by Lord M. Nixon
Meet Agnes Nti, one of the very first women to benefit from health screenings and the SoCCs small loans scheme in the Bantama Market. She sells condiments and a variety of food items. Aggie has proved her mettle and is therefore seen as a leader amongst her peers who affectionately call her “SoCCs Hemaa” ( literally translated as SoCCs Queen) in the Bantama Market. She is a four time beneficiary of the small loan scheme under the SoCCs project.
On a routine tour of the market in March, she invited me to her shop for a brief conversation. After about 4 minutes of conversation, I noticed she was offloading various food items ranging from canned tomato paste to shea butter into a new shop next to her own. I asked if she was helping a friend offload her goods, she smiled and told me that was her new shop. The conversation then got very interesting as she started to explain how the loans had gradually helped her expand her business, create a healthy savings account and allow her to be more financially independent as she does not borrow from loan sharks anymore.
To me, this is a very progressive woman who understands the SoCCs program and has made positive use of the knowledge and skills she has acquired from the program. Furthermore, she is serving as a positive role model for the women in the Bantama community as most of her peers hold her in high regard.
The Women’s Health to Wealth (WHW) is an organisation committed to the health and education of girls in first and second cycle institutions within the Ashanti Region. To achieve this, Girls’ Club program was instituted. There are currently thirty-six (36) girls’ clubs in the Atwima Nwabiagya, Afigya Kwabre, Kwabre East and Bosomtwe Districts in the Ashanti Region. See appendix 1.
The program creates safe environment for girls to express themselves, improve their literacy skills, learn about their biological makeup and associated changes as well as good health practices. The program also has measures to provide support for club members whenever the need arises for their well-being.
In line with this objective, WHW came to the aid of a club member, Victoria Asamoah, from the Piase D/A Junior High in the Bosomtwe District. Victoria fell and broke her leg at the beginning of the 2016/2017 academic year but was not immediately taken to the hospital by her guardians. A Herbalist was contacted to help her. However, her condition deteriorated as a result of the lack of proper medical care.
Facilitators of the club, Mavis Owusu Ansah and Matilda Animah upon investigations realised Victoria was being denied conventional medical care because of financial problems. They reported to the Executive Director of the WHW, Nana Abena Akuamoa Boateng for assistance. It should be noted that Victoria had by this time been kept at home for over a month. Nana Abena tasked a WHW program officer, Abraham Nkrumah, and the two facilitators to take her to the hospital.
On the 28th October, 2016, Victoria was sent to the St. Michael’s hospital, Pramso in the Bosomtwe District. She was however referred to the Komfo Anokye teaching Hospital because the needed medical care at the time of her admission was beyond the capabilities of the District hospital WHW paid about five thousand Ghana Cedis (GH ₵ 5000) for her hospitalisation and medical bills.
Due to the due diligence of the club facilitators in attending to the welfare of club members and the timely intervention of the Executive director of the WHW, Victoria has been given the needed medical care and is now back on her feet.
Her legal guardian, also her brother appealed to the WHW for aid in paying her medical bills. This was subsequently done and Victoria went through a successful surgery in November, 2016.
Victoria Asamoah is now well and though she has not completed the therapy needed to regain the full use of her leg, is very grateful to the WHW and her facilitators for the love and commitment to her health. It is therefore expected that she can return to school when it reopens in January 2017 and continue her education.
Greater Works Restoration Foundation (GWRF) recently held a free surgical outreach to the Upper East Region.
The programme was extremely successful and the impact was significant in the lives of the individuals we operated on.
Thirty (30) successful free reconstructive surgeries were performed. Eighty five( 85%) percent of the patients seen were women and children with all forms of anomalies ranging from birth defects to acquired traumatic events of which post burns deformities were common.
Below is a summary of how the items donated were used.
- The little teddy bears were given to the children to calm them down before and after the surgeries
- The pain medication was given to children post-operatively to control pain
- We donated some boxes of examination gloves and a box of drugs (Advil) to the administration of the regional hospital.
- On our last day, we made a very long drive to SIRIGU, on challenging terrain to an orphanage for babies and toddlers where we donated some of the blankets and teddy bears you gave us.
From the period of 18th to 29th July, 2016, empower change matrices were conducted for the women of Krobo and the Bantama market. This activity not only helped the women realize what they were gaining from the program but it also helped WHW know where there was significant progress and where there was not and it helped immensely in planning future activities.
On the 10th of October, 2016, a WomenStrong representative (Julia Nethero) visited WHW to learn more about the organization and its activities.
During this period, she visited Krobo and Wawase where she interacted with some of the women in the SoCCs program. She got to know from the women the benefits, changes and overall developments the program has brought about in their lives. The women were also happy to interact with her as they had not met any member from the consortium before.
The Wawase SoCCs community in the Afigya Kwabre district has a current membership of 38 women managed by the SoCCs program officers and Madam Doris Asamoah and Madam Abenaa Donkor, elected leaders of the group.
On the 20th of November, 2016 during the community’s monthly a report was received on an existing misunderstanding between Madam Doris and Madam Abenaa which had translated into poorly organized meetings and inconsistent clean-ups. The program officer opened a platform for both leaders to express their concerns after listening to both leader’s concerns and the opinions of the other members on the issue, the program officer offered his advice and suggested that the leaders let go of the issue, both leaders accepted the advice, apologized to each other and promised to work in harmony for the benefit community.
During the following month’s business meeting, the program officer noticed both leaders were seated together, joyfully chatting and also, on enquiring, the program officer also found out that the preparatory meeting prior to undertaking a clean-up exercise which was brought to a halt during the period of conflict has been commenced. Below is a group photo taken after the issue had been settled.
As mentioned before, all communities in the SoCCs program participated in clean-up activities in their respective communities.
What sets the first clean-up exercise of the Aduamoa group (consisting of 19 women) apart from the rest is the commitment they showed towards the activity and the amount of work they were able to do in just one day.
2016 is the year Ghana will elect a new president. As such, it is important for every Ghanaian, including our women, to understand the various processes that occur during this period as well as what to look out for from aspiring presidential and parliamentary candidates. Thus, on the 28th of September 2016, a political talk was organized and facilitated by the SoCCs program officers and the executive director of WHW. A total of 54 women attended this meeting.
The SoCCs program in 2016 had a special persistence and promotion of good health and sanitation amongst its participating communities. For the Bantama community, this was even more important as the women stated that, aside from the regular clean-up exercises, they would also like to have regular visits from a variety of health personnel to give them advice on diet, dental health etc. As such, a health talk is organized every other month and the first talk was done on the 29th of March, 2016.