Tuesday, January 31, 2017

It seems that for the past few years I have only been doing yearly updates on the blog.  When I was in Ghana, there was a lot to inspire and motivate me to write.  Since then, I seem to have lost that “muse” that inspired me.

In the past year I had a few promises from people I’d been involved with while in Ghana, saying that they would send me an update about what they are doing now and how it’s going.  They said I could share the updates on the blog, but I’m still waiting for most of them.  William sent me an update back at the beginning of November, but I wasn’t able to work on the blog at that moment – or at the next moment – or even the moment after that.  So, I think I will just do a personal post at this time, and then I have a few other updates in mind, and later I will update with William’s story (once I catch up to my November emails). 

This past June I was able to get back to Ghana, but it was primarily for a meeting.  I didn’t have time to see a lot of my friends, and didn’t even tell many of them I was in the country since I knew it wouldn’t be possible to see them.  We had a couple of days off and I used some of the time to go see Joe on the refugee camp (I think I most recently mentioned him here and previously here).  I’m so grateful every time I get to see Joe in action – he keeps me inspired and motivated. 

Joe has been devoted to Yama (aka Sharon) since he first came

I was also able to get to JB, one of the first Hope for Life (HFL) members.  Since I was first with HFL in the ‘90s, JB has been a good friend, even, at times, an advisor.  We also used to have some nice arguments and differences of opinion.
  Since I didn’t have much free time during and after the meeting in June, I suggested that some of the others I wanted to see should come to JB’s and we could meet there on my last day, have lunch together, catch up with each other, etc.  Alice, who I wrote about in the past and who was also one of the original HFL members, was able to make it, along with a few others.  However, time is never enough when we have these moments.  The most important things in life – when we can get together with loved ones, share a meal and talk – seem to pass so quickly.  After lunch that day I went back to the SMA house, took a quick shower and headed to the airport.
JB is on my right (looking like he is getting his head licked), and Alice on my left
About seven weeks after that lunch, when I was back in Italy, I received a message that JB - - a wise man, a kind man, a generous man, a gentle man, and normally I would not mention this next part, since his religion is not the issue, but with what’s happening in parts of the world today, including the US, it seems important to make it clear that this role model for us all was also a Muslim man - - had died.  He was a respected man in his community.  Over 30 years ago, as HFL was beginning, he got his first wheelchair which he used to take him out of the house where he could sit under the tree and type people’s letters and envelopes for them.  He began to hear about some children with disabilities in his area who were unable to go to school due to their disabilities and the family finances.  He sent for them to be brought to him and he started to teach them under the tree.  Gradually, the school built up through the years to over a hundred students sitting under that tree and in an open-air classroom that was put up near the tree while JB and his teachers prepared them to enter the public school system.  I have no idea how many students passed through JB’s classes over the years, but former students and others from the community regularly passed by simply to greet him and show their respect, and he was able to see some of those students graduate from the University and become doctors, lawyers, police officers and other respected citizens.  (I have a couple of other pictures of JB and also Alice and a brief reference to them at the end of this other blog post.  A longer story of Alice is here.)

I'm so grateful that we all shared that final lunch together.  These are the things that matter and that too often get rushed or overlooked.


At 6:32 PM, Blogger MJ said...

How wonderful it was that you were able to have that time to see JB and the few others, even though it wasn't nearly as long of a visit as you would have liked. I know it must have made a big difference to you having just seen him when you got the message that he was gone. I'm glad that you mentioned that fact that he was Muslim, even though you felt you had to because what's happening in the world today--it's too bad that more stories like his don't get told to show that role models come from all parts of the world and all religions---it's not the world or religion that cause the problem, it's the person.

At 11:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great story! Thanks for sharing JB's life with us. JP

At 12:31 PM, Anonymous MCX Trading Tips said...

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