CRAN like any human enterprise started with a dream which I had in 1986 whilst a student in the University of Ghana and later doing my national service at Dunkwa-on-Offin in the Central Region.This dream was borne out of a strong conviction and motivation to give something back to society particularly, the rural poor upon graduating from the University.Indeed, I myself had grew up within a rural setting and therefore appreciates very well the depth of deprivation, want and the very difficulties our rural folks face in their daily endeavor to survive and/or make some meaning out of life. This unflinching desire to be actively engaged in rural development work perhaps led to my pursuit of a two-year Masters program in Development Planning and Management run under a partnership between the University of Dortmund in the Federal Republic of Germany and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi (KNUST), Ghana (known as the SPRING Program).
Whilst studying in Dortmund between 1989 and 1990), I made a number of good Christian friends out of the Dortmund University Christian Fellowship (SMD); many of who later came to share in this vision of rural development work in Ghana. These indeed turned out to be CRAN’s main and more or less permanent source of support and inspiration till date. In1991, a few months of work as an academic in the University of Cape Coast brought upon me the realization that it is never enough to write and publish academic papers and books for the shelves only, which would hardly impact directly on the despicable poverty, illiteracy, squalor and indeed the general deplorable conditions under which most of our rural communities survive. Some of which are very proximal to the university itself. Rather, getting down to the communities to deploy and make available all the valuable skills I have acquired in rural development planning and management, l thought, would bring the desired impact little as this may be. It was this ardent desire and motivation to place these skills and knowledge directly at the disposal of the rural people so as to help improve quality of life, provide opportunities and give hope that gave birth to CRAN.
Between 1991 and 1993,considerable grounds and behind-the-scene works had been accomplished with active support from a number of colleagues towards laying the foundation for the birth of CRAN. Some of these efforts included intense contacts and discussions with our friends in Germany regarding their support for CRAN and its work. This culminated in the official inception of the Friends of CRAN Circle (CRAN Freundeskreis, e.V.) in 1993 in Dortmund and which was later registered in Germany as an official partner and support group for CRAN and its rural development work in Ghana. Other areas of intense efforts included extensive baseline surveys in selected migrant fishing communities in the Central Region which we had chosen to commence our rural development work and projects and also the preparation of all the necessary legal documentations.
We as CRAN have also learnt over the years to give our whole selves to the ministry of helping others, having perceived this essentially as working for the Lord and not for men. Looking back over the last 20 years, CRAN, indeed, has chalked some achievements worth celebrating. Over the last two decades, projects and activities may have benefited either directly or indirectly over 1 million people in Ghana resident in over 450 rural and peri-urban communities in about 17 districts across three regions of Ghana including Central, Western and Volta Regions. CRAN through its efforts has put several hundreds of rural children from very deprived rural communities in schools it has helped set up in some of these communities. Some of these children are today medical doctors, journalists,teachers, nurses and the like.
Our village targeted girl-child education promotion programs have removed barriers and provided new opportunities for several girl-children in these same communities to be in school.
CRAN’s Child Education Support Scheme(CESS) continues to provide educational bursaries and financial support for several brainy but needy children across many communities within our project areas.
We have delivered school related infrastructure including school buildings, libraries, teachers’ bungalows, rain-water harvesting systems in addition to soft facilities like school furniture, books, computer labs and teaching/learning aids to a number of communities with support from our partners. Our community improvement program has benefited many rural communities with projects related to safe drinking water provision, improved sanitation(toilet facilities), solar lighting etc.
Our development education and information programs and activities aimed at mobilization rural communities for self-help(demand driven approaches) continue to take a centre stage in our partnership with the various communities for any development action.
Our village enterprises promotion program have benefited several rural households and farming communities with income-generating enterprises in the area of edible oils processing, food processing, soap making, bee farming, snails farming and general agricultural value chain development.
Our Mutual Guaranty Trust a micro-insurance scheme which is on a pilot now benefits and brings relief to a number of our target rural households in times of distress.
We are greatly indebted to several of our donors (both past and present) and partners, the chiefs and the peoples of the various communities in which we work, our rural clientele, and the local churches and the various other organizations we work with. I salute our past and present staff and field workers both full time and volunteer staff for their great work and sacrifice over the years. It is only appropriate at this point to say that the work has just begun. May the Good Lord bless us all and gives hope for the future.
Interview of Dr. Patrick Agbesinyale (Executive Director) at the 20th anniversary celebration of CRAN in September 2013