Visiting with Future of Africa (FoA)

October 1, 2023

I first heard about the Future of Africa (FoA) organization from a friend who was working to fight slavery on Lake Volta in Ghana. When he heard that I was going to be in Accra, Ghana, he recommended I get in touch with TK, the director of FoA. TK was driving home in Accra when he encountered a boy lying on the ground. After driving past, he realized that this was a moment when someone needed help; he could possibly provide help, and to walk away was not only callous but also wrong. (How many of us have seen the same and kept on driving?) The rest is history; he just kept on learning, helping, and learning more so he could help more. Eventually, Future of Africa was born with the mission to “mentor youth to cultivate the hope, character, and skills to break the cycle of extreme poverty in Africa.”

TK picked us up and drove us to a safe house for teenage girls, enabling them to transition from living on the street to their new journey of transformation. Here, in this home, there were 12 young women and two children living in a single room but with additional rooms for cooking, congregating, and the offices of FoA. It is interesting that youth frequently don’t stay the first time you take them off the street. It takes multiple times before they realize that the structure and safety really are better than living in the street. (I can confirm this is true from my time working with street children in Maputo, Mozambique.)

In the evening, we went to the Kantamanto Market, near the Ashiedu Keteke Metro Station. There, we walked deep into the market, found the youth that FoA is familiar with, and invited them to come out for food and conversation. FoA comes every Sunday night to the market to meet with the homeless youth there and establish connections, trust, and relationships. In addition, they invite the youth out to the FoA center on Wednesdays. It is based on this mutual trust that FoA will, in time, invite the youth to come live in the refuge of an FoA home.

During the outreach, I spent most of my time talking with this woman, Faith, and playing with her daughter, Precious. Faith is in her early 20s and lives at the market, selling cooked plantains. You wonder what she ran away from such that she still chooses to live here with her daughter. Having walked through the alleys to find the youth, this is not a safe place to spend a night. There are drugs, pimps, and a social hierarchy that makes the weak submissive to the strong. I’m still disturbed by the story of how a guy might force himself on a sleeping girl there. Argh!

This is a very brief summary of our visit with FoA. I was so grateful for our delay in Accra because it afforded us the opportunity to participate in the market outreach. Even with that, we only scratched the surface of all that they were doing. Regardless, I was impressed and will discuss with Elisabeth adding FoA to our philanthropic portfolio this year.

Here are some of the qualities that impressed me about FoA:

  • After the market outreach, they debriefed with the staff and volunteers, both on personal impact and reviewing the impact on the situations of the youth we were reaching. This was a training opportunity for the staff and volunteers, a review of the youth and where they are at in their journey, and an opportunity to raise any urgent issues the youth may be experiencing. The sincerity and consistency of FoA are key factors in building trust with the youth. A retrospective like this indicates value is placed on improving.
  • TK is making significant sacrifices both for himself and his family. He could return to Canada or the US and build his career. Instead, he is taking a minimal income and sacrificing an established career to fight extreme poverty in Accra.
  • The organization is frugal.
  • There are very few organizations working with the Accra inner-city youth. FoA is, therefore, clearly filling a huge need here.
  • I really like the stage approach to helping the youth. You can read more about it here. I think they are on the right track with this.
  • They were aware that success for them is still undefined. This work is hard. Youth will go back to the street. There will be heart wrenching events in the lives of these youth. Some youth will go on to find jobs. Some will experience extreme abuse. Defining success across the various stages is difficult.
  • Seemingly, the wealthy in Ghana just don’t care about those in poverty. Not only that, but churches aren’t stepping up either.1 To change the culture, FoA is going to the university to provide training and then volunteer opportunities for students. In so doing, they are growing the hearts of the next generation of adults to love the poor. Students have an opportunity to interact with those experiencing extreme poverty and empathize with impoverished lives firsthand. This raises a generation of Ghanaian leaders who care.
  • Not everything is perfect, but they are doing something, and it is making a positive impact on many youth.

In summary, I was impressed with the organization and will look to support them this year.


Check out the Future of Africa website and consider supporting them. They are making an impact in a place where few other organizations are at work. Donating or volunteering to this organization will change people’s lives for the better.

1. I was disappointed to learn that TK couldn’t get the church to step up and help. There is lots of church-service advertising along the roads. Unfortunately, it is advertising that seems to focus more on establishing a name for the preacher and increasing income for the church. Please forgive my synoecism, but what I could observe from the outside was not a Ghanaian church focused on the downtrodden, but rather the church of the preacher focused on wealth accumulation.

Sawla School and Hotel

September 28, 2023

We specifically drove to the northern half of Ghana to visit the town of Sawla where we could visit both the Sawla School and the Sawla Hotel. IntelliTect began sponsoring the work of the International Assistant Program (IAP) organization back in 2012 with the building of a home for children. Once it was completed and running, the sponsorship transitioned to building a hotel where the kids could then work in order for the home to become self-sustaining. The hotel completion coincided with the completion of paving the main road to Sawla, thereby increasing traffic, especially traffic headed for the game park 1 hour further north. The end result was that IAP no longer requested our sponsorship; the program was essentially self-sufficient. In the non-profit world, this is a very rare occurrence, and Elisabeth and I were excited to have been part of the effort.

