RE:Pieces published

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Despite my trepidations about having a photo taken of me for the Daily Guide here in Accra (that made me look like a wannabe blonder version of Christiane Amanpour), I was encouraged by Jefferson Sackey ( the reporter for the show I work on, and well known around the nation) to have a professional photo appearing on his International Page and I heeded the advisory. The earring in the top of my ear is not to be confused with a crystal colored ear piece, it was simple an oversight on my part, and the photo was taken at 7am. My only after thought is that earring is the earth and my ear orbits around it- it’s massive and needs to be killed before it spreads. Anyways onwards to my JHR blog posting
” Think of the poor areas in Accra like a scab, if you pick it and leave it open, dirt will settle there and it will become infected, the entire limb might then become infected, and then you need to cut it off.”

– Ato Kwamena Dadzie , Acting News Director and recently charged journalist of Joy FM, Accra, Ghana

I have become a self-confessed groupie of Ato’s, I like his penchant for all things that push the envelope, and he does it with a smile ( http://www.atokd.com/)

Since then I have paid attention to these rarely reported “scabs.” I have been asked by my outlet ( Critical TV/ TV Africa) to submit a weekly International Report for Jefferson Sackey to the Daily Guide . Sackey’s pieces are often featured in the Guide, another newspaper JHR is working with.

Recently a massive flood waterlogged the Ashaiman and Agona Swedru region of Accra. The 40 deaths the flood took were about the only facts reported. Since the July floods thousands have been left homeless, food-less and helpless. Speaking on Joy Fm ( http://www.myjoyonline.com/), the MP for the area spoke angrily about how the National Disaster Relief Fund did a ” walk through” of the area, and nothing more. Since then she feels her people have been left with nothing but a tearful spiel from the president and she let it all out on air ( see audio clip Ghana News-JOy FM-Audio report -NADMO official almost slapped MP in a hot row Besides this clip being grossly entertaining it contains a message, the local ” scabs” in these flooded river communities come second, and the image of Ghana in the international community comes first.

Haiti- Six Months On…

Ghana’s Financial Arm Reaches Out, Instead of In

Haiti is ranked 148th of 179 countries on the United Nations Development Program Human Development Index -Ghana ranks 138th. Still 6 month’s ago Ghana contributed 3 million dollars towards earthquake relief in Hait. Six months later Ghana faces a humanitarian issue of its own.

The January earthquake that ruptured the already weakened country of Haiti unquestionably brought the country to its knees. Six months later the struggle ensues, despite billions of dollars of aid flowing in.

Ghana has played a part in the relief efforts while in the midst of a crisis of its own and this provokes interesting conversation among communities in Accra.

When Haiti called out for help the world answered. To this date the international community has pledged $5.3 billion in aid funds for the next 18 months to earthquake relief. Ghana answered, with a 3-million dollar contribution from the Mills government which left many Ghanaians scratching their heads- more so now in the wake of recent floods where no financial aid can be offered.

Six months almost to the date of the Haiti Earthquakes the people of Ashaiman and Agona Swedru suffered a disaster of their own when heavy rains caused major floods that overwhelmed the already poor drainage systems in the area. Forty people lost their lives in the floods and thousands more have been left homeless.

“It doesn’t make sense,” says 28- year old IT specialist Makafui Agbotta. He is one of a few Ghanaians confused by The Mill’s government’s stealthy donation to Haiti and non-existent contribution to flood efforts. Some might even argue that countries already considered to be third world themselves need not contribute to disaster funds outside of their own. This Ghanaian government appeared to have more than enough funds to give out as foreign aid, but nothing has been offered to flood victims here. The government cites there are no available funds.

“I know the government wanted to contribute to Haiti for humanitarian reasons,”Agbotta says with pity in his eyes, “but really they had nothing to gain…flood victims here have everything to lose- we are a developing country, we go for loans, so we shouldn’t have money to be donating, that’s more for the wealthier nations to fret about.”

Agbotta laughs, “If we were as rich as Donald Trump or Bill Gates, we could donate, but we’re not, we need the money as much as Haiti does really.”

The devastation in Haiti does not compare to that of floods in Ashaiman and Agona Swedru, much of Haiti’s capitol has been reduced to rubble. Still, foreign aid groups swell the streets and ghettos of Port au Prince; their engines run on contributions from wealthy nations in a position to help. A study by the Inter-American Development Bank estimated that the cost of “fixing” Haiti could be between $7.2 billion to $13.2 billion, based on a death toll of 300,000. Thousands of new amputees face the stark reality of living with disabilities in a country whose terrain and culture have never been hospitable to the disabled. In six months only 28,000 of the 1.5 million Haitians displaced by the earthquake have moved into new homes, and the Port-au-Prince area remains an example of life in ruins. This is hardly comparable to the damage done by floods here in Ghana.

Still, the U.S has committed $1.15 billion on top of the more than $900 million already spent by the international community.

One thing Haiti does have is the support of the international community and a continued commitment to its thriving in the aftermath of its tragedy. The flood victims here in Ghana have no promises from this government or the international community.

Earlier this month Joy Fm hosted a panel discussion with the MP for Tama West, the area affected by floods. Irene Addo Torshie tersely argued the National Disaster Management Organization had minimal resources to offer victims of the floods and she was appalled at the lack of attention paid to Tama West by government officials. The movement of three million dollars out of Ghana and into Haiti raises concern that Ghana as a developing nation might not need to extend the arm of charity when its own people suffer irrecoverably in the wake of the floods.

In Haiti Relief Agencies are working directly with hands-on mayors in metropolitan Port-au-Prince to ensure housing becomes available for the displaced and homeless. Six months later it seems it’s one small step ahead for Haiti, and one big step behind for the people of Ashaiman and Agona Swedru in as many months- to this date no homes have been rebuilt and little aid is making its way in. That 3 million sure would come in handy.

Be sure to catch Jefferson Sackey’s International Assignment next Tuesday at 9pm. For viewers in Ghana, it’s on TV Africa and SKYY Digital. Direct from Toronto, Canada, Jefferson Sackey will be conducting various interviews with key reporters on the ground in Haiti on progress made so far. He is the guest speaker tomorrow at the Human Rights Documentary Festival in Toronto.

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