Firstly, an apology — it has taken far too long for me for me to update you. For those who have yet to be informed, I hope you can understand why it has taken me some time.
January, which seems like years ago now, was a very very tough month. When I returned to Patrick’s side just after the new year, I saw a massive difference in Patrick’s physical and psychological state. Throughout the month of December, Patrick’s mind and body had deteriorated incredibly. Not only were his existing sores not healing, but nearly TEN new sores had formed. I could not believe it. What was only a blemish when we arrived in Ghana was taking his life.
After suffering for the past two and a half months, Patrick was ready to leave this world. We spent only one week together before his suffering finally ended.
After 6 days of preparations, with the support of my Godsend, Jocelyne Lapointe (Canadian radiologist working to build capacity at KBTH), I traveled with Patrick’s body back to Sierra Leone to join his friends and family in prayer and celebration of Patrick’s life.
Following the traditional march (walking/driving alongside the hurse through Patrick’s neighbourhood), vigil (or “waking” — prayer and speeches with friends and family, throughout the night before the burial), funeral and burial, many of Patrick’s extended family stayed with his mother in their family house in Bo until the 40 days’ ceremony, when we gathered again for a waking and celebration the following day. After the 40 days, the Christian belief is that Patrick’s spirit will have then left this world and reached the gates of heaven.
I am touched by the way in which my friends and family, in Canada, Ghana, Sierra Leone and even other countries have reached out to Patrick and I during this difficult time. Thank you for all your contributions and support. We were touched and very grateful for all the love and support you have shown.
Looking forward from this, KBNF is offering to contribute to a project in Patrick’s name. After consultation with existing rehabilitation providers in Sierra Leone, we are planning to collaborate to help improve the existing services, so that people such as Patrick have an option for rehab in Sierra Leone, where they can be surrounded and supported by their friends and family during recovery.
Further, KBNF is also supporting Korle-Bu Hospital’s Nursing heads to adapt their practices to better support patients with mobility challenges, to help prevent (life-threatening) pressure sores. For more information on KBNF’s activities: kbnf.org
Again, my apologies for taking so long to notify you.
Dear KBNF family and friends,
KBNF has been in a flurry of activity for months now. Whether shipping hospital equipment and supplies, participating in conferences and conducting mission trips as well as partnering in the establishment of advanced neuroscience and medical services, our team is fully engaged. Now for juicy news!
Our internal auditor last June identified our 12 top goals as “lofty”. He was right. Why? Because accomplishing these goals on the surface would appear daunting neigh unto impossible considering our projected financial resources. On review in January, we were delighted to realize that 11 of our top goals were works well in progress or completed. How? Because of our dedicated team.
I was having coffee with our Canadian High Commissioner, Her Excellency Mrs. Trudy Kernigan, recently and shared that if it weren’t for unwavering champions in Ghana and West Africa, of which we are blessed with several, establishing transformative North American standard health care in many respects would be insurmountable. Thankfully, that is not the case.
The phone rang. It was Dr. Gladstone Kessie. Gladstone is the Medical Director of Mt. Olives Hospital and founder of the under construction Mt. Olives Hospital Foundation, serving the people of Brong Ahafo Region. His reputation of serving the rural people at reduced costs is well appreciated. Providing free medical care for those in need is a priority for this gentle doctor. He is in Israel for 2 weeks, studying hospital systems management. He was excited to share how incredibly Israel has mastered health care delivery, hospitals, and farming techniques. Fruits, vegetables, flowers, they are all growing in abundance in a previously desolate land. “Why can’t we do this back home?” he passionately cried. My sentiments exactly. Gladstone believes he will never be the same. His vision for Ghana has just undergone transformative change . . . for the better . . . for Ghana.
The Ghana Association of Radiologists in collaboration with The Faculty of Radiology and the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons & West Africa College of Surgeons held the Inaugural Neuroradiology Conference June 3 – 5th in Accra. KBNF Board of Directors and participants, Drs. Paul King and Jocelyne Lapointe, lectured on several topics including neuro-anatomy, spinal trauma, cranial nerve evaluation and imaging and orbital neoplasia.
Dr. Jocelyne Lapointe, Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) Visiting Radiology Consultant will be returning to Vancouver, as she concludes her tenure in Ghana this August. Much appreciation goes to her brother, Yves Lapointe, who managed her home and legal responsibilities. Yves will be returning home to Montreal.
