Put me to work for a day in Africa

15 Jul

Do I have a bargain for you!

$1,000/day = 8-hours of my working time in Vancouver at my full charge-out rate as an engineering consultant.

$50/day = 24-hours of my time in Ghana. And it’s TAX DEDUCTIBLE to boot! (granted I will be sleeping for a portion of the day and my work effectiveness in Africa is highly unlikely to be as high as it is in Canada, but still quite a deal). See below for a summary of how I came up with $50/day and what it will buy you.

I will be working in northern Ghana (somewhere around Tamale) on a project with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) between mid August and mid December. I’m not sure about what the specific project will be yet, but here’s some background on EWB’s work with MoFA.

If you’d like to put me to work for a day in Africa, all you have to do is take out your credit card, CLICK HERE TO BUY ME FOR A DAY, and then email me at markwjabbott@gmail.com to let me know what day you would like to purchase. Also in your email, please let me know if you have a personal challenge or question youd like answered on your day (see below). I will send you a confirmation email and add your name to the schedule.

Note that half days are available, but be warned that you might get the 1st half of the day and Im much less productive in the morning.

Thanks for your support!



1. Stay safe, healthy and well (top of the list as per Mom and Dad)

2. Contribute as much as I am able

3. Share my experience with people back home

4. See the world through the lens of a different culture

5. Learn more about myself


1. I promise to pause and in the morning and throughout the day to dedicate the day to you, so someone on the other side of the planet will be thinking about you on your day.

2. I will provide you with a personal recounting of what happened on your day. Give that I will probably have spotty internet access and based on feedback from returned volunteers about their experiences, you will probably have to wait until I get back for a personal recounting. In the meantime, you will be able to follow my public blog.

3. You can give me a challenge or question you want answered and I will try to work it into your day if it does not adversely impact my work.

4. You will share in the credit for whatever I manage to contribute, so if I have some incredible brainstorm that changes the world, then pack your bags because you’ll be coming on Oprah with me. No need to worry if I inadvertently mess something up, however, as I will disavow all knowledge of our association. 🙂


$2,220 Airfare

$1,400 Living stipend (food, housing, travel, etc… ~ $10/day to live on)

$600 Overseas Support Resources

$550 Vaccinations

$500 Insurance

$150 Visas

$400 Pre-departure travel

$350 Pre-departure accommodation and food

$50 Pre-departure training materials

Total = $6,500

I plan to suck up the cost of the Vaccinations and Pre-Departure accommodation & Food myself, so that makes it:

Revised Total = $5,300

I leave on August 15th and get back on December 15th (4 months). Subtracting August as settling in time, that leaves me with about 105 days in Africa.

Cost per Day = $50/day


I arrive in Ghana on August 16th and I was going to give myself a couple of weeks to settle in before starting this program, but the response has been so overwhelming that I have added 14 bonus days starting a couple of days after I land.  I’ve just run out of days, so I’ll have to think of something to do for these people and any other late supporters upon my return and/or several of the previous sponsors didn’t give me challenges, so I should be able to squeeze a few more in:

Day-less #1) Jack Vanier – Day 1 – do a root cause analysis to determine the real causes of one of the problems or issues that you are working with.   Day 2 – tell me about energy use and how countries like Ghana can take immediate advantage of recent technologies like LED lighting. Have fun

Day-less #2) Ray Westerlaken

Day-less #3) Mark Sewell – I want you to learn a traditional Ghanaian dance, and perform it on video for my enjoyment at home!

Day-less #4) Kim McRae

Day-less #5 & #6) Brenda Stevens – Pass along lots of smiles & warm hugs whenever you can.

Day-less #7) James Milligan – I’m conflicted in deciding if I would ask you to work really hard, or enjoy your time over there. Maybe it’s possible to do both? Either way, enjoy your time and be safe.

Day-less #8 & #9) Lorraine McGregor – please find a female leader and a young woman or man who is an acknowledged leader in the community and interview him or her to find out how he/she became recognized and supported as a leader. Then help her/him to pull out lessons learned about becoming a leader and use them to mentor other young people (men and women!)

Day-less #10) Tricia Yurkowski – As you know, I teach grade seven and have earned a Masters about early adolescence. Since I am passionate about this age group, my hope would be at some point, you find a child of the age of twelve or thirteen (boy or girl) and connect with them at a personal level.  Find out how they spend their time, what their hopes are and what is important to them. Take a photo of this person and post it on your blog or send it to me personally.  

