20 Years of Memories – February 2024

Twenty years!

That’s what I am celebrating in 2024 … the 20th anniversary of the very first trip I took to Ghana as a college student. I can honestly say that other than my family, that trip – which sparked the idea of Framework International – has done more to change the trajectory of my life than anything else, for which I am so grateful. 

You’ve been on this journey with me, many of you for these 20 years, for which, I am also so grateful. So buckle up, and let’s go on a road trip down memory lane!


At the Piitanga school commissioning, the village gave us a sheep – and that was a huge gift from them! Our equity in the States is typically from our homes or retirement accounts, for them, it’s their livestock. They were so thankful for their Framework built school, they gave us a gift equivalent to a 401k! (FYI, the sheep stayed in Ghana, the freight of transport would have been more than my mortgage payment.)

It’s Hard Work! 

We had a group make a trip to Ghana in 2010, and we decided it would be a good idea to help with the labor. Here we are, digging up the rocky soil and clearing away scrub bushes, and it was 95 degrees with 90 percent humidity. It was such grueling work, I am honestly surprised anybody from that group continued to speak to me after our trip! To top it off, the house we were staying in had their water shut off and their power turned off; we ended up having to take bucket showers outside.


My Dad came with me on a trip and we went up north to the Mole National Park. One day we woke up to a giant bull elephant standing right outside our room. An elephant! Still can’t believe it.


After I graduated from college, I went to Ghana for four months and this time was very self reflective. This was before Smartphones, and I was pretty isolated. I could go to the Internet cafe once a week, and if they had power, I could get my email from back home. (After this trip, I ended up opening an Internet Cafe in Ghana for a few years!) 


At one point we hired incarcerated men for the very first school build because we had a commitment to finish the school, and we had very limited funds to do so. We coordinated with the work training program at the local prison for laborers. The prisoners were hard workers, but inexperienced ones, and what we saved in money, we’ve probably had to make up for in lost time.


When you’re living in a place that is proud to say: “There is no hurry in Ghana,” it is such a different lifestyle. It forces you to breathe and just be in the moment. Not so easy for Americans who are used to the hustle and bustle of life.


At the Kwaman school commissioning, I was surprised when they bestowed an official “Chief of Development” title on me. I am truly honored by this recognition. By the way, you can call me Chief Seth from now on. ;-)


I taught fourth grade math and science in Ghana after I graduated from college. When I would walk home from school, the neighborhood kids would follow me. Some would even get up close to me and mimic how I walk. Knowing what they were doing, I would stop abruptly, turn around, and surprise them! This of course, would cause all the kids to laugh. We played this game almost everyday.


When Grace, my wife, came to Ghana with me we went on a night tour to see leatherback turtles. We went out with a biologist from Ghana’s Department of Forestry and he said to us, “Can you see it over there?” Grace and I were thinking, “You mean that dinosaur over there?” No joke, the turtle was the size of a twin bed. It was humongous!


A school commissioning is a pretty big deal with politicians, school administrators, and the entire village coming together to celebrate. At the Small London Primary School commissioning, a local politician was in attendance. The chief, directing his speech to this politician said, “You are here now, but where were you the last decade when we were asking you for a school? Don’t come here and brag about this school, when it was these people [Framework and you!] who came and built us one.” 

Ghana is a ruggedly beautiful country, with generous and hospitable people. The food, the smells, the colors often take your breath away – in an awe-inspiring way! Visiting this country almost every year for 20 years, grounds me. It makes me realize how good we have it here. But it also reminds me to slow down and just enjoy the moment – to be on Ghana time. Because if we speed down the highway of life too fast, we just might miss the giant elephant standing outside our door! And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss that.

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