It is the mutual desire of KBNF, the KBTH Administration to introduce the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital Director of Nursing, Mrs. Victoria Aku Quaye to contemporary Canadian nursing care delivery. We mutually agree that exposure to Western Canada’s premiere centres will be extremely valuable in accelerating nursing advancement in Ghana. It is anticipated that adoption of many components of contemporary nursing care, nursing resources and administrative management practices may result. Join us in welcoming Victoria to Vancouver this summer. This will be her first Canadian visit.
Watch for more news, including my May visit to Ghana!!
Day two was spent preparing special inspirational cards in memory of President Mills for those I met at the Canadian High Commission Reception. When I handed the cards out along with my business card, comments were made on how much the recipients appreciated the extra touch. Through meeting relatives of Mrs. Mills, a card was sent to her as well. One of the inspirational comments read: “With passion in mission anything is possible . . . AIM HIGH!”
Arriving at the Canadian High Commission, there was a bustle of activity as attendees were checked off the guest-lists. Sirens were heard as the Governor General and his wife were escorted by Presidential escort to the High Commissioner’s residence. One escort, a motorcyclist, was dramatic in his driving techniques and I could only hope that he didn’t lose control.
The reception was held in the gardens with a selection of tents scattered across the grass. Ominous clouds were threatening rain throughout the evening, and in fact, began to make their presence known subtly towards the conclusion of the evening. Lighting throughout the gardens hindered quality picture taking. There were floodlights on all sides of the gathering, making photos a challenge.
Canadian food was available throughout the evening. A variety of cheeses came from four different farms in Quebec. A Canadian delegation accompanying the Governor General and Mrs. Johnston had been visiting Kumasi during the day. Reports on the news emphasized a desire for collaboration with regard to forestry that ensured correct care of excavated forests. This is imperative to maintaining Ghana’s natural resources.
Her Excellency, Mrs. Trudy Kernigan, Canadian High Commissioner, introduced the Right Honorable Governor General David Johnston and his wife Sharon Johnston along with the delegation. Members of the delegation included three Members of Parliament, two Vice-Chancellors, the Former Canadian Minister of Health Perrin Beatty, and Presidents and Vice-Presidents of International business and infrastructure development firms. Johnston commenced his speech by introducing his darling wife, next year will be their 50th wedding anniversary and their first date was when she was 13 years old. Johnston told her that she was in it for the long haul! Laughter erupted across the gardens. Sharon is a former physiotherapist and loves to chat! She is effervescent and affectionate and the guests could feel the couple’s love for one another. I felt at that moment that Canada boasted an amazing representative of Queen and country for two-and-a-half years now, one we can be so very grateful for.
With no notes evident, Johnston spoke eloquently of the historical relationship between Canada and Ghana. He praised Ghana’s efforts at maintaining peace during the election challenge, taking their controversies through the law courts rather than through violent means. Johnston also identified potential for further collaboration and partnerships that would strengthen ties between the two countries.
The presentation of awards followed. Six recipients were honored, the last of whom was me! The Governor General’s Visit Medallion is gold colored, heavy and displays the royal insignia on the front. An engraving on the back reads: “State visit of His Excellency The Right Honorable David Johnston Ghana 2013”. The Governor General promptly informed me that it wasn’t gold when I mentioned that I might try biting it! A congratulatory letter was handed over and I was able to share the Master Plan and Program along with select pages from a PowerPoint showing the developments within our project before questions were taken and answered. All in all, it was a special day in my life.
Others notable highlights included meeting a preeminent Ghanaian nuclear physicist who provides the lead advisory role to the Ghana Government, who was delightful. I also had a wonderful visit with Mr. Ben Eghan, Secretary of the Cabinet during the Mills Presidency and I expect to see him again. I also learned of a Daily Graphic writer who is promoting culture change within the work place. I would love to meet with him and I am making an effort to do just that. Rev. Prof. Seth Ayettey, whom had been personally invited to each Canadian event in Accra, was again in attendance and was warmly greeted by our Canadian members as well as esteemed Ghanaian leaders.
I arrived in Ghana Tuesday evening on a Lufthansa flight. I was surprised to find it was rather cool, by Ghanaian standards. My luggage was actually waiting for me when I exited customs — a first. I headed out of the airport dressed for a state banquet in honor of the Governor General of Canada, David Johnston, and his wife Sharon Johnston. The Governor General had been in town for a couple of days and the previous day a private luncheon was held where Rev. Prof. Seth Ayettey was an honored guest. Seth tells me that His Excellency is very familiar with World Vision International and Canada leadership. Seth held the position of Vice-Chair of World Vision International for many years. Consequently, discussion on a variety of topics revealed many common interests.
