Update on Erica, Liberia’s Neurosurgical First

Erica’s Update: Change takes a Champion

Dear friends, in 2014 Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation went to Liberia for our first Liberian Neurosurgical Medical Mission. We went at the invitation of Dr. Francis Kateh, then the CEO of Jackson F. Doe Memorial Referral Hospital, now Deputy Minister of Health. Our team of volunteer nurses, surgeons and support staff came from Canada, America and Nigeria to give Erica the chance of a lifetime.

Because of her plea, many more Liberians were able to get the vital Neurosurgery they needed. While we were there, Ebola broke out. We soldiered on, and when we got back to Canada, KBNF asked Dr. Kateh (then in charge of Liberia's medical response to Ebola) what Liberia needed most to fight Ebola. We sent over eight containers of medical supplies, beds and support items to help sustain and rebuild Liberia's shattered health care system during, and after the Ebola Pandemic.

It began with Erica, a brave young woman who refused to die because of where she was born. Her courage and dedication to see it through has changed the face of her entire country's medical future. KBNF will continue to support Liberia, to provide education and training to neurological & neurosurgical staff, to enhance safe surgical practices and help grow health care until Liberia no longer needs the support.

Who is your Erica? Where are they from? This holiday season, give for the people like Erica, who are desperate for surgeries, which will bring them back to wholeness so they too can spend their lives improving their countries and loving their families.

Thank you.

University of Ghana Teaching Hospital Project

When we started the Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation in 2000, we became aware that the issue of Neuroscience care in Ghana was larger than one unit. We continued an idea that Ghana needed new hospital facilities to match with the world-class medical education, and in 2008 developed a professional site plan assessment, and master plan with Canadian Project Managers, Architects and Site Planners.

You, our donors, fundraised for this hospital and now in 2016, the University of Ghana Teaching Hospital is on its’ way to being completed by an Israeli firm.

In this UofG Legon Hospital History powerpoint by Aaron-Lawson, pages 7 & 8 show our contribution which helped President Atta-Mills and Ghana procure funding for the Hospital Site at the University of Ghana.

We did it!

Follow us online for our next blog post about the reception we received when we visited the University of Ghana Teaching Hospital to see its’ building progress!


Celebrating the Life of James Yanzu Ackah

James Yanzu Ackah 1946 – 2015
KBNF Celebrating the life of James Ackah

Dear KBNF family and friends,

Life is precious and ever so much more when a dear member of our family departs.

With sadness, we have learned that James Ackah, a longtime resident of Vancouver and cherished member of the Ghanaian community, passed away unexpectedly on December 27, 2015.


James has been a stalwart supporter of KBNF since our first meeting, going back well over a decade.

His desire to support his homeland and the people of West Africa was unswerving.

Each year we could count on James and Beatrice and family actively supporting KBNF while faithfully attending various events, including our Walk for the Bu. Brenda Macleod recalls what a blessing he and his wife were. Walking the track 5 Kilometers in support of KBNF was wholly embraced, come rain or shine.

Walk for the Bu, where James was a constant supporter.

His wife and family write:

“Our beloved husband, father, son, brother, uncle, and friend passed away on December 27, 2015.

The funeral service for James will take place on January 15th at 10:30 am at St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic Church located at 480 East 47th Avenue in Vancouver, BC. An evening prayer service will be held at the same location on January 14th at 8 pm.

We thank you for your prayers and support. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation (link: KBNF) and the Union Gospel Mission in Vancouver.”

Beatrice, Evelyn and Audrey Ackah

Beatrice, Evelyn, and family, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time. Loss of a loved one is the most difficult part of life to live. It requires courage and the assurance that while we might not understand the timing, we do know that he is basking in the presence of His Lord.

May you be comforted by knowing that his life and memories are dearly embraced and the legacy that James has built will continue to bestow blessings upon his family, his friends, and his native and present homeland for years to come.

On behalf of the KBNF Board of Directors, family, and friends,


Korle-Bu Foundation President’s Report (part 5)

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.

