The biggest takeaway that I got from our trip to Africa was to see the Ghanaian people in action. This is a group of people that are looking for any opportunity they can find, and are excited about even the prospects of opportunity. Unlike Americans who have all the opportunity in the world but often don’t do anything about it, the Ghanaian people don’t often have the opportunity, but they have the necessary spirit.
One incident that really took my breath away was from a group of 17-year-olds Ghanaian kids that we met our first night at Cape Coast (Slave Castle). They told us that they made bracelets, and that they could make the coolest bracelets for us, or our friends and family at home. Unfortunately, we told them we didn't have a lot of time left, as we were leaving at eight the next morning.
These kids came to our hotel at 8 am and asked us, “Where are you heading in Ghana?” My answer was “I don’t really know, but I think it’s called Asunafo and two other surrounding villages.” They said that they had never actually left their own village, but they had heard of Asunafo and that they would get there and find us to finish making the bracelets for us.
We knew that this was at least a four-hour bus ride, and we didn’t ever think we would see these kids again.
The next day we were settled into our hotel outside the villages where we were working, and that night we all went to dinner in the only restaurant in a 30-mile radius. Walking home in the pitch-dark, we saw two kids under the only street lamp in the village. They were busy weaving the bracelets that we had ordered four hours away in Cape Coast!
These kids hitchhiked and had taken five different car rides to get to where we were; they had left their village for the first time in their lives and found us in the middle of Ghana! We were blown away by their effort.
We ordered one bracelet after another and before you knew it, our group had ordered more than 300 bracelets from them. In the two days to follow, these kids finished making all 300 bracelets without sleeping. They were able to collect $1,500 (as much as some families make in a whole year) and they gave us the story of a lifetime. These children did whatever it took to seize the opportunity that had presented itself.
We laughed and said, “If half the current Viridian Associates were halfway as motivated as these kids, we’d have a million Viridian customers by now.” We called them the “Bracelet Boys of Ghana.”
On a more serious note, the actual duties that we performed in Ghana were life changing for me.
Preparing for the trip, I was very unsure of what we were really going to do over there; I had heard that we were going to install solar panels, but didn’t really know why or for what reason. In retrospect, I have to say that every single job we did was perfectly defined and had an immediate impact on their quality of life.
We were greeted by a village of people that were excited to see us, and at the time I had no idea that these people would teach me much more about sustainability then I would ever teach them. These people are already living a completely sustainable lifestyle; they live off the land, recycle anything they can find, help each other build huts and nothing goes to waste.
But what we were there to do was to make the quality of their lives just a little bit better. We left knowing that the kids are going to learn more and get educated with more books and light in their homes, which will in turn create an educated society for the children and future generations.
The solar panels we installed make it possible for the local clinic to have refrigeration working 365 days a year, with medicines fully stocked by the government and pharmaceutical companies. And having new books to read, and being able to read at night with nightlights powered by our efforts is truly life changing.
It’s ironic that in America, libraries are going out of business and people rarely use them anymore. But in Ghana, their new library will be the hottest place in town; there will be a line to get in.
It was truly amazing to be part of such a unique adventure, and to experience this with our Viridian family was just off the charts for me. I realized on this trip that Viridian is such an amazing company, and the good that we are doing and will continue to do for years to come will be part of the most satisfying career anyone could ever wish for. I always wanted to find a company that was worth working for and now I have. Every aspect of life is complete with my working with Viridian as a life-long partner.
It was, indeed, a once in a lifetime trip!
My name is Ed Kenny, and I am Generation V.