Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo announced last September that 2019 would be the Year of Return, the start of a 15-year campaign to increase tourism and investment in the small West African country. Ghana was pivotal in the slave trade, and Akufo-Addo hopes to welcome people of African descent to the country that most likely played a role in their heritage.
The loss of untold numbers of people to the slave trade and colonial rule has had a long-lasting impact on the people of Ghana. "Ghana is a part of the world where great need exists," said Troy Pfoutz, administrative director of Ghana Initiative Mobile Medical Mission, which is based in Mount Joy. "Many people in this West African nation struggle to meet basic needs. Each day, many poor and needy parents have to decide whether to prepare a single meal for their family or to pay the fees necessary to send their children to school."
To alleviate some of the impoverished Ghanaians' physical needs and to lighten their spiritual burdens as well, Ghana Initiative has sent medical teams throughout the country for more than five years. The teams of Ghanaians and Americans provide much-needed health care at no cost while striving to share God's love with everyone they meet.
As reported in a recent ministry newsletter, UNICEF's statistics show that malaria, an insect-borne disease, contributes to the death of approximately 20,000 children every year. During medical clinics in 2018, Ghana Initiative volunteers distributed insecticide-treated nets purchased from UNICEF to more than 1,000 homes in the eastern region of Ghana in an effort to cut down on the prevalence of malaria.
Volunteers also gave away tooth care kits and toothbrushes, books, crayons and other school supplies, soccer cleats, clothing, hair supplies, and knitted dolls. Prescription eyewear and sunglasses were distributed during eye clinics.
Ghana Initiative has also begun to build a missionary training center near one of the towns it regularly serves. The venue will include a warehouse for supplies, a classroom, a dormitory, and a ministry office. The facility will be used to train Ghanaians and other West Africans to enter the missionary field or become pastors.
To make all of this happen, Ghana Initiative relies on the support from individuals and businesses, and it also hosts an annual banquet and benefit auction. This year's event will be held on Saturday, Feb. 23, at Weaver's Banquet Facility, 2610 N. Reading Road, Denver. While banquet tickets are no longer available, the public is invited to attend the auction. Preview of the auction lots will open at 6:30 p.m., and the bidding will commence at 7 p.m.
More than 130 items will be up for bids. These include dinners at upscale restaurants, flying lessons in a Cessna plane, a quarter-sawn cherry blanket chest lined with cedar, a hand-tufted Indian rug, artwork, a wooden rocking horse, Ghanaian baskets, a designer purse, collectible coins, gift card bundles, and more.
Pfoutz hopes that area residents will attend and bid liberally. "Ghana Initiative Mobile Medical Mission represents the culture of Lancaster County," he said. "In this county, people are generally caring, interested in helping when a need exists, and generous with what God has blessed them with. The money you might spend on an item that will bring joy into your life will make an impact in the life of a person halfway around the world in Ghana, West Africa."
The next mobile clinic in Ghana will take place from Tuesday, July 30, to Sunday, Aug. 11. Volunteers are being recruited now.
For more information about Ghana Initiative Mobile Medical Mission or the auction, readers may visit http://www.ghanainitiative.com or call 717-615-4459.