University Students Help Pack Donations

Another splendid packing day took place at VGH’s old laundry facility, as KBNF gets ready to ship two more containers off to Ghana. One will head for Techiman in the northeastern region of the country and the other to Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.

We are so very grateful for the energized efforts of Christina Chiu and her dear friend in organizing this event. Facebook was the prime communicator, and we are ever so pleased that these university students are ready to help us again real soon.

Click here to see additional images.

Mr. Johnson Osei’s Retirement Party

Last week, Brenda and I had the privilege and pleasure of attending Mr. Johnson Osei’s retirement party. A social worker for the BC Ministry of Children for many years, it was a night of warm celebrations. Whether it was the Ministry lawyer, leader, colleague or friend, everyone had passionate words for this dear Ghanaian man with a great big heart for children.

We honour Johnson, who has been a faithful member of KBNF since almost our inception.

Have a superb retirement, Johnson! Only not too restful, as KBNF needs you to volunteer for oh, the next 30 years!!!!



Nigerian Container Update

I am so pleased to report that our Nigerian container was cleared from Tin Can Island Port last weekend. The first half of the container, destined for our University of Benin Teaching Hospital neurosurgery unit in Benin City, was delivered while the second half is on its way to a new maternity clinic in northern Nigeria.

We want to thank all of our team for their diligence in donating their time, expertise and effort in making this shipment possible. And big thanks to Rick Diamond and Diamond Delivery for their faithful support in transferring equipment and supplies from Vancouver to Victoria. Arranging for Seaspan to take our cargo across the Georgia Strait for free was such a cost savings. And thank you to Compassionate Resource Warehouse, led by Dell’s team, for their amazing attention to detail and efforts to fulfill the requests of our Nigerian friends — ensuring the load was filled to the maximum (i.e. no air!).

This shipment started with a heartfelt plea to help provide equipment for a maternity clinic being constructed for village women dying giving birth and our neurosurgery unit’s 20-bed expansion in Benin City.

We’ll keep you posted as photos come in.

Thanks again, everyone!!!

Click here to see additional images.

An Inspirational Story

At the KBNF Board meeting the other night, I shared an inspiring story I came across that the team spontaneously named “When misfortune can become a fortune.” Truly, it is a lesson in how seeming tragedy inadvertently and ultimately births triumph. How when we are bereft with tragedy and loss, it just may be the silver lining that is required for us to achieve extraordinary things along this amazing life journey. It certainly puts a different perspective on how we should look at our lives’ ups and downs.

A 4-year-old British boy, son of an Essex postman, was taken by his parents to visit the gates of Buckingham Palace. While gazing on the palace, the young boy informed his parents that he was going “to paint the Queen” someday. What transpired next could only appear to be a tragedy but unexpectedly propelled him towards his dream.

Shortly after his declaration, Richard had a serious fall down a flight of stairs and suffered a serious head injury. He was rendered unconscious for several weeks and the doctors informed his parents that dear Richard would be permanently brain damaged.

Awakening from his coma state, it was discovered that Richard was completely deaf. Attending school was a challenge, so the teachers would hand him blank paper and paints and instruct him to paint a picture. “Painting was my escape.”

Eventually hearing returned to one ear and in 1965 at the age of 14, Richard visited the Royal Academy. He was struck by the clarity of two state portraits of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Writing a fan letter to the artist, Sir Gerald Kelly became Richard’s mentor and tutor for many years to come.

In spite of multiple rejections by art schools including the Royal Academy, a 22-year-old Richard daringly phoned Clarence House and requested to paint the Queen Mother. Lord Adam Gordon, Queen Elizabeth’s comptroller responded that “Queen Elizabeth is very busy and couldn’t possibly sit for any Tom, Dick or Harry who should call.” Richard retorted: “Lord Adam, with great respect, don’t ring off, I could be a latter-day Rembrandt.” A few weeks later, Richard received his first commission to paint Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, as Colonel in Chief of the Royal Anglian regiment. Within three visits, Richard was enjoying lunches and warm friendship with the Queen Mother. He was to paint her six times.

