Facebook greeted me this morning with a memory from 8 years ago when when Bryce Mitchell and I were in Cameroon, Africa, working for our NGO GeoAid, providing humanitarian aid for the Baka Pygmies in the Eastern province near Lomie.
Bryce (center) was our Director who had stepped into the role replacing his father who had unexpectedly died 6 months earlier.
Last week I was playing golf at Chehalem Glenn in Newberg, OR, remembering that fatal day when Bill Mitchell died from a massive heart attack on the 9th hole. It was 8 years ago this week when Bryce and I were in Cameroon shoring up GeoAid with his new leadership. Unfortunately GeoAid no longer exists due to the collapse of the mining operation that supported the effort. However, much Good was accomplished.
Tomorrow, Bryce and I head to the north coast of California to backpack the Lost Coast Trail.
I have documented how this is a return to conquer for me but now I realize it was probably meant to be a reunion for Bryce and I to remember all the good that GeoAid accomplished thanks to Bryce and his Dad. The weather report for the Lost Coast could not be any better for this time of year. This is going to be a great Adventure.
It is time for me to document my experience here in Cameroon. I leave for the US on a red eye tonight with a day layover in Paris. Cameroon is referred to as “Little Africa” because it has a bit of all Africa throughout this small country located in the hinge of Africa. The country is half English speaking and half French which is primarily where I was visiting. I experienced the city and the jungle and both are unique but really not desirable. The best thing that can be said about Cameroon is that the country is politically stable and free of violence. But it is a country that does not have a lot going for it nor does it appear they care. The power players in the city are either government or NGOs dominated by UN aid organizations. The jungle or the Eastern province where my GeoAid is focused is the backwoods of any Cameroonian concern. Aid from any entity trickles to nothing by the time you reach the edge of civilization. The last outpost is the town of Lomie where GeoAid resides thanks to our partnership with the rapidly downsizing GeoVic mining operation.
I explained briefly why I am involved with GeoAid in my previous post, after this visit I am better able to evaluate our situation and advise our Board about the future strategic direction for GeoAid. That strategy, with respect to Cameroon, is focused on new corporate partnerships which is coming together just fine. Those partnerships will be about social responsibility for communities affected by their corporate activity, for which GeoAid is positioned as well as any NGO in Cameroon. But I have also been touched by the work that we have done in the Lomie area and realize that we need to maintain that base regardless of a local corporate connection. We have a connection to the people there and unfortunately they desperately need our support. There are some religious based missions and some Peace Corp type organizational present but none have resources of the caliber that GeoAid holds. So I leave Cameroon knowing that not only will I be advising GeoAid’s future but that I will be protecting GeoAid’s heritage. It is a great privilege to be allowed to “do good”.
|Bill Mitchell, GeoAid International|
I have another post that is not exactly Higher Ed Tech Talk but it is worthy of this audience. I am the Chairman of the Board for the humanitarian aid organization, GeoAid. This all came about because of Bill Mitchell, the Executive Director of GeoAid who recruited me about 3 years ago. GeoAid was created to provide humanitarian aid typically in the form of community development to the community affected by the Geovic mining operations near Lomie, Cameroon, Africa. Lot’s more to the story but basically we were given enough funding to setup programs to help the Cameroonian people that would be affected by this Cobalt mining operation. So we were allowed to do “Good” as “God” would lead us. And we have, shipping 3 large containers full of medical equipment and numerous shipments of medicine delivered with health fairs and clinics. We have laid the foundation for many successful micro enterprises with an effective Cameroonian presence. We have earned the loyalty of the people and the Cameroonian government. This year we plan to expand into New Caledonia and Papa New Guinea. All of this because of the leadership and drive of Bill Mitchell.
Unfortunately this post now turns to a tribute to Bill since he died last Friday. But how he died exemplifies how one gets the most out of their life. Six years ago Bill, then 65, experienced a mild heart attack wake-up call that has forced him to deal with an at risk heart condition. Many people would have backed off an active lifestyle in order to live longer. But Bill jumped into GeoAid, travelled many times to Africa, worked long hours, etc. Bill also loved to play golf and his ideal script for how he would exit his physical body would be while playing golf. Last Friday this is how the script played out in the form of a massive heart attack at the 9th tee. And he could not have been happier, not because of dying while playing golf but because as a Christian he looked forward to this day with great anticipation. Bill packed more into those six years then some of us do in a lifetime. While working with Bill on world humanitarian development issues he instilled in me his slogan: “Change is Inevitable, Growth is a Choice“. We at GeoAid are definitely dealing with change now and I am confident that it will lead to Growth. It was an honor to know and support Bill’s efforts. The world will miss you him.