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Partnership with Journey to Solidarity

Following the Hardt…

The team at HardtHaven
The team at HardtHaven

The last weekend in Ghana, proved to be one of the most moving and potentially positive with respect to a future J2S location. The destination is a small town called Kpando, which is about a 4 hours drive north out of the streets of Accra through lush green African bush and rolling hills. The reason we were travelling to Kpando was because a good friend of mine from Iowa, Jess Crawford, had spent time there volunteering at an orphanage called HardtHaven.

Jess has been to Hardt Haven several times, and she, like me, was also getting ready to depart from Ghana, so she really wanted to say ‘goodbye’ to all the children. What she didn’t know was that she was also making an introduction to Journey to Solidarity and that as a team we live to ‘lovemark’ children. Joining us on the trip was a regular patient and friend of mine Mari Lise and the always-dependable Dr. Hunter.

Baby Christopher. This guy is a tank and the largest Ghanian baby, perhaps ever!
Baby Christopher. This guy is a
tank and the largest Ghanian
baby, perhaps ever!

Reasons vary for why children in Ghana become orphaned. Some are orphans because they are born with HIV/AIDS, and when the parents find out, they are essentially abandoned. This goes back to the idea that children born in Africa with a mental or physical illness are essentially outcasts.

This is not the case with everyone though, and there are some children who are loved by their parents regardless of their birth abnormalities. Other children become orphans because many parents in Africa die early from AIDS and leave children homeless. For whatever reason, the many children that end up orphaned in Ghana become part of a statistic. There are 1.1 million orphans in Ghana and with a population of just over twenty million that means that somewhere around 5% of the population exists as orphans. The message: There is a great need in Ghana for loving people with big hearts. One such person is Joy Hardt who started the HardtHaven orphanage.

Dr. Hunter at work. Dr. Jay and Sonjelle in the background. Notice the village children peering through the fence
Dr. Hunter at work. Dr. Jay and Sonjelle in the
background. Notice the village children peering
through the fence

HardtHaven is a small orphanage dedicated to improving the health and lives of Ghanaian children afflicted with HIV/AIDS. In Ghana it is estimated that over 17,000 children are born and living with the infection. It is commonly thought that because of the infection, these children are living out a death sentence. However, antiretroviral treatment in combination with modern sanitation and nutrition has demonstrated that a percentage of these children can, and do, live a normal, healthy, HIV/AIDS free life. I am no expert on HIV/AIDS, but I do know that if there is a real chance for children to escape this normally deadly disease, well then I should do everything in my power to give these children that chance. As a team, we at J2S are afforded this chance.

The first opportunity to make a difference to these children came this weekend at HardtHaven, where there are 20 children between the ages of one and 16 living. All the children are native to the Kpando/East Volta region.

Blowing bubbles at HardtHaven
Blowing bubbles at HardtHaven

When we showed up as a team, we were just trying to help in some small way: Christina and I adjusting the children; Mari Lise and Jess playing ball and blowing bubbles with the younger children and the other volunteers playing referee and learning about a nervous system free of interference. The bright and powerful Ghanaian sun stopped nobody as Frisbees and smiles flew with little regard to whom or where they were thrown. It was altogether wonderful and to make it just a little better, everyone received the power of the adjustment.

Baby Wisdom cruising Kpando floors. Heart this little one!
Baby Wisdom cruising Kpando
floors. Heart this little one!

At the end of the day when we headed back to Accra, we left with a sense of accomplishment and sadness. There was the feeling of accomplishment and happiness that we were able to make the lives a little bit better for two dozen wonderful, vibrant children; at the same time we were all a little sad that we couldn’t help out a little more. This sadness was temporary; the director of HardtHaven, Sonjelle, called later in the day and told us that for the first time in his short life, little baby Wisdom had taken solid food. This response was much in the same way that (if you have been following previous logs) Annabelle had responded to her first adjustment or Harriett when she started playing with young children again. It’s great when you can make a difference to children at the moment, but when you know for certain that your gifts transcend time and space, you can’t help but smile a little wider and become a bit more driven to make a difference.

Sojelle at HardtHaven with some of the young Children
Sojelle at HardtHaven with some of the young
Children

The relationship with HardtHaven is young but very promising. Interestingly enough, two days after we returned to Accra I had a flash that in the future I could live nearby and provide care for the children and know how their bodies and immune systems respond to consistent and specific Chiropractic care. Literally within the hour my phone rang, and it was Sonjelle calling from HardtHaven. She said that she was speaking with the other Director, Edem (who is also a native Ghanaian) about how to get care provided on a regular basis. Coincidence? I think not. The world is deeply connected and here is yet another perfect example of how it works.

Currently we are looking at logistics to bringing Chiropractic care to HardtHaven and are open to suggestions and doctors with big hearts. There is certainly going to be a return trip to Ghana but exactly how and when is uncertain. I return home to the good old US of A this week and am excited to see how the universe responds to all our requests.

http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/ghana_statistics.htm for info on the Ghana HIV/AIDS and orphanage data.