Somewhere along the way, the Ghanaian government requested that all child homes (like the Sawla Home) be closed and children get transitioned back into homes within the community. (This is consistent with the UN recommendation to care for orphans but general guidelines applied universally is likely to be problematic.) Unfortunately, this was not great for all the children, as now some of them were vulnerable in the same homes they previously left because they were unsafe. Regardless, rather than abandoning the community, IAP saw it as an opportunity to pivot. They transformed the home into a school for the community. They essentially built one classroom per year, so now they have a creche/nursery, two years of kindergarten, and primary school grades 1-3. There are 30 students in each class, for a total of 240 students. The numbers are in stark contrast to public schools, which generally number over 100 children per classroom, if not significantly more. And, as you can see in the photos, another classroom is under construction, having been completed by the time I wrote up this post.

During our stay in Sawla, our host, Moses, also took us to see some water wells that IAP had built. They noticed how people in the community had to walk a significant distance, frequently to the hotel, in order to obtain water. While they didn’t mind the visit, they built a couple community wells so that the women (yes, the women are generally the ones collecting the water) wouldn’t have to walk so far carrying the water. We already heard the gratitude of the chief for the first well yesterday. For the second well, seeing it in use by these women (I love the smiles) was a blessing.

I was impressed that the focus was on the wells, not the well-builders. IAP didn’t mount a plaque declaring the water well was built by Christians for a Muslim community or such. It was a water well, and that is enough.

While the work of IAP in the Sawla community is amazing, it isn’t all ideal. I share this because I strongly believe that philanthropy is like an investment. Sometimes investments yield 100 fold or more; sometimes they struggle; and sometimes they fail. Any organization, especially one working in Africa where stuff inevitably happens, gains more credibility when they share the good and the bad. Here are a few examples: After the hotel, IAP attempted farming to supply food for the hotel along with additional jobs for the children living in the home. (Toward this effort, we sponsored the purchase of a tractor.) Unfortunately, the economics didn’t pan out, and they couldn’t make the farm profitable. In addition, they started a bakery. I was excited to hear how this was going since occasionally we have been unable to find bread along our journey, and I thought a bakery would make a great small business in the community. While the bakery is still running and we enjoyed eating the fresh bread during our stay, it isn’t profitable. Inflation throughout Africa is a major problem. (In Ghana, for example, the annual inflation is around 40%.) Therefore, to remain profitable, the bakery needs to increase prices to account for the higher price of goods and labor. However, the community expects the price of bread to remain relatively static in spite of inflation. And, rather than buy bread at a higher price, they go without the luxury of it altogether. Finally, during the COVID epidemic, tourism was essentially shut down, and since then, it has not fully recovered. The result is that in the first full year post-COVID, they are not quite profitable. When you consider all the jobs they are providing, especially for former residents in the home, along with the additional help they provide at the school, it is still making a wonderful impact on the community, but it isn’t currently self-sustaining like it once was. Like any business, discussions are under way on how to pivot based on the new findings. One possible option, for example, is to expand into supporting conferences.

One more comment about IAP and the work in Sawla. The IAP leadership team first met Moses, our host, because he was their driver from Accra to Sawla – originally a 2-day drive. Now, he is their trusted leader in Ghana. He never graduated from school, has no leadership training, and works as a used car salesman for his regular job. And yet, he is making a huge impact on the lives of hundreds in Sawla and maintains an incredible humility about it. He is an impressive man whom we enjoyed hanging out with during our visit to Sawla.


IAP continues to invest in the school and support the hotel. I highly recommend you consider sponsoring IAP and the work they are doing, either in Sawla or elsewhere.

Also, there are numerous organizations that dig wells in Africa. The two organizations that IntelliTect has supported and that I would highly recommend are IAP (here in Sawla, Ghana) and World Vision (in Southern Kenya). A water well investment with IAP in Ghana generally costs less than $5,000. In Kenya, the investment is significantly higher at $15,000. In addition,

Building Wells

September 27, 2023

We visited two wells built by International Assistance Partners (IAP).
We already heard the gratitude of the chief for the first well yesterday. For the second well, seeing it in use by these women (I love the smiles) was a blessing.
I was impressed that the focus was on the wells, not the well-builders. There was no plaque or declaration that it was built by Christians for a Muslim community. It was a well, and that is enough.


There are numerous organizations that dig wells in Africa. The two organizations that IntelliTect has supported and I would highly recommend are IAP (here in Sawla, Ghana) and World Vision (in Southern Kenya). A well investment in Ghana generally costs less than $5,000. In Kenya, the investment is significantly higher at $15,000.

