Linda, Jeff and Abu, Founders of The Moringa Community
This the remarkable story of an unlikely meeting and bonding between people of much different cultures and great geographic distances.
Through faith and trust, and endless persistence this partnership has become a godsend to many impoverished villagers in Ghana.
This wonderful story reminds us what we as mankind can achieve when we work together. http://www.dailygood.org/story/1115/moringa-community-using-an-innovative-woodworking-technology-to-build-hope-in-rural-ghana-rue-harrison-and-ralph-morini/
To update this wonderful story, by email I recently interviewed Jeff Lohr, and what follows is the Q and A:
1) How has this program touched lives in the U.S. and in Ghana?
To Americans that have supported the project, they've gotten the thrill of knowing they are enabling an effective grassroots organization. They also know their funds are very much needed, deeply appreciated and very thoughtfully and carefully applied. American donors have gotten the additional satisfaction of knowing that at minimum, $0.96 out of every single $1.00 donated to MoringaCommunity.Org was truly and specifically been used to fund the construction and operation of Moringa Community School of Trades in Ghana. None of the donor’s funds were used to pay the typical excessively costly salaries often associated with big scale corporate charitable organizations nor are any donated funds used to pay any third party fundraising company which many charities actually declare as a program expense.
What Ghanaians have gotten out of the program is hope and a platform to create a life for themselves that was not possible before.
How many of them have actually made that work beyond our own staff I don't have statistics on but skills the students learned at Moringa Community School of Trades (MCST) are transferable to many things in life. Canning for example, once you know how to do it you can do it the rest of your life. How to grow and process Moringa Oliefera is something that anyone can learn and benefit from. They can if they want strive to start a small business with this model, but they don't have to. They can simply use it to sustain themselves and their families if nothing else.
2) How many lives has it touched in 7 1/2 years and how many more might it touch?
MCST has trained 45 boys and 61 girls. Ages average 16 to 20 years old with a few younger and older than those years. We've had 35 staff members on and off with the school since the projects inception. So I'll put it this way: We've had 45+61+35= 141 directly affected and a lot more than that indirectly as Moringa Community Org Ghana sponsors many community public works projects. We have built bridges, fixed roads, repaired buildings all with volunteer local labor that we feed in exchange for the work. In rural Africa, you put open bowls of rice out on the back of a work truck; you get small armies of people showing up to work.
3) What magnitude of jobs has been created?
We have created at least 35 jobs as at any given time that is what it takes to run the school and compound. The reality is we just don't have the money to pay everyone so many we pay in food and other benefits. We have 11 paid employees on staff (teachers and key support staff) each paid between $80 to $150 US a month. That is a typical wage in Africa. Another thing most Americans don't comprehend. We do this all on fumes in way of funding. My wife and I kick in on average $5,000 a year out of our pocket just to keep the project afloat.
In answer to a subsequent question about the importance of food canning, Jeff replied:
Per my earlier email, attached is our proof of life photo documentation of our canning initiative in Ghana. Please research canning in West Africa on your own. I am confident you will find our program has been more successful than any other initiative you will find. I would love to think there is another initiative that has been more successful than MoringaCommunity.Org but to my knowledge there are none. Canning is an enormously practical approach to food security for West Africa. Canning is a very practical, low tech approach to helping carry the rural population from the abundant time of harvest though the harsh season where so many live on nothing but cassava for months on end for lack of any other source of nutrition.
I believe it quite impressive that we've been able to do so much on so very little. In the end though, the reality and the tangibility of the project I can really only credit to our Ghanaian organization founding partner Abubakar Abdulai (Abu) for making it all possible. Abu works tirelessly. He is a born leader of men and he was single handedly responsible for organizing scores of volunteer labor within the remote district that our project serves to do all clearing of the land, building our bridges, and doing all the construction for the entire school compound. There is quite a story there in and of itself.