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BBC News broadcasts a week of special programming on Africa’s rising population

BBC News have announced a week-long series exploring the steep incline in Africa’s population and the continent’s coping mechanisms.

The population of Africa is predicted to double to two and a half billion in just 30 years. On a continent where nearly two thirds of people are already under 25, this vast new baby boom has the potential to provide a huge pool of workers ready to transform African economies, or the potential to create an even greater migration problem.

BBC Africa Correspondent, Alastair Leithead, has been investigating the potential of this “demographic dividend” in a series of special reports from across Africa.

For a week, beginning Monday 21st AugustBBC World News and BBC World Service will broadcast daily features within Focus on Africa, looking at matters such as the rapid urbanisation in Nigeria, the industrial revolution in Ethiopia, contraception in Niger and food sustainability in Kenya.

From Monday, more information can also be found on bbc.com/africapopulation, including a written in-depth analysis, a series of short videos and additional features.

A special documentary, Africa’s Population Explosion, will also broadcast on BBC World News(DStv 400) at 2330 GMT on Friday 25th August and 1130 & 1630 GMT on Saturday 26th August.

 

5 SECRETS ABOUT GHANA JOLLOF THAT NIGERIANS DON’T KNOW : By Chef Elijah A. Addo

Future of Ghana Alumni Chef Elijah A. Addo recently revealed 5 “secrets” about Jollof…here they are:

1. Ghana Jollof is made with love : Ghanaians prepare their jollof with ingredients and spices drawn from the streams of love and that reflects in the aroma and taste of our jollof,days after it is cooked.

2. Ghana Jollof is the “Aliko Dangote” of African foods : In as much as jollof originally originated from SenegalGambian empire of Jolof, Ghanaians took the prototype and built upon it to become what the world knows it. Ghana jollof is entrepreneurial.

3.Ghana jollof is scalable : The tricks of preparing different versions of Ghanaian jollof makes it easy to be prepared from any part of the world. Nigeria jollof is a one way method making it difficult to be prepared in regions like China, Russia, North Korea, London,etc.

4. Ghana Jollof is a balanced diet recommended to fight child malnutrition across the continent. Nigerians must come to Ghana to learn how we are using Jollof to overcome hunger and malnutrition. Former President Rawlings donated jollof to our Somalian brothers.

5. Ghana Jollof is celebrated as festival : Ghana Tourism Authority celebrates a National jollof festival because our jollof has balls.Ghana jollof is eaten with confidence across the globe due to it’s high nutritional content. You don’t have leftover for our jollof. Ghana jollof is bae.

NB: This article is satirical piece by Chef Elijah A. Addo, 2017 Queens Young Leader and founder of Food for All Africa in recognition of the Ghana Jollof Festival scheduled for 26th August, 2017 is being organised to promote Ghanaian cuisine, and is in connection with the “See Ghana, Eat Ghana, Wear Ghana, Feel Ghana campaign initiated by the Ghana Tourism Authority.

British Council, Ghana announces August 30-31 ‘Social Thursday’ event

The British Council has announced the first of its Social Thursday event series slated to take place at the British Council in Accra, Ghana, on Wednesday, 30thAugust to Thursday 31st August 2017, from 10am to 8pm each day. This event is hosted in partnership with TEDx Accra and SE Ghana.

The goal of this event is to assist social entrepreneurs with the needed skill sets to create impact and profit in their businesses. Social entrepreneurs will get the opportunity to explore solutions to the challenges faced in generating profit and impact in their businesses. The event will also present an avenue for the general public to attend a TEDx-styled talk on the theme, “IMPACT AND PROFIT’’. The talk is expected to uncover how to effectively deliver, measure and communicate impact as well as improve profit margin as a social enterprise.