Day-less #11 to #20) the Fultons.  That’s ten whole day-less days!  I will have to come up with something major for you two…

Day-less #21 & #22) Mike Dunn

Bonus Day A) 18-Aug-10-Wed – I WILL START TRANSITIONING WITH THE OUTGOING VOLUNTEER FOR MY PLACEMENT – the Gammie family – we ares excited for you! We will be thinking of you on this day and we will teach Danika and Tianna something about Ghana and what you are doing there:)

Bonus Day B) 19-Aug-10 Thurs – Kieran Smith –

Bonus Day C) 20-Aug-10 Fri – Chris and Emily Goodchild

Bonus Day D) 21-Aug-10 Sat – I WILL MEET WITH THE OTHER EWB MoFA TEAM MEMBERS IN TAMALE – Christian Beaudrie – Have fun at MoFA, and be sure to visit Zakoli to see shea butter processing in action!!  Be sure to take lots of photos and video so you can share the stories when you get back.

Bonus Day E) 22-Aug-10 Sun – Mark Dickson

Bonus Day F) 23-Aug-10 Mon – Catherine Dallaire

Bonus Day G) 24-Aug-10 Tues – MY FIRST DAY OF WORK  – Jack Vanier

Bonus Day H) 25-Aug-10 Wed – Ray Randall

Bonus Day I) 26-Aug-10 Thurs – Vern Walle

Bonus Day J) 27-Aug-10 Fri – Vern Walle

Bonus Day K) 28-Aug-10 Sat – Mark Dickson

Bonus Day L) 29-Aug-10 Sun – Don Dingwall

Bonus Day M) 30-Aug-10 Mon – Randy and Lyla Crighton

Bonus Day N) 31-Aug-10 Tues – Kim McRae – No special requests or tasks for you, except to have a great experience.

1) 01-Sep-10 Wed – Carl & Karen Abbott – Stay safe!

2) 02-Sep-10 Thurs – Doug and Rachel Spirig – on their 10th anniversary.  Wait a minute – I was at your wedding – it can’t have been 10 years!

3) 03-Sep-10 Fri – James McPherson

4) 04-Sep-10 Sat – Chandran Thiruchittampalam – Enjoy your assignment in Ghana, as I enjoyed the six years I spent there!!

5) 05-Sep-10 Sun – Jeni Dunkel – Sept 5th is the day I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  I would like you to find out what services are available for women in Ghana for breast cancer prevention and/or screening.  Also, I would like you to bring someone up, who’s down that day… make them smileJ  The power of positive thinking and energy is life-saving!  Have a wonderful, safe trip!!  Oh and go on safari for me if you can!

6) 06-Sep-10 Mon – Sasha Caldera – Experience Ghana through the eyes of Sasha! As you go about your day, think/act/do as Sasha would! Then write a funny blog post gushing about your amazing transcendental experience!

7) 07-Sep-10 Tues – Mark Grindlay for his brother Bruce on his B-Day

8 ) 08-Sep-10 Wed – Ainsley Watson – on her first day of school, think of a story for her to hear about what it is like to be 5 in Ghana

9) 09-Sep-10 Thurs – George Mitchell

10) 10-Sep-10 Fri – George Mitchell

11) 11-Sep-10 Sat – Dan Hebert

12) 12-Sep-10 Sun – James McPherson

13) 13-Sep-10 Mon – the Aujla family – Speak with an accent all day (when possible)…don’t tell anybody why.  Any accent your choosing, except Canadian. 🙂

14) 14-Sep-10 Tues – Mark Grindlay – for Tess on her 9th B-Day!

15) 15-Sep-10 Wed – Jackie Stevens – good luck on the UFE test!

16) 16-Sep-10 Thurs – the Dicksons – for Rebecca on her birthday

17) 17-Sep-10 Fri – Karen Abbott – Think of me on my birthday

18) 18-Sep-10 Sat – Mark Grindlay for his brother Paul on his B-Day (18th in lieu of the 19th)

19) 19-Sep-10 Sun – Michelle Nicholson – for Aidan on his 1st B-Day

20) 20-Sep-10 Mon – Faye Larsen – think of me on my B-day

21) 21-Sep-10 Tues – Monica Rodgers – Who’s in the neighbourhood? Introduce us to a family or person you have met who has made an impression.

22) 22-Sep-10 Wed – the Dicksons – for Erika’s birthday (two days early)

23) 23-Sep-10 Thurs – Mohamed and Lamiss Jradi – on their anniversary.

24) 24-Sep-10 Fri – Catriana McKie, Evan Short, Milo and Meredith – What role do mobile/cell phones play in the local economy, especially the farmers and business people you’ll be working with.  Also, is Kofi Annan is a big figure in his home country and who are some other great Ghanaian people you’ve met or heard about?

25) 25-Sep-10 Sat – the Law family – on the day they are expecting a new addition to their family!!!! 🙂

26) 26-Sep-10 Sun – the Slack family – think of us on Jennifer’s B-Day

27) 27-Sep-10 Mon – Aron Bjornson – on this day that my father passed away, I challenge you to look into the ceremonies of how death of close family is marked and celebrated  in the community you are working in

28) 28-Sep-10 Tues – Saiqa Khan – Give a little Ghanaian a BIG hug !!

