Monday, January 20, 2014

"...and we will go to Wa."

Those six words appeared in an email from Dr Eugene Dordoye. My first thought was "where?" and thanks to Google Earth I soon discovered where it was located. In my previous three trips I had never made it out of the Accra region so experiencing a new part of Ghana was something that I was excited to see on my agenda.

 The trip was to be an overnight adventure. The bus station was busy and crowded with several buses waiting to load passengers for the 10 hour or so journey. Loud music was coming over the speakers of the bus as we began the journey and I had two questions going through my mind. (1) I wonder what Wa will be like? (It was great!) (2) I wonder when they will turn down the music? (NEVER!)  :-)

 We arrived in Wa and after a quick check in at our motel we started our busy day. Our first start was at a special clinic that my new friend Randy who lives in Wa had arranged. A special clinic had been set up to take advantage of the wisdom and expertise of Dr. Dordoye. While I mainly observed these visits many who attended displayed the typical signs of addiction and to each of them we would say "come back here tomorrow. We are going to have a meeting that can help you". 

 The meeting of course was a 12 step meeting and I was excited and surprised to discover that many of the people we invited returned for the meeting. Father Damien (a Catholic priest from France who is currently ministering in Wa), Dr. Dordoye and I met with this group and gave an introduction to  AA meetings to them. We shared with them that this program has been around for a long time and that many  people have stopped drinking as a result of the program. A mini meeting was held and some sharing occurred.  It was a very positive time and as we closed the meeting they were reminded to come back again and that these meetings and this help was being offered to them FREE.  It is a good work that is happening there. Father Damien has a lot of work ahead of him as he tries to introduce and grow recovery in Ghana but he is eager and willing to share what he has and I am sure he would welcome your prayers and support.

 Another highlight for me was a panel interview that we took part in at the campus radio station. As we shared with the listeners that addiction is a disease and that recovery was possible the host asked one of us "what should be done with these people?" I smiled as Randy looked back at her and politely asked "what do you mean these people?". As she explained she was talking about those who drink too much or use drugs Randy calmly and kindly explained that "there are no "these people" and that alcoholics and drug addicts are just like you and me. He gently challenged the notion that they were crazy or demon possessed and repeated our message that while addiction is a disease recovery is possible and that all of our communities can be part of the solution.

 We also had the opportunity to have educational sessions with nurses and medical students. Dr. Dordoye spoke on the biological nature of addiction and Father Damien and I shared about some basic 12 step principles.

 f you are ever fortunate enough to hear the words "we're going to Wa", rest assured that you are going to a great place. It is a place that has some incredible people who are working hard to bring experience, strength and hope to their community.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Recovery in Cape Coast

Two and a half hours West of Accra you will find Cape Coast Ghana. Well known for its famous slave castle, for me it will also be remembered as home to a growing recovery community.

 My first stops with Dr. Eugene Dordoye was Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital where an AA meeting was held. The twelve steps is still a new concept in Ghana and for many gathered in the circle this was the first they had heard of it. Some spoke with surprising openness and other with great hesitation and reluctance but the seeds are being planted and I am confident that as this group grows we will see lives changed.

While in Cape Coast we also had the pleasure of spending time with Sister Rosette and a recovery community she has developed. This was a real treat! We met with this group of six or so for two days. It was obvious that they had done a lot of work on recovery. People shared their stories and each reported several months of sobriety. "Me" had turned to "we" and they genuinely seemed to care for and support each other. One day was spent together in a conference and this is where the work they had done as a community became apparent. Instead of the reluctance that is often experienced in the company of strangers the men and women in the circle shared openly with each other. They were able to speak about where they were and where they are now and to offer encouragement to each other. While still early in their recovery it was obvious that a foundation had been laid and that those in attendance had genuine hope for their future.

While Sister Rosette's group was one that provided a lot of encouragement it was also one that provided the greatest concern. Sister Rosette was a visitor to the country and had received word that very soon the church was sending her home. "What will happen to this group when the sister leaves?" is a question that bothered me then and "what has happened?" is a question I continue to ask. While I have specific concern for this group I think the question "what will happen?" is a general one for recovery in Ghana and that the question emphasis the importance of our support to this growing but fragile work.

Maybe the better question is What will I do? What will you do? What can WE do to continue to support and grow recovery in Ghana?
Submitted by
Mark Webb

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Recovery Africa Planning Session & Dinner March 20, 2014

See below the invitation to our fundraising dinner.  If possible, please join us.  A planning meeting will take place on the same day form 2:00 - 5:00 p.m. to continue the process of registering Recovery Africa as a 501(c)(3).  We will keep you up to date on developments.  The draft vision and mission statements are as follows (comments please):

Draft Mission Statement

 To assist Ghana and other African countries develop organizations that effectively address addiction to alcohol and drugs by developing prevention, treatment and recovery programs which lead to meaningful and productive lives. 

 Draft Vision Statement

 Recovery Africa will become an innovative developer of evidence based services which assist Africans to prevent and overcome substance abuse and to live productive lives.  People in recovery in Africa and North America will mutually enhance their recoveries by exchanging experiences. 


March 20, 2014
Recovery Africa
Fundraising Dinner
Time:      6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Venue:    Rock Creek Mansion
                 5417 Cedar Lane, Bethesda, MD
Price:       $100.00
More Information: Dan O’Laughlin
Tel:     301-986-4983
            202-255-5886 (Cell)