This year, the British Council is giving social entrepreneurs the chance to exhibit their products and services on both days. There will also be an opportunity to participate in a business pitch competition coupled with mentoring sessions from business experts.
Attendance is free. Visit the British Council Ghana website to register or follow us on twitter @ghBritish via the hashtag #SocialThursday, and on Facebook

For those who want to pitch 
Are you a social entrepreneur and ready to pitch your idea to a group of investors for advice, funding and skills development from the British council’s skills hub during the social Thursday? Then register here. Sign up now for limited slots.

For Exhibitors
From Wednesday, 30th August 2017 to Thursday, 31st August 2017, we are creating space for 20 social entrepreneurs to exhibit their businesses (Products and Services) at the Social Thursday Event for FREE. Register here.

Contact Marilyn Adutwum on +233302610090 or Marilyn.Adutwum@gh.britishcouncil.org for more information.
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Ghana Diaspora HomeComing Summit 2017 – Day 3 Round Up

Here’s a round of what took place on day 3 of the Ghana Diaspora Homecoming Summit:

  • Friday was the culmination of 3 days of #GDHS17 with the theme of political inclusion for all Ghanaians at home and abroad. We had speakers such as Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Otiko Afisa Djaba & Prof. Kwaku Asare. Issues addressed included the contention around dual citizenship, the need for a dual citizenship card and what the Ghanaian constitution states. Day 3 also included representation from 2nd generation Ghanaians sharing their perspectives, experiences and advice for other 2nd generation Ghanaians eager to engage with Ghana. It also included speakers from the wider Ghanaian and African diaspora including African Americans, Nigerians and Senegalese speakers. Followed by a closing and fashion show organised by the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection.
  • After a welcome address by Jermaine Nkrumah, Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchway  took the stage and addressed the issues and challenges faced by Ghanaians abroad with regards to passports, fees, other consular services and customer service in Embassies in their respective nations. Training and accountability was emphasised and the Hon. Minister pledged her commitment to changing this.
  • Hon. Otiko Afisa Djaba followed with a impassioned call for all stakeholders, men and women to drive equity and gender equality in all spheres in Ghana. Hon. Djaba praised Ghanaian women in the diaspora as well as home for their innovate leadership and contributions to women in Ghana through remittances, business, housing and through numerous other channels. Whilst the Hon. Minister acknowledged great progress in terms of female participation in politics she stressed that we still have a long way to go but expressed confidence that equity can and will happen soon if we all work together towards that goal.
  • Next up was an inspiring panel of 3 2nd generation panellists – Danielli Ofori Atta, Founder & CEO of Mhoseenu (Creative Consultants), Arnold Sarfo-Kantanka, MD of Me Firi Ghana and Chair of Future of Ghana & Michael Bediako – Special Adviser to the Minister of Finance. Danielli began by sharing her desire to come back to Ghana after finishing her law degree at the University of Manchester because she wanted to change to world. She then went on to outline Mhoseenu’s mission and their 6 key principles which also served as advice for those interested in how to manage relocating to Ghana. They are:
  1. Innovation
  2. Quality control
  3. Accessibility
  4. Reliability
  5. Consistency
  6. Community
  • She called on second generation Ghanaians to be part of the #NewGhana – a lifestyle, a way of thinking, a movement.
  • Arnold discussed the ways in which second generation Ghanaians abroad can integrate into Ghanaian society, business and politics. He spoke of the vision of Me Firi Ghana and Future of Ghana – a 1st world self-sustaining Ghana, the What About Me (WAM) Campaign where 2nd generation Ghanaian volunteers from across Europe (?) volunteered over 1100 hours in Ghana and how the youth can be engaged in Ghana. He went on to discuss research in progress by FOG which showed that only 1.6% of respondents are interested in remittances and the importance of bringing evidence and data to the fore. He called for us to actively engage each other and work together to make Ghana what we know it can be.
  • Michael gave a very frank discussion about the realities of and surviving in Ghana. He told us all that in order to live in Ghana we have to embrace Ghana in its entirety not only the nicer parts of town. He also called on our duty to contribute to something bigger than ourselves and to build strong networks to help us settle in and facilitate the change we desire to see.
  • Prof. Kwaku Asare gave a highly engaging talk on plural citizenships, the ins and outs of nationality vs. citizenship, what the Ghanaian constitution says and the 27 forbidden fruits (the 27 roles and positions non-citizens of Ghana cannot assume). Key messages from his session include that the idea is plural citizenship is not unique to diasporans only but also to Ghanaians in Ghana and nationals of our bordering countries. He distinguished. Etse will nationality and citizenship, the former representing cultural parameters and the latter legal ones. He also stressed that if one has a Ghana and a UK/US passport (for example), a dual citizenship card is not required by law and no one has the right to ask for one. He highlighted the paradoxes of dual citizenship and how Ghanaians are often excluded unfairly.
  • Jermaine Nkrumah introduced us to the GDHS Summit Poll results and the ways in which registered delegates wished to engage beyond the summit (See tweets for pics). This informed the creation of the Diaspora Mobilisation Drive slated to eventually become an independent agency aimed at fulfilling the mandate and policies relating to the diaspora in collaboration with the government. (see tweets for pics of the structure).
  • The remaining speakers from the Nigerian, Senegalese and the African American diaspora shared their experiences and sentiments towards a cohesive global diaspora movement for the benefit of Ghana and Africa as a whole.

