Dr. David Mensah (’84) is the Executive Director of a pair of non-profits that unite Canadians and Ghanaians to support sustainable community development in Northern Ghana.
Born in a rural area of Northern Ghana, Dr. Mensah had a difficult and hungry childhood. After his father’s death, the little boy suffered in the care of an abusive relative and became part of a street gang. A chance encounter in the streets led him to Christianity as a teenager, changing the course of his life. In partnership with other young leaders, he helped found the Northern Empowerment Association (NEA) to care for spiritual, economic and health needs in their region.
Landing in Toronto in 1979 to pursue education to help the NEA cause, he had just $10 and no place to stay. However, Dr. Mensah found his footing in Canada, first completing his Bachelor of Religious Education at the Ontario Bible College (Tyndale Seminary) and then coming to Acadia Divinity College to complete his master’s. While studying in Nova Scotia in 1983, Dr. Mensah and his wife, Brenda (Paisley), began the Mensah Food and Orphanage Fund (now Ghana Rural Integrated Development, or GRID) – with enthusiastic support from their friends and classmates at Acadia Divinity College and the Coldbrook Baptist Church – to fund drought relief in Ghana.
Ten years after coming to Canada, Dr. Mensah completed his PhD in Environmental Studies at the University of Toronto, and the family returned to Ghana to continue the work of the Ghana-based NEA and the Canada-based GRID. Leaders in integrated development, the two NGOs engage in a comprehensive model that addresses the whole person, with a special focus on the well-being of women and children.
Under Dr. Mensah’s inspiring and spirited leadership, NEA/GRID employees and volunteers strive toward a peaceful, healthy community in their daily efforts to support faith, education, environmental protection, food security, health, peacebuilding, water and sanitation, and women’s empowerment. Their efforts have improved sustainable, small-scale agriculture and fisheries; built schools, medical clinics and churches; and distributed scholarships. Medical and construction partners in North America and the United Kingdom visit throughout the year to help with infrastructure and health needs.
The numbers speak for themselves: more than 55,000 patients cared for; 5,500 women achieving self-sufficiency; 650 kilometres of waterways protected; and 250 chiefs working together toward peacebuilding. Over 600 students have received scholarships for secondary and tertiary education; over 100 wells now provide clean water; and neonatal mortality has been reduced from 40/1000 to 4/1000 in over 160 communities. In 2022, they opened the 100-bed Leyaata Hospital in Carpenter, Ghana, that will improve healthcare and provide employment for many people across several districts.
While busy with his work guiding NEA/GRID, speaking and preaching in Ghana and Canada, Dr. Mensah is also President of the Evangelical Christ Apostolic Church, a local denomination. He has established 48 churches and is an elected regional chief, where he focuses on conflict resolution. Mrs. Brenda Mensah is GRID’s Program Coordinator. The Mensahs have three daughters, all of whom are active in international development professions.
Dr. David Mensah will convocate on Sunday, May 14, at 3 p.m.