Mission of Mercy--Part V - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

07/28/06

Mission of Mercy--Part V

A volunteer sees a patient. A volunteer sees a patient.
Konongo Village Konongo Village

Would you leave your family and your comfortable life and travel thousands of miles to a developing country to help people much less fortunate than you? Dozens of your friends and neighbors did. Dawn Baker and videojournalist Channing Beacham went with the Goodness and Mercy Foundation to Ghana.

All week, Dawn has been bringing us stories about their amazing experience. This has been amazing journey for all of us. Tonight, we're wrapping up the mission and showing you what life is like for the people of Konongo.

But most importantly, we'll let the volunteers tell you in their own words why they'll never be the same after meeting, treating and living with these wonderful people.

Goodness and Mercy volunteers spent five days treating patients and living in the Konongo Village. It was easy to become close to these kind and gracious people.

"We thank very much from almighty God that he has brought you here," said patient Ishmael Hazak Boateng.

The people who live in Konongo work hard, but unfortunately there are few if any opportunities that will really improve their lives above a certain level of poverty. There is no assistance from the government like welfare. So, what they cannot afford, they have to go without.

The average annual income for the Konongo village is under $1,000 a year. Dr. Steve Ojbordjor is a veteran doctor, the medical superintendent of the village hospital. His salary is only $8,000 a year. If that's a doctor's salary, can you imagine how little the average villager makes?

Their daily struggles touched us all.

"The hardest part has been seeing the people and the conditions that they are in the housing the facilities and the water," said mission volunteer Rev. Charlie Anderson. "It has been tough."

"I think that probably second to marriage and to children, this has impacted me," said Dr. Thomas Shook. "'It has been rough,' it means a lot."

When we first arrived, many of us thought this might very easily be one of the last missions this country would need. Dr. Ojbordjor announced that Ghana had just started a national healthcare system. For a premium of about 12 American dollars per year, Ghanaians can go to the doctor as much as they need to. That $12 also covers their prescriptions. But the majority of the people in the village of 30,000 cannot afford the insurance.

"It was a humbling experience," said volunteer Felicia Frazier. "It was an eye opener. I don't think in a lifetime that I will ever be able to erase from my mind or from my heart."

"The lesson that I learned is that you can be kind and courteous and humane and not have to have a lot of money," said Dr. Norgie Bigger. "I have learned that human kindness is most important. I have learned that children can be respectful and kind and they don't have to have $200 sneakers."

Their homes are mostly made of wood. The poorest live in homes with dirt floors and sleep on palettes on the ground or concrete slabs. Those who are a little better off have homes made of cement.

But no matter what kind of home they have, they all seem to have a very strong faith. Everywhere we looked there were symbols of their religious beliefs, from scriptures and religious sayings on the back of company cars. Big trucks, even billboards for well-known companies like Coca-Cola, boldly display "for Christ" in the advertisement.

Their deep faith inspired us to want to help even more.

"We know that we can't do everything in a week, but we hope and we try to do as much as we can do and hope that that will be of benefit to the people," said Connie Cooper.

"We are here for a common purpose to assist the people of Ghana and their healthcare and to extend the love of the people of the United States," said Goodness and Mercy founder Dr. Eugene Nwosu. "We are truly blessed and pleased to be able to do this."

"I hope that we left a good impression on the people of Ghana and the people of Konongo," said Dr. Connie Nduaguba. "That there are people out there that care about their well being."

This mission has also made all of us take a good look at ourselves. The people of Konongo have taught us a lot, and left a lasting impression.

"It just makes me remember that there are times I should be more patient, more appreciative, feel more blessed," said Dr. Nduaguba. "And just try to continue to give back as much as I can because a little bit you can do can go a long way."

Dr. Nduaguba is right. Just think back to all of those donations. Often times, they were old eyeglasses and hearing aids that came out of someone's junk drawer. They were collecting dust here in America. And now in Konongo, they have improved the quality of life for hundreds of people.

Building on that, the village hospital doesn't have a full laboratory. Dr. Nwosu and the Goodness and Mercy foundation are planning to donate one to them.

If you would like to help, visit www.goodnessandmercyfoundation.org to learn more about Goodness and Mercy and their mission work in Ghana and Nigeria.

Reported by: Dawn Baker, dbaker@wtoc.com

 

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