On January 10-15, 2019, Friar Joseph BLAY, the General Delegate for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (GPIC), went to Agona Amenfi in the Western Region of Ghana, to assess firsthand the environmental damage caused by a type of gold mine popularly called a “galamsey” mine.
Friar Joseph was guided by some young people from the area parish who took him to inspect the rivers, swamps and forests that have all been destroyed by these mines.
The saddest thing was the local poverty, which continues to worsen and puts the people under enormous pressure. They are forced to drink water contaminated by the mud and mercury of the mines because they cannot afford bottled water. In talking with the people, one hears reports that many are suffering from diseases associated with the polluted water.
During his five-day visit, the Delegate General met with the area’s “Queen Mother”, to evaluate how to help the young people and how to restore the environment. Assisted by the local pastor, Friar Joseph met with about one hundred young people involved in “galamsey” mining, in order to talk about ways to stop the catastrophe. The Delegate spoke with a third group comprised of women only. The women play an important role in Ghanaian families and can discourage their husbands and children from working in the mines.
During Mass on Sunday, January 13, the Delegate emphasized that God created the world only onceand because of this, we must not destroy the gifts that the Creator gave us: rivers, streams, lakes, forests, etc.
Friar Joseph BLAY, Delegate General for GPIC