One of the most remarkable effects of my dad’s Captain Planet series has been it’s global reach. The cartoon series was designed to appeal to children of all colors, faiths and experiences. Captain Planet became a hit in the country of Ghana, and today the Ghana Planeteers is one of the most active Planeteer groups in the world. I traveled to Ghana last week to speak to the Rotary Club of Accra Airport as they launch their foundation to raise money for community service projects and to support the Ghana Planeteer movement.
I recently became a Rotary member and I was really inspired by the work of the Rotary Club of Accra Airport and the Ghana Planeteers. Though only a short trip, I met so many people, visited inspiring companies and saw the first-hand benefits of their good works. Here are some of the highlights of the exciting things we did and people we met.
The trip began with an interview on ETV national program to talk about working with the Rotary Club of Accra Airport and the Planeteer movement in Ghana. From there we went to the American Embassy to meet with Ambassador Donald Teteilbaum and talk about the different programs going on here that we can partner with for the environment and children’s health issues. Afterwards, we visited children from the Achimota Prep School and talked with the kids about getting involved in the Captain Planet movement.
Later I attended the first environmental stakeholders meeting in Ghana with the Ministry of Environment which the Planeteers helped organize. There were many groups, media and government representatives there as we discussed the main challenges facing Ghana and what we could all do by working together to help solve these problems. There is so much energy and passion in Accra for solving environmental issues.
The following day, I participated in several media appearances from being on a national TV talk show with the members of the Rotary Club of Accra Airport, to being on one of the top radio shows in Accra, 99.7 Joy FM, to talk more about the Rotary Club and the Ghana Planeteer movement.
Our next stop was Zoom Lion, the largest provider of waste management services in the country and employer of over 60,000 youth in the city. Zoom Lion has been very helpful working with the Planeteers during our clean-up projects. They told us that they built a new waste separation and composting facility about 45 minutes outside the city. So of course, I asked if we could see it! Their plan is to have transfer stations in Accra which will load the waste into a rail car and bring it out to the plant. Through a combination of workers and machines – Zoom Lion will take out plastics, metals, glass and other large objects for recycling to keep them out of the landfill. This new facility is the first step to instituting a recycling program for Ghana and will also create 300 new jobs for the area!
From there we visited another inspiring company called Trashy Bags. One of the main problems in Accra is due to the very little access to fresh drinking water most people get their water from plastic water drinking bags, and the disposal of these bags is a major environmental issue. One of my favorite companies in the world, Trashy Bags recycles discarded water drink pouches and ice cream wrappers by turning them into handbags and shopping bags.
Once they collect the bags, they are washed, sewn together and cut into patterns. Old billboard signs are also used to make handbags.
The final event of the day was a special meet up with all the Planeteers at the Silverbird Cinema to watch the first episode from the Captain Planet series. We had a great turnout! I’m so excited to see these young students and career professional getting involved with Captain Planet. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of our Planeteer leaders go on to be President of Ghana one day. . .
My primary purpose in visiting Ghana is the creation of a foundation by the Rotary Club that will allow the club to raise additional money to provide more services for the community. Currently, the Rotary Club provides services like de-worming exercises for children, eye screenings, literacy programs and donations of incubators and medical supplies for local hospitals. We started early Saturday morning by meeting the Rotarians at a local church and then driving together to a neighborhood in Accra called Glefe. Glefe is one of the poorest areas in Accra. There is no waste sanitation or running water. I worked with the Rotary members who had set up four stations in the community to give de-worming medicine to the kids. The medicine kills the parasites that can cause serious sickness or death. The kids need to take this medicine at least twice per year. I can tell you that nothing has touched me more than the day I spent at Glefe.
Although the area needs serious attention – the kids were very spirited and outgoing. These are the type of community service projects that make me proud to be a member of Rotary. We were able to see over 3,000 kids that day.
Saturday night was the big event for Rotary Club of Accra Airport to launch their foundation. The Club honored me by making a special dress for me out of three different patterns in Rotary colors. I really love my new dress!
I was asked to be the guest speaker at this beautiful outdoor dinner. The club took pledges from the attendees and raised $130,000 to kick-off the foundation!
My last day in Ghana began by attending the International Central Gospel Chapel for a morning service with Edward Boateng. The Reverend gave a great educational sermon about the actions we need to follow to live a good and meaningful life. Afterwards, the Reverend and I spoke together about how when we pollute our air and water – we are really stealing from our children and future generations. I’m hoping it will be a topic for his sermon on Earth Day!
This trip has truly made a large impact on my life. The people of Ghana have been so warm and inviting, and have inspired me to keep working to support their efforts to save the environment and protect the health of their kids. I know I have established lifelong friendships from this trip.
I also want to say a special thank you to Letty Ashworth and Delta Airlines who sponsored our trip and made everything possible. Letty and her husband Bill joined us for the trip. Delta now flies three times per week from Atlanta to Accra. I know this will help foster increased relationships between the two cities.
Check out all the pictures from my trip -