I havenâ€™t read READERâ€™S DIGEST in decades, but they used to have (and perhaps still do have) a feature called â€œMy Most Unforgettable Personâ€. Well, based on 73-plus years of living, and knowing literally, thousands of people, yours truly certainly has a number one candidate for that identity. His name is Eugene (Gene) Chase. Heâ€™s co-founder and Executive Director of an organization named Traditions and Hope.
Traditions and Hope is a non-profit (501c3 status) Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with headquarters in Chicago, Illinois, that delivers medical, agricultural and educational supplies, infrastructure, and training to individuals and communities in developing countries who lack these essentials for sustainable development. The primary country of focusâ€¦and ongoing action, not just wordsâ€¦is Ghana, with other infrastructure and carbon-neutral activity taking place in The Maldives, in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Because of Geneâ€™s incredible work in Ghana for the past two-plus years, he was instooled as a bona fide Development Chief in one of that countryâ€™s regions, similar to our states. (In The Maldives, Geneâ€™s initiative and work is helping elevate that nationâ€™s infrastructure on multiple levels, and to realistically attain the goal of making it the first carbon neutral nation in the world within the next ten years.)
Last week, I had the joy and privilege to accompany Gene and three others involved with the organizationâ€™s management team on a five-day media public awareness â€œblitzâ€ to Des Moines, Omaha, Grand Forks and Fargo. (Included on the â€œblitzâ€ was Geneâ€™s daughter, Kristi, whoâ€™s an RN and Medical Director for the organization, as well as co-founder of the organization. Virginia Fuller, the other co-founder, is also in the medical profession, and based in Cleveland, but was not part of this particular trip.) The media in all cities were wonderful and very kindly â€œspread the wordâ€ that one of Traditions and Hopeâ€™s divisions, named Tractors For Peace, was seeking donations of old, used tractors (as well as seeders/planters, all tax-deductible) from farmers. The tractors (and/or other implements aforementioned) would be picked up, with no charge to the farmer, transported to vocational schools that are part of the Tractors For Peace initiative, reworked for parts and/or restoration, then shipped to Ghana to allow small farmers there to farm the land in a â€œmodernâ€ manner. They will be taught how to use the tractors and other implements, thus increasing their ability to grow and sell their produce, improve their standards of living via additional income and overall improve their lives in general.
Thanks to WDAY-TVâ€™s newscast in Fargo, Monday evening, February 21st, which featured an interview by reporter Kevin Wallevand with Gene Chase, explaining the need for tractor donations, reporter Wallevand received a phone call and email from a farmer (and former Lutheran pastor) in Central Minnesota who watched Kevinâ€™s report, and said heâ€™d be happy to donate. Thus, the first tractor is in the works to be picked up from that wonderful farmer. It was a thrill to know the first tractor would be picked up soon, and hopefully start a parade of tractor donations in this area. The Grand Forks Herald also kindly did a story (by Kevin Bonham) this past week about the tractor donations and all the work Traditions and Hope/Tractors For Peace are doing.
Further information can be found at www.traditionsandhope.org and www.tractorsforpeace.org. If youâ€™re a farmer reading this, or someone who is close to farmers, and you have an old tractor that will never be used again here, please know it could mean a world of difference to the farmer who would receive it in far-off Ghana. In addition, if the farmer wishes, he or she will know the name of the farmer and location in Ghana where the equipment was received, and Tractors For peace will also have follow-up stories on television, the newspapers and the web, tracing the progress of the donation, from pick-up to delivery, and usage. With all the bad news today, this is certainly good news, and Iâ€™m proud to be a part of it.