The Collaboratory in Ghana

Maddie Conley ’20

One of the main purposes of the Collaboratory is service work. John Hannon, a junior and Civil Engineering major, loves the Collab’s mission and what it stands for. “Collab is one of the reasons I wanted to come to Messiah,” explain\ed Hannon. Since he wants to be a missionary in the future, this organization was the perfect fit for him.

Hannon was ready to go on his first trip with the Collab to Burkina Faso when suddenly, plans were changed. Recent terrorist attacks canceled the trip. John was upset and confused, “I was looking around like, what’s the next step God, I thought this was supposed to be about trust,” he said.

But soon after, God opened another door. The Africa WASH and Disability Study (AWDS) team reached out to Hannon with an invitation to join its trip to Ghana, Africa this past summer. “I prayed about it for a while and it seemed like the next step,” Hannon said. 

The team started their two-week long trip in Ghana’s capital, Accra. They then flew to Kumasi for the Trainer of Trainers workshop. Hannon and the team met up with welders from all over Ghana to show them assistive devices that the AWDS team designed. Hannon and the team discussed the importance of including and showing kindness to people with disabilities and how the men could benefit from making and selling these devices to the people.

Next the team held a faith leader’s workshop in Tamale, Ghana. Both Christian and Muslim leaders from the community attended to learn about being inclusive to people with disabilities. Hannon explained the importance of the people putting aside their differences to solve the issue at hand.

When they weren’t holding the workshops, the team was meeting with World Vision, meeting people with disabilities, and visiting villages and markets. Hannon also spent a lot of time talking to Ghanaians. Hannon observed that, “Africa is way more relational than the States.” By the end of the trip, Hannon had made an African friend that offered to buy him a ticket to come back. That really impacted Hannon, because this man had little money and was willing to step out in faith and sacrifice a great deal for him.

Hannon loved the trip because of its purpose. “We weren’t going in there saying how great America is and then building the Ghanians something; we were trying to have them be the ones to make an impact on the community,” said Hannon. He appreciated that the trip wasn’t about what the team could give the Ghanians, but about what they could teach them.

The trip certainly had an impact on Hannon as well. “I’ve been preparing for this; I want to be a missionary. I enjoyed it and I definitely want to go back,” he said.