All News & Blogs
Fredericksburg native Pamela Bridgewater is America's person to see in Ghana
|See related video|
|View and order bonus photos from this story.|
But "daunting challenges remain," says the U.S. Agency for International Development. One challenge unmentioned by U.S. AID is Ghana's rapidly growing population of 22 million. At the present rate, that number will double in 23 years.
Bridgewater's staff supervises the fate of more than $60 million a year in U.S. aid. The assistance is spread over dozens of projects that range from distributing 600,000 textbooks, to overseeing a $16 million, anti-malaria program, to helping plan a natural-gas pipeline to Ghana from Nigeria.
Last year, Ghana signed a compact with the United States that could result in $547 million in agricultural assistance over five years if the African country keeps its end of the deal by strengthening its democratic institutions and improving its infrastructure.
Then there's the routine embassy business. Among other things, the work includes processing the large Ghanaian demand for U.S. visas, helping out American citizens in trouble far from home, advising businessmen about one country or the other, receiving unending delegations, attending endless receptions and working out the details of conferences, official visits, cultural exchanges, even Fourth of July picnics.
Much of the paperwork for these things ends up on Bridgewater's desk. "I lose track of all the different delegations. I stopped giving out business cards years ago," she said.
Everybody wants some of her time. How does she find any for herself?free time hard to find
"My free time? Did I say that?" she said the Saturday night after the picnic.
She might have had some at home if it had not been for the reporter asking questions in her living room with the embassy's press officer listening in.
She wore a New York Mets jersey with "Bridgewater" on the back. It was a gift she received in February from Mets General Manager Omar Minaya and Hall-of-Famer Dave Winfield.
With Bridgewater's encouragement and the help of the African Development Foundation, they had led some other major-leaguers on a mission to introduce the unfathomable wonders of baseball to Ghana's soccer-loving youth.
They gave Mets jersey No. 1 to the president of Ghana, No. 2 to the vice president and No. 3 to Bridgewater.