Neuro-Simulator Introductory Week: Part One

The Neuro-Simulator Introductory Week is progressing well, thanks to an incredible team effort. This event is a first, as you all know, and has engaged everyone from KBNF, not just from Ghana and Vancouver but also: the University of Toronto team; the Canadian High Commissioner and his team; the Foreign Affairs Dept in Ottawa (they have been engaged in ensuring that the website coverage is acceptable); the Research Council in Montreal; KBTH (both the administration and neurosurgery department and the Anatomy Department which is superbly led by Fred Addai); two Ghanaian television stations (TV 3 + Ghana Broadcasting Corp); and individuals hat include the Hesse’s and Seth and Nii Otu.

John Sampson (DrUMM) helped immeasurably in finding Gloria Peprah, Broadcaster for GBC. She in turn ensured that I located Joel (broadcaster for TV3) and both arranged media coverage of the week’s events. Jocelyne and I had Gloria and Joel stay with us here in Vancouver during the Vancouver Olympics, and now consider them like family.

Dr. Adriana Lopez, Neuro-Simulator Team Neurosurgeon / Mentor and Melissa Cunningham, Researcher, arrived Sunday evening and were met at the airport by Sammy. Dr. Lopez and Melissa have been staying at the Hesse’s new rental apartment (adjacent to their own apartment) during their stay. With its three bedrooms wand private bathrooms, a full kitchen and living room, the pair love it. Dr. Lopez and Melissa have a designated driver for the week. The drive across the city is substantial each day but these ladies, having never travelled to Africa before, feel safer staying close to trustworthy and supportive KBNF family members.

Can you Hear the Angels Sing?

Book Order Form

Vraeyda Media announces the release of Rev. Prof. Seth Ayettey’s first book Can You Hear the Angels Sing?, a memoir on grace, faith and healing in West Africa. Both adventure and treatise on humanitarian efforts, Can You Hear the Angels Sing? is a glimpse into the breath of the miraculous, and the heart of a modern day humanitarian.

In October 2010, Professor and Pastor Seth Ayettey was assaulted in his home. Shot and left for dead, he and his family experienced a series of miracles that culminated in a choir of angels. Now you can read his memoiron experiencing the best and worst of mankind, and how grace will save lives.

In collaboration with Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation, partial proceeds of Can You Hear the Angels Sing? will be donated to enrich health care and education in West Africa.

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WHO-GIEESC: Part Three

Harry Akoto’s efforts to reach Trinidad and then return home included taking a bus ride throughout the night and returning from the city he had just flown into to save us several hundred dollars! It is servant hearts such like those found in Paul, 0Harry, Chris and David, that makes KBNF what it is today.

The request of the World Congress of Surgery, Obstetrics, Trauma and Anesthesia (WCSOTA) to provide frontline neurosurgeons for this conference was beautifully met by this expert team of heart powered servants from four countries and diverse backgrounds. At the conclusion of our neurosurgeons presentations, one seasoned listener waited until all questions were asked and then presented one simple question himself: “What can we do to help you?” We learned that he is the president of an international Christian surgeon’s association based in Southern California and has access to many capacity-building resources. In spite of conflicting international conferences, he had attended our neurosurgery sessions to hear of our vision and offer support. His sincere and repeated offer to our individual team members inspired our team and we anticipate this is the tip of the iceberg as we move forward in the months and years ahead.

Without champions, sustainable development is not achievable. With champions, the sky’s the limit and we choose to fly!

A Big Thank You

I just want to take this opportunity to send a sincere thank you and my appreciation for all the help and support you provided to the Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation (KBNF) on 5 October 2013 at the Walk for the Bu. With the weather co-operating, it was great success!  This event could not have taken place without your help!

As this is only our 2nd annual Walk for the Bu we are still in the development stage. If there are any suggestions on how to improve this event please feel free to forward me your ideas.  Our Executive team will be looking to review all the suggestions in November to make adjustments to the walk next year.