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The Journey Continues

Isreal at HardtHaven in May 2009
Isreal at HardtHaven in May 2009

After spending the North American winter in balmy Ghana, we learned a great deal about what it takes to operate a Non-profit Organization in Africa. At any one time, Dr. Breitlow was facing cultural boundaries, language barriers, organizational challenges and the ever-present question: “What’s next?” What was very clear from the start is that the language and cultural barrier existed only to be broken down by a friendly smile and “whoo hootesen” (Ghanaian for hello, how are you). The people were always so wonderful and helpful that we may have been brothers and/or sisters our entire mortal lives. What was more challenging was giving flight to a new, fledging organization, bringing our resources to the people while using our funds wisely and diligently.

Many hours were spent meditating on different ideas. Hundreds of hands were pressed looking for the “right” opportunity. Board meetings proceeded looking for new locations and countries. Finally, in the last fortnight of J2S’s time in Ghana, the missing puzzle piece slid expertly into place and an exciting, nascent partnership with HardtHaven Children’s home was born. If you missed the read, you may catch the June 1st post by clicking here. In short it was a marvelous opportunity and symbiotic for not just HardtHaven and J2S, but also for the children, volunteers and doctors who were present. Since the departure from Ghana a few weeks ago, much has transpired to bring J2S, Chiropractic and wellness to Ghana. Without further ado here is where the flight appears to be en route.

With unanimous and animated board approval in hand, Journey to Solidarity is headed back to Ghana.

Kpando is located near the city of Ho. Dist via Wikipedia GNU image license
Kpando is located near the city of Ho. Dist
via Wikipedia GNU image license

In the beginning most of the adjusting and networking was done in Southern Ghana in the capital city of Accra. “Round two” in Ghana will touchdown in Kpando at the HardtHaven (HH) children’s orphanage, where an overwhelming majority of the orphaned children are born with HIV/AIDS.

Kpando is situated between the eastern shores of Lake Volta and the Western border of neighboring Togo. The East Volta region is known for its remote location, its rugged yet lush terrain and friendly, neighborly people. It is also one of the poorest and most undeveloped parts of Ghana and West Africa. To say there is a need for healthcare, education and infrastructure is a gross understatement.

The GOAL

Journey to Solidarity, in partnership with HardtHaven children’s home, has a vision for one doctor to reside permanently within the HardtHaven facility; thus, providing primary Chiropractic care, health, hygiene and education to nearly 30 sponsored orphans, dozens of HIV+ adults and thousands of local non HIV+ Ghanaians. The doctor, while providing the tools necessary to break the cycle of poverty and perhaps HIV/AIDS, will simultaneously begin gathering data for case study research.

The research is for “case study” publishing – focusing on tracking HIV+ children’s “CD4 counts.” CD4 counts are the primary measurable statistic to measure the health of the immune system, and this new partnership proposes to monitor how it changes once under consistent Chiropractic care. A CD4 count acts as a translucent window into the body’s immune system, and if you are not a Chiropractor reading this, you may not know how strong the neuroimmune response is in humans.

Jessica, a regular Volunteer at HardtHaven, introduced J2S to the Kpando area
Jessica, a regular Volunteer at HardtHaven,
introduced J2S to the Kpando area

There is something that is inherent in each of us called the neuroimmune system. This is exactly what it sounds like, a relationship between your nervous system and your immune system. When these two systems talk to each other and communicate properly, the body is in better position to win battles against micro-organisms. When the conversation is weak or interrupted, that is when trouble occurs. Just think of a conversation on the telephone. If you schedule a meeting for 1:30 on the phone, but the other person hears 2:30, that potentially affects the results of the meeting, and perhaps the remainder of your week. Your body is no different, and as specialists in the nervous system, chiropractors make sure that the neroimmune system is clearly communicating.

Does HIV/AIDS affect the immune system? You betcha. Does the nervous system affect the immune system? You betcha. Will chiropractic give young children born with HIV a chance to live a life of more optimal potential? This we will find out.

We need Help

We are officially a 501(c)(3) public non-profit charity; therefore, your contributions to J2S are tax deductible to the extent allowed by the Internal Revenue Service. Even though we at J2S have submitted a grant proposal to help offset some of the costs of this project, there is always more work to be done. There are a total of three doctors who are prospectively involved in the project, Dr. Jay Breitlow, Dr. Christina Hunter and an as of yet unnamed Chiropractor.

J2S needs to fund anti-retroviral treatment therapy for the children as well as testing kits and first aid. HardtHaven is running out of room and to that end are aggressively expanding the house, so there is a need to provide housing for the doctors as well. Past experience shows that the children respond very well once given protein supplementation; therefore, there is a desire to provide whey and soy based protein drinks from America. Communication is key, and although limited, we need money to provide updates to our donors and grant providers back in America

Please be generous with your gifts and know that it is going to a worthy cause; it is changing lives. Today your gift, irrespective of size, will traverse an ocean and last beyond this lifetime.