Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mark Webb at the House of St. Francis

I was recently blessed with the opportunity to spend a day with the men and the staff of the House of St. Francis.
As you walk down the road you see the sign "House of St. Francis" but for most that go past it looks just like any other building. However, as you enter the building you soon discover that it is a place where lives are changed.
My first meeting was with a couple of the staff of the house. As they discussed a couple of the men they were dealing with and some specific situations of concern I was struck by the fact that the issues here are so similar to ones faced by the men I work with 5,000 miles away.  I was also struck by the enthusiasm of the staff as they discussed possible next steps and ways to help these men on their journey to recovery.
After the meeting I was told that we would soon be having a class and I was given the opportunity to speak about the 12 steps. While this was an unexpected surprise I was excited and grateful for the opportunity to share with these men. They quickly warmed up to this "white man that talks too fast" and started to share with me in a very open and honest way. I was again reminded that the similarities of addicts in Ghana and Canada are greater than the differences.
After enjoying some delicious fish for lunch  I got to spend some time with Byron Merriweather. To describe Byron as dedicated, enthusiastic and committed only begins to describe the passion he brings to his role at HSF. Byron sincerely wants every person that comes in the doors to gain what they need to get well and stay well.
Our day together ended with a trip to the Black Star AA meeting in Adabraka, Accra. As the tro tro bounced along enroute to the meeting I enjoyed the laughter and banter of this group of men who seemed to genuinely enjoy being a part of this community. It was fun to listen and join in and I was glad  that I had become part of this fellowship.
The House of St. Francis is doing an important and valuable work with a group who have great needs and few options to deal with those needs. They are blessed with a staff that genuinely cares and great things are possible for the House of St. Francis and I am grateful for the day I spent with them.
(Mark Webb is the Program Director of Glencairn Hope Acres Rehabilitation Center in Ontario, Canada)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Thinking about a Recovery Center

Training Center – The Hopeful Way Foundation will be examining the feasibility of establishing a “Recovery Center” on the almost half acre plot where the Bill Moore Oxford House is located near Accra.  The exact nature of such a center is yet to be determined but it would assist in strengthening the recovery movement that is gaining momentum in Ghana.  During the coming months, we will be examining various possibilities.  Initial thoughts are to construct additional buildings which would accommodate 30 or so residents, a hall which could hold about 75 participants, break out rooms for smaller meetings and a kitchen.  The current building being used as an Oxford House holds up to 14 residents.  The Recovery Center, if that is to be its name, would be flexible and able to meet the training needs of the recovery in Ghana.  The trainers would come from professionals in Ghana, the U.S. and other countries, recovery experts and others who have solid recovery experiences in 12-step recovery, Therapeutic Community, etc.  It is likely that the Hopeful Way Foundation would move forward with this Center only if other organizations came on board with their formal collaboration. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Jerry Moe may come to Ghana

Jerry Moe, the National Director of Children’s Programs for the Betty Ford Center, was introduced to Recovery Africa/Hopeful Way by Dr. Al Mooney.  Jerry is a noted and respected professional in the field of addiction, and has been running the Children’s Program for The Betty Ford Center for over 14 years.  Jerry is internationally known as an author, lecturer, and trainer on issues for young children from addicted families.  Mr. Moe is interested in coming to Africa; we would like him to come to Ghana in 2014 to study how we might get children of alcoholics and their families involved in recovery from addiction. 

Dr. Whiters & Darcia Johnson going to Ghana

David Whiters, PhD and Ms. Darcia Johnson, MS, both of whom are people in long-term recovery (29 and 9 years respectively), have expressed an interest in coming to Ghana for a few months.  Due to their very tight schedule, they are hoping that their work in Ghana could begin before the end of the year, 2013. They attribute their recovery to being involved in their 12-step recovery programs, involvement in their church, and their faith in God.  David is certified as an addiction professional and is the founder and former Executive Director of Recovery Consultants of Atlanta, Inc., a faith-based, peer-led Recovery Community Organization.  He has vast experiences with the recovery advocacy movement and transitional housing programs.  Both Dr. Whiters and Ms. Johnson have met with Edwin Ahadzie in Atlanta to discuss how they might assist with the House of St. Francis, at the Oxford House, including the proposed recovery house for women, and with Ghana’s recovery advocacy efforts.  They could also assist us with organizing a faith-based recovery conference in Ghana. 

