November 9th: After the 10 hour flight, I landed safely in Accra, Ghana yesterday
Today, we turn months of ideas and conversations into reality.
When I arrived in Ghana yesterday after an overnight flight, Empower Playgrounds’
Founder Ben Markham, met me at the airport. We set off directly to his “shop” in the suburbs of Accra. While the sights, sounds and smells of developing countries are familiar to me from visiting other parts of the world, I sensed an entirely new cultural experience here.
“Developing” is an apropos term for Ghana. For example, there is half-finished construction everywhere and many of the roads are made of dirt — except for a four-lane highway now in the works that connects the east and west sides of Accra. The two to three mile trip took us more than 20 minutes because the future highway is still an unorganized mix of merging traffic, road construction, and street vendors. The divisions of labor and traffic aren’t all that clear. But we arrived safely nonetheless.
Ben’s shop is actually a repurposed family home, owned by his partner and friend, Kweku Anno. Kweku is Ben’s on-the-ground engineering expert. When we arrived, one of our whirl kits was set up outside the house and undergoing testing for our first installation. I quickly realized that the whirls are one of many projects that Kweku – a brilliant inventor – has undertaken to address the myriad societal needs of Ghana.
Most homes do not have electricity (that’s why we’re here!), plumbing, or sewage treatment capabilities. Besides the obvious drawbacks, the lack of facilities poses tremendous health issues for these rural communities. Kweku developed a self-contained septic system that can solve the problem. While I was there, his team in the shop was busy working on the 10 orders needed for delivery that day. Sourcing healthy foods is also an area of focus for Kweku. We later toured his tilapia fish farm, complete with an automated flycatcher to feed the fish, and a botanical filter. The farm holds about 300 fish in a 15-foot wide concrete tank. To see firsthand how basic the needs are in this part of the world is a humbling experience, to say the least.
After taking a few photos with the whirls, we packed up and headed for the hotel in great anticipation of the experience that lies ahead later today.
Today we bring play and light to Ghana.