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2017 Closing Statement

Hello Everyone-

I am sharing this video of me singing one of my favorite worship songs, no longer slaves, and talking about my past performance on how I started a women-focused programming or coding community in Ghana with the help of some great women and a few good men. We legally worked under a network name of a global non-profit organization under contracts.

The point of it all is to show that when a single computer or mathematical programmer travels, great things can happen in spite of challenges! Please take this as an official announcement that with the help of some colleagues and some friends, I have been able to establish a new not-for-profit organization with a 501(c)(3) status called Coders Who Travel Inc. ( www.coderswhotravel.com). This organization seeks to raise up bridge-builders to provide requisite computer or mathematical programming skills to individuals in under-reached regions around the world.

My discovery actually came retrospectively. On December 13, 2015, I arrived in the United States after spending almost two weeks in Ghana doing what will later be described as “Y’all did about seven months of work in a week”. When I got back, an abstract was submitted on my behalf and I was slated to be a Co-Speaker for a conference that was to feature over 500+ technology professionals interested in learning more about this work in the United States. I actually ended up getting admitted at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) two weeks before that conference and missed it. When I woke up on March 14, 2016 in the hospital, I wept when I remembered that my speaking date was March 10, 2016; four days earlier. Although, I quickly became grateful for my life instead. I went on to have two separate hospitalizations in addition.

It began to feel like life was giving me many reasons to be despondent even after my labor of love that cost me nearly 10,000 USD out-of-pocket. This act of giving and subsequent sponsoring of other programs without reimbursement led me to create this new organization. My journey informs me, I truly believe, that to change a situation, the answer does not come from insiders or outsiders but from an insider-outsider working alongside insiders and outsiders; together. Insider-outsiders or bridge-builders or connectors have the following traits.

1. Bridge-builders have empathy for the insiders they seek to impact more than outsiders do
2. Bridge-builders have an understanding of the frustrations that outsiders feel when change is slow more than insiders do
3. Bridge-builders are unique because they see these two perspectives informed by 1 and 2 above
4. Bridge-builders use boots-on-the-ground approaches to meet challenges even if inexperienced
5. Bridge-builders save a lot money; such as free car rides and discounted photos from ex class mates in my case
6. Bridge builders need the guidance of experts to repeat their novel approaches and transform them into evidence-based outcomes via professional pro bono services and thought-leadership from their colleagues across alma maters, academia, think tank and consulting firms
7. Bridge-builders need local incubators to be pace setters in supporting these ideas
8. Bridge-builders need the corporate world to be generous such as two partners from one of the big 4 consulting firms who paid for the inaugural workshop and fundraising related expenses for CWT
9. Bridge-builders win the majority support of family and friends only when they impress with their first project and get featured, grateful for the academic and media teams at one software company, in the news domestically and internationally; meaning well, they advise them to play it safe in the beginning
10. Bridge-builders need close and smart friends and counsel from professionals in the care industry to walk through all that they are dealing with, emotionally, physically and financially, when trail-blazing a new path
11. Bridge-builders will encounter three groups of people when they are building something, very few will support (the leaders of one organization that focuses on computer programming for girls were so supportive; a promise kept to always mention its leaders), majority will ignore them, and a few will do everything to undermine them. But, it somehow works out – all of it.
12. Bridge-builders will find that their sacrifice really pay dividends in the lives they touched and that they can start an extraordinary cause with ordinary people because they become extraordinary!
13. Bridge-builders incorporate creative ways to make these adventures fun such as the practitioners from a big 4 consulting firm who serenaded with live music at CWT’s inaugural happy hour and fundraising event
14. Bridge-builders learn that, the insiders contribute just as much as the outsiders do albeit with different strengths for something tangible to be cemented
15. Bridge-builders who lead volunteers learn that there is something very remarkable about leading individuals who do not depend on a pay check – but will make a case for other incentives on their behalf

This bridge-builder with the perspective from the ICU knows that, it is better to chase dreams quickly, bring to a regular job your best – as far as it depends on you, believe that the impossible can happen, strive to put God first and to carefully weigh battles to choose to fight.

On December 30th and December 31st, the two most popular days for giving in the year, please support a bridge builder to travel, inspire and deliver computer or mathematical programming skills around the world at https://www.coderswhotravel.com/donate. Thank you!

Kind Regards-

Afia Owusu-Forfie
President | Coders Who Travel Inc.