Questions of the day:

  • Does Ghana have the capacity to support a female president one day?
  • Why can we not increase the term of a Ghanaian passport from 5 years to 10 years?
  • Will African Americans ever be considered as diasporans to come back home?
  • If you’re an American citizen & you want your American born children to have dual citizenship, how do we do it?
  • There’s a lot of talent in Ghana but also a lot of reproduction. How is the government addressing this?
  • We don’t discuss the failures and downsides of those who have moved backed and left again. What about them?
  • How can we tackle the negative reactions sometimes from our parents who do not want us to move back?
  • A lot of want us as 2nd Gen want to actually work in Ghana how do we do so without a network?
  • What are the mental, psychological and other barriers faced when moving back to Ghana?
  • What can the government do to engage those who do not want to return?
  • What are we doing to stop sexual harassment in the workplace in Ghana?
  • Do my children have to continue to pay expensive visa fees to visit Ghana?
  • Why can we not increase the term of a Ghanaian passport from 5 years to 10 years?
  • Why do passport and other consular fees vary so much from country to country in Europe (Netherlands vs. Germany)?
  • Is there an easier way for Ghanaians abroad to register online esp. when missions are far away? (Eg in Scandinavia)
  • Is there an input from government on the prices Ghanaian goods are sold for abroad?
  • If we have free education why are so many of our girls on the street? In Abidjan for example we don’t see this.
  • We’ve heard about why to move back but what about the how? How do we connect?

MAIDIE ARKUTU IS THE GUBA 2017 FEMALE INFLUENTIAL LEADER

Maidie Arkutu, the Vice President of Unilever Francophone Africa, will receive the honour of being the recipient of the 2017 GUBA Black Star Award for Female Influential Leader, at the 2017 GUBA Awards. The awards is scheduled to take place on Saturday the 3rd of June 2017 at the Intercontinental Hotel, o2, London.

In its sixth year, The GUBA Awards seeks to celebrate the consistency, dedication to excellence and longstanding contributions to society with the GUBA Black Star Awards. The Female Influential Leader Award recognises the actions of individuals with progressive influence on women in business. It also shines a light on those who use their exceptional style in providing direction, implementing plans and motivating to affect the development and behaviour of others and to assist them to succeed.

Miss Arkutu is a multi-skilled professional marketer with an extensive business portfolio and monumental leadership experience to hand. She has a postgraduate Diploma in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, as well as a MBA from Vrije Universiteit Brussel and a BA in Business Economics from Vesalius College, Belgium.

Her ascent to the VP role at Unilever Francophone Africa was preceded by a successful three-year stint as Managing Director of Unilever Ghana. Before that MD role, she was the Marketing Director for Unilever West Africa, having joined the Unilver brand from Coca-Cola East and Central Africa Business Unit (ECABU) where she was the Marketing Manager for the Horn, Islands and Mid Africa sector (HIMA).

