Meet Recovery Africa Board Member: KRISTEN K. HARPER

Kristen K. Harper, M.Ed., LCDC, is the Executive Director of Recovery Communities of North Carolina, a nonprofit devoted the promotion of addiction recovery, wellness and citizenship through advocacy, education and support in the beautiful state of North Carolina. Prior to Kristen joining the team in North Carolina, she had the great fortune to be the first, full-time Executive Director for the Association of Recovery Schools (ARS), where she assisted in the creation, sustainability and accreditation of recovery high schools across the country.  As the Collegiate Recovery Community Replication Coordinator for Texas Tech University's Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery from 2011-2013, Kristen provided technical assistance to over 80 universities seeking to create and manage collegiate recovery programs in all regions of the country. 

Kristen also founded the Center for Addiction Recovery at Georgia Southern University in 2008 within the College of Public Health, where she also became involved with Recovery Africa, a nongovernmental organization who strives to create recovery supports to communities in Africa. Kristen has been to Ghana, West Africa three times to provide technical assistance to the emerging recovery community. As a person living in long-term recovery for over 15 years, Kristen has dedicated her life to helping others access recovery support services, locally, nationally and internationally.

Meet Recovery Africa Board Member: DEBBIE DUNGEE

After decades of using alcohol and drugs and finding myself homeless, jobless and penniless, I finally surrendered and prayed to God for help. I successfully completed a 28 day inpatient treatment program at which time I was accepted into an Oxford House in Beltsville, Md. The women and the traditions of the Emack Oxford House saved my life. It was there that I saw the importance of peer to peer support. After volunteering for Oxford House and serving as House and Chapter officers, I was offered a position with the corporate office of Oxford House Inc. I served as Loan Manager and oversaw the opening of houses in Ghana. During my 12 years with Oxford House, I got involved with the development of Recovery Africa and now serve on the Board of Directors. 

As a woman in long-term recovery, I’ve been blessed to have relationships with many recovering people and organizations that serve to help folks seeking recovery and supporting those who live life free of alcohol and drugs and feel. My wish through Recovery Africa is to see women in Ghana have the same opportunity I had to have treatment and an Oxford House available to them.

Meet Recovery Africa Board Member: DAVID WHITERS

David is as a person in long-term addiction recovery. This means it has been more than 30 years since he last used any illicit drugs or alcohol and more than 28 years since he used nicotine. He attributes his personal recovery to his faith in God, his involvement in his 12-step recovery program, and his involvement in his church. He is the founder and former Executive Director of Recovery Consultants of Atlanta, Inc., a preeminent faith-based, peer-led Recovery Community Organization and HIV prevention program. During his tenure with RCA, Inc., he raised more than 10 million dollars in federal funding.

David has an earned PhD in social work from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan. He is certified as an addiction professional and has been involved in the addiction recovery advocacy movement since the initial meeting of recovery advocates held in St. Paul, MN, in October, 2001.

He is an experienced trainer on Recovery-Oriented Systems of Care (ROSC) and Peer-based Addiction Recovery Support Services; both nationally and internationally. His international training experience includes a 12 day visit to Ghana in February, 2014. During his Ghana visit he resided at the House of St. Francis; living among a group of approximately 25 young men pursuing recovery from addiction. While in Ghana, David provided several training sessions on ROSC and on the value of including peer-led recovery support services within Ghana’s existing treatment centers. One of his long-term goals is to secure funding so that he can spend several months living and providing recovery support services to substance users living in Ghana.


“Recovery has given me these fun, unique, and exciting opportunities.”

Dan is the Chairman of the Board of Recovery Africa (RA) and Executive Director of Hopeful Way Foundation.  He is a person in recovery who went to Ghana as a Peace Corps Volunteer in 1967, and until the present has been working with developmental activities in various parts of Africa.  He believes that the RA mission is to assist programs rather than projects in Ghana, projects where Ghanaians make a commitment to assume ownership and sustainability.  While RA is primarily a 12-step related organization, Dan confirms that RA also assists faith based and other approaches.  He believes that RA has an important role to play in promoting collaboration and building a recovery movement in Ghana and beyond. 

Dan spent much of his career of over 30 years working with labor relations and development programs in numerous African countries. In 2001, as he was nearing retirement, Dan became aware that alcohol was becoming the master rather than the servant and was having negative consequences in his life. He made the decision to start his journey into recovery and, with the help of God, his wife, daughters, and many others, what an amazing journey that has been!
In 2005, as he was settling into retirement in Ghana, Dan recognized a lack of resources for individuals struggling with addiction. At the time only one 12-step group was operating in Ghana. In an effort to assuage this lack of recovery options available to Ghanaians, with the help of volunteers and professionals in Ghana and the United States, Dan established the Hopeful Way Foundation in 2009. Hopeful Way seeks to raise awareness of the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse and provide safe environments for recovering addicts.