The state banquet hosted by President Mahama was held at Flagstaff House, an impressive white structure completed in 2008 resembling the King’s throne. This government building, having been mostly unused during the Mills administration is now gradually becoming occupied. Beautiful bushes boasting of flowers galore framed the entrance and members of all major Ghanaian political parties were represented at the event. I sat next to the leader of the CPP, a young energetic engineer who has a passion for his country. Other members at my table included the Cuban Ambassador, Jorge Nicolas, and the Director for the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Mubarak Abdallah. I received commitments from these men of their support for our cause. Cuba trains doctors and many Ghanaian physicians, and one of our KBTH neurosurgeons was trained there. Small world!
The meal was a very tasty mashed baked yam base with a fish and vegetables topping. I almost missed dessert but I was glad I made it as it was one of my favorites: chocolate mousse and whipping cream. I returned to my table as everyone was leaving, so that I was one of the last to leave!
The event was well attended by Canadians. President and Vice-Chancellor of Western University, Amit Chakma; Hon. David McGuinty, MP, Ottawa South; Hon. Perrin Beatty, President and CEO Chamber of Commerce; and Rodney Thomas, First Vice-President Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, were a few of my the people I encountered. The music played was lovely. When the Canadian anthem was played, the orchestral arrangement was new to me and was just lovely. The room literally erupted in robust singing and you could feel the loyalty and love for Canada.
The Governor General and his wife enjoyed a superb evening. There was much laughter and enthusiasm for such a special event. Tomorrow, the Canadian entourage flies to Kumasi and upon their return, a special evening at the High Commissioner’s official residence is planned, with honors being bestowed upon specially chosen Canadians.
Networking has enabled our foundation to grow and nurture beyond our borders year after year. Last Friday, I was called to the office of Dr. Leung, a Vancouver general practitioner and acupuncturist retiring from his 40 year practice. Via a patient and the patient’s neighbour, Colleen Miller, originally from South Africa, who had worked with Jocelyne Lapointe years ago, a vast amount of his office contents were donated to our cause just in time for our upcoming shipments to Mt. Olives Hospital and KBTH.
Dressings, diapers, sutures, syringes, needles, medications, blood pressure kits, cautery, intubation, surgical and orthopedic tools, splints, 3 examining tables, stools, filing stand, files and files of valuable literature for patient teaching and physician guidelines, manuals, to name just a few, found their way piled into our cars.
We are so very appreciative of Dr. Leung and Colleen’s efforts to extend their hand to supporting our partners and citizens in Ghana.
Road construction signage read: “Under construction. Thank you for your patience.” KBF is aware that we are on an amazing journey and expect many learning curves as we grow and develop our foundation. It is members such as our Treasurer, Derek Agyapong-Poku, devoting faithful attention to managing our financial books, day in and day out, that sets an amazing tone for our organization. There are many promising opportunities ahead. The world is our audience. We pray that we will be divinely directed as we take each step prudently forward.
Marj Ratel, President
Giving Something Back
Believing that it is important for our foundation to give something back, Danny Moe, KBF VP conducts Academy Workshops on personal and professional development free for our foundation donors, friends, and students both in North America and West Africa. Attendees express transformative impact and genuine gratitude. Passionate support for project developments is often evident as a ripple effect well beyond these events. Much appreciation goes to Derek Agyapong-Poku for arranging the free use of the UBC / VGH Eye Care Centre’s facilities. And for the volunteers that faithfully arrive and prepare a scrumptious meal partway through the day. A faithful foundation friend and donor over the years, Broadway Lodge administrators enjoyed a half day with Danny, studying the principles of Heart Power (ie. serving with your heart). They express this was a transformative day in their leadership skills development.
The Greater Toronto region boasts the 3rd largest Ghanaian Diaspora in the world. Recognizing that KBF must tap into this market in a more relevant and effective way, Marj met with KBF supporter, Emmanuel Ayiku, Editor of The Ghanaian News, the largest Ghanaian monthly publication in North America. Two articles were published in 2012 authored by the President and preliminary plans are under consideration for multi-Ghanaian church promotional events hosted by The Ghanaian News and Danny’s workshops this year. Workshops are also being considered for our West African Embassy’s resident in Washington.
