My greatest wish as a Kufuor scholar is to be in the capacity to give back to the community. Despite exams being a couple of days away, I couldn’t resist joining the 2019 Kufuor Scholars Program (KSP) Community Health Day in the Ofoase Ayirebi Constituency with Hon. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah who is member of parliament for the area and Minister of Information.
Prior to the 2019 community health day, I was tasked with coordinating activities and making adequate arrangements for my fellow scholars who opted to join the community engagement. Due to the selfless nature of scholars, it was no surprise a majority volunteered for the community engagement.
Was it worth the sacrifice? I think the words to describe my time in service would make Mark Twain and Shakespeare gasp in awe. My journey began as I travelled from Kumasi to Accra and joined the team at the African Reagent Hotel. The community health day team included Kufuor Scholars, staff of the John A. Kufuor Foundation, first aiders of the Red Cross Society and nursing and midwifery students of the University of Ghana. With these well skilled and selfless individuals, a grand scale of impact was anticipated.
Fast forward to the morning of the trip: the sound of the sparking car synced into the background as we set off on the over 3 hours journey. A couple of minutes into the journey, one scholar loudly asked our coordinator; “Dr. Pascal Brenya, I notice a health theatre play in the program outline, how would we go about that?” With a faint smile, Dr. Pascal replied; “good one, can we develop a short sketch educating constituents of Ofoase Ayirebi on the need to be health conscious?” Just as the shibboleth of the scholars program goes, “THE SHARPEST MINDS NEED THE FINEST ADVICE.” Scholars lived up to expectations and in less than half an hour, a sketch was ready and rehearsed a couple of times over. I wouldn’t give any drama spoiler alerts yet.
Over the 3-hour seemingly, never-ending journey, I kept myself busy with a camera, taking shots of the natural landscape by the roadside until we finally arrived at Ofoase Ayirebi. In Ayirebi, the team made a stop at the residence of Hon. Paul Asamoah, the Chief Executive officer for Ofoase-Ayirebi. The team had an interactive time with the DCE, as he reiterated his appreciation and that of the constituency for the steps former President John Kufuor took to carve out the district from a then bigger one. This he believes made room for development.
Together with the DCE, we moved to the durbar ground to set up at the venue for the health screening exercise. Activities included body mass index (BMI) checks, Hepatitis B tests, breast cancer screening, etc. Through the lens of my camera, I saw the joy and smile with which constituents welcomed us. As others kept gazing at the team in high expectations, a number of elderly men came to assist us with set up which began a few minutes later.
A couple of minutes into the health screening exercise, myself and my fellow scholars moved to the Ayirebi Senior High School to hold a mentorship session for the students there. Scholars facilitated sessions on personal hygiene, courtesy, study tips, career choices and youths in agriculture discussions.
I spoke on youth involvement in agriculture and encouraged students on the need to take up agriculture and agribusiness management as they climb up the academic ladder. Since I once schooled in a farming community a couple of miles away from Ayirebi, I have come to the understanding that more often than not, students from these farming communities tend to shy away from studying agriculture. I encourage them not to.
You must be wondering what the role of the Red Cross Society was when it comes to all our activities. They equally led an educative and informative session, practically teaching student how to control bleeding, safe postures and means of carrying injured individuals. They admonished student leaders to start a Red Cross Society on campus and promised to facilitate activities of the club.
The coordinator of the Kufuor Scholars Program Dr. Pascal Brenya also had a few titbits to share on the reasons why students need to make the right choices whilst in school. His advice was especially directed at final year students who would soon sit for the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE). He had an engaging session with students as he chipped in a couple of fun ice breakers.
As quickly and excitedly as the mentorship session began, it soon came to an end after the District Chief Executive (DCE) spoke to students on the need for courtesy, honoring teachers and showing appreciation to people who are kind to us. He donated copies of the book “Think Differently” authored by Dr. Pascal Brenya to members of the Students Representative Council (SRC) of the school. Funny how right after the DCE had spoken on “appreciation”, only a lady amongst the SRC executives expressed her gratitude, and for that matter she was further rewarded by the DCE.
Finally, the mentorship session drew to a close. Hastily, scholars moved to the durbar ground with some selected number of students. Upon reaching the health screening ground, I was dazzled by the huge crowds of people who trooped to the durbar ground in our absence. I was equally amazed by the activeness and patience with which the medical team attended to constituents despite the huge numbers they had already attended to.
As there were fewer constituents to attend to, we decided to perform our shortly rehearsed drama. The central focus of the drama was to educate individuals on the essence of consulting medical doctors at the early stages of their predicament. People have cultivated the habit of self-medication, visiting religious leaders, consulting witchdoctors and succumbing to peer influence at the early stages of their illness but rush to the hospital when all these places of healing prove futile.
I can still hear the ringing sounds of laughter from the crowds during the act. The loud cheer and applause from the crowd indicated receptiveness to the lessons the theatre put across.
The day was super packed and though everyone showed signs of exhaustion, we hurriedly took our lunch and headed back to Accra. My glimpse of activities of the day, through the lens of my camera has indelibly been printed on my mind, not worth forgetting. Indeed, Accra is not Ghana and Ghana is not Accra.
By Desmond Nana Kweku Benyin Walker
Kufuor Scholars Program Class of 2020