Long time readers may recall me writing about a trip I took to Ghana a couple of years back. I went there as part of the North Dakota National Guard’s State Partnership Program (SPP). The SPP partners the state National Guard agencies across the United States with other countries. North Dakota is partnered with Ghana.
In February 2009, I went to Ghana for a week to meet with the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) and one of the country’s major educational institutions – the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA). The purpose of my visit was to help the country start an emergency management educational program through a collaboration between NDSU, NADMO and GIMPA.
I have to tell you, the Ghanaians quickly became near and dear to my heart. I very much enjoyed my visit and the folks that I had the privilege to meet and work with. Shortly after my visit to Ghana, I made arrangements with the Emergency Management Institute in Maryland for a group of Ghanaians representing NADMO and GIMPA to attend FEMA’s Higher Education Conference in Emmitsburg, Maryland. All the folks that had an opportunity to meet and speak with the Ghanaian cohort at the conference found them to be delightful.
The Ghanaians are very gracious and charming people and their passion for implementing a strong emergency management program in their country is commendable. I have not had an opportunity to get back to Ghana since 2009, but my home and office are peppered with mementos of my trip there and I think of my Ghanaian friends often. I know they continue to toil tirelessly to create a safer and more resilient Ghana.
Given the above, you can imagine my glee when I received a message on my office phone from the North Dakota SPP liaison on Tuesday saying the Director of NADMO, Kofi Portuphy was in North Dakota and had requested that he be able to visit me and other representatives from our program on Thursday. A few phone calls later and we arranged for a small gathering today. Kofi was escorted to NDSU by Doug Friez, former Director of North Dakota Emergency Management and Major Brock Larson the North Dakota National Guard SPP liaison. Also visiting NDSU today with Kofi was Colonel Isaac Tetteh of the Ghanaian Military. It was a fabulous visit and an opportunity for the faculty and students who were able to attend to hear about the challenges and successes that Ghana has experienced. I know that our emergency management students from Somalia, Sudan and Ghana were particularly thrilled to be able to hear from Kofi and the Colonel about the state of emergency preparedness and democracy in not only West Africa, but also Africa generally.
Kofi gave me a beautiful kente cloth scarf which I will treasure. I gave him one of our NDSU Department of Emergency Management shirts so that he can carry back home with him a little piece of our program. It was a lovely visit and it truly made my day. Even though our time visiting was brief, I so enjoyed it.
Kofi hopes to be back in September and we hope to get him to speak at NDSU’s Emergency Preparedness Expo. I hope we can make the scheduling work on that as I think everyone can benefit from learning more about the country of Ghana and the heart and determination of its people. Until then I’ll just wear my scarf and hold tight to the part of Ghana that I hold in my heart.
Day six hundred and forty-seven of the new forty – obla di obla da