Under Dan’s leadership Hopeful Way has expanded greatly since its inception in 2009, encouraging the establishment of several 12-step programs, championing training initiatives, and the opening of two recovery houses. Also, Dan championed opening the House of St. Francis, a rehabilitation facility, in 2012. An Oxford House for women is soon to open and a consortium, “Recovery Ghana”, was established in September, 2014 to make best use of limited resources. He would also like to assist in the establishment of a regional training center in Ghana.
Dan has also engaged the participation of various volunteers across the country from Georgia Southern University, Texas Tech Universities, Peace Corps Volunteers, and various recovery professionals from around the United States to help bring recovery resources to Ghana.
In order to further recovery in Ghana, Dan is one of the founders of Recovery Africa “bringing hope, wellness, and productive lives to families and communities in Africa”. Dan is instrumental in raising consciousness around recovery and is a “mover and a shaker” in building a “recovery movement” to Ghana.


Meet Recovery Africa Board Member: CHRIS BUDNICK

MSW, LCSW, LCAS, CCS has been working in the addiction treatment and recovery field since 1993. Chris became a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor in 1998. He graduated from East Carolina University in 2000 with a Master of Social Work. Chris has been fully licensed as a Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist since 2001; a Licensed Clinical Social Worker since 2002; and a Clinical Certified Supervisor since 2003. He was an intern from 1999 to 2000 with Healing Transitions International, Inc. and has been employed with them since 2000.

Chris has been an Adjunct Instructor with the North Carolina State University Department of Social Work since 2002. He has served on their Advisory Board since 2003, serving as chair on two different occasions. Chris is presently the founding Board Chair for Recovery Communities of North Carolina, Inc. (RCNC), a recovery community organization. He also serves on the North Carolina Lawyer Assistance Program Board, the Recovery Africa Board and the City of Raleigh Substance Abuse Commission. He is a board member of Recovery Africa.

Chris has conducted trainings and presentations nationally and internationally. Some of his most rewarding work has been research, publication and presentation of the history of mutual aid recovery fellowships for persons with drug addiction in collaboration with Mr. William White and Mr. Boyd Pickard.

Meet Recovery Africa Board Member: AL MOONEY, M.D., VICE PRESIDENT AND VICE CHAIR

Dr. Al J. Mooney, M.D. is the medical director and key founder of Recovery Africa, and is an internationally recognized expert in the field of addiction and recovery. Dr. Mooney is the author of The Recovery Book, which has sold more than 350,000 copies and has been described at the "Bible of recovery." The second edition of The Recovery Book was released in late 2014 (see more at and @TheRecoveryBook.) He served as CEO of the Willingway Hospital for more than a decade, and is currently a member of the Board of Directors and Chairman of the Willingway Foundation. Dr. Mooney helps carry the recovery message in the U.S. and abroad, and he has assisted in the development of recovery programs around the world. He worked with Georgia Southern University to establish one of the first “recovery campuses,” in the US.

As a pioneer in the field of addiction medicine, Dr. Mooney helped to establish the certification standards for the specialty and is an Inaugural Diplomat in the American Board of Addiction Medicine. He has also been recognized by his peers through listings in the current and past editions of the book, Best Doctors in America. He spent over a month in Ghana on trips in 2011, 2013 and 2016 where he worked with professionals and numerous recovery programs. He wants Recovery Africa to flourish in ways that enhance recovery in Africa and in North America. Dr. Al loves Ghana and its people, especially those who are finding new lives through 12-step recovery.

2016 Mid Year Newsletter: It's Been a Busy Summer!

Daniel O'Laughlin, co-founder of Recovery Africa, celebrates 14 years of Recovery!

Dan is holding a painting of a Ghanaian market scene painted by Steve Hay, a local artist in Bethesda, Maryland. The painting was given to Dr. Gerald Marti in appreciation for his help and support with Recovery Africa.

Dr. Al Mooney Speaker at The Ghana Physicians & Surgeons Foundation Annual Conference

Dr. Al presented at the annual conference of the Ghana Physicians and Surgeons Foundation (GPSF) in Atlanta, Georgia. As Recovery Africa's Medical Director, he spoke on the disease of addiction and health literacy in Ghana. His presentation was very well received. Edwin Ahadzie, the manager of the House of St. Francis who was in the US at that time, attended the conference and spoke on his recovery experience. Recovery Africa was honored to have been given the chance to present at such a prestigious conference. 

