Why I’m Going to Africa

I have occasionally mentioned other areas of my interest which don’t exactly qualify as Higher Education Technology, one of which is my involvement with GeoAid International. I am traveling to Cameroon, Africa, this Friday to represent GeoAid for my role of Chairman of the Board, so I feel that a blog post is the easiest way to explain how this relationship came to be. You can find out about GeoAid at http://www.geoaid.org. But now I will attempt to explain the rest of the story.

A little over 2 years ago, Bill Mitchell, who I knew of through my church, was engaged by the founder of GeoAid, Bill Buckovic, to review the current state of his Humanitarian Aid Organization that was created to serve the needs of the community affected by the GeoVic mining operation in Cameroon, Africa. Turns out the GeoAid that Bill Mitchell evaluated had some serious issues and he was asked if he would actively step in to steer GeoAid back on course. There was obviously a greater plan that brought Bill and I together and over the next year I offered advice and support as Bill converted GeoAid to a proper non-profit, Non-Government Organization, NGO, serving the Corporate Social Responsibilities, CSR, of the GeoVic Cobalt mining operation in Cameroon.

Great progress was made and much good was accomplished. Bill and I used to wonder why we had been put in this situation, but we were satisfied to know that God had a plan and if we were being given a chance to do “Good” then we just needed to run with it as long as we could. So the initial funding model for GeoAid was almost entirely based on a grant type commitment from GeoVic Mining Corporation, but that model has shifted to funding from various corporations and grants. This is somewhat novel for the Corporate entity to partner with an NGO but I believe we have proven that this type of arrangement may be far more effective.

GeoAid grew, we formed a Board of Directors on which I took on the role of Chairman. All was moving rather smooth until the unexpected death of our Executive Director, Bill Mitchell, see my post Tribute to Bill Mitchell. Then the role of Chairman of the Board took on a whole new meaning. Luckily we had begun the implementation of a succession plan about 6 months earlier but our plan was supposed to play out over a number of years. We did replace Bill with his son, Bryce, who is doing an amazing job filling his dad’s shoes. So the opportunity now presents itself for Bryce and I to go to Cameroon for official recognition of GeoAid accomplishments by various Cameroonian government and service organizations. A major event will be coordinated by the Chantal Biya Foundation scheduled for on February 24th at 11:00am.

GeoAid Cameroon is a highly effective organization with a great staff that is dedicated to the mission, our US Embassy in Cameroon just posted a great article that helps to document this success. This Cameroonian asset has proven itself and we will be discussing many new ventures while I am there for GeoAid to assist in serving the needs of other communities affected by the new development taking place in the country.

2/25/12 – About to head to Lomie – the week has gone incredibly well – I will do a post when I return. The Chantal Biya event was more then I expected, see photo link

About ghsmith76

Greg Smith has retired. His last position was the Interim CIO at Western Washington University. Prior to WWU Greg was the CIO at Missouri S&T, and before that the CIO for George Fox University in Newberg, OR. Greg went to the Northwest from the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology in Indianapolis, IN. where he served as the Director of IT for 8 years. Prior to the IT career in Academia, Greg was a Systems Consultant with Hewlett-Packard primarily with the Analytical Group working out of San Francisco,Cincinnati and Indianapolis. Greg's passion as a CIO in Higher Education came from his belief that Technology can benefit Teaching & Learning.

Posted on February 15, 2012, in GeoAid, Humanitarian Aid and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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