I began partnering with Scoliosis Foundation Ghana (SFG) around a year ago but was not active until the showcase I had in honor of them back in January in Manhattan. I myself have scoliosis, not to the degree that required surgery, but It has caused me pain that goes deeper than just physical, especially as an adolescent having to wear a back brace. My main goal in terms of where my career takes me is to be able to have the influence and reach to help show kids in situations similar as mine that they too can find their way, whatever it may be if they believe in themselves. Four months ago Gabriel Ntow Quao, the Founder of Scoliosis Foundation Ghana, invited me to come be the guest of honor for International Scoliosis Day and deliver a speech to a large crowd of officials and grade school children in a nearby region to the capital of Accra in Ghana. I was also invited to stay at the palace of his Royal Highness Nii Osabu Akwei Ofoli Tibo 1, and the Royal Family, featuring pet monkeys, pet crocodiles, and pet horses to name a few. It was an amazing experience to see traditional ceremonies, walk down the traditional roads, and connect with the youth and elders. I am excited to continue working with SFG to keep raising awareness and to keep raising funds. Right now we are helping to raise the funds for a 14-year-old girl from the area to have surgery. If you want to see more info on how to get involved please visit Scoliosis Foundation Ghana or my social media, all info will be available next week.
This was one of the school children, she stood right next to the horse and I asked her to stay right there for a second. Then the horse began to lick her head. Interesting times in Ghana.
Gabriel Quao and The Queen took me to see some of the main landmarks in the area one day. Two of those were the Independence Arch, and Jamestown.
This was just one of the many pets kept at the palace. Some others included goats, ox, crocodiles, monkeys, horses, and dogs, all kept on the same grounds as the palace.
Red for a funeral
The Royal Entourage had to go to a funeral one evening. I attended as well. It was quite the experience. Everyone was dressed in ceremonial red or black. Guns were being fired at random as tradition leaving my ears ringing. There were even servants sitting at the feet of some of the chiefs. It was an experience not too many outsiders are lucky enough to see.
By the river
The Chief took us to go and see an island he owns in the middle of a river with the ocean on one side of the river and the mainland on the other. On the journey we encountered monkeys as well as local fisherman. We cooked some seafood and watched the sun go down on the island that evening.
On the second day the Queen brought us to the school she runs for children who cannot afford an education. We were invited to say a few words to the children about Scoliosis Awareness, how to notice the signs, and to stray from harassing fellow pupils with spine conditions.
Many mothers or younger sisters carry infants around in this manner. The sun was hitting beautifully and it was a quick shot, but I managed to capture it.
On the day of the main event (International Scoliosis Day) everyone was adorned in traditional garments. I was sitting 2 seats over from the Chief waiting for my turn to speak when I noticed his proud expression as he clapped at the event.
A lot on the mind
A local carrying around goods. Many locals carry all types of things you can imagine on their heads. From fruits to old computers. Her marking represents where she is from, in this case one slash on the cheek indicates she is from the north.
I was taking a rest one afternoon and I looked down and saw this child with the most pure expression I had seen in a long time. Eyes full of hope, and holding onto his fathers fingers. I quickly picked up my camera, focused, and captured that expression forever.
Made for TV
This photograph was taken right after we did an interview on one of the local TV stations explaining Scoliosis and International Scoliosis Day. From the far left is Bra Bofour, Queen Naan Motsoo Shika, Chief Nii Osabu Akwei Ofoli Tibo, Gabriel Quao (Founder of Scoliosis Foundation Ghana), Gabriel Perez Silva.
Hold that exit
One morning around 5am (the usual wake up time at the palace) one of the Chiefs oldest sons was getting ready to do fulfill some of his tasks on the property. I asked him to hold that exit for a second, the colors were marvelous and I had to get it on film.
A little mischievous
Some of the children at the school next to the Chiefs Palace were on break one morning and I was outside with my film camera. I saw this young girl with such a captivating look, I asked her for a photo. All the children wanted one after that.