Hopeful Way Foundation in 2013 (Report to Recoery Africa; Oct. 23, 2013)

In general 2013 has been a good year for Hopeful Way Foundation and its assistance towards recovery efforts in Ghana.  It illustrates that “addiction is not contagious but recovery is.”  A growing number of Ghanaians are living good lives in recovery and are carrying the message to others.  Our objective is not to take on long-term responsibility for running recovery programs but rather to assist, for example, by managing the House of St. Francis for three years and establishing an Oxford House Chapter to take responsibility for overseeing Oxford Houses in Ghana.  We continue to experience excellent collaboration with addiction professionals in Ghana, the U.S. and elsewhere.  The Government of Ghana continues to acknowledge and support our recovery work.  We work closely with the Catholic Archdiocese of Accra, NGOs and other treatment and rehab facilities.  The HWF conducted over ten training sessions during the year which were often facilitated by Ghanaian and visiting professionals.  Over ten 12-step meetings in the greater Accra area are supported by people in recovery in HWF backed facilities. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Head of the House of St. Francis is in the U.S.

Edwin came to the U.S. in May and has been having wonderful experiences here since that time.  We will get him to write something for this blog.  He is currently on a visit to the Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery at Texas Tech University and spent about two months studying Recovery Dynamics with Larry Gaines at Serenity Park in Little Rock, Arkansas.  He was then under the care of Dr. Al Mooney and Chris Budnick at the Healing Place of Wake County located in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Edwin then made a presentation at the Oxford House Convention held in Washington, DC and went to Willingway Hospital and the Center for the Addiction Recovery at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia.  He spent time with Emily Eisenhart, Director of the Center for Addiction Recovery and discussed her possible next visit to Ghana in 2014.  Edwin is interested in the new movie "The Anonymous People" which is "out to change the addiction conversation from problems to SOLUTIONS. An independent feature documentary about the over 23 million Americans living in long-term recovery from alcohol and other drug addictions.

Edwin says that Ghana has a lot to learn from the film which  deals with "Deeply entrenched social stigma and mass participation in widely successful anonymous 12-step groups have kept recovery voices silent and faces hidden for decades. The vacuum created by this silence has been filled by sensational mass media depictions of addiction that continue to perpetuate a lurid public fascination with the dysfunctional side of what is a preventable and treatable health condition. Just like women with breast cancer, or people with HIV/AIDS, a grass roots social justice movement is emerging. Courageous addiction recovery advocates have come out of the shadows and are organizing to end discrimination and move toward recovery-based solutions. The moving story of The Anonymous People is told through the faces and voices of the citizens, leaders, volunteers, corporate executives, and public figures who are laying it all on the line to save the lives of others just like them." 

Edwin will try to take a copy of the film to Ghana. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sponsor Manuals by John Elford

The Hopeful Way Foundation is experimenting with manuals produced by John Elford.  John wrote for the HWF Blog saying:

The Sponsor Manuals are an approach to teaching the 12 Steps that have been developed to include different models of education and motivation. The main aim of the model was to develop an inexpensive tool that can help facilitate peer lead recovery that is direct and follows a progressive learning curve. This tool can be adapted for groups or individuals and forms a written record of their progress through the Steps.

The books can be greatly enhanced by using motivational interviewing, counselling and CBT techniques. If you have a team of motivated people they can bring the teaching methods alive and create a really dynamic learning environment.

I have added a review posted on amazon.com that sums up the approach very nicely, I have no connection to this person.

 "The author uses a six-point method of teaching to reinforce learning and to increase comprehension and promote awareness of the steps to its fullest extent. I find this approach refreshing and challenging, and an  exciting way to learn, and then to turn around and teach, the 12 steps!

 At first I was skeptical, as it seemed it all might be busywork But after investigating and indulging in the exercises and grids for a full chapter, I found myself to be a true believer and hooked on the educational system presented herein. The book had me searching within myself to define my terms, to come up with my own answers to common phrases.

 I have not yet finished this workbook, but I am taking my time in getting through this work. A work of this caliber deserves honest effort. I was very glad to find this book and add it to my recovery book collection."

 I believe that the workbooks could be a valuable asset in the development of cost effective recovery tools in Ghana and a simple and effective way to formalise the teaching of the 12  Steps. I will do my best to support the great work already started in Africa.

 Dr Mooney and I met when I spent a month in Kentucky last year exploring the range of treatment facilities and approaches to 12 Step Recovery. I was working with Chris Fajardo, my host for the month, on promoting and developing the models that I use and apply to teaching the Steps.