A born leader with significant influence, Maidie Arkutu has held various executive and non-executive board memberships at places such as Barclays Bank Ghana, and the African Business Centre for Developing Education, as well as the Lady Chairship/Executive Board Membership of the Executive Women Network (EWN).

The GUBA Black Star Award 2017 for Female Influential Leader will add to an already impressive collection of accolades received by Miss Arkutu, including the prestigious Marketing Woman of the Year 2015 (Chartered Institute of Marketing, Ghana) and Outstanding Manufacturing Executive, Personal Products 2016 (Feminine Ghana Achievement Awards).

This accolade is a result of her work in inspiring, supporting and empowering women executives to be internationally successful in the business world. The GUBA Awards 2017 is set to be a monumental event, tickets are available for purchase at www.gubaawards.co.uk/ticket/

GUBA 2017 SPONSORS – Title Sponsor: ECOM Ghana. Category Sponsors: uniBank Ghana, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Imperial Homes, ABN TV and Radio. CEO Dinner Sponsor: PayAngel.

Media Partners: ROK TV, VOX Africa TV, Starr Radio UK, Hot Digital Online FM, Rising Africa, Afropulp Magazine, The Voice Newspaper, Glam Africa, ABN TV and Radio, GHOne TV, Starr FM, OK FM, Peace FM, Adom TV, UTV, Hot Digital Online FM, Ahomka FM, FAB Photography, AKLASS photography, SWAG of Africa, Screen Nation, Inspirational You,

Partners: Final Effects Studios, NAS Studios, Anita Erskine Media, Precise Marketing, E-Volution International, Plant It Events and MakeUp Ghana. Material Sponsors: Vlisco, Kente Queen. Outfit sponsors: A-COTE Collections, Jay Renkyi. Travel Sponsor: Faze 2 Services

————————– ENDS————————

For further information please contact: 

Claudia Andrews

Email: claudia@gubaawards.co.uk

 

Diaspora Homecoming Summit 2017

Me Firi Ghana through its youth charity Future of Ghana have been invited on the UK chapter of the global planning committee for Diaspora Homecoming Summit 2017 between the 5-8 July 2017 and we are pushing to ensure the diaspora and young Ghanaians are part of the conversation and aware of such a high level event.

This Summit is being organised in fulfilment of a manifesto pledge by H.E President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana, to engage Ghanaians Living Abroad in the transformation of the political and socio-economic structure of Ghana.

The purpose of the Summit is to bring the Ghanaian Diaspora together to dialogue on how to achieve the President’s vision of active participation by Diasporans in the economic development of the country and to fully integrate them into the political processes.

The Summit also aims to attract the full participation of Ghanaians Living Abroad in Private Enterprise by bringing them together with local businesses.

The three day Summit is divided into three areas :

First Day: Entrepreneurial Ghana – Investment opportunities etc

Second Day : Human Resource Marketplace – Employment opportunities etc.

Third Day : Political Inclusion of the Ghanaian Diaspora – Ropal

Fourth Day : Factory Visit and Delegates Dinner

Keynote Speaker:
H.E PRESIDENT AKUFO ADDO, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF GHANA

OTHER SPEAKERS INCLUDE:
H.E. Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, Vice President.

Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, Finance Minister

Mrs. Charlotte Osei, Chairperson – Electoral Commissioner

Other Ministers, Captains of Industry and Banking.

Leading and Successful Ghanaians Living Abroad and Returnees

The conference itself is FREE. You would only need to pay for breakfast and lunch.

KLM/Air France have come on board as the airline sponsor and offering 15% off flights for those attending conference. So anyone travelling to Ghana around this time can make use of this offer via – http://www.airfrance.fr/FR/fr/local/www_airfranceklm-globalmeetings_com.htm?eid=30718AF

To Register to attend this presitgious summit visit: www.ghanadiasporahs.org

Esther Afua Ocloo: Ghana’s inspiring businesswoman

Esther Afua Ocloo launched her entrepreneurial career as a teenager in the 1930s on less than a dollar.

