Monday, October 8, 2012

Byron Report for Sept. 27 Ghana Embassy Event

Report from Byron in Ghana
September 22, 2012

I arrived in Accra, Ghana on April 16, 2012.  After months of collaboration with the Catholic Archdiocese of Accra; planning with Hopeful Way Foundation board members (along with key people in the recovery community of Ghana); and physical preparation with help from Hopeful Way Oxford House – Oyarifa members (along with Gustavo Aguilar Marco, a volunteer worker from Sweden), the 40-bed rehabilitation center named House of St. Francis opened August 1, 2012.  This treatment facility utilizes Recovery Dynamics as a curriculum for 12 step recovery along with the Healing Place social model of Therapeutic Community and concept of non-medical detoxification. It is initially designed to provide a needy client with 3 to 6 months of inpatient care. Our first two resident clients were relapses from Oxford House – Oyarifa.  Currently, there are five resident male clients. As a result of many serious inquiries about the house by potential women prospects, a decision will be been made regarding the accommodation of women in the House of St. Francis as well as men. We have envisioned the challenges of having women and men in the same facility and determined that if we could obtain the staff necessary to handle both genders, it could be done successfully. We may also set up a separate Oxford House for women.

 I am now beginning to receive some needed help in running the facility. Two resident nurses from Accra Psychiatric Hospital (one male and one female) are on board to assist in providing individual counseling for both male and female clients.  The two extension workers from the Oxford House – Oyarifa are in training to assist in presenting the Recovery Dynamics curriculum to the clients. Hopeful Way Foundation board members Dr. Joseph Asare president, Dr. Eugene Dordoye and Mr. Logosu Amegashie (Korle-Bu Hospital Addictive Disease Unit head) are also ready to assist in family and individual counseling when they can be available.  Araba Sefa-Dedeh (Accra Psychiatric Hospital & Korle Bu Hospital Women’s Psychiatric Unit Counselor/Professor) has come on board to assist in providing counseling for the potential women clients. Meanwhile, the search for a separate facility for women clients is a work in progress.

 We envision House of St. Francis to ‘pipeline’ the human resources needed to establish more Oxford Houses in the near future. Each of the five current resident clients has agreed to transition into an Oxford House either in Oyarifa or a planned new house in Tema.  More will be revealed.  The existing two Oxford Houses, one in Oyarifa, Ghana has six members currently and efforts are being made to reopen the Oxford House - Came to Believe in Kukurantumi. Currently, through much patience and perseverance, Pantang Hospital TC Unit (REHAB) is now fully supporting our Oxford Houses with clients from their six-month in-patient treatment program.  I am still working towards establishing a woman/woman with children Oxford House. This I believe will happen sooner than later. There may be a need for a woman from OHI to come to assist in this project soon.

 There currently exist, 13 AA/NA 12-step meetings in the Accra Metropolitan area. Three new venues for AA/NA meetings in the Tema/Ashiaman area have been identified to start having meetings.  The Brain Clinic and Tema Sleep Centre, which will open its first meeting Saturday September 29, 2012, Tema General Hospital and Blessed Clementina Catholic Church in Ashiaman, are expected to open soon.

 Public Information talks via the press, radio and television have been established more this year than any of the previous years combined.  These platforms, I believe, are needed to help reduce the stigma of the disease of addiction. The PI talks can expedite the process of embracing the viable solutions available to help eradicate the problem of alcoholism and drug addiction in Ghanaian society today.

 The collaborative efforts from Dr. Al Mooney of Willingway Foundation and Mr. Larry Gaines of Kelly Foundation spent a combined five weeks in Ghana helping us.  In May/June of this year 12 students and staff visited Ghana from Georgia Southern University and Texas Tech University to inspire and encourage Ghanaians to embrace the concepts and methods used in understanding and treating the disease of addiction.

 In closing, there are many challenges ahead for Ghanaians with regards to embracing and developing methods of treating the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction from using proven recovery models and concepts used around the world today. Daniel O’Laughlin and Hopeful Way Foundation/Recovery Africa have begun the task of establishing a solid foundation for a long term partnership between the U.S and Ghana in meeting these challenges head on.  I’m truly blessed to have the opportunity to be of maximum service to God and to my fellow mankind in this endeavor. Thank you, May God Bless You All, and please have an enjoyable and successful fundraiser.

Byron A. Merriweather