Since his first royal commission, 61-year-old Richard Stone, the most prolific royal portrait artist of our day, has annually painted members of the British Royal Family, spanning four generations, for the past 40 years. Oh yes, and his 4-year-old prophecy became a reality, when in 1989, Richard began his portrait of the Queen, conveying her extraordinary inner strength and steadfastness.

Richard Stone, as a young man, never gave up. In spite of his challenges, he kept his focus and achieved his goals, surpassing all of his contemporaries. Today, he is inspiring African children to express their talents through art. May we also continue our mission and vision with his tenacity and steadfastness.

Have a super day, friends!

A Reflection on Love

As we celebrated Valentine’s Day yesterday, I reflected . . . It’s easy to love another when they return that love. I love you, you love me. That’s easy. However, it’s quite another thing to love another when the recipient of that love gesture is not known and can never reciprocate.

At our Executive Board meeting this week, KBNF VP Derek Agyapong—Poku shared how he broke down in tears at his office desk when he received word of dear Patrick’s passing. His staff worried what was wrong. His heart grieved deeply for the loss of that precious young man. Jocelyne shared how she felt helpless at times struggling to find desperately needed albumin and blood required to stabilize Patrick’s condition. The funds were available. The life saving ingredients were not. A flight to Kumasi could have produced three more bottles of albumin.  But this was just a drop in the bucket to what was needed. Jocelyne began to comprehend the challenges that face African families when a member of their family needs hospital care in Africa. It’s daunting, friends.

In spite of all these immense challenges, Patrick could rest through the long nights knowing that when his loved ones were away in Sierra Leone and Canada, he wasn’t alone. Jocelyne was right there beside him, an extension of us all, doing everything in her power to reassure this dying man that he was cherished and loved.

As the Apostle Paul eloquently says: “If I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. . . Lovebears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”

Thank you for your unfailing commitment to those across an ocean that are the beneficiary of your loving gifts of money, expertise and time through our project work. Your gracious investments continue to extend unfailing incalculable love abroad.

Savour or Squander

Danny Moe

I wonder sometimes how often I squander opportunities I should have savoured.  What you savour you tend to remember the rest of your life.  What you squander you forget and often never know what you missed.

I think of all the people I have met and their great lives and experiences that I have savoured or perhaps squandered.  I remember arriving at a friend’s open house and knowing no one.  I thought of leaving early but instead stayed and met people.  I asked a man cooking hamburgers what his profession was and he shared how he was the captain of one of the world’s largest private yachts touring the world.  Talk about an interesting conversation.  I also met a woman that evening who was a designer of the inside decor of some of the great private yachts built.  I left for home that evening so thankful that I had savoured and not squandered the evening.

Every person we meet has something about them to be savoured.  Scenic views can be savoured or squandered.  Flowers, birds, streams, and simply anything God created can be savoured or squandered.  I can’t imagine the mind of God creating anything that did not have something worth savouring.

As I write, I had one of those experiences yesterday.  My daughter Damara had just delivered a darling blond haired 8 lb. 21 in. boy.  Visiting her and her husband hours later, I got to hold that precious little bundle.  He was hungry and had been crying.  Yet, as I carried him and talked, asking him what he thought about this great new world, he stopped crying and intently looked straight at me as I talked.  I continued to talk as I looked at his big hands and suggested to him that he would be better at basketball than a hunter like his dad.  I thought of the amazing and immediate change from a womb to the world…from loneliness to lots of people…and from silence to sound.  I was holding a grandson who was only hours (not days) old.  I was so glad there was no rush as I got to savour that moment.  I will never forget it.

God will give you some great moments to savour every day.  They will often come unexpectedly, but they will come.  They are never the same. They often come in disguise.  Seize them and savour them.  Don’t squander what God excitedly gives you to savour.