2008-09-11 / Editorial


Blogging from Ghana at JamestownPress.com

This Saturday, my wife Kim and I will begin a journey to Africa where we will meet a young man who has been a pen pal with our daughter for several years.

We are heading to Ghana, an emerging third world country found in West Africa near the equator. Ghana is tropical — hot and humid. They say the heat takes your breath away when you first arrive. Ghana has rain forests and hundreds of miles of beautiful coastal scenery. The country is home to elephants and hippos, hartebeests and the endangered bongo.

Malaria and Yellow Fever are rampant.

Ghana was once a British protectorate. The British were preceded by the Dutch and the Portuguese. Ghana played a major role in the Gold Coast slave trade. We plan to visit one of the restored European castles that was used as a traders' fort from which slaves were shipped to the U.S.

Ghana gained its independence in March 1957, one month before I was born. Today, Ghana is considered one of the few politically stable countries in the region.

On Saturday we fly from here to Amsterdam and then on to Accra, the capital of Ghana. The trip will take nearly 24 hours. From Accra we will head west, along the coast to a city named Cape Coast. Then we will go inland to Tarkwa. The teenager we plan to visit lives in Aboso, a small village near Tarkwa.

We are taking along a duffle bag loaded with gifts and supplies for the local school. One of the school's teachers called us over the weekend a said the entire village was excited in anticipation of our visit.

It should be an interesting journey, to say the least.

Kim and I decided to visit Ghana to determine how we could help this 17-year-old earn a college education. He's poor, but an eager and adept student. His mother and grandfather died last year. He's never known his father. We would also like to see what we can do to help others who live in his village.

Technology is a wonderful thing. The Internet has reached Ghana and many of its residents have cell phones even though they live in stark poverty by our standards. I am taking along my laptop and my camera. I plan to write about our travels and the people we meet. I will blog on our newspaper Web site whenever I can find an Internet connection.

You can read about our trip as it happens online at JamestownPress.com.

— Jeff McDonough

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