With your help the people of West Africa have "a chance, not only to change their own lives and their own destinies, but to change the future of an entire generation".

Thursday, March 3, 2011

First Impressions

Submitted by Rex Pemberton
It feels like my right hand has had an operation. It feel like, I had my video camera surgically attached to my arm… 
It is just that I can’t put it down. Everywhere I look there is a story to shoot or photo to take.

It almost seems impossible to wrap your head around this operation, to understand all the moving components, the way it operates and the amount of people that are touched by it.

The operation chugs away like a steam train. The train moves slowly yet with great power and determination.  This train will never stop moving, it has an endless track.  The track is uphill and the mountain it climbs continues as far as the eye can see.

I must admit, when I left San Francisco with Melissa, I was nervous. I did not know what to expect. I was asking myself over an over in a very selfish way, is there a story behind this operation? Are we really going to be changing lives? And how can I make a difference to these people when there is so much that needs to be done?

It is easy to turn a blind eye when we live in such an amazing place like the USA or Australia. It is easy to forget. When you are here however, immersed in a country that needs help, you can never turn away. You are fixated on what needs to be done.  The western world falls into a shadow in the back of your mind.

You may have been wondering why Melissa and I took such a long time to blog… It is because of a complete emersion into this operation, culture shock and trying to understand all the moving parts of this train.  It because we now have an intense focus. A focus that has developed in a very short time, we are now shoveling coal helping the train move forward.

Within two days I had answered all of my questions… Firstly YES there is a story to tell. An amazing story. Now the question has changed for me. As an amateur filmmaker can I do it justice?

The second question was are we really going to change lives? Easy.. The answer is YES… we already have and it does not matter if you only change one at a time.  We are making a difference.

There is too much to shoot (video), such an amazing story to tell. Very little time to do it all.  It almost feels like another Mt Everest to climb.

“We have set an unachievable goal. In fact we don’t really have a goal, it is more like creating a sustainable legacy.” Captain Yaw.

These words ring around inside my head every day, and every day I am here they grow stronger as I release the size and pace of the undertaking.

Now I get it. After 6 days of being in Ghana I finally get how the lifestyle and operation that is WAASPS (flying school), MOM (medicine On the Move) & AvTech (plans for a CNC machine operation) all work to make one another exist, to make this train move forward.

They are three different operations all run by Jonathan, Mathew and Patricia. This operation is unique, challenging and always going at full stream ahead.

The best part is we are making a difference every day.
 In our short time here:
  • We have built a school for a local Fulani (nomadic) Tribe that lives by Jonathan’s house.
  • We have conducted school lessons with the kids of the Tribe.
  • We have saved a four year old’s broken hand from infection and possibly amputation. It had swollen up to the size of a golf ball and yesterday Mathew, Melissa and I took her to hospital for a quick operation to drain the pus out of her hand. Now we are:
  • Trying to educate the parents how to give their child the right dose of antibiotics and why it is important to keep the bandages on. This will be an on-going project for the rest of our stay.
  • Education is the key to sustainability here. If you ever donate money to Africa make sure it goes to Education.
  • We have flown, fixed and fueled airplanes to make sure the operation continues to run.
  • We are building a wind turbine for a Medicine On The Move Garden (this Garden will demonstrate how remote villages can live completely off the land in a sustainable way.   This is Mathew’s brain child and passion).
  • This Saturday Melissa, Jonathan, Patricia and Erin will fly 100 School kids during “Fly Me Day”. This day is an effort to bring the importance of aviation to school children of Ghana. My camera will be out to capture the smiles.
  • My camera has captured every moment. A task that many underestimate.

We have had a wild ride so far. Melissa and I are now strapped in tight and committed to the entire ride.
This will not be our only trip to Kpong and this little Grass Runway in West Africa…
More to come.

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