As I get ready to leave for Ghana in a few days to begin the next chapter of my mission I’m overwhelmed by all the amazing people who have joined me on this journey. This mission has touched hundreds of friends, family, colleagues, office staff, patients and their families, churches and even the local newspaper and neighborhood Chick-fil-A. Hope for Ghana has become a Pittsburgh story and as a pediatrician I am moved by the children it has touched.
Hope for Ghana will continue to impact the next generation in Ghana as I venture into a new village to create a library where children do not have access to story books and are starving for educational tools. Much more amazing is how deeply felt the impact has been right here in Pittsburgh, and so meaningfully in children. My mission is driven by the beautiful next generation of children of Ghana and that generation’s hunger for a brighter future. But it is inspired right here at home by the next generation of Pittsurgh.
Last summer I was surprised by a flurry of donations that were oddly coming in when I hadn’t yet even announced a second project. Very confused by the timing I was equally as baffled as I recognized none of the names of the donors. All that changed when the last donor left a message along with his donation, “This is in honor of Johnny’s 1st birthday.” Never intended for me to see, I soon found the posting on Johnny’s father’s Facebook page that read “For those of you who have asked me what we would like for Johnny’s first birthday, please make a donation to Hope for Ghana in his name in lieu of more clothes or toys. This charity is run by Johnny’s PCP, who is an all-out awesome dude and runs this amazing organization providing an education to children who are far less fortunate than ours…” I can’t wait to tell Johnny when he’s older what his wonderful parents did for many grateful Ghanaian children on his first birthday.
Many months ago I received an email from the mother of one of my 6 year old patients who wrote, “Dr. Greene, a few months ago, after one of the kids’ appointments, Richard was curious about your mission. He must have overheard me talking about it. I found your website and he and I looked through it. Well, today at lunch he informed me that he wanted to help kids who don’t have anything. ‘I am going to give the change in my bank to Dr. Greene’ were his words. After a long discussion about it we decided whatever money he saved I would match. I posted this as my status on Facebook and to my surprise we now have family and friends matching Richard’s savings as well! He is thrilled about this! We are humbled to be helping a great man with a great cause. These are the lessons I strive to teach my children everyday. May you be blessed tenfold, so that you can continue to be a blessing to others.” On that day I understood charity at a much deeper level than I ever had before.
And just this morning one of my 15 year old patients wrote, “Hey it’s Justin your favorite patient. I’ve been praying for you and kids from Ghana. I hope that these kids will be changed forever and learn in a way that clicks.” Justin, your prayers and your big heart changed my whole day.
Children learn what they live. They watch us. They are listening. Each and every day I have the privilege to wake up and guide children as their pediatrician, but more importantly I am blessed to learn from them everyday. I will leave in the next few days excited about the opportunity to do something meaningful in a distant land that is now my second home. The huge hearts of Johnny, Richard, Justin and all you who have joined me on this journey will continue to inspire me everyday. Together we can bring the next generation here and around the globe a brighter future.