 As my work has developed I have had the privilege of becoming friends with Dr Mooney and recently had the opportunity to promote recovery and the Willingway Foundation here in the UK. We spent time visiting the addiction professionals of Durham County and had the opportunity to visit the many treatment facilities emerging in this area. Time was spent promoting the science behind recovery and the importance of abstinence. You can read more about the details of this on my blog at getintorecovery.com . As a result of this visit there are developments happening across the Atlantic with Durham and the Willingway Foundation and myself and Southampton University.

 Further to this visit there are three prisons now starting to use the Sponsor Manuals in their 12 Step programs and the recovery ambassadors are rolling out an outreach program to the community incorporating the workbooks into this. 

 Further groups and organisations are starting to spring up around the world that are applying the workbooks to teaching the 12 Steps. It is an exciting time for me and the development of a simple yet effective way of teaching the 12 Steps.

 John Elford
Willingway Foundation UK Liaison 


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ankaful Twelve-Step Rehab

An objective of the Hopeful Way Foundation is to assist hospitals and recovery institutions in Ghana build the capacity of their members of staff.  One such facility is the Ankaful Twelve-Step Rehab where the late Bill Moore, Larry Gaines, Dr. Al Mooney, Byron Merriweather and others have shared their many years of professional experiences.  Staff of the hospitals have also participated in training programs at the House of St. Francis which have been led by treatment experts.  Mrs. Rejoice Danso heads up the 12-Step Rehab and writes about it below:

 “The 12-step drug/alcohol rehabilitation program of the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital, Cape Coast was started by Dr. Kojo Sagoe, Clinical Psychologist, PhD and the head of the counseling unit of the hospital.  Assistance was provided by Miss Diana Ahiabor and Mrs. Rejoice Danso (Registered Mental Nurses).

 The program which was started as an outpatient based department in 2009, and gradually moved into an in-house program in 2010.  Clients are housed and fed while  they undergo treatment programs which last from three months to one year.

 For the past three years, over 100 clients (addicts and alcoholics) have been helped with a success rate of 60%.  And for the past one year, free workshops organized by the Hopeful Way Foundation have improved  the knowledge of the staff in the treatment of addiction.”

 Rejoice Danso

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Edwin Speaks at Convention

From 29 August to 1 September, 2013, Edwin A. represented Ghana at the 15th Annual Oxford House World Convention held in Washington, DC.  Over 700 people participated in the gathering.  As former president of the Hopeful Way Oxford House and the chief executive officer of the House of St. Francis, Edwin spoke at the breakout session on International Houses.  He said that he gives thanks to Oxford House for being clean and sober today.  He added that “before moving into the house on 31 January, 2011 I had been going in and out, in and out of psychiatric hospitals for many years.  One day some visitors came to the hospital and told me that there was something called a 12-step solution to addiction that was practiced in the Oxford House.  The guys asked me to come and join them and I did because I had been in the hospital for one and a half years and the doctors were telling me to leave.  I was filled with fear of relapse when arriving at the house.  Soon I was elected secretary and treasurer because there were only four of us living in the house.  After some months I became president and was responsible for enforcing the rules and carrying the 12-step recovery method to hospitals.  About 40 residents have lived in the house during the past three years. I was there for two years and another member has been there for three years.  We follow the main Oxford House concepts in Ghana but do a few things differently.  For example, if someone is found to be smoking, it is considered to be a relapse because Ghanaian culture relates smoking to the use of drugs.  We also have a big challenge in finding employment for members of the house who numbered 12 at one time last year.  I am presently working at the House of St. Francis, a three-month treatment facility that sends clients to the Oxford House.  A second house exists in a remote area of Ghana but at present has no members.  This will soon change and a house for women will open before the end of the year.  An Oxford House Chapter is also being put in place with the help of an Oxford House representative in Ghana.  Finally I thank Oxford House, Inc. for inviting me to the convention and for making it possible for Byron Merriweather to help us in Ghana where the Oxford House idea of recovery without relapse is being firmly established.”

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Informadtion Center in Kukurantumi

Since March of 2013, the Books For Africa Library Project has been supporting an Information Centre on Drug and Alcohol Abuse in Kukurantumi, Eastern Region. During weekdays the Centre's representative, Yaw Obeng, goes into Kukurantumi, meets with people and invites them to an open AA/NA meeting held every weekday night at the Information Centre.
Attendance at the AA/NA meeting varies from 5 to 8 people on the average, with at times up to 3 women attending.
There are challenges in maintaining a recovery meeting in a small town, but Yaw and the Centre's Directory, Kwabena Dokyi are making headway.