29) 29-Sep-10 Wed – Ray Randall

30) 30-Sep-10 Thurs – Sara Williamson – To echo your parents…stay safe and healthy!

31) 01-Oct-10 Fri – Carl Abbott – Think of me on my birthday

32) 02-Oct-10 Sat – Miranda Laratta – on Gandhi’s birthday and the international day for non-violence (note that Miranda has now sponsored two days by selling 100 cupcakes!!)

33) 03-Oct-10 Sun – Bindy Grewal – It’s my birthday!  I would like for you to find out what a traditional wedding in Ghana looks like.  It would be great to get a picture of the bride in her bridal dress.  I thought this might be easier for you to do then coming back with a bride from Ghana. 🙂

34) 04-Oct-10 Mon – Tracy Halmos – Learn how to say “I’m making a difference” in the local language… because you are!

35) 05-Oct-10 Tues – Suzanne and Kris Fulton – on the day they met.  Our challenge is to have you find some children to teach you a traditional song and then film yourself singing it with them.  I would like to show it to my elementary school music class in West Vancouver.  Be inspired…and safe.

36) 06-Oct-10 Wed – Betsa & Saeed Samani.  For the memory of my mother-in-law who died from brain cancer last year on Oct7, 2009 at the age of 65.

37) 07-Oct-10 Thurs – Penny Heaslip – for her daughter Susan’s B-Day

38) 08-Oct-10 Fri – James McPherson

39) 09-Oct-10 Sat – Penny Heaslip – the day before her wedding anniversary

40) 10-Oct-10 Sun – the Bertolis – we are thinking of you.  Fill your soul.

41) 11-Oct-10 Mon – Miranda Laratta – I am sponsoring you on Thanksgiving because I am thankful for the way your journey is inspiring me and others. Try to do a blog letting us know what you have been most thankful for on your trip thus far.

42) 12-Oct-10 Tues – Jeff and Marnie Larson – on their anniversary

43) 13-Oct-10 Wed – the Aujla family – I know this is going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done: Pause for a moment and don’t think about anything.

44) 14-Oct-10 Thurs – Ali and Sar Madadi – please write a two-page reaction piece on your observation of the life condition of women in the village you are residing.  We would like to know how women are contributing to the economic and social empowerment of their community

45) 15-Oct-10 Fri – Kevin Liu

46) 16-Oct-10 Sat – Kevin Liu

47) 17-Oct-10 Sun – Kevin Liu

48) 18-Oct-10 Mon – Kevin Liu – In my mind, providing water to remote villages for irrigation and for human consumption in developing countries especially in Africa has always been a challenge.  Please do your best to learn what type of water & sanitation work is being done in my area and see if I can contribute any ideas.

49) 19-Oct-10 Tues – Barb Agostini – Think of all the great people in your life born this month (including me).

50) 20-Oct-10 Wed – Michael Dorsey – my personal challenge will be to ask lots of questions.  Doesn’t matter what its about, just ask lots of questions and listen.

51) 21-Oct-10 Thurs – Monica Rodgers – What’s for supper? Tell us about the food in Ghana….what do you like? what do you miss from home?

52) 22-Oct-10 Fri – Barb Agostini – It’s the lead-up to Halloween – I’ll be buying my fair trade treats to hand out.

53) 23-Oct-10 Sat – Gary Watson – tell me what it is like to finally get to work in Africa, because I can remember you first talking about it 15 years ago!

54) 24-Oct-10 Sun – Carl & Karen Abbott – Take it easy on your birthday

55) 25-Oct-10 Mon – Jim Noon

56) 26-Oct-10 Tues – Jim Noon

57) 27-Oct-10 Wed – Jim Noon

58) 28-Oct-10 Thurs – Jim Noon

59) 29-Oct-10 Fri – Jim Noon

60) 30-Oct-10 Sat – Jim Noon

61) 31-Oct-10 Sun – Colette Gunson – dress up, explain why, and take a pic!

62) 01-Nov-10 Mon – James McPherson

63) 02-Nov-10 Tues – Harish Raisinghani

64) 03-Nov-10 Wed – Mervyn Madill – on his special B-Day

65) 04-Nov-10 Thurs – Kim Law – on this day, tell us what you’ve seen so far that inspires you and would inspire us.

66) 05-Nov-10 Fri – Catriana McKie, Evan Short, Milo and Meredith – on Guy Fawkes Night – We will think of you when we watch the fireworks and bonfires.  Please tell us what part, if any, cocoa and chocolate play in the Ghanaian diet and culture or if they just export it.

