‘Road To Africa’ Leads To Global Understanding

Published 5:07 pm Tuesday, June 9, 2015

FARMVILLE — Nine years ago Farmville physician Dr. Kwabena Donkor held his first “Road to Africa” event to raise funds for a clinic in rural Ghana, Africa. He knew this road trip would be long; it is, in fact, still under way. Recently, a local business donated a number of used computers, and another Farmville business, Kinex Telecom, donated both time and materials to refurbish them.

The most recent donation is yet another example of the giving nature of the Farmville community.

Donkor received his medical degree from the University of Ghana Medical School and completed his residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in pulmonary disease at Tulane University. He established his medical practice in Farmville in 1992.

Donkor, who grew up in rural Ghana, first proposed his plan to build a clinic there in 2006.

“I have lived with and witnessed the human misery that diseases inflict on individuals in developing countries,” he said. “The only thing I know worth doing is to contribute what I can to improve the situation.”

Donkor cited the case of a man in Ghana who fell out of a tree and broke his leg.

“He was unable to farm, fish or hunt, and his family of five was struggling,” Donkor added.

The first “Road to Africa” fundraiser was held at Longwood University in the fall of 2006.

“I remember that first benefit,” Donkor recalled. “In one night we raised over $10,000. That’s one thing I will never forget — how the people in Farmville have come through to help.”

Over the years more fundraisers were held, both locally and in other locations, and in January 2013 the Ama Nyame Memorial Medical Clinic officially opened.

The clinic staff included Dr. LaDonna Regier, who left her medical practice in Kansas to become Donkor’s chief of staff in Ghana, a local doctor from Ghana who worked part-time, three nurses and a nurse midwife.

“We offer all types of medical treatment depending on resources,” Donkor explained.

At that time, an ambulance was a big item on Donkor’s wish list.

Coincidentally, one of the patients in his Farmville clinic asked, “What’s the most pressing need for your clinic in Ghana?”

Without hesitation Donkor answered — an ambulance!

The next day the patient called Bill Hogan, president of the Prince Edward Volunteer Rescue Squad, to inquire about the possibility of acquiring an ambulance.

Hogan answered, “We have a 1995 Chevy four-wheel drive ambulance that we aren’t using very much. We were thinking of selling it because we’re going to buy a new one. Make us an offer!”

An offer was made and accepted.

Donkor had his ambulance.

A Farmville-area mission team under the leadership of Clinton Dalton provided more help. His group has traveled to Africa on three occasions to assist with clinic construction.

Currently the clinic staff has grown to include Dr. Regier, the part-time local doctor, six nurses and a lab tech.

“Since January when I was there, we have a lab to do basic lab tests,” Donkor said.

“If you asked me today what is the most urgent need I would say a tar road,” he added. “During the rainy season the patients don’t come because they can’t.”

The road to the clinic, about 150 yards in length, needs some type of surface other than mud.

“One of these days it will all come together,” Donkor said.

He envisions a time when medical students from the Farmville area will intern at the clinic in Ghana.

“There’s plenty of opportunity for helping and also learning,” he said. “Global medicine — that’s what this is all about.”

There is little doubt that Donkor’s vision has broadened this community’s view.

The “Road to Africa,” in fact, is well on the way to becoming a two-way street.

The Ama Nyame Memorial Medical Clinic (a 501c3 non-profit) continues to welcome donations of money and building materials. For further information contact Dr. Donkor at 392-7859.