Sharing the vision and raising project support is principally pursued by word of mouth, internet technology, events and in-person by KBF Board and affiliated foundation Board of Directors, across North America and West Africa. As our members voluntarily share their time while managing busy careers and multifaceted lives, it is imperative that our promotional investments are relevant to our target audiences and have the most cost effective and valuable outcomes possible.
Research in fact identifies that most faithful contributors to charities arise directly from recommendations and endorsements shared by colleagues, friends and family. Target audiences are identified as the Ghanaian and West African Diaspora, health care establishment, universities and corporations, besides the general caring public.
The Ghana Physicians and Surgeons Foundation of North America (GPSF) was established in 2002 to provide quality postgraduate training in Medicine in Ghana. It also serves as an advocacy group to influence health policy and educate the general public about numerous health care issues in Ghana and Africa. The foundation supports all non-profit health initiatives in Ghana by Ghanaian and other health professionals in North America. Quality time is graciously provided during their annual Atlanta conferences and this past year, Drs. Paul King (KBNF), John Sampson (Pres. DrUMM) and Marj Ratel were conference speakers while a table arrangement including photo albums, video footage, and handouts was prominently on display. This year will be no exception, as Marj and Paul are expected to return
Brenda MacLeod’s vision for an annual walk-a-thon fundraiser was launched in October. Inspired by our Montreal KBNC university students a few years ago, the Walk for the Bu raised over $4,000 and a lot of energy! Our corporate sponsor, Rick Diamond received an award for his faithful corporate support at the event. We applaud Brenda’s vision of the walk taking place at many strategic locations over the continent on the same day and time annually in years to come.
Discussions have been informally held regarding planning an official Canadian visit of the Nobel Peace Prize 2012 Recipient and President of Liberia, Dr. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Requiring Canadian Government involvement, Mr. Mark Warawa, MP, Langley, and his office have been in communication with Prime Minister Harper’s office on our behalf. Marj has been in communication with the High Commissioner to Ghana, HE Mrs. Trudy Kernigan and networking is expected to get underway soon. Primary objectives include raising foundation awareness across Canada and ultimately to raise financial support for West Africa neuroscience and health care initiatives. It is anticipated that this visit would garner serious national media attention. Simon Fraser University, having featured members of the board in Dialogue events, is eager to partner in such an endeavor and corporate sponsors are being approached in anticipation of several prestigious events, in Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver.
Skilled communication at a cutting edge world class level requires professional expertise. Our board recognizes the critical need to capture the incredible story of KBNF as it unfolds. Credibility for our foundation internationally is vital to major donor base and networking developments. KBF is grateful to AHA, KBF PR firm, for their steady hand of leadership in communications and public relations. Ruth Aberley and Paul Holman recognize the critical elements required to progressively and effectively reach the masses. They manage our informative website www.kbnf.org, uploading insightful new material provided by members of our team including blogs, revisions, updates, notices, u-tube video and photos up to 5 days / week.
Analysis of our website productively is measured monthly. In all respects, the website is steadily accessed more frequently and repeatedly, and more pages are read and more donations given through the website than ever before. Principle readership comes from Canada, followed by the USA, Ghana and lastly the UK. We certainly look forward to our readership literally exploding in the year(s) to come.
Our facebook site www.facebook.com/KBNF.org was launched last July. It has a lively welcoming appearance. AHA manages the updates weekly and “likes” are slowly growing monthly. Wikipedia is planned for this spring and twitter is expected to be launched when resources are available.
Considering the economic climate, timing is everything and funding consultant hours is prudently managed. We express appreciation to Christina Chiu for taking on the Executive Assistant consultant role while volunteering many more hours than ever could be reimbursed financially. Taking on computer work with an expertise eluding the board saves us many hours that we can reallocate to other priority foundation work.
Christina handles all of our publication work, finding the most cost efficient publishers and most contemporary methods of disseminating foundation news. Christina manages the constant contact account and designs the newsletters and notices for Marj. Approximately 2,000 readers receive our mail. Response to our news on Patrick Ali, a Sierra Leonean struggling with quadriplegia struck a chord with many of our foundation friends and readers. It is reassuring that the percentage of recipients opening our mail is well beyond the average readership for most organizations.
Our brochure is now available on our website for individuals to copy and print, while an informative postcard is being designed from the brochure layout for cost effective handouts. Publication and mail out of newsletters along with a donation slip and return envelope continues to be a worthwhile fundraising strategy. Donor recognition and certificates are being planned. Personal phone calls to our donors and supporters over the years expressing our appreciation for their support are also another avenue that is considered a priority this year.