a group and not for very long or far.  I only recall running during the last week of our stay when we were at a compound that was down the street from another compound of the same ministry. So we ran between the two sites and took a dip in the swimming pool afterwards.

Ghana

This was a much different all-around experience as I was the only American and was living more at a similar level as the regular villager up the street.  Our meals were mostly carbs (a lot of empty carbs) and I often left the table hungry for more.  Water was also an issue as it was harder to get pure “nsu” in large quantities.  I had brought some power bars with me for the trip and ate them on occasion. It was quite hot during the day and the only reprieve was sleeping under the fan at night. I think I ran 2x’s during my 8 week visit.  It was hard to time the nutrition, weather, and quality of sleep for optimum running. The times that I did run were on the dirt roads away from the village and I got some weird looks as I waved at the “neighbors.”

Needless to say running is a sport that everyone takes part in around the world with the same fervor.  I felt while I was running that it was crazy to be “wasting” so many calories when some of the people I was running by were calorie deficient.  Little children are able to run around because for the most part they are little bundles of energy – but what happens after not eating for a week? or two?  Not to mention hydration. I mentioned pure drinking water – it is available most everywhere but costs a little extra then ground water.  I sipped a little ground water once and was quite blessed not to get full-blown diarrhea.  I did get some intestinal discomfort because of my mistake. It was my first week there and I was sweating and exhausted.  We were meeting with the headmaster of a school and he offered water. So I took it. Ooops!

Water that causes diarrhea and calorie deficiency causes thousands of people to die each day.

3,800 children die every day from diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene. Source: UN World Water Development Report 2, 2006

There is an easy solution to that. World Vision and many other organizations are providing the resources for villages to get safe drinking water.  World Vision is digging wells, educating the community about maintaining the well and the water quality, and providing safe storage containers. Digging a traditional well costs World Vision $5,390 which gets safe drinking water from 60ft underground. In some parts of the world, wells must be dug much deeper or through bad ground conditions.  These deep-water wells can cost $18,000 to dig.  Either of those figures may sound daunting, but your gift to Team World Vision will be joined with other gifts to help tackle problems like safe drinking water.

Please take a second to support my efforts in my first marathon by making a tax-deductible and secure donation to Team World Vision.

Thank You!

Follow-up Video

Team World Vision

Team World Vision is a fund raising arm of the organization which uses ordinary people like me, to get ordinary people like you involved in ending poverty and injustice across the world. I have decided to commit the 26.2 miles of my first marathon to the memory of and in honor of the children I have met during my international travels. I can’t remember all of their names, but I have many pictures and stories.

On the right side of my blog there is a widget that will allow you to support me during this race or you can visit this secure page. I have set a goal of raising $2,000 which will help children have a chance at living to become adults across Africa.

[tags]  World Vision, Team World Vision, Africa [/tags]

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