If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.
Lynn Pelton, founder and president of GGM-USA
with one of our many friends in Sierra Leone.
The following is the story of how a soccer ball connected two individuals on opposite ends of the world together. The Greatest Goal Ministries organization of today was a direct result of this early alliance.
The Founding of Greatest Goal Ministries
Soccer and Hope!
Dee Malchow, a trauma nurse counselor and an amputee herself from Seattle, WA, and a group of friends introduced the concept of amputee soccer (football) to the world in the early 1980’s. The sport idea flew around the world and in the mid 1980’s the first Amputee Soccer World Cup was held in Seattle, WA. In 2001, as the war in Sierra Leone was winding down, Dee visited an amputee camp in Freetown, the capital. She was greatly moved by the desperation and lack of hope in the eyes of the amputees. Spontaneously she introduced the idea of soccer to several amputees.
Over the next 6 years she helped them establish amputee soccer a reality by working with a local Sierra Leone native until 2007. At that time she felt that more needed to be done as the marginalization and limited resources available to the amputee players was becoming more apparent and she worried about the amputee women and the children of the amputees.
In early 2007 Dee was introduced to Dr. James Pelton and his wife Lynn, a registered nurse. After seeing the photographs and listening to the stories of the unimaginable living conditions and marginalization of the disabled people in Sierra Leone and through much prayer, the Peltons felt called into service.
In May of 2007, the Peltons along with Dee, Dee’s son and a physical therapist established Greatest Goal Ministries, a 501c3 Christian, humanitarian organization. Their first site visit to Sierra Leone took place in October of 2007.
The name of the organization, Greatest Goal Ministries, was born from the original work begun by Dee Malchow and the game of soccer (football) which gave much hope to the amputee men as they discovered that not all was lost and perhaps there was much that they were still capable of achieving.
Initially GGM continued working and supporting the native born Sierra Leonean that Dee had known since 2001 and the local organization he started. From 2007- the Spring, 2011 GGM was able to find donors and distribute 110 wheelchairs, 800 forearm crutches, soccer equipment, and start a computer training school for some of the amputees.
In the Spring of 2009, Lynn Pelton visited the office of Dr. Alhassan Seisay, Director of Hospital Services for the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS). The purpose of the visit was to discuss how GGM could better serve the country in the area of health care. Dr. Seisay responded, “You are an answered prayer. Go to the National Rehabilitative Center (NRC). If there is a building you like, it is yours to use as a clinic”. Lynn responded that she only had 3 days left in the country before she was due to depart for the USA. “Then you better get going” was Dr. Seisay’s response.
In April of 2009 the GGM board established a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or a partnership agreement with the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS). Following this a substantial amount of medical, educational and office supplies and equipment were donated and collected in the USA. Two 40 foot containers were then shipped to Sierra Leone through a program with the Department of Defense and USAID. There were enough supplies donated to establish a functioning medical clinic and furnish the office space of the partnering organization.
In October 2009 the first GGM medical team traveled to Sierra Leone, hand carrying laboratory equipment and supplies. Meetings were held with the MoHS. A laboratory technician, community health officer (CHO), nurse and registrar were assigned by the MoHS and a government approved pharmacy carrying bulk pharmaceuticals was located.
The containers arrived during this period and in October 2009 the GGM/MoHS clinic at the National Rehabilitative Center opened its doors for the first time. With minimal funding the clinic was initially open two days a week. In 2010 increased funding and donations supported service offerings for 3 days a week. The second medical team arrived in October 2010 to provide staff support and training to prepare the staff for the increased hours of operation. With the arrival of the third medical team in 2011 services were increased to five days a week. More than 6,000 patients received care in 2011.
In January, 2011 the GGM board voted to register and operate as an international organization in Sierra Leone allowing GGM to monitor its own projects and establish transparency, accountability and oversight of operations and staff in Sierra Leone.
In April of 2011 the Ministry of Health and Sanitation turned operation of the clinic over to the new international organization, Greatest Goal Ministries (GGM). GGM also established an office in the center of Freetown for its operational business at 42 Liverpool Street. GGM operates in four areas; healthcare, education, disability sports and disability advocacy.