Shaler woman plans to bring medical services to West Africa
Monday, December 23, 2019 | 12:01 AM
Shaler resident Chastity Menner will start the new year approximately 5,200 miles away providing free medical access to people in Ghana, West Africa.
She co-founded Freedom for Health Asuogyaman — named for the more than 930-mile Asuogyaman district her organization covers — to bring medical treatment to a population of 100,000 lacking healthcare.
She will use her paramedic and medical education training, coordinating volunteers to serve 14 communities in need. Menner said that within a year the organization plans to expand its territory to 80 communities.
Services include a medical program consisting of malaria testing and treatment; wound care and closure; and general health care. A medical education program will educate teachers and students regarding dental hygiene, general hygiene, sexual education and first aid.
“I’ve spent the last 30 years in the medical field,” Menner, 47, said. “I was originally a paramedic. I worked for 15 years as a medic and a medical assistant, in everything from pediatrics to geriatrics. I’ve done just about everything you could possibly do. And then I’ve spent the last 15 years teaching every different aspect of the medical field.”
She has held positions at Manchester Bidwell Corp., Everest Institute, Career Training Academy and the Western School of Health and Business Careers.
“I’ve always had a passion for teaching, and I felt like I had so much knowledge that I wanted to share,” she said.
Upon learning of the conditions in Ghana’s southeastern region, she partnered with Australian native and Freedom for Health Asuogyaman CEO Andrew Davis to make a difference. In October, the organization obtained nonprofit status in Ghana.
Davis said he wanted to form the organization in Ghana because the country is “relatively safe,” and “it’s important to guarantee your medical workers’ safety.” Furthermore, they are focused on “one of the (region’s) most poverty-stricken areas.”
Menner and her 9-year-old son, Isaac, will depart on New Year’s Eve for their volunteer expedition, which will last an indeterminate amount of time. Menner will home-school Isaac.
“I want him to get out in the world. I want to be able to show him everything that’s out there while incorporating my love for medicine and teaching.”
Menner thinks the trip will provide Isaac with a unique opportunity to assist with the education courses and interact with diverse groups of people.
“He might help with, like, a dental hygiene class and teach the local children how to brush their teeth, or he might help with a personal hygiene class, just normal basic hygiene. Any classes that we have that he can help with. … He’ll be able to travel with me to local villages,” she explained.
Menner said Isaac seems excited about the trip and especially looks forward to chronicling his adventures in a YouTube series.
The experience is a step outside Menner’s own comfort zone: She doesn’t consider herself a world traveler and has never visited Africa.
However, her faith in providing medical care for the less fortunate is her motivation.
“I know it’s going to take off. I just don’t have any doubts that it’s going to do well and that it’s going to reach all of the people that we intend. I am not nervous.”
The nonprofit is seeking donations to fund medical supplies, travel expenses and its headquarters’ maintenance. Menner said the organization has a fundraising goal of $20,000, which would sustain the organization for six months. To donate visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/ freedom-for-health- asuogyaman