Penn Hills-based doc raises money to build libraries in Ghana

Support and donations from people in the Penn Hills community will help build a library in rural Ghana this year, thanks to a local doctor.

Stephen Greene, a pediatrician working out of the Premier Medical Associates office in Penn Hills, plans to raise funds to build a third library and computer lab in West Africa this year through his organization, Hope for Ghana.

“It's a project funded by friends and colleagues who love the cause,” said Greene, 51, of Pittsburgh's Shadyside neighborhood.

Though Hope for Ghana isn't a formal nonprofit organization, Greene personally has raised more than $21,000 to build libraries and computer labs in rural areas of Ghana through donations, according to Hope for Ghana's website.

His work in Ghana began in 1986, when he visited as a medical student, and he since has returned to the country 15 times.

A visit to the Ryvanz-Mia Orphanage in Kpando in 2010 inspired him to do more than donate disposable goods such as shoes and clothes to help the children who lived there.

“I thought, ‘What can I do with a lasting nature that will give these children opportunities for a better life,' ” Greene said. “The answer was a library.”

An employee of the orphanage confirmed that a library had been built.

The first library and computer lab, equipped with books, computers and learning software, was up and running by Christmas of 2011 and the second followed in the village of Keta in the Volta Region in 2012. He estimates that each library costs $7,000 to $9,000 to build.

Photos of his trips, children in Ghana and information on his work are displayed in the lobby of his office and often catch the attention of his patients.

Chris Schutte, whose son is a patient of Greene's said he was so inspired by the doctor's work in Ghana that he requested guests make donations to Hope for Ghana in lieu of gifts at his son's first birthday party, which raised several hundred dollars for the cause.

Another patient, Richard Tutich, 6, donated the contents of his piggy bank after seeing photos of children his own age in Ghana.

“It was immediately clear that their lives were so different from his own to him,” said Richard's mother, Rhea Tutich of Richland. “It's a great cause.”

This spring, Greene hopes to build a third library in the Volta Region of Ghana and already has raised more than $2,000 for the project.

To learn more about the project, or to donate, visit hopeforghana.com.