Visits to Ghana


The visit began and ended with training/motivational sessions at the House of St. Francis (HSF). The residential non-medical treatment facility was started by Byron Merriweather and others in September 2012, and has been largely handed over to the Catholic Archdiocese of Accra.  By the end of 2016, the HSF plans to open a medical detox with the assistance of New Crystal Clinic, a nearby clinic.  HSF has treated over 160 residential clients and is considered to be one of the best facilities in Ghana.  In April 2016 another Oxford House for men was opened near the HSF.  It is intended as after care and transitional housing for HSF clients. Women attend HSF on an outpatient basis. On leaving Ghana, John Elford said: “I had little idea that the reception we received would be so genuine, friendly and warm”.

Kasoa Training Mercy Ntim, of Optimum Design, in collaboration with the Blue Cross Society, has been working for over a year to establish the Recovery Center and Recovery Café in Kasoa, a large town located near Accra. Dr. Al was the center of attention for the children and commented “Congratulations on your plans to open a Recovery Café in the Central Region. It will be a place for fellowship, a library for reading and study, and a location for AA/NA/Al-Anon/Other Recovery meetings. Really cool to see so many young people around!”  John Elford added, “I intend to twin the Recovery Café with one in the UK, so that pictures, support and fellowship can be exchanged.” 

Seminar on the role of churches and addiction The session was a follow-up to a training conducted in 2015 by Recovery Africa and Art Mellor of the United Methodist Church in the United States. The day was largely centered on the theories that form the basics of the WISC Integrated Step Course and The Sponsors 12 Step Manual. John Elford was impressed by the great attendance and how the participants had a scholarly understanding of the topics.

Cape Coast Training At the request of the Medical Director of the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital, five days of training was conducted for their “Twelve-Step Rehab Center” in Cape Coast. The 27 participants included most of the staff from the facility, and also representatives of the Ghana Prisons Service and the Ghana Police Service. The training was enthusiastically received and has been followed up on behalf of RA by regular visits in June, July and August from Accra by Pastor Richard Obli and his team.  

American Chamber of Commerce in Ghana (AMCHAM) Breakfast  Nearing the end of their visit to Ghana, Dr. Al and John participated in a breakfast to examine the possibility of introducing Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) in Ghana.  Hopeful Way Foundation is a member of AMCHAM and also hopes to involve American companies in the building of the Recovery Ghana Consortium, the Annual Recovery Walk and a Recovery Movement in Ghana. 

Ciara Weeks spent two months interning at the House of St. Francis (HSF). She has been learning, teaching, and getting experience with people in treatment and recovery during her stay in Ghana. She is a candidate for a Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW) at the University of Georgia. At her send-off gathering she said, “I’ve learned a lot in the past weeks at the HSF and have had a humbling experience seeing people in recovery leading the program”. The manager of the HSF, Edwin Ahadzie, thanked Ciara for “bringing new ideas to us, and reminding me about some things that the HSF should be doing.” A HSF client said that “Ciara brought many games to us such as Jenga; we again found ourselves having great fun without using drugs or alcohol.” Two additional MSW candidates will continue Ciara’s work at the HSF during the next three months.

Oyarifa Recovery Center In August, the eight men in the Oyarifa Oxford House moved to the women’s house. The resident in the women’s house moved to a nearby smaller house.  Two training programs were held at the The Oyarifa Recovery Center (previously known as the Oyarifa Oxford House) in August. We are studying how to make best use of the facility to further recovery in Ghana. RA and our partners in Ghana are also assisting professionals and others to examine the possibility of establishing an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which may initially be housed at The Center. 

Chris Budnick Visit  Chris Budnick, and Amanda Blue of Healing Transitions in Raleigh, North Carolina will be in Ghana for the Second Annual Recovery Walk on September 24, 2016.  They will also study and advise on RA programs, including the proposed detox at the HSF, the Oyarifa Recovery Center and the Recovery Café. RA wants to establish a relationship between its programs in Ghana and the recovery community in North Carolina. 


Recovery Walk This year’s walk on September 24, 2016 promises to be even more successful than last year's walk with about 500 walkers and up to 1000 persons gathering at the chief’s palace in James Town, Accra.  The objective is to have the residents and their organizations in James Town take ownership of the walk and to plan a recovery approach after the walk. RA and our sister organization, HWF will also team up with James Town to establish a drop-in center.  

This Newsletter is an update on the programs supported by Recovery Africa, Inc. (RA), in Ghana. It highlights a visit by Dr. Al Mooney, co-author of The Recovery Book, and John Elford, an addiction professional from the United Kingdom (UK).  They were in Ghana from May 23 to June 8, 2016, as guests of Recovery Africa and our sister organization in Ghana - Hopeful Way Foundation (HWF).  Dan and Agnes O’Laughlin are in Ghana until the end of October. They believe that the visit has been one of the most productive by addiction professionals who have come to Ghana to assist RA’s programs.