- 1999: Inception of AHP during a”humanitarian honeymoon” in Ghana
- 2001: Social entrepreneurship began with the first imported drums
- 2005: Full-time dedication to the project, begin planning ofhumanitarian projects
- 2008: USA 501(c)3 received, NGO registered in Ghana, opened theHeartwood Orphan Home for Liberian refugee children
- 2009: Completed the first two Village Water Projects in Ghana (70+ completed to date)
- 2010: Register the NGO in Liberia.Vocational training program for deaf students started.
- 2012: Re-opened the Heartwood Orphan Home in Liberia with repatriated children, youth, and staff from Ghana.
- 2013: Begin development of the Heartwood Homestead, accept first multi-month volunteers in Liberia
- 2014-2016: Continue the expansion of water projects, orphan support, and sustainable livelihoods for cultural artisans
- 2017: Transitioned out of institutionalized care at the Heartwood Orphan Home to the family-based model we call the Support Program for Orphans in Care of Kin (SPOCK), with 150+ ebola orphans
- 2018: Closed the Heartwood Halfway House for young-adult orphans as they graduated and transition into independent adulthood
- 2017-2022+: Expansion of Village Water Projects in Liberia and Ghana, and continuation of the SPOCK program and ongoing opportunities for young-adult orphans as they learn to find their way in the world
Volunteers are the lifeblood of Africa Heartwood Project. From the beginning it has been volunteers who are passionate about making a difference that have shaped our programs and projects. Without the giving of time, talent, and money Africa Heartwood Project would cease to exist. The largest part “About Us” is YOU, the volunteers who take personally the invitation to become actively involved in creating and implementing projects and fund raisers that directly benefit the poor in West Africa. Please visit our volunteers page to learn more and take the next step to changing lives today.
Chapter One of “The Story” Behind AHP
In between efforts over three months at the camp, Andy and Kayla spent time in Koforidua at a Unit School for the Deaf where a friend, Annalisa Jensen, was working with the Peace Corps, in Accra in the company of missionary service couples, and in Peki, Dzake where they became acquantied with a community of drum builders and family of Ghanaian master drummers. While staying with the Lawrence Nkulenu family Andy and Kayla tasted the joy of the Ewe dance and drum culture: building drums by day, singing and dancing by night, and learning from the children and aged throughout. After the Jones’ return to the US and Andy’s education at Brigham Young University (BA International Development, Africa Studies Minor – 2002), Andy received many communications from Ghanaian friends, some of whom requested help to sell percussion instruments as a means of providing livelihoods for the drum builders. Willing to do what he could to help, Andy started receiving small quantities of drums and selling them for the Ghanaian carvers to music stores, to friends and family, and through the internet, and sending money back to Ghana. Over the next four years this continued on a very small scale with logistical help from Erik Allebest, while Andy completed post-graduate work in England (U. of Sussex – MA Int’l Educational Development (Honors) – 2004) and Kayla gave attention to a growing family and providing natural birth coaching service as a doula.
After graduation in 2004 and relocating to Salt Lake City, UT, Andy decided to dedicate his full-time attention to expand markets and job opportunities for cottage cultural artisans, to see if it could be taken to scale, made sustainable on Ghanaian terms and financially viable in the U.S.. The for-profit social enterprise Dayspring International was formed to “drum up business” through DjembeDirect.com, World Percussion USA, and Wholesale African Drums. Gratefully, some level of success has been attained in fighting poverty with drums, despite the enormous learning curve and obstacles that have and continue to present themselves in terms of import logistics, purchase contracts and distribution, and human resources. Thanks to that success, since 2008 other needful humanitarian and development projects have been identified, planned, and executed under the official organization of the 501(c)3 Non-Profit / NGO, Africa Heartwood Project. Andy volunteers as Executive Director and manages day-to-day operation of the various charitable projects, while continuing to manage the social enterprise that supports cultural artisans in West Africa. The for-profit businesses underwrite the operating expenses of the non-profit, which allows Andy to support the family through trading in world percussion instruments while also running the non-profit at no cost. Kayla, along with their children Simon, Ruby, Charlie, and Ivy, continue to be supporters and volunteers, and even lived and volunteered together as a family in Liberia in 2016-17.