She quickly became one of Ghana‘s leading entrepreneurs and a source of inspiration around the world. Yesterday, on what would had been her 98th birthday, Google dedicated to her a ‘doodle’ illustration.

In addition to her own business, she taught skills to other women and co-founded Women’s World Banking (WWB), a global micro-lending organisation.

On its website, the WWB microlending network says it lends to 16,4 million women around the world, managing a loans portfolio of over $9bn.  Known as “Auntie Ocloo”, Esther dedicated her life to helping others like her succeed.

“Women must know that the strongest power in the world is economic power,” she said in a speech in 1990. You cannot go and be begging to your husband for every little thing, but at the moment, that’s what the majority of our women do.”

How she started

As a high school graduate with only a few Ghanian shillings given to her by an aunt, she bought sugar, oranges and 12 jars to make marmalade jam. Ocloo sold them at a profit, despite the ridicule of her former classmates, who saw her as an “uneducated street vendor“.

Soon she won a contract to supply her high school with marmalade jam and orange juice, and later managed to secure a deal to provide the military with her goods. On the basis of that contract, she took out a bank loan. In 1942, she established a business under her maiden name, “Nkulenu”.

Ocloo then travelled to England to take a course in Food Science and Modern Processing Techniques at Bristol University. In 1953, determined to grow her business with her newly acquired knowledge in food processing and preservation, she returned to her homeland with a mission to help Ghana become self-sufficient.

Nkulenu Industries still makes orange marmalade today and exports indigenous food items to markets abroad. In 1962, the company relocated to its present location at Madina, a suburb of the capital city, Accra.

Award-winning leadership

Besides working on her thriving business, she also set up a programme to share her knowledge with other women who cook and sell products on the streets.

”You know what we found? We found that a woman selling rice and stew on the side of the street is making more money than most women in office jobs – but they are not taken seriously,” she said.

In 1990, she became the first woman to receive the Africa Prize for Leadership. She proposed alternative solutions to the problems of hunger, poverty and the distribution of wealth – championing the development of an indigenous economy based on agriculture. In 1999 interview  she said:

Our problem here in Ghana is that we have turned our back on agriculture. Over the past 40 years, since the beginning of compulsory education, we have been mimicking the West

Esther Afua Ocloo

“We are now producing youth with degrees who don’t want to work in the fields or have anything to do with agriculture.” She added.

Ocloo died in 2002 after suffering from pneumonia. At her state burial in Accra, former president John Kofi Agyekum Kufuor said: “She was a creator and we need many people of her calibre to build our nation”.

She was a real pillar… worthy of emulation in our efforts to build our nation. Her good works in the promotion of development in Ghana cannot be measured.

Former Ghanaian President Kufuor

Google also recently celebrated  Jamini RoyHassan Fathy, and Abdul Sattar Edhi with their own doodles.Yesterday would have been Esther Occlo’s 98th birthday. In her honour Google changed its homepage logo in the United States; Ghana; Peru; Argentina, Iceland; Portugal; Sweden; Australia; Greece; New Zealand; Ireland and the UK to a “doodle” – or illustration – of her empowering the women of Ghana.

Article via Aljazeera

Marwako saga: Chef Elijah’s reflections

For the past two weeks radio stations, TV stations, friends, colleagues and pals on social media have been calling and mailing me for my opinion on the Marwako issue, given the fact that I have been working in commercial kitchens since I was 14 years old and have had the opportunity to rise through the ranks of a kitchen cleaner to the manager of commercial kitchens.

Earlier, I had decided to be mute on the issue but now I think sharing my reflections will go a long way to educate people who don’t know what goes into the food they enjoy  in restaurants and hotels within our hospitality industry.

