Kimoyo was founded in November 1998 under the name of The Binaba Mission, Limited. The name was changed in 2003 to Kimoyo LTD., which better represented the relationship building and community understanding that was at the heart of our presence in Ghana and our budding After-School Enrichment Program in the Roanoke Valley.
The non-profit was the result of a joint mission trip between St. John’s Episcopal Church and Kingdom Life Ministries International in 1996. The joint team spent hours while in Ghana talking about the possibilities of helping an extremely impoverished area of the Upper East Region of Ghana. There was no electricity or running water and most people lived in mud huts with thatched roofs. Farming was the mainstay of survival and medical facilities were poorly supplied and without doctors. A child could and did easily die from being scratched by a rusty nail (no available antibiotics) or a woman dies from a snake bite while gathering shea nuts for her family (without electricity, anti-venom was not available).
Perhaps the turning point for our first joint trip was standing in the rundown Binaba Hospital as a woman filled with grief brought her baby for treatment and the facility did not have the capacity for hydration through IVs and we soon realized the baby had died right there in front of us. The child died of dehydration from malaria. It impacted all of us and challenged us to find answers on a simple scope that could help save lives.
The group was also profoundly shocked by the lack of access to medicines, doctors, emergency rooms and even simple things like aspirin, Neosporin, cough syrup and all the things we take for granted. And yet in the middle of what we saw as dire conditions the people were filled with a joy of life, a resilience to the constant battle of just living, a hope that was overwhelming and a gratitude for the simplest things; and we became bonded with this infectious joy and resilience of the people of the Upper East Region and determined to help with some of the problems they faced.
After returning home members of the group initiated an idea with Tom O’Dell that a joint committee be set up to look at the possibilities. By 1998, The Binaba Mission Limited was established as a 501(c)(3) Organization. And we having been working in that region ever since.
Today, aided by the efforts of Kimoyo and our continued presence in Binaba and Zebilla, electricity is available, anti-venom and anti-biotics are available, storefronts thrive, and medical care has greatly improved.
Our input to that improvement in quality of life was the building of a 24 bed clinic with electricity, running water, anti-biotics, anti-venom, and medical staff; establishing a micro-loan program that has changed the lives of more than 155 woman in Zebilla and five other villages and is still expanding; building an internet café for communication; establishing an after-school program for girls that now works with 120 junior high age girls addressing the educational and empowerment issues in four villages in that region and finally moving into agricultural development through animal husbandry and the beginning stages of drip irrigation.
While there remains so much to do, Kimoyo has had an impact in the region and continues to contribute to the wellbeing of those we have come to call our friends. Perhaps the most important aspect of the work that we do in Ghana is the impact on our lives. We have been touched and changed by this wonderful community in Ghana that welcomed us, worked beside us and taught us how to be resilient when nothing goes as planned.
All these experiences taught us the need within the Roanoke Valley for a different understanding of the world we live in. Our Roanoke-based After-School Enrichment Programs have served as a wonderful view of the history and culture of past African Kingdoms and their historical and artistic contribution that we still see in the world today. And most importantly the program gives the young the opportunity to develop the consciousness of a global citizen valuing the culture and authenticity of people all over the world.