Visionary seeks midnight rain
By Willie Kiernan
Yao Foli knows the difference between a dream and a vision.
"A dream you have when you are asleep, you wake up and forget it," he said. "A vision is something you have when you are alert. You are thinking and meditating on it and you never forget it."
Foli's vision is to build an eco-village, a community within a community, on his land in Ghana, Africa.
Manlius native, Meghan Stringer, as a student at Hamilton College, traveled to Ghana for an internship and discovered Foli, who was named Yao because it stands for Thursday, the day he was born.
"He is called Chacha for his dancing abilities," said Stringer.
Foli is a farmer and a teacher trying to help other farmers in rural Ghana. He was also the coordinator who brought foreign students into the bush to teach schoolchildren. Stringer decided to help him and went on a fundraising campaign to bring him to America for a college education. Foli is now a student at Cazenovia College, living with a host family nearby, Bryan and Patty Anderson, and learning the ways of a small town community.
"I take English, math, art history and mysteries of the universe," Foli said. "I love them all."
Foli flew from Ghana to Italy to JFK to Rochester, where Stringer picked him up on a Tuesday evening in late August.
"The moment he passed through the gates was surreal. I suppose I never really believed that he would make it or that we would successfully fundraise for his full tuition," Stringer said. "We danced some Ghanaian moves to the amusement of the security guards and marveled at the fact that he was actually in New York!"
Foli comes from a place where they have no electricity. He listened to the news of the world from a transistor radio powered by batteries.