We live in a world today where social media has made it possible for people to easily share their sympathy for the problems of humanity  with the touch of their mobile devices. Flood explosion at Circle and  social media  is flooded with millions of  sympathies and solutions. Someone commits suicide and we share sympathies till another thing happens. This and many other  social issues that society face will always trend on social media. Social media is a good tool for us to express our emotions but we must remember that there is life beyond social media and it is called “reality”.

Our world today  needs people who will step into the problems and pains of our world to offer solutions rather than stand outside of the problems .We have tried sympathy for so many years, now let’s try empathy.

There is this secrecy pact most chefs and cooks can identify with. “What happens in the kitchen stays in kitchen.” Right from the day I took the job of a kitchen cleaner in  Lagos, Nigeria at  the age 14 years, I  became familiar with  flying plates, knives, forks, pepper and all kinds of things in a kitchen.

I remember a particular Sunday night –  I was in a rush to go home to prepare for school on Monday and in my haste threw away the sauce my headchef had prepared. He insulted and threw plates at me, and at that poin  I started crying and shouted out “do you think if my mummy was alive, I would be a cleaner here whiles my mates are in school?” Did my chef care? No, but the following day he invited me to his office and apologizes for his actions because I reacted to his actions immediately and that was how he became the mentor who helped me to realize my potential as a scientist in cooking. How many Ghanaian vocational schools teach the realities of commercial kitchens? “You don’t prepare an antelope for a battle and put it into the midst of lions in a jungle.”

I never understood why chefs and kitchen supervisors across the world are so heartless until I became a Sous Chef at Chase Restaurant in 2011. The pressure and silent psychological trauma that the profession came with can turn -45 degrees to 20 degrees in 5 minutes.

Away from the kitchen, I am the Elijah you know but back in the kitchen I’m a different kind of creature. All chefs and cooks are synonymous with that law of nature. The pressure of ensuring consistency in food quality to beat competition from other hospitality companies, meeting your monthly G.P on food costing to ensure profitability, dealing with the failures of ingredient suppliers, dealing with staff  problems, buying and maintaining very expensive kitchen equipments, meeting health and safety standards in the kitchen are a few of the many hurdles kitchen managers have to deal with daily.  In an attempt to address the stress, employers will tell you that is why you get two day’s off work every week to overcome the stress, but that is not enough

Management and customers  will not accept any of this as a excuse if there’s problem with the food they ordered. Most times chefs have had to sleep over in the kitchen to be on top on issues  and that is why most chefs turn to smoking, drugs and alcohol as a way of  overcoming stress.

This is why some hotels and restaurants in Ghana will go the extra mile to bring in expatriate chefs to manage their kitchens with the perception that local chefs can’t handle the pressures in a kitchen.  I remember while serving as secretary of the Greater Accra Chefs Association, I suggested at a  tourism forum that Ghana Tourism Authority should help the association to have a counseling unit that works with hospitality companies to support kitchen staffs to overcome pressures associated with the profession.

Punishing the management and supervisor of Marwako as a deterrent will not bring to an end the occurrence of kitchen manager’s “boiling over their staff” incidence in the hospitality industry. It happens in every hospitality company across the world. In regards to this issue what I think all stakeholder’s within the hospitality industry in Ghana should do are as follows:

–          Chefs, cooks, kitchen staffs and managements of hospitality companies in Ghana should come out and accept that it is a problem that happens in the profession and form a consensus towards addressing it

–          The Ghana Tourism Authority and Ghana Tourism Federation should work with the Chefs Association of Ghana and other stakeholder’s within the hospitality industry to establish an anger and emotional management unit that gives training to people who work in the industry

–          Management of hospitality companies in Ghana should allow their kitchen staff especially young cooks and chefs to join and attend programs and training of the Chefs Association of Ghana

–          Ghana Tourism Authority and it’s partners should make it compulsory for all expatriates who intend to work in commercial kitchens in Ghana to register with the Chefs Association of Ghana as members in order for them to be giving  support and training on working with Ghanaians.

