The Hopeful Way Foundation: RPCV Confronts Drug and Alcohol Abuse in Ghana
By Ana Reigstad on Friday, October 4th, 2013
Drug and alcohol abuse continues to be a major problem in Ghana, affecting the population on every level of society. In 2005, as he was settling into retirement in Ghana, RPCV Dan O’Laughlin (Ghana 1967-1970) recognized a lack of resources for individuals struggling with such addiction. At the time, only one recovery group operated within the region. In an effort to mitigate this issue, O’Laughlin established the Hopeful Way Foundation with the help of Ghanaian volunteers and professionals. The program reaches out to individuals personally impacted by drug and alcohol abuse by providing training programs, support groups, and a transitional house to facilitate rehabilitation. Hopeful Way has expanded greatly since its inception in 2009, establishing ten 12-step programs, championing twenty training initiatives, and opening up two houses, the Bill Moore Oxford House, a transitional home, in 2009 and the House of St. Francis, a rehabilitation facility, in 2012.
According to O’Laughlin, a great deal of stigma associated with addiction persists in Ghana, as it does in the United States. “Most Ghanaians believe that addiction is caused by local spirits, or ‘juju.’ Another challenge is that many Ghanaians addicted to drugs and alcohol believe that they can be cured and resume moderate drinking,” O’Laughlin explains, going on to emphasize that motivating residents is a major obstacle in the program.
The effort has engaged the participation of various volunteers across the country from Georgia Southern and Texas Tech Universities to Peace Corps Volunteers. Past PCV involvement has included cultivating mushrooms and moringa trees with the assistance of program residents in an effort to establish a source of income. Two current Peace Corps Volunteers became involved in the program within the last year and provided assistance in the House of St. Francis. O’Laughlin describes the impact one PCV had on the program: “He lived in the House of St. Francis for about two weeks, taught about recovery and sponsored residents in the house. His presence was of tremendous value.”
Looking to the future, the Hopeful Way Foundation is interested in expanding to include a recovery house for women and children. The program also hopes to incorporate income-generating and job creation services for individuals in recovery.
The program is looking to increase participation from the Peace Corps community and beyond, perhaps in combining service with the Hopeful Way Foundation and tourism throughout Ghana. If you are interested in becoming involved, contact Daniel O’Laughlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.