An injured foot and Ghana's heat haven't stopped Kwame Anane Crane from running from Aflao to Accra to help raise awareness to prevent fire injuries and deaths in Ghana. He speaks to Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu while on his 200 km journey.
Kwame Anane Crane found out very early in life how dangerous fires can be, his mother suffered severe burns as a young girl.
On a recent visit to the Korle Bu Reconstructive Plastic Surgery and Burns Centre, Crane was moved by the sheer number of people, especially children, who were in the same position as his mum, decades later.
Inspired to help already, Crane was further propelled to do something when thinking of the dozens of people who sustained various degrees of burns in the June 3 flood and fire disaster in Accra.
The result is the Burns Support Run, a 200 kilometre charity run from Aflao (on Ghana’s border with Togo) to Accra.
After four months of training, the 35 year old father-of-one is spending 16 days running through several communities in southern Ghana, stopping over at schools and town centres with the aim of educating and raising the public’s awareness of fire safety and burns prevention.
When the Burns Centre was established 1997, outpatient department (OPD) cases were 1,656. Sixteen years later, 8,066 OPD cases with 79 deaths were recorded.
This was a 2.4 percent decrease from the 8,262 cases and 126 deaths recorded in 2012 according to Korle Bu Teaching Hospital’s 2013 annual report.
A total of 662 deaths had been recorded by the Burns Centre alone since its inception. There are two other centres in Ghana; at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital and the 37 Military Hospital and as such figures may be higher.
At the time of this interview, Kwame was in Tsokpoli, a town which is 32 kilometres away from Tema. Some of the major towns he has passed through since he began his journey on April 24 include Agbozume, Abor, Akatsi, Agbakofe, Sogakope, Ada and Sege.
The target of the run is to “speak to at least 5,000 people about ways to prevent burns and the use of proper first aid. So far we are almost through to 4,000 people after week one of the challenge.”
He has been to seven senior high schools and hopes that the message of burns prevention will be passed on by students when they go home to reach many more Ghanaians.
In Akatsi Secondary Technical School, over 1,000 students gathered around Kwame for an interactive session while at Ada Secondary School, he spoke in the rain, to over 650 basic school teachers. He says the keen interest the people have shown for his message has been really inspiring and has been keeping him going.
Some simple tips he has shared include keeping young children away from fire and hot liquids such as soup, water and porridge, ensuring that gas cylinders don’t leak and putting out fires when they are not needed.
The highlight for Kwame has been the generosity and support he has enjoyed from ordinary people he has met along the way. Some people, including law enforcement officers have joined him for a few kilometres to express their support for this cause.
However, there have been some challenges on the way. Chief among them is what Kwame describes as “the worst enemy”: the heat.
“It makes a kilometre feel like five. So we try to start the run much earlier in the morning. Unfortunately, the last two days have seen us battling temperatures of up to 31 degrees.”
Another hindrance has been an injured left foot; the pain which Kwame says is indescribable. However it was not stopping him from completing the task. “The focus remains the completion of this challenge and changing perceptions of safety and raising awareness of burns prevention.”
He cites Kak Dee’s six day walk from Axim to Accra, to commemorate the centenary of the birth of Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president, as a major inspiration.
After his run, Kwame will return to work as Africa Regional development adviser for the British Foreign Office where his colleagues describe him as “a social change activist.”
He attended Accra Academy School and moved on to study, live and work in England and France. He has a son called Leo and has been living in Accra for just over a year. He describes himself as one that is “driven by causes that change the human experience, however small” and lives by the mantra; acta non verba; action not words.
You can follow updates of Kwame's journey on Twitter : @CraneAppeal