Kirt Bromley

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Shelia Stigall at the House of St. Francis

My name is Shelia Stigall and I recently had the pleasure of working in Ashaiman, Ghana at the House of St. Francis.  I was there from June 28th through August 16th as part of my education in the field of social work.  I had the opportunity to connect with many people, addicts and “normies” alike, who are working to make recovery happen in Ghana. It was a life enhancing experience and I am very grateful for the time I spent with these amazing people.  I am especially grateful to Dan and Agnes for making this opportunity a reality.

Following is an entry from my blog about my experience working in Alcohol and Drug Treatment over the course of an 8 week stay in Ghana.

Recovery is Definitely in Its Infancy Here

This will be my longest and, perhaps, least entertaining of all posts on this blog but this, after all, is why I am here in Ghana.  A lot has been happening and this is a subject that I am passionate about; though I realize it may hold little interest to others.  So, read or don’t read; it is my blog!!!  As always, the comments that follow are my opinions and interpretations of what I have been told or have personally observed and may bear little or no resemblance to actual fact.

I am a student of social work at Portland State University.  The chance to enhance my education by doing an international field placement with a social services agency in Ghana was put on my path.  I am so grateful that I did not turn down this opportunity.  It has been a rewarding experience in so many ways.  I have learned that I actually have useful knowledge, skills, and abilities in the field of Addiction and Recovery.  I had mentally taken work in this field “off the table” as a career path.  I have found, through the work I am doing in Ghana, that not only do I enjoy working with clients in early recovery, I seem to have a knack for the work, and I feel that I am doing something important.  Although the field of Alcohol and Drug Treatment is not quite back on the table it is no longer shoved to the back of the pantry!!
Recovery is definitely in its infancy here.  Religiosity is apparent in nearly every aspect of Ghanaian life, including the ideas, beliefs, and attitudes about addiction and recovery.  One man told a story of his family’s belief that “juju” (magic or witchcraft) had been worked on the family in the form of his “disgraceful” use of alcohol.  The belief was that a demon had been placed in his belly with a thirst for alcohol that could not be quenched as a form of punishment for some perceived sin or wrongdoing.  The man was subject, on more than one occasion, to community members trying to “beat” the demon out of him.  Another talked of being forced to participate in week long “prayer services” in the hopes that he would be “saved” from his own sinful ways.  

I don’t pretend to understand addiction, although I do have some knowledge on the subject, nor do I wish to be perceived as sitting in judgment of beliefs that conflict with my own.  Joseph Campbell once said, “Remember, one man’s superstition is another man’s religion.”  I try to be open-minded when it comes to other belief systems.  I do believe, however, that addiction is “a primary, chronic, progressive, and fatal disease,” which, with help, can be managed.  Much as with the disease of diabetes, people can manage the disease of addiction and live long, productive, and useful lives.  In the United States this idea is gaining wide acceptance and, fortunately, the idea is catching on in Ghana, too.

House of St. Francis

For the past month I have been working 40 plus hours per week at the House of St. Francis (HSF), a residential treatment center for men in Ashaiman, Ghana -- one of only a handful of treatment centers in the country.  The house currently has about 15 clients with room for up to 44.  There are six staff members including two full-time resident cooks (Matthew and Rueben) who prepare 21 meals per week, a resident house manager (George), two resident peer counselors (John and Mark), and a program supervisor (Byron) who lives off site.  To the best of my knowledge these dedicated and devoted men are volunteers who receive room and board and/or a small stipend for their service.  



Dan O. is the chair of a Non-Government Organization (NGO) called the Hopeful Way Foundation and is the man who made my work at HSF possible.  The NGO was established to encourage and support recovery in Ghana and helps fund HSF.  It gets pretty complicated and my summary here simplifies matters to an extreme.  The Catholic Archdiocese for Ashaiman actually owns the facility and is set to take over its daily operations in two years.  The Catholic Church gave Hopeful Way Foundation three years to get the program “up and running”.   The first year anniversary of HSF is August 1st.  

 Dan has tirelessly sought funding and support from various sources to keep HSF going.  He divides his time between the United States and Ghana.  There is expectation among Hopeful Way board members, HSF staff, and their supporters that, at the end of the three years, the house will be registered as an NGO whose board of directors will set policies for facility to be run by volunteers and recovery professionals.  Helping to promote and support recovery in Ghana has been a labor of love for Dan and many, many others over the last several years.

