Diary & Travel Reports from the saddle
Ghana view on tsunami - 19th January 2005
Motorcycles may be used to help rebuild the health network in tsunami hit areas of Indonesia. Save the Children USA expressed interest in having Willy Bala, Director of Health for All (HfA), to conduct a needs assessment in the Province of Aceh. But he has to wait at least a week for approval because there are too many relief workers in the area. Next week he hopes to go to Jakarta for discussions before proceeding to the worst hit area at the north of Sumatra island. HfA currently enables sustainable delivery of primary health services for a population of 55,000 in Flores, at the other end of the massive island nation. Motorcycles play a central role in its success.
Willy asks for prayers during this forthcoming important and stressful work. Please support Willy's request asking firstly for God to open the way for his visit and then to guide his work for the best solution for the people living there. We have been with Willy since the beginning and already he has achieved international recognition for his abilities. But his greatest work is now so let's not let him down.
The high interest in the work of Health for All in the wake of the tsunami disaster shows how crucial is primary health care (women and children matters) for building strong communities. The development gurus who spend taxpayers' billions every year know it very well. But primary health has been ignored for decades because it does not make news headlines. Millions more across the developing world are denied basic health services, a human right enshrined in international law. With an international development budget of USD 100 Billion per year, there is enough money to provide health for all. Why does the situation continue to worsen? Because we have not demanded value for money, in the form of performance criteria and evaluation, from the aid industry.
I've been the last few weeks here in Ghana, one of the safest countries in Africa with very charming people. I spend New Year and the following week at the coast. I try narrow 'doors of no return' at corners of castles and forts used in the slave trade by the British, Dutch, Portuguese and Germans.
After hearing of the tsunami disaster I camp high up on the ramparts of a solid stone castle built in 1683 by the Prussians at Princess Town, towards the border with Ivory Coast. I look out through the coconut palms, beyond the rocks to the horizon. I imagine a huge tsunami rolling in, slowing, growing in height (surely it could not be taller than the castle, at about 30m elevation), crashing over the half moon beaches stretching kilometers in each direction, washing away the matchbox like town at the foot of the castle, converting once again into a huge wave as it meets the inland lagoon. I imagine the devastation in Indonesia.
Sumatra island, I had ridden through its lush jurassic park like scenery in August 2000, in awe at extinct volcanos and camping at crater lakes. Petrol was 8 cents (US) a litre and the forest was being raped by illegal loggers. Now I feel I should be doing something to help. Do they need motorcycles? Probably, because how will health services get through once the helicopters go home? Look at the state of the roads on TV. I'd better get to an internet cafe and speak again with Willy. In quicktime Willy establishes that what we offer is indeed needed.
Before heading north to Burkina Faso I have decided to change a few items on my bike here in the capitol Accra. The engine's sprag clutch and alternator need changing, and also the front brake disc. I am very grateful both to Rotax in Austria and to Talon Engineering in the UK for sending the parts.
Also big thanks to the Pink Hostel for a week's free B&B (www.pinkhostel.com), the Adeshie Hotel too (www.adeshiehotel.com) and all the Ghanaian businesses who are going to make a charitable donation! They are lead by Honda Mcs (Oversdeas Union Ltd) who have also offered two ST1100 (Ghanaian police bike) shock absorbers.
In any case the hamatan is blowing, the seasonal wind full of dust coming south from the Sahara Desert. It blocks the sun as well as my air filter. Perhaps the wind will lessen in a week or two when I am ready to ride north.
Don't forget Willy's important work,I'll keep you informed of progress.
All the best
Simon Milward, on the road
A solo fundraising round the world ride on a handmade motorcycle.
Supporting Doctors Without Borders, Motorcycle Outreach and democracy.
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