Trevon Gordon was selected to receive an Enrichment Grant from the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. With this grant, he participated in a mission trip to Ghana to install a solar power business. You can read Trevor’s reflection below, read past grantee reflections here, and visit the PCSE website to learn more about all of our grant programs.
The entire Saha Global experience was a pivotal point in my college career. Being a part of mission in Ghana was a tremendous learning experience. With the help of SAHA global, my team and I were able to set up a solar power business in the village of Kushini around Tamale, Ghana. Over the course of three weeks, we found an existing structure to house the solar business, restored it to suitable conditions, installed solar equipment, and distributed flashlights to the entire village.
By the last day we could see that our time there had made a difference. That night, once every one had finally received their lanterns we could see how each compound would light up. You could look around and see that the village had come alive with this new gift of light as people waved the lanterns around in the night.
Before we had come there, the people had used kerosene to light their house which is both expensive and dangerous. What was alarming to me is how important it is to have a light in these communities. Of course light is also important here in the states. Street lights and headlights keep us safe in the night, just as they do in Ghana, or anywhere else in the world. But a problem we don’t face is scorpions that live in roofing material. Furthermore, the difference between being stung in the night by a scorpions and moving about your compound without worry was having a flashlight that you could spot them with.
This was the reality for the people of Kushini, and still is for many other villages throughout northern Ghana. Other parts of this difficult reality include no toothbrushes or toothpaste which leads to severe cavities at a young age. Or having your foot rot away from an infection but not being able to seek medical attention. But this is where my amazing team members come into play, (picture). In those three weeks that we were setting up the solar business my team continually went above and beyond for the people of Kushini. Off of the initiative of Hailey Seo, our team put together some funds to buy the children toothbrushes and toothpaste. So on the day that we were distributing lamps, Hailey and Emily took the time to teach the kids of the village how to brush their teeth.
On the same note, we all put our funds together to have the man with the infected leg hospitalized. About a week after we returned home we got the news that his leg was finally amputated and that he was free of all that pain.
All in all, it was an amazing trip, and the generosity was returned 10 fold by the people of the community, they gave us gift after gift, including our rooster, elvis, and a goat that I didn’t bother naming because I figured shak was going to eat him. Furthermore, the entire Saha team was amazing. Our team of over 40 people was filled with engineers, scientists, grad students, people in law school and even medical school. Over the course of a month we bonded we all became surprisingly close with each other. We shared our goals and aspirations and thought provoking conversations about the state of Ghana and the world in general. We talked about sexism and the detrimental involvement of first world countries in Ghana. Looking back, I would say the trip is one of the greatest learning experiences I’ve had thus far.
A significant amount of what I learned took place before I even crossed the Atlantic. The journey had actually started a year and a half before that. I fundraised to go on this mission trip and failed. It was humiliating mainly because of all of those who donated that I let down. To those who donated I apologize but at the same time, it because I let these people down that I felt like I had to do this program again.
But even this year’s fundraiser was no easy ride. Just like the year before I found myself in another bind. I had raised over $3,000 and and was still short another $2,000. With the nowhere to turn and no one to turn to for help, this year could of easily been a repeat of my previous blunder. But I didn’t give up. I persevered and in the last two weeks of fundraising I raised the $2,000 and went on the trip.
I was able to raise such an enormous amount of money in such a small amount of time through the help of some amazing people. To name a few, Dean Renee, Hailey Broughton-Jones, Victoria King, Joaquina Borges King, and Rod Powell.
I share this piece of my story with you not to tell you who talk to if you want to do some social entrepreneurship. I share this because I think the biggest thing I learned from this entire experience is that you can do anything if you put your mind it.
My family doesn’t have money and I don’t know of many people from Poughkeepsie who have ever left the city, or the country for that matter. And yet I made it Half way across the world because I was passionate about getting to Africa. That being said, accomplishing this feat felt like doing the impossible.
So what I learned is that you can do anything you want in this world if you put your mind to it. Your potential is limitless. So to my peers I would like to encourage you dedicate yourself to whatever you want to do. Even if you’re as bad at it as I am at fundraising.
Lastly, I would like to thank Wesleyan. All of my professors and mentors who build me up, and even the people in the admissions office that gave me the opportunity to attend this university. And to the all my peers who have served as an inspiration for me over the past three years, I sincerely hope this little piece of writing can be an inspiration to you as well.