 When I was preparing to come to Ghana I was under the impression that I would be working with women who have substance abuse issues.  Indeed, HSF launched a women’s outpatient treatment facility on 16 July, 2013.  I was there for the “big” day.  No one showed up.  The women’s center has been open for a couple of weeks now and we are still waiting for our first client.  I did not have a clue the extent of stigma placed on alcohol and drug use and abuse in this country.  It’s bad for men but it is even worse for the women.  Even the male clients I work with are, in general, very negative about women using, let alone abusing, drugs and alcohol.  In this culture, heavy into denial, “women just do not drink, smoke, or use drugs.”  Professionals say that there is a “conspiracy of silence” about the prevalence of substance abuse among women and the problem is firmly behind closed doors.  It will take a very courageous woman to step out of the doors of her isolation and through the doors of the treatment facility.  Once she does, I believe others will follow in quick succession. 

Water Carriers


So, what have I been doing? – A great deal of education about the disease of addiction.  There are three woman who are “in charge” of the facility. 

Sister Brigid

The Church has assigned a nun, Sister Brigid, to oversee the program on their behalf.  She is firm in her belief that overcoming the “weakness” of addiction is a matter of learning “self-discipline”.  There are also two


Clinical Psychologists, Jennifer and Stella, who are involved in the project.  They are fully aware of the “disease concept” of addiction but are genuinely puzzled as to why a person, after becoming aware of and educated about the disease, could ever choose to use again (relapse).  I daresay that neither of these beliefs is all that different than the belief of many people in the United States.  I also need to add that these three women are all dedicated to helping people with the disease of addiction and are willing to learn.  Although not addicts themselves they see the devastation caused by the disease to the addict, their families, and society. They genuinely want to help make a difference.

 I have been sharing my experience in this area and answering the rapid fire questions that each of these three women have about the disease.  Often my answer is “I don’t know” and I have been doing a lot of research to try and find answers.  Other times I think I offer valuable insight into the biology and psychology of the disease and offer the idea that addicts are not “hopeless” and, given the chance at recovery, will become useful and productive members of society.  

 Stella, Jennifer and I have also been doing some brainstorming to try to identify barriers to reaching women addicts and identifying ways to overcome these barriers.  We have been talking to doctors in clinics, religious leaders in churches, social service agencies, youth groups,

Reaching Out to Youth Groups

and women’s groups.  We are planning to speak at churches (hopefully I will be able to participate in this before I leave Ghana) and are in the process of getting permission from various church leaders to have some time devoted during the weekly services.  There is also the idea of going into the market area (which is so not like the market experience in the United States!!)

To Market, To Market.......

and distributing informational flyers.  Literacy, although fairly high in general, is often lower among women.  We are discussing the use of a “pictorial flyer” that will be more readily understandable to a greater number of women. 

Because I have several hours work each week and the women’s program is, regrettably, taking so little of my time, I am also working with the male clients and staff at HSF. Mr. Amigashi from the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital’s Addictive Disease Unit (ADU) refers men to HSF.  There is one client from Cote d’ Ivorie (Ivory Coast) who speaks only French.  I have access to a translator program and have used it to translate much of the material used at the treatment center from English into French so that this client can have a better understanding of what is being taught at HSF. 

 The current curriculum used at HSF is called Recovery Dynamics; a 12-Step based recovery program.  Although it is very good it does not contain a Relapse Prevention segment.  I have been doing a lot of research in this area and have put together a 4-hour training session on recognizing stages and signs of relapse and understanding how to turn a potential relapse around.  I have facilitated an education and discussion training session based on my research and existing knowledge of the subject. I will be delivering this training one more time before I leave Ghana and staff members at HSF are working with me to further develop this training material and turn it into a regular part of client education.  

 I have also been given the opportunity to do some one-on-one “counseling” with the men at HSF.  What this actually amounts to is my listening to them talk about their experience and nodding my head empathetically. Since there is so little “long-term” recovery in Ghana I have also been given the chance to do some 12-Step work with individual men.  Although AA is alive and kicking in Ghana, meetings are not always easy to get to and sponsorship is not always easy to find.  I have some knowledge in this area and have been helping to guide a couple of men at HSF through Steps One, Two, and Three.

The Principles

One last area where my skills are being put to use is in the development of Position Descriptions for the jobs that the dedicated staff members at HSF are currently doing on a voluntary basis.  There is hope that, someday soon, there will be funding available to make these paid staff positions.  When that happens there is a need to be ready to justify funding for each, hopefully, well-defined position.  I am glad to be able to contribute my talents in this endeavor.  