–          Stress management in Africa should be a core principal focus of all stakeholder’s in society

 By Chef Elijah Amoo Addo

‘My Ghana’ – a refelctive poem on Ghana’s 60 year journey

6 March is here again, and with Ghana celebrating 60 years of independence today, many of us will undoubtedly at some point pause to reflect on how far our motherland has come, and where we are heading.

There are many who view Ghana as the beacon of Africa, but despite being recently classed as a middle-income country, several years of mismanagement by corrupt government leaders has propelled many Ghanaians into difficulties. Unemployement among the youth stands at 48%, the public debt stock stands at 73.3% of GDP and almost 9 million Ghanaians live below the poverty line.

These are just a few things that Jones Awuah touches on in ‘My Ghana’, a poem reflecting on Ghana’s 60 year journey since 1957. Have a listen below:

U.S native gave up everything to serve the Children of Ghana

At B.A.S.I.C.S. International school here, students are gathering for afternoon “Harambee,” a self-affirming session of song and dance.

“Jump in! Jump out! Introduce yourself!” the first song goes. “There’s Crystal! And she loves to read and write!”

They clap in rhythm to a contagious melody, with the school’s founder, Brooklyn native Patricia Wilkins, swaying in their circle.
“Everybody do the freedom rumble! Everybody do the freedom rumble! I wish I knew how it feels to be free! Wish I could break all the chains holding me!”

It’s been 17 years since Wilkins arrived in Ghana from Queens, N.Y., where at 35, she jettisoned most of her possessions and boarded a plane to answer what she believed to be a calling to do missionary work in Africa.

“I was very involved in the United Methodist Church, and had just served a year doing missionary work at an orphanage in Russia,” says this African-American woman, who at the time was making good money as a fashion merchandiser.

“After Russia, I wanted to come to Africa, and they were like, ‘We’re not sending any missionaries to Africa.’ I was like, ‘Why not? Africa needs us.’ They said there was no funding for it. So I was like, ‘Alright, well, I’m going to come myself,’ ” Wilkins recounts.

She started out volunteering at schools here and cajoling family and friends in the U.S. to sponsor a child’s education. That turned in to three schools of her own.

The first — her headquarters here in this overpopulated fishing village — opened in 2010. Today, B.A.S.I.C.S. is a recognized NGO here, tackling illiteracy and poverty among extreme poor who live off less than $1.25 a day.

“We’re a nonprofit organization providing access to education to children being deprived due to child labor, child trafficking, poverty, lack of parental care. We take dropouts, and children who have never been to school. We transition them back into mainstream education,” Wilkins says. “We also run an after-school program, a girl’s boarding house, a feeding center . . .” The list goes on.

And a developing country is hard terrain. Atop the devastating poverty, plumbing and electricity challenges abound. To work here takes real commitment.

Dependent on funding from government, corporate and individual contributions, B.A.S.I.C.S. was adopted by Ghana’s Israeli Embassy, which has provided equipment, secured activity venues, and run a music education workshop for students. Israeli Ambassador Ami Mehl is a staunch advocate within Accra’s diplomatic community, bringing B.A.S.I.C.S before other foreign embassies to seek further support.

“I was volunteering at a school in Chorkor when I started seeing kids on the streets that weren’t going to school. I decided I’d sponsor a child” to go to that school, she recalls. “It was right after 9/11. I had about four children I was trying to sponsor, and sent emails to all my friends and family, saying, ‘Help me sponsor these kids.’ I got an overwhelming response. . . . People just wanted to do something to help.

She opened her first school in 2004. And the sponsorships have kept coming.

“I went from five kids to 12 after 9/11. We had 50 kids that year, and 100 the next year. We’ve sponsored over 1,000 kids to date.

“When I first came, I thought maybe six months I would be here. Six months then turned into 16.”

Source: www.chicagosuntimes.com

Me Firi Ghana (@Me_FiRi_GHANA)