J.D. Lohr West Africa Woodworking School Project.
At first glance the 2008 photos above of woodworkers in Ghana may seem remarkable, even charming in the simplicity of hand work juxtaposed next to very respectable finished work on the right. However, the harsh reality for carpenters and woodworkers in West Africa is the tedium of dawn to dusk hours of hard work for sub-poverty wages. Tools are so limited in supply that it is nearly impossible for Ghana to value add anything to its lumber resources, that for the most part leave the country unprocessed. Additionally, the few wealthy people in West Africa tend to purchase their furniture from foreign sources for no other reason than its remarkably skilled, hardworking tradesman lack the tooling and technology to produce these finer goods that the wealthy demand. Mind you, it is not for lack of ability or work ethic that Ghana's tradesmen are so impoverished. It is a simple matter of proper training and a dependable source for the most basic woodworking tools that the rest of the world's woodworkers depend on. We can make a difference here.
This is a grassroots American international mission ignited by the passion and diligence of Jeffry & Linda Lohr in conjunction with our African emissary Abubakar Abdullai in Ghana. Although we started with a 3 man army of Spartan work ethic we have been fortunate to gather many other key people together to work as a group to move this worthwhile project forward. Since the projects inception, we have been joined by an ever growing number of volunteers and we have completed the arduous task of becoming our own 501C3 non-profit charity with offices in both the USA and Ghana. For the most up to date information regarding this philanthropic effort, please visit our NGO's formal web site at: http://www.moringacommunity.org/
Our mission is simple, we seek to create positive opportunities for a self-determined and sustainable trade schools in Ghana that will better the lives of many. Our mission is to establish a workable training center in West Africa and to provide equipment, tooling, machinery, and education services to this facility. We are very proud that our African village population of Bremen Baako, Ghana have fully vested themselves in this project through their own commitment, sacrifice, and personal labor to make this dream a reality. Our focus is on helping people help themselves, not just simple charity,
How we are giving feet to our ideals for positive change for Ghana.
With the financial support of American woodworking enthusiasts, students, patrons and personal friends of Jeffry and Linda Lohr, this action-based project for Ghana has already nearing completion of our Moringa Community Center being built on a 9 acre parcel of land in the village of Bako, Ghana, West Africa. For complete project details and to learn how you can lend a much needed hand of support please visit our organization's web site at:
The absolute principle and key to the success of this mission is Abubakar Abdullai, or "Abu" as we and his friends in Ghana call him.
Simply sending tools or canning supplies to Ghana without a carefully selected and qualified emissary to receive them and train others in their effective use would be futile. The progress such goods could foster for the receiving country would be squandered without such a person playing a key role. Abu and I have a considerable history of communication with one another and without his genuine zeal and heart felt dedication to the people of his country, our mission would quite frankly never have gained momentum. Please trust my judgment of the character, and integrity of Abubakar Abdullai. This project is as much his if not more so than it is mine and yours. We are blessed to have such a capable and dedicated person to enable our efforts to take root.
Through relentless dedication and effort, we have raised well over $25,000 for this project since the project's inception in the summer of 2008 and we have so much to show for what has been done with these hard won funds. We are quite proud that we have accomplished everything thus far in addition to funding Abu's international travel expenses and three months study in America on only a portion of the funds raised so far. Rest assured that any funds donated to our mission will be used effectively, frugally, and 100% legitimately for the sole purpose of our mission of sustainable and effective outreach to West Africa.
We are doing a great deal with this project but an important discovery we made as this project unfolds is that West Africa has no knowledge of simple home canning and food preservation.
Linda Lohr is developing this part of our outreach effort. This is huge and the more we research it, the more we realize that this can go a long way towards helping Ghanaians assure themselves of a reliable year-round food source.
Please visit our site again in the months to come to learn more about how our project and mission grows.
Key to this entire venture was Abubakar Abdullai's full scholarship to the J.D.Lohr School of Woodworking and three months of study in training in the USA under Jeffry Lohr and now, as a matter of further discovery and opportunity, Linda Lohr as well in food preservation education.
In total, my wife and I have welcomed Abu into our home for 12 weeks of work/study at my school and furniture studio here in Schwenksville, Pennsylvania, USA from April thru July 2008. I have taken it upon myself to do much of the heavy lifting on this project both professionally and as much financially as is within my means. However we are hopeful friends, patrons, professional peers, and students will join us to make this American International Aid project via woodworking and food preservation education more substantial than we alone can do on our own.
Background on my outreach to Ghana project:
In the months that have followed initial contact in Spring of 2007 from Abu, it became apparent that bringing him to America to take my Practical Woodworking Course would be very beneficial to him and his mission to help his fellow woodworkers in his own country learn ho to make a livable wage in the trade.
Public electricity is not available to everyone in Ghana. Most African woodworking shops that can afford to, need to rely on small generators for any power tool use. As a consequence, we had to design and work with the lower amperage typical hand held power tools to devise a production system that could best meet the needs of West African woodworkers and carpenters. What we developed is what we call Mr. Jeffry's third world woodworking machine system which we plan to house in the Moringa Community Center we are hopeful can be built in Ghana. The key to this effort is making this new system of work available to as many Ghanaians as possible. We have not yet refined exactly how we will do this but please come back and visit the site in the next few months and we fully expect to have a business model in place for how our goals will be accomplished.
All must remember that at this time, this is only a small group of people working hard to develop this project. Our only source of funding thus far are students and friends of the J.D. Lohr School of Woodworking in Pennsylvania USA and personal friends and acquaintances we have made to date. The effort here is enormous but we expect to be adding much needed volunteer staff to make this dream a reality in the years to come. Remember, we have only really begun the physical hands on part of this project on April 21, 2008. We have accomplished the lion's share of all you see here in only this short amount of time. Let us develop and nurture this project and come back in a few months and I think you will be amazed..
The people of Cape Coast are industrious hard working men and women. Many existing workshops are out in the open or under makeshift shelter. Tools are hard to come by and very prized possessions. The creation of a woodworking school for the young people of Cape Coast along with a modest supply of donated tools from America would do wonders for the health of this African community.
With a methodical approach and proper training, we can truly make a difference.
This is an enormous project, however, you eat an elephant the same way you eat a mouse. One bite at a time. Just as I started my own business from no funding and virturally nothing but a a makeshift workbench on sawhorses and just a few hand tools 33 years ago, I now have a thriving and successful business. Abu had the foresight and ambition to just start and despite my initially explaining to him it would be extremely difficult to bring him to study with me, Abu did not give up. His persistence was amazing. And despite many setbacks, as the pictures show, Abu is now here with us in America, undergoing the start of his training, and the realization of his, and our dream.
A project like this is monumental but with your help and mine we can accomplish this important mission one step at a time and lend a helpful American Hand to our African friends across the Atlantic. Here is your chance to really do some good that will last for just a modest donation. Give a man a fish you feed him for one day, teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a life.
I would like to thank http://www.hobotraveler.com for permission to use the Ghana Flag Image at left.