I have also had the opportunity to spend some time with Sylvester Adu from the Narcotics Control  Board of Ghana (NACOB).  NACOB’s main goal is to ensure a drug-free society through simultaneous supply and demand reduction measures. This is being done through enforcement and control, education and prevention, and treatment, rehabilitation and social re-integration.   Mr. Adu is really an incredible man.   He is the Head of Social Rehabilitation and Precursor Chemicals Unit of NACOB and is really dedicated to social education on the disease of addiction.  He has spent time in the United States visiting various treatment centers and received training in Recovery Dynamics in Little Rock, Arkansas.  He spends time teaching at HSF and is dedicated to NACOB’s efforts to reduce demand for illegal drugs in Ghana.  Much of the time he spends on social education and working with clients at HSF goes above and beyond his duties as a NACOB employee.      

Dr. Al Mooney

I have also had the opportunity to meet Dr. Al Mooney, who is co-author of “The Recovery Book” and chair of the Willingway Foundation. For the last half century this Georgia born foundation has been committed to reducing the suffering of individuals and families who have been impacted by alcoholism and other drug addictions.  Dr. Mooney has also been involved in starting an NGO called Recovery Africa, which is still in its initial stages of formation and growth.  

 From July 17 – 25, 2013 Dr. Mooney was in Ghana to help spread the message of addiction treatment and recovery and to conduct training sessions for interested Ghanaians.  I was fortunate enough to be in Ghana at the same time as Dr. Mooney and was able to benefit from his extensive knowledge in the field of recovery.   

 One of his training sessions was billed as a “Peer Counselor Training Course”.   This was anything but “peer” training.  Most of the attendants were not addicts which meant, to me, that they were not “peers”.  I was getting a little incensed that the training was not “going my way”. Then I started paying attention to what was really happening.  I realized that there are pockets of recovery all over Ghana.  Most of these are run by caring individuals who fight for funding and resources.  They are dedicated to the ideas of education, treatment, and recovery, that addiction is a disease that can be managed, and that addicts in recovery can benefit society and are “worth the effort”.  

 I started to realize that Dr. Mooney’s training was the first time that these isolated pockets of individuals and groups working in recovery had the opportunity to get together as “peers” in the field of treatment and recovery.  They exchanged ideas and contact information.  People who felt they were alone in their efforts were shown that there are many throughout Ghana dedicated to the same principles of recovery – though they may go about it in different ways.  I began to realize that I may have been witness to a giant step for recovery in Ghana; the beginning of a collaborative process between different social service agencies working towards the same goal.  I felt grateful to be witness to something of this potential magnitude. 

 Change is a process not an event.  Recovery is definitely in its infancy here.   I would love to be able to transport into the future to see what recovery, for women and men, looks like in Ghana in five or ten years.  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Texas Tech and Kristen Harper Talk About Recovery in Ghana

What the Hopeful Way Foundation is doing in Ghana is AMAZING!  Our students and staff have been able to experience life and recovery from a fresh perspective.  During our trips to Ghana, for the past two years, we have had the opportunity to meet and work with addicts and alcoholics who seek the same solution that we have all found easily accessible, here in the U.S.  Having the chance to serve people, just like us, half way around the world has been a true gift, beyond our wildest expectations.  I look forward to continuing our work in Ghana with HWF so that our students may have the most fulfilling collegiate experience possible. I am grateful to our many friends in Ghana I have cherished the opportunity to work with the HWF to assist Ghana in its recovery efforts.
If there is anything that the Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery (CSAR) at Texas Tech University can do to assist with addiction and recovery services in Ghana, i.e. consulting with other colleges on future international trips, please let me know.  For logistical questions/concerns, please feel free to send them our way, as we love sharing our Ghana stories. I know I do not have to say this to you, but I want you to know that our relationship has not gone unrecognized or appreciated by our staff or our students.  You are doing life changing work!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Hopeful Way & House of St. Francis go to Cape Coast

On 19-20 August, 2013 Byron, Mark, Mawuli and Sam went to Cape Coast to work with Fr. Asantey and Sr. Rosette. They met at Mercy Centre where 13 participants participated in sessions on Recovery Dynamics, the History of AA in Ghana and how to start and conduct an AA meeting. Each participant had practice in chairing a meeting, and a name was given to a new AA group – “Ahunto Just for Today Group”. Because Mark and Mawuli were both past clients of Mercy Center, they were well positioned to share with the present clients about life after treatment. Stories were told about the action and willingness required to maintain sobriety.  Mark said that “It was a great experience to see AA growing in Cape Coast and to see the enthusiasm of Sr. Rosette about starting an AA meeting”. Board member of the Hopeful Way Foundation, Dr. Eugene Dordoye, is currently based in Cape Coast and is helping with carrying of the 12-step message. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Byron Mereiweather Carrying the Message in Ghana