Thanks again to all our volunteers!

The Udohs Get Their Miracle!

Here’s Marj with the next chapter of the KBNF and Udoh family escapades!

David and his family travelled to Lagos to pursue Italian transit visas. As they were heading to the Embassy, David received a call from the Canadian Embassy, instructing the family to report to the High Commission. The taxi detoured and the group made their way to the Canadian Consulate, wondering what this all meant.

David recalls, “We got visas at Canada Embassy. No questions. Thank you, Marj. My love to Team KBNF. What an unbelievable “Never Say Die” oraganization. Can’t wait to see you all. Love, the Udohs.”

Nadia and Joyce, our travel agents, worked so hard to figure this all out one way or another. Thankfully, we’ll have the Udohs in Trinidad for the conference! Everyone, including Mark Warawa’s office, worked diligently to try to ensure that all pertinent information was received. When I was washing my hands at the kitchen last Sunday, the words came to me spoken by Winston Churchill: Never give up, never give up, never give up! I took that message as a sign that we were to persevere. Then a chorus came to me: God has a 1,000 ways, to answer every prayer . . . no good will He withhold, from children of his care.” I told Danny, and we prayed for a miracle. Well, we have one. And just in the nick of time!

June Juicy News 2013

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!!

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.

Korle-Bu Foundation President’s Report (part 4)


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.

Korle-Bu Foundation President’s Report (part 1)

Marj Ratel, President

Projects require investment. Whether financial, material, expertise and/or time, contributions are critical to accomplishing our foundation goals.

Our public charity, KBF is vital to the sustainability and expansion of our sister charity Excellence in Africa Neuroscience and Health — Canada’s operations, fulfilling the vision and mission of Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation. A report I read earlier this month identifies how donors in Canada are diminishing in numbers while the donations of individual donors are growing. Consequently, keeping our donor base energized and devoted to repetitive giving is simply life giving for our organization.

Quite astonishingly, project objectives are being achieved, one by one, in spite of significantly limited financial resources. How? Because of the amazing and faithful contributions, both non-monetary and financial, of our volunteers and foundation partners. However, KBF recognizes that expertise in efficient and effective fundraising continues to be a top priority, so that major project work, currently on hold or waiting in the wings, can be expedited. Consequently, KBF strives to find ways to improve the message and the delivery of that message.

2012 Major Highlights

As KBNF reflects upon 2012, it is clear that this was a pivotal year in its history:

  • Dr. Jocelyne Lapointe, KBNF Secretary and neuroradiologist relocated to Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) in 2013, taking on a visiting consultant position as the radiology department began a period of growth and expansion of its services.
  • Cabinet and Parliament approved preliminary plans for a $150 million project with the University of Ghana College of Health Sciences (CHS) for a teaching hospital at its Legon site.
  • KBTH Emergency and Clinical Specialties Centre of Excellence plan was approved by Cabinet and $52 million of funding was secured for Phase 1A.
  • KBNF joined Doctors for United Medical Missions (DrUMM), its US affiliate, in Sierra Leone for an exploratory visit. Post-civil war, KBNF begin its Academy Workshops in earnest.
  • KBNF multinational mission team visit Liberia during the first neuroscience and critical care conference held since the civil war. Discussion on the launch of the inaugural JFK neurosurgery unit was held and an informal commitment and agreement for collaboration was provided by KBNF, the Nigerian University of Benin Teaching Hospital team members and DrUMM. Support for a medical school was requested by President Johnson-Sirleaf.
  •  KBNF multinational teaching mission trips took place and included members of the Board of Directors, physicians and nursing in June, August and November.
  • KBNF visited Techiman and Nsawkaw, Brong Ahafo, Ghana where a collaboration was initiated to acquire hospital equipment, program development and education for Mt. Olives Hospital School.
  •  KBNF visited KBTH Stroke Unit construction site where a commitment was made to stroke unit development in form of equipment, education, mentoring and training.