E-quip Africa History (Timeline)

Late 1960s
David Norman, originally from Willmar, Minnesota, serves in Peace Corps in Ghana, West Africa for two years. Intervening years David returns almost every year to work on various projects connected with his position as a professor of Geo-Chemistry at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro with expertise in gold mining and the removal of arsenic from ground water.
Late 1980s
David, his wife and three children live in Ghana while David teaches in Tarkwa at the School of Mines. Their children attend Tarkwa schools; they meet Fr. Francis Tawiah, pastor of the St. Mathew’s Parish whose schools are “the best show in town!”
Mary and Doug Wilkowske begin making financial contributions to St. Mathew’s Parish in Tarkwa, Ghana where Fr. Francis was pastor.
Early 1990s
David Norman convinces his sister, Mary Norman Wilkowske, to ask the Tithing and Social Concerns Committee of St. Mary’s Church in Willmar to help Fr. Francis’ efforts to improve learning opportunities in the school in Tarkwa by donating money to his efforts.
Early 1990s to present
St. Mary’s Church funds various projects in Ghana operated under the direction of Fr. Francis. The partnership flourishes due, in part, to the dedication and creativity of Fr. Francis in making the most of any donation by his ability to enlist laborers from his parishes.
Doug, as a teacher at Roosevelt Elementary School in Willmar, leads collection of library, text books and school supplies which are then shipped via “M-Bags” to Fr. Francis in Ghana. Fr. Francis visits Willmar. At the end of that school year, Minnesota students begin collecting used school supplies which otherwise would have been taken to the landfill. Those items were sent to Fr. Francis via parcel post.
June 2000
Doug, David and David’s daughter, Kirsten, travel to Ghana for two weeks. While David and Kirsten work on a project with World Vision, Doug tours schools the Takoradi area where Fr. Francis is now cathedral administrator.
January 2002
Doug travels to Ghana with a couple from his church, a former Peace Corps volunteer who served in Ghana in the late 1960s and that man’s college-age daughter for three weeks. Each carries two computers and many school supplies in his/her personal luggage. While there they “hatched” the idea of collecting large numbers of donated computers and bringing them to schools in Ghana.
September 2003
Doug founds Project Rescue, Incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit corporation. Bethel Lutheran, First Covenant and United Methodist Churches in Willmar begin supporting Project Rescue, Incorporated.Project Rescue, Incorporated hosts benefit concert featuring three young artists of the Minnesota Opera at St. Mary’s Church in Willmar.
March 2004
A 40-ft ocean-going container is packed and shipped to Ghana. Old clothes served as packing around the 250 computers. In the “excess container space” remaining after the computers, books and school supplies were loaded, the group packed hospital beds, wheel chairs, walkers, a gurney, a copy machine and some toys.
April 2004
Project Rescue, Incorporated hosts second benefit concert to raise funds for container shipment.
June 2004
Thirteen Minnesota students and adults, lead by Doug, travel to Ghana to meet container and distribute its contents to four schools across the country and a Rotary library project in Takoradi.
November 2004
The organization’s name was changed from Project Rescue, Incorporated to E-quip Africa.
February 2005
Doug receives an individual grant from The Rotary Foundation to travel to Ghana to research potential schools to receive next shipment of computers from E-quip Africa.
June-July 2005
Doug travels to Ghana enlisting Rotarians in three cities to assist in ranking schools’ needs and their ability to create a sustainable computer curriculum. Eddie Amoah signs on as E-quip Africa’s Ghana representative.
October 2006
E-quip Africa ships its second container to Ghana with 300 refurbished computers and literally tons of school supplies, books and medical equipment.
December 2006
Casey Iiams-Hauser joins E-quip Africa’s team in Ghana as a volunteer network/computer education specialist. Over the next six months, Casey successfully establishes computer labs and educational programs in Atimatim, Kumasi and Damongo.
January-February 2007
Doug and four others tour locations within Ghana where computers and other materials were donated. Relationships are established for the next container to be shipped in 2008, chiefly with Aidan Sabie Naah, Catholic Relief Services agent in Tamale.
January 2007—January 2008
Doug is hospitalized four times for two coronary artery stents, back surgery and the resulting battle with MRSA staph infection.
August 2008
A third 40 foot ocean container leaves Willmar, Minnesota for Tema’s import harbor in Ghana. The unloading and transportation within Ghana is supervised by Aidan Sabie Naah and funded by the Archdiocese of Tamale.
July 2009
Fifteen computers are donated to Bishop Nzimbi Secondary School in Kenya and carried in luggage by a tour group from Church of the Cross in Hopkins, Minnesota. These computers mark the first E-quip Africa donations outside of Ghana and the first machines to be processed through the Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher program.
August-September 2009
E-quip Africa prepares a shipment of computers for Youth Crime Watch Liberia, Zuo Taylor Executive Director, and Movement for the Promotion of Gender Equality in Liberia, (MOPGEL), Hisenburg Q. Togbah, Executive Director.
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