Mr. Byron Merriweather is currently spending one year in Ghana. (Until late April 2014).  He is working towards the development of a chapter of Oxford Houses in Ghana, establishing a Women's with Children house in Ashaiman, looking at establishing an Oxford House in Kumasi, taking the lead role in the development of a high quality of care treatment program at the House of St. Francis in Ashaiman and continuing to startup more 12-step support group/recovery meetings in Ghana.  He says, "I am still staying on the path of planting and watering the seeds of recovery throughout Ghana. Doing the grass-roots things for the recovery movement in Ghana. Developing workshops on "Recovery Dynamics" and "How to establish and facilitate 12-step support group meetings". He continues to develop more AA/NA/MA/Al-Anon 12 step fellowship meetings. He furthers recovery "sponsorship" and peer mentoring networks utilizing state of the art technology and social networking (I.e. Twitter, Facebook) to assist in this process. Byron adds, "I am continuing on the path towards reaching the goal of establishing transitional recovery housing, treatment centers and 12-step support groups in each of the ten regions in Ghana".

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mark Webb Coming to Ghana

My introduction to the addiction needs in Ghana happened on the busy noisy streets of Jamestown-Accra in February 2009. I had grown used to our group getting lots of attention so I thought little of the man yelling as he quickly approached us. My attention however was changed when it turned out the man was seeking prayer because of his abuse of alcohol. I had been around people desperate for change before as I have worked in addictions for many years in Canada. This time however, something was different. Maybe it was the desperation in his voice or the hopelessness in his eyes but something was different. As I talked with my Ghanaian friends about alcohol and drug treatment in Ghana I quickly discovered what the difference was.  Unlike in North America, where people with substance abuse issues have numerous options for help, My Ghanaian friends told me that very little is done in Ghana to help "those people". The more I learned about addiction and recovery in Ghana the more I knew that I had to do my small part in making people aware that recovery from alcohol and drug abuse is possible.


When I had the chance to return in 2010 I was excited to do so. I was given a 45 minute slot to discuss Addiction Recovery Ministry to a group of pastors. Questions and discussions were flowing with excitement as my 45 minutes was stretched to 90 until the schedule finally forced us to bring the discussion to an end. The highlight for me happened at the end when one of the men in attendance stood and said " I do not talk about this publicly but what this man says is true. We need to help those  around us who drink and drug. I know it is true because I once drank too much and know how important it was for me to have people that were willing to help".


Some connections with an international group of addictions counselors led to an opportunity to return in 2011 to speak at an addictions conference that a couple of men in Teshie were organizing. It was a wonderful three days with people from throughout Ghana and neighbouring Togo joining together with the shared goal of discovering how to bring change to the lives of those around them. People reported feeling encouraged and equipped, and feedback since my return to Canada suggests part of what I shared is being used to start a few small support groups.


In 2012 I was interested to read an interview with Dr. Eugene Dordoye, a Ghanaian psychiatrist who was in the States studying addiction recovery. To read of a professional of this calibre who was interested in and dedicated to addiction and recovery in Ghana was very exciting! Even more exciting was when after a series of emails Dr. Dordoye and I were able to arrange for me to visit Ghana where I can meet some of the people and see firsthand some of the work that is being done. I am very much looking forward to this visit in September, 2013 and discovering how I can support people like Dr. Dordoye and organizations such as Hopeful Way in bringing real and lasting change in Ghana to lives impacted by addictions.


