Feb. 10, 2017
- Israeli Development Aid in Africa – Shimon Mercer-Wood
In January, a delegation of African-American journalists landed in Ghana to cover the impact of international development projects in that West African country. The delegation was organized by the Government of Israel, and its focus was on Israeli-Ghanaian development work in education, health and agriculture. In Winneba, the Jewish Agency for Israel runs a Project Ten volunteer center operated by young Jews from Israel and the U.S. We met a team of Israeli girls, fresh out of the army, who operate an afterschool clubhouse where children receive a much-needed boost in literacy and life skills. “We are not only teaching them to read, we want to teach the kids to be imaginative and creative,” said Maya, 21, a volunteer from Karmiel.
Another group of young Israelis and Ghanaians were working together on a demonstration farm to study cheap but modern agricultural techniques and technologies. In Kumasi, we saw an award-winning early childhood education center practicing the methodology of Learning by Playing. We then proceeded to a mother-and-baby neonatal unit where a system introduced by Israeli medical trainers has dramatically reduced the mortality rate of pre-term babies without reliance on expensive, high-maintenance incubators.
In Accra, we were amazed by the cutting-edge 675-bed Ghana University Medical Center, built by an Israeli company with a $217 million Israeli government loan, and assisted through advanced training in Israel for 71 of the hospital’s medical staff. All the projects exemplified Israel’s development strategy of “training the trainers.” Rather than bestowing financial gifts or donating expensive but short-lived equipment, Mashav, Israel’s Agency for International Cooperation, empowers cadres of local leadership who assimilate the Israeli know-how and technology and then train fellow professionals to do the same. The writer is consul for media affairs at the Consulate General of Israel in New York. (JTA)