67) 06-Nov-10 Sat – Mark Vuletin – stay safe

68) 07-Nov-10 Sun – James McPherson

69) 08-Nov-10 Mon – Kyle Robertson – Question: in the Ghanian Football League, if a defender stops a shot with his hands on the goal line, is it a penalty shot or an automatic goal (like the ‘Professional Foul’ of rugby).  If it is a penalty shot, please work to make this change (letter to football organisation, mass protest, etc.).  I expect this will truly lift the hearts of Ghanians, make people the world over realise that ancient rules long past their prime can be overturned, and make your job easier.

70) 09-Nov-10 Tues – Bill and Lorna Guppy

71) 10-Nov-10 Wed – Bill and Lorna Guppy – on the eve of their anniversary and of Remembrance Day.  Bill’s father (my grandfather) fought in WWII.

72) 11-Nov-10 Thurs – Jennifer Watson – her Grandfather fought in WWII and Noverember 11th was important to him, and still is for her.  Tell us how WWII impacted Ghana.

73) 12-Nov-10 Fri – Carl Abbott – remember Gram on her birthday

74) 13-Nov-10 Sat – Peter Turner – hope my B-Day is a good day for you!  (Sorry Pete, you got bumped by a day as you share a B-Day with my Gram who passed away earlier this year)

75) 14-Nov-10 Sun – the Groves family

76) 15-Nov-10 Mon – the Groves family

77) 16-Nov-10 Tues – the Groves family

78) 17-Nov-10 Wed – the Groves family

79) 18-Nov-10 Thurs – the Groves family

80) 19-Nov-10 Fri – the Groves family

81) 20-Nov-10 Sat – Sydney Watson – on the first day of her vacation, think of a story for her to hear about what it is like to be 3 in Ghana

82) 21-Nov-10 Sun – Monica Rodgers – What made you laugh today? something brought a smile or a belly laugh? Can you tell us a joke from Ghana?

83) 22-Nov-10 Mon – Lynn Kitchen – I hope something exciting happens on my B-Day!

84) 23-Nov-10 Tues – Doris Tang – Try, be a part, or participate in something new today that you haven’t yet.

85) 24-Nov-10 Wed – the Bertanis – on Stephanie’s B-Day – ride an elephant and send us the photo for our boys.  If you can’t find a well treated elephant, then find something else that the boys will like.

86) 25-Nov-10 Thurs – Doug Cox – this is American Thanksgiving and there will be the Macy’s Santa Claus Parade. Show the children in the area a little bit about the parade and find out if they know about Santa.

87) 26-Nov-10 Fri – Doug Morris

88) 27-Nov-10 Sat – Doug Morris

89) 28-Nov-10 Sun – Doug Morris

90) 29-Nov-10 Mon – Doug Morris

91) 30-Nov-10 Tues – Doug Morris

92) 01-Dec-10 Wed – Steffanie Blouin – Tell us about a moment that made you the proudest of yourself. (we’re all very proud of you!!!)

93) 02-Dec-10 Thurs – Steffanie Blouin – Christmas in Ghana – Find out how Christmas is celebrated. Traditions, foods, etc..

94) 03-Dec-10 Fri – Rogayeh Tabrizi – I want you to make 10 children laugh very hard on this day! if you can take their pictures for me, that would be great, if not, i simply believe you!

95) 04-Dec-10 Sat – Liam Rust – …to help our Waterboy convey some high-quality H2O

96) 05-Dec-10 Sun – the Spirigs on Rachel’s B-Day

97) 06-Dec-10 Mon – George Mitchell

98) 07-Dec-10 Tues – George Mitchell

99) 08-Dec-10 Wed – Anya Spethmann – I’d like to connect you with my cousin and her husband

100) 09-Dec-10 Thurs – Chris Blouin – Think of or find me a Christmas present for Steffanie

101) 10-Dec-10 Fri – Chris Blouin – Think of or find me a Christmas present for Siena

102) 11-Dec-10 Sat – Chris Blouin – Think of or find me a Christmas present for Anders … thanks for the gift ideas; well worth the investment!

103) 12-Dec-10 Sun – Josie Lacey and her Mom – hug as many people as you can on those two days.

104) 13-Dec-10 Mon – Josie Lacey and her Mom – hug as many people as you can on those two days.

105) 14-Dec-10 Tues – Carl & Karen Abbott – Come home safe!

106) 15-Dec-10 Wed – Jane Comeault – Reflect on your time in Ghana…how was it different from what you expected?  What surprised you?


4 Responses to “Put me to work for a day in Africa”

  1. Ian Froude August 2, 2010 at 5:00 pm #

    This is incredible! Great work Mark, I love it. Super great and innovative way to engage people and fund your placement


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