Mark Webb

Monday, August 26, 2013

Dr. Al Moony Facilitates Basic Seminar in Ashaiman

On 17 July, 2013 a seminar on addiction and recovery was held at St. Augustine Catholic Church for over 100 participants.  About 50 of the participants came from Chosen Rehab where about 30 percent of their 90 or so residents come from Ashaiman.  The training was a basic examination of addiction and recovery; where assistance can be found in Ghana.  The seminar was opened by Fr. Quaye-Foli and was facilitated by Dr. Al Mooney and Mr. Logosu Amegashie. Sponsors of the seminar were the House of St. Francis and the Catholic Archdiocese of Accra.  Sr. Brigid spoke on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and the HSF.  Funding and administration were provided by Hopeful Way Foundation.  Mr. Logosu of the Addictive Diseases Unit provided his usual professional inputs and motivation for the participants. 
Our Lady of Lourdes Donations are Cost Effective - On August 26, 2013 Dan met the person who made donations to purchase and install a water tank and six bunk beds at the House of St. Francis (HSF).  While he makes a number of small donations to fund developmental projects, the donor in Maryland, U.S.A. believes that funds going to Hopeful Way Foundation/ House of St. Francis reach the largest number of people for the amount donated. This is so because all of the people working at the two institutions are dedicated volunteers. They reach both rich and poor who need assistance to restore good lives being negatively affected by addiction.  The large number of poor people being assisted live largely outside of the HSF. They benefit from training programs, 12-step meetings, assistance to facilities which fight addiction, recovery literature, family gatherings and related efforts.  The core cost for food and lodging of each of the fourteen residents plus seven volunteer staff residing at the HSF is under $5.00 per day.

Hopeful Way Foundation 2013 Update

Dan & Agnes spent eight months in Ghana before returning to Maryland in August 2013. Dan has the intention of making a number of short blog entries as follows in the coming weeks:

1. Our Lady of Lourdes donations are cost effective -
2. Oyarifa "Bill Moore" Oxford House -
3. The House of St. Francis one year later -
4. An Oxford House for Women -
5. Edwin in the U.S. -
6. Larry Gaines training in Recovery Dynamics -
7. Dr. Al Mooney in Ghana -
8. Texas Tech 2013 Visit to Ghana -
9. Georgia Southern University to Ghana 2013 -
10. Kukurantumi Information Center -
11. Chosen Generation -
12. St. Augustine 17 July seminar by Dr. Al -
13. Peer Training by Dr. Al - 18 -19 July -
14. Sr. Mary Brigid comes to the House of St. Francis -
15. Lord Kenya and Ahaiman Federation of Youth Groups -
16. Cape Coast 12-Step Progress -
17. Addictive Diseases Unit Korle Bu Hospital -
18. Narcotics Control Board -
19. Bolgatanga and Recovery -
20. Kumasi AA & NA -
21. "Super Oxford Houses" in Ghana?
22. House of St. Francis Women's Outpatient -
23. "Recovery Africa" and Hopeful Way Foundation -
24. FASD in Ghana -
25. Children of the Addicted -
26. AA & Al-Anon Books to Ghana -
27. Oxford House Convention 2013 in Washington, DC -


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Recovery Africa Supports Ghana

The future of Recovery Africa was discussed at a meeting held in Bethesda, Maryland on September 28, 2012. At present Recovery Africa is a group of people interested in furthering recovery in Ghana and other parts of Africa. It uses the Willingway Foundation as a way of collecting tax deductable donations. At the Bethesda meeting, about twenty persons gave their ideas about establishing RA as a 501(c)(3), becoming part of an already existing organization or continuing as we are. It was agreed that the collaboration with numerous bodies should continue. 

Oyarifa Oxford House

The Hopeful Way Oxford House located near Accra is maturing and currently has seven residents who run the house pretty much on their own. Over 30 persons have stayed in the House since it was opened June 20, 2009. Most of the residents did not find employment while at the house but worked on their recovery by participating in 12-step based programs in the house and by leading AA meetings in hospitals and the University of Ghana. An evaluation is currently being conducted to see how the House could be adjusted to better meet the recovery needs of Ghanaians who don’t have ready access to 12-step meetings. It is likely that a simplified version of Recovery Dynamics will be taught at the House by clients who have successfully completed three-month stays at the House of St. Francis. Another Big Book Study may also be conducted at the Oxford House in March. 

More from a Resident of House of St. Francis


1.       There’s a road to a river I must cross,

To get from this point of powerlessness

To that yonder point of POWER.

As I move on I may get lost or backtrack,

But there’s a bridge

 With 12 STEPS I must tread,

And step by step, day by day

It would get me there.

Don’t know why, don’t know when

But when I get there,

I will KNOW,

Because I’ll take it day by day,



2.        The road is rough and rugged,

Danger all along the way,

Rabid dogs lying in wait

But I won’t let my spirit fail me

Will strive to get to my destination

I’ll call on my Higher Power,

And take it day by day,



3.       I wont give up,

Keep on moving won’t stop

I may be hurting,

I may be bruised

But I won’t let the bad times get to me,

I’ll take it day by day



4.       I won’t give up,

Holding on to what I found in NA/AA

I’ll get to my destination.

Clinging on to my HIGHER POWER,

I’m going to take it day by day,

And make it there