The whole reason behind the clinic, the water project, running water to the Mavi communities and my coming to Ghana- is yoga. Let me explain. Prepare yourself, this story is awesome, I only hope I can convey its magic.
It starts in 1982, with a fellow named Sherda. I was lucky enough to spend a weekend with Sherda at the clinic. We sat under a grass roof and we shared our meals. He told his jaw dropping tale of how running water came to the community, while tears trickled from my eyes.
Sherda worked in a cubical at an office building in Accra, the capital of Ghana. Wise beyond his years, Sherda was curious about developing a spiritual practice. He visited Buddhist temples and prayed to God “to make the distance between them closer”.
On a typical day at the office, a gentleman dressed in orange robes (a swami) appeared at Sherda’s desk. This was a quite a sight in Africa- 1982. The gentleman introduced himself as Dada, and said to Sherda “I hear you are interested in meditation and yoga?”. Dumbfounded, Sherda nodded. Dada invited Sherda to meditate with him and gave him an address in which to visit that night. Sherda was so shocked that he could not go that night. The following day, Dada reappeared and waited the entire day for Sherda to finish work and escorted him to the meditation centre.
Sherda studied Anada Marga yoga with Dada for 5 years. Dada explained his random and magical appearance at Sherda’s desk saying “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”. In 1986, Sherda travelled to Calcutta to visit the Anada Marga Guru. He stayed for 3 months. On his final day, he mediated with the Guru. The Guru opened his eyes and stared at Sherda. The Guru asked him “Sherda, what are you going to do about the Guinea worm epidemic in Ghana?” In Sherda’s mind, he thought ”there is no Guinea worm problem!”, but he decided to keep his month shut. He told me that Guru’s have a way of seeing into the future.
He told his Guru he would look into it and do something about it.
Guinea worm is a devastating and deadly parasite. People get infected when they drink standing water containing a tiny water flea that is infected with the even tinier larvae of the Guinea worm. Inside the body, the larvae mature which can take years. The worm can grow as long as 3 feet and tangle itself throughout the organs and body. There is no cure. The worm must be removed manually.
During the time that the worm is emerging through the skin and being removed, the affected person suffers intense pain and often cannot work or resume daily activities for months. Farmers cannot tend their crops, parents cannot care for children, and children miss school. Even after the worms are gone, people are often left with scarring and permanent crippling, such as physical deformations and weakened immunity.
Following Sherda’s return to Ghana, there was an annoucemnt of guinea worm epidemic in rural Ghana. Before this time he had never even heard of the disease. Sherda left his job in Accra, and went to learn more about guinea worm. He travelled to rural communities learning the causes, effects and the suffering of people infected from guinea worm. He asked the people how he could help and they said “Help us bring filtered running water to our communities”.
Part 2 to come.