Visiting a Child Survival Program with Compassion International

September 24, 2023

Today we visited a Compassion International Child Survival Program (see and IntelliTect supports five or so of these in Kenya and Tanzania (, but since we couldn’t make it to either country this trip, we are visiting the one in Togo. While we had to go through background checks and child safety training, I expected the visit to be relatively informal, with just a walk around the facilities and perhaps a chance to meet a few of the moms. I was wrong. Compassion International partners with local churches for its facilities, and this was no exception; we met in a church a couple blocks from the Ghana Embassy. When we entered, everyone stood and started singing as a way of welcoming us. The church leadership then greeted us and ushered us to the front of the church. Those who know me can imagine my internal reaction was less than positive as I dislike being made the center of attention, especially regarding Elisabeth and my philanthropy. Fortunately, I had the wherewithal to catch myself, change my attitude, and behave. The Compassion International staff, along with the moms with their children, genuinely wanted to thank us for our philanthropy and I accepted their gratitude.

Welcome Singing and Dancing!

The program started with some wonderful singing and dancing. I would have joined in if I’d known the words. It was beautiful. My only regret was that we couldn’t stay tomorrow and attend the church service.

Preventing the Child Survival Program

Next, they proceeded with introductions and a presentation of the data regarding the program. They had stats for their impact and challenges. Although it was French, they had a translator, and we were also able to translate using our phones as they went along.

Following the presentation, several women were courageous enough to stand up and share how the program had impacted them personally. In some cases, it made the difference between life and death for their children. For others, it was the difference between a malnourished child and a parent choosing to go without their own nourishment, so their child has some meager sustenance.

Once the program was over, we walked around to various job tables and interacted with sample job-training stations. We asked lots of questions about the business and its effectiveness. Some were sufficient to help people escape extreme poverty; others were less so, only providing a side “hustle” for students in school.

The weaving station, although it produced beautiful crafts, did not seem viable for the amount of work and time. (Update: When visiting Ghana, we saw weaving machines that required less effort but the earnings were still meager.)

The last station was a playroom where the moms focused on playing with their kids. It was good to see the healthy interactions and coaching that goes beyond survival and helping the parent-child relationship thrive. This is in addition to the home visits that Compassion International makes once a month.

While I didn’t see enough to be able to provide a full analysis of the effectiveness, I’m confident that Compassion International is accomplishing a lot with a small budget and making a significant impact on women and their children. Whether you are a Christian or not, by partnering with churches and leveraging their infrastructure and congregants during the week, Compassion International is able to accomplish so much more on a small budget.


At a cost of less than $50 per month, you can support a child through Compassion International, choosing both the age and location. If you are willing to invest more, consider supporting a child survival program, that transforms the lives of ~25 moms and their children before they turn 5 years old. Or, browse through a host of other investment opportunities to select from.

Visiting the Makoko Community

September 18, 2023

Today we visited the Makoko community, an informal settlement on the oceanfront of Lagos. This is a fishing community that has been living literally on the water—a Nigerian Venice of sorts—for more than 150 years. (A 1962 map shows the Makoko community back before Lagos even had 1 million residents; Lagos now has 13 million residents.) Since then, Makoko has grown to more than 200,000 residents (officially, it is only 85,000 residents, but the area is considered illegal, so it is not included in any recent census). 1/3 of the Makoko residents live in houses on stilts along the lagoon, which are inaccessible except by canoe. The Nigerian government considers the Makoko community illegal, accusing them of living like animals. And, as such, the government believes they have no responsibility to provide services: no education, no clean water, no electricity, and no healthcare. Everything that exists in the community was established without the government.

The following video provides a window into life in Makoko – it says way more than I can possibly describe.

Our visit started when we boarded a carved-out canoe and went to meet with the village chief, Desmond Shemede. The short journey alone resulted in sensory overload. The sights, sounds, and smells were just a constant stream of the remarkable. The boatman’s balance, the latrines directly over the water, the bright colored clothes accentuating the brown wood shacks—everything was extraordinary. We saw smiling faces, heard alert calls about visitors in the neighborhood, and smelled hydrogen sulfide mixed with (odorless) methane, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and a multitude of other compounds oozing from the garbage. Our boatman navigated the quagmire of gray-black water and the traffic jam of canoes until we arrived at the chief’s office. He was sitting at a wooden desk just across a waterway from one of two schools. For the next 30 minutes, we sat in silence, listening to Desmond as he shared about life within this slum on the water.

Leaving Desmond’s office took us past the school. They teach about 200 students there, offering lunch along with the free education. There is a clinic that serves the Makoko community, along with some less formal medical services. Malaria is the most common disease. Not surprisingly, cases of cholera, typhoid fever, and many other diseases caused by contaminated water are common. COVID is somewhat of a joke in comparison.

While there are boreholes providing water, they too are somewhat contaminated with sewage and other pollutants in an overpopulated area with little to no infrastructure. While there are latrines, they only provide privacy since they too are on stilts directly above the water. Though privacy was not a particularly high priority, since residents went to the bathroom by just squatting directly over the water without bothering to navigate to the latrines for seclusion,


I haven’t yet done any research on the charity, but we Desmond mentioned his foundation, for helping this community with infrastructure and education and humanitarian aid to help residents here escape extreme living conditions. I’ll provide an update here before the end of the year if Elisabeth and I end up supporting this work along with IntelliTect.