By Jessica Brodie
ORANGEBURG—Orangeburg District United Methodists are cheering this month after learning they have surpassed their $80,000 goal, raising $89,000 for a new information technology center they are building in rural Ghana.
Now they are setting their sights on a new goal: $120,000 so they can install solar power for the whole center.
“We’re just walking in faith right now,” said Jim Arant, congregational specialist and team leader. “We never expected to get to $89,000. People kept saying, ‘Orangeburg is a poor district; they don't have any money,’ but there’s been an incredible amount of support from the district, with small churches giving more than they thought they could. No really big, big gifts, just a lot of people giving.
“It’s just been amazing.”
The district is partnering with The Methodist Church of Ghana to raise $80,000 to build the 6,000-square-foot technology center and library in Abesewa, which is in the Ashanti Region of the northwestern African nation. Roofing has begun, and when finished, the center will include 50 computers, Internet access, books, tables and chairs and more.
Arant said they decided to prioritize solar power in the technology center because the power in that area is considered “dirty power”—very irregular. It would also eliminate electricity costs for the center.
“There are horror stories of computers getting fried after six months because the power is so erratic,” Arant said. “In America, the power has a constant flow, but over there, my understanding is they have surges, and when those surges hit electronic equipment, they can blow them out. We don't want to spend a bunch of money on computers we have to replace after a short time.”
Once they have the money, Arant said, they will buy the panels, which collect light, transform it into electricity and put it into batteries, which run all the computers. The batteries last about 10 years, Arant said, and the panels last even longer.
They hope to be able to celebrate the opening of the center by the first of the year.
“What’s really been fantastic is these churches have come together and worked together and many probably have never worked together before,” Arant said. “It’s been a great experience in terms of showing how we can work together to make things happen, and Orangeburg has done a tremendous job. No individual has given a great, huge amount, but everyone has given something. That's a great story of how we work together to make things happen. It’s about God, not us; about God working in us.”
The center is being constructed using local materials and labor. They have ordered solid-state computers, which have no fans or other movable parts so no dust can get inside.
Arant said they were able to raise the money thanks to a series of fundraising dinners the district hosted, along with individual donations.
To learn more about the project and see photos: UmcscInGhana.org.
By Jessica Brodie