In April 2011, I met my first friend in Ghana, Matthew Engmann, quite by accident at the Lavender Lodge in Airport Residential. Matthew is a Ghanaian who studied in the UK and has spent the last 15 years working at investment banks in Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
We were both eating brunch at one big table. I started a conversation about nothing in particular but we ended up talking for a couple of hours.
All the good people I have met and become friends with are due to this chance encounter. One of the partners in our business is one of Matt’s mates from London, our accountant was recommended by Matt’s barrister cousin, and my previous roommate was at an event Matt invited me to.
Matthew came to Ghana in April 2011 to start a non-profit. He has spent the last nine months working to establish his non-profit, Kanea, to help local Ghanaians improve their lives. Normally, I am skeptical of the large aid agencies operating in Ghana but Matt is a stand up guy who has always been sincere and kind to my wife and me.
Last December, after travelling to northern Ghana, Matt contracted typhoid and a very serious type of malaria while working on the drinking well project described below. Fortunately, he’s fine now.
For all of my friends across the world who thought they would become rich — you know who you are — then help other people, I encourage you to check out his website and DONATE. For everyone else, please check it out as well and DONATE.
100% of donations will go directly to helping poor people. Matt and his partners are taking care of all the administrative costs out of their own “personal balance sheets“.
These are the projects – as described on his website – that Kanea is working on:
Kanea has completed the construction of an orphanage to sleep 50 “at-risk” children in a deprived and severely impoverished slum sub-district of Jamestown, Accra. We still urgently need funds to equip the orphanage and the library with ancillary items. 48 of the 50 children resident are now enrolled in local schools, with 17 of those children performing within the upper quintile of their respective classes. We still need seed capital to commence projects on-site that will generate a sustainable income stream to the project (performing arts, printing tradiional cloth and so on).
Scholarships for Young Girls to Attend Senior High School
Kanea is successfully working with the Ghana Education Services, the Jirapa School Service, and a local community action group, to grant US$3,000 donor scholarships to promising but needy individual girls such that they can stay on in school at senior high school level. In the area, the male to female ratio in senior highshool is approximately 5:1, vs the UN’s 2015 Millenium Goal female incluion index of parity. Our first girl Esther wants to become a nurse in her local community, and her headteaher now expects and hopes that she will eventually make it all the way to post-graduate level study.
Drinking Water Well
Operating exclusively through the Kanea Foundation, Mr and Mrs Chris & Mu Sandford of Singapore generously donated a well to a primary/JH-school located in the remote border village of Xevi, in Ghana’s Volta region.
Typical cash household incomes in the area are under US$200 per year. The well was completed in December 2011, to US military specifications. Mr Albert Ogyiri, CEO of ABP Consult, Ghana’s leading Civil Engineering Company, and President of the Ghana Institution of Engineers, himself donated free hydrogeological consultation services. Teachers, sudents, parents, the PTA, and local residents young and old all pitched in to help the construction. The project was overseen by Mr Leo Mastromatteo.
The well was sunk to 65 metres below ground, through solid granite, to reach the pure water-table (free of iron and manganese). 750 kids and their families will now live a life free of water-bourne sicknesses such as typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A, malaria, shigellosis, guinea worm, schistosomiasis (bilharzia), lymphatic filariasis (elephantitis) , and onchocerciasis (hookworm).
Previously at any one time up to 35% of the kids were “off school” sick. In ourGallery, please enjoy the photos of the opening ceremony arranged by the school to honour Chris and Mu (traditional song, dance and poetry recitals in English and Ewe) attended by neighbouring villages, the village Chief, Ghana Health Services officers, Ghana Education Services officers, village elders, and the local press.
Look at the faces in our Gallery. This is what it looks like when kids see pure clean water for the first time in their lives.