Imagine you are the chief in a village in Ghana so remote and poor that no one remembers ever seeing a white visitor. Then imagine a silver-haired American medical doctor and his team sweeping into town with a mission to test and treat every villager’s maladies.
Next imagine this doctor bringing his team back a second time the next year. They treat everyone again and also pay for a $35,000, 300-foot-deep well to improve the village drinking water. Previously, village women dipped buckets of impure water from an open shallow well.
How could you possibly repay such gifts?
You could make the doctor a chief! Not just any honorary chief, but an honored elder, with his own colorful robe and beads and a small plot of land.
That’s what happened to Dr. Lyle Wadsworth (aka Chief Nii Tettey Kudjoe II of Ashweniagmor Village in Ghana).
Wadsworth, one of the founders of DeLand-based Good Samaritan Clinic, which provides free medical care to the poor, led a missionary team of West Volusians to Ghana in 2018 and 2019, and plans to go again next year.
Financial sponsorship has come from his church, River City Church in DeBary, along with Rotary Clubs, other churches and individual donors.
Wadsworth has practiced internal medicine in DeLand for 41 years. At 70 years of age, he might be expected to be retiring. Instead, he said he's been re-energized by these medical missions offering support to a cluster of five tiny villages out beyond Ghana’s capital, Accra.
The team of three doctors, nurses and a missionary pastor treated 600 patients in one week last year. This year, they saw 1,500 patients over two weeks, and they plan to do even more when they return in 2020.
Wadsworth said that waterborne sickness from open shallow wells is endemic in these villages, hence the $35,000 to provide a deep, protected potable-water well in one village this year. He wants to help more in the other four villages next year.
His team this year included two other local doctors: Dr. Reginald Schutt-Aine and Dr. David Edwards, along with registered nurse Mary Littleton, Wadsworth’s wife, Gayle, who is also a registered nurse, and Wadsworth’s pre-med-student grandson, Stephen Wadsworth.
Also along were Mary Collins and her husband, Dan. Mary had been a Delta flight attendant who developed a love for Ghana during her flying career and made the introductions that facilitated the team’s visits.
In addition to the medical services the team provided, they also delivered 75 girls’ dresses sewed in the Garments for Ghana project by members of River City Church.
Oh, and that mouthful of his chiefly name? Dr. Wadsworth explained it was the name of that village’s first chief, 70 years ago, which also explains the “II” tacked onto the end.
Those wishing to support the team’s 2020 trip may send donation checks to Seminole Baptist Association, 321 Washington Oaks Drive, DeLand, FL 32720. Write “mission” in the memo line.