In life there are two kinds of people; those who complain and watch things happen, and those who jump in and make good things happen. In this blog I'll share with you the stories of people in and from Ghana who are changemakers and I hope to inspire you to leave the complainers on the sidelines who cannot see any good thing in Ghana and jump right into the fun and action!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Resilience on the Streets of Accra

So I decided to revive this blog partly because I want to begin to contribute more to making things work better in Ghana outside my work at Reach for Change. At Reach for Change we invest in social entrepreneur who are moving the needle on solving social problems in Ghana and around the world. Its great to support these people to make change happen but I also want to be in the trenches publicly talking about and being part of making our beautiful country truly great and strong. So here we go with my first post in a looooooong while. This morning on the way to work, I met a beggar at the traffic lights. That's not particularly remarkable, as in Accra there are beggars at many major traffic lights. They approach cars when the lights are red to ask for money. Many of them are people living with physical or mental disabilities. Sometimes I give them some money and sometimes I don't, but even when I do its usually with this sense of judging them for refusing to work and being on the street. Firstly because I believe if someone refuses to work when they can, then they should not sponge of others and probably also because I've also been influenced by the stories in popular urban culture of beggars who make a fortune off the street and own shops and mansions or those who when offered jobs have opted to return to the street because they make more money there. But today as I prayed in my car on my commute and saw this guy in wheelchair coming towards me. It struck me that he was a human being with a story just like me, with issues just like the ones I was praying and thinking about and I wondered who he was and got curious. So I gave him a one cedi note and then asked him "What is your name and why are you in the street begging". To my surprise he responded in excellent English and told me his name was Alhassan and his story was that he can struggled through Senior Secondary School, he was a science student, but had not done well enough in some subjects (Biology and another one) to go to a tertiary institution. He wanted to rewrite his exams but he hasn't been able to get a job and doesn't have someone to support him so he's on the street for a while to save some money to be able to pay for a class. And he ended by saying "we are all are on the street for different reasons". Immediately the way I saw him changed from "lazy beggar" to "young enterprising young man going through a rough patch" and I began to think what I could say and do to encourage him. For me the learning and good news was this. Human beings are resilient. God has put in each one of us the ability to learn, grow, deal with adversity and recover. Here was this young man living with a disability struggling to do just that learn and grow, and somehow part of his journey included a stint on the street. We may not agree with the choices that brought him there but his story in its basic essence is not so different from any of our stories (We the non-street dwellers of Accra). So today instead of assuming you know someone's story and labeling them "poor beggar", "selfish taxi-driver" take a minute, be curious and learn what you don't know - another person's story from their point of view. Make a human connection, listen to another and affirm someone else's basic humanity by treating them with dignity and be part of the Good News happening in Ghana.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Six of the 20 projected fastest-growing countries this year are in Africa. Among them are Ghana, at 13.7 percent;

This story is really good news in sub-saharan africa but it is so nice to see a story in the western press that presents a more balanced picture of life and opportunity on this amazing continent we live on that I thought I would share it. And a perfect reason to revive this blog... enjoy!

Twenty-four miles northwest of Accra in Ghana, Anthony Botchway rips a pineapple plant from the ground with his bare hands. Wearing dirty boots, a short-sleeved shirt and jeans, he looks like any other farmworker, in a region where the daily minimum wage is less than $2.

The difference is that Botchway owns 7.2 million of the pulpy, yellow fruits. He rose from poverty to become managing director of Bomarts Farms Ltd., which owns and cultivates 3,000 acres (1,200 hectares) of land, partly because he got financial help, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its June issue.

Ecobank Transnational Inc. (ETI), which operates in more African countries than any other bank, provided an initial loan of $50,000 in 2002. Since then, Botchway has gone from peddling goods on village streets to exporting his extra-sweet pineapples to Europe and the Middle East. Read More...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Celebrating the Inspiring Music of Ghana

My friend Raphael inspired this blog post when he posted a link to Samini's new video on the blog's facebook group wall. He got me thinking about how inspiring music from Ghana is - from gospel music to love songs, traditional rhythms and patriotic songs. They make us laugh and cry, fall in love and want to love our country more or dance and forget all our problems in their electrifying rhythms.

Press the play button to enjoy a few songs from Ghana that I find inspiring - the songs are great but some of the music videos could do with some help :)

Music has the power to change the atmosphere in an entire country. I am convinced that the Ghana Peace song composed by the United Artists for Peace was one of the major contributing factors to Ghana's peaceful elections last year. And every time I hear Ephraim Amu's "Yen Ara Asase Ni" sang, I get goosebumps and feel a deep sense of commitment to seeing our country grow and develop.

So this week to celebrate the inspiring music and musicians of Ghana, we are going to do something different and I will need the help of all my readers.

Help Choose The Most Inspiring Ghanaian Song of All Times.
  1. Post up to five Ghanaian songs that you find inspiring in the "comments" section below. (you can post 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 songs) and you can also post anonymously.
  2. Invite your friends to also post songs by sharing a link to this blog post on facebook, twitter or by email - use the share buttons at the beginning and end of the post.
  3. On Friday 7th August, I will compile a list of all the submissions and create a poll.
  4. When the poll is out vote for which song you think best embodies good news and inspiration from Ghana.
  5. The top three songs will win the title "Most Inspiring Ghanaian Songs of all Time" at least according to Good News Ghana blog readers :)
... Let the Fun Begin.

Below is my list of inspiring songs. I have to admit it changes often but at this point in time my top five in no particular order are.
  1. "Yen ara asase ni" by Ephraim Amu (I personally think this should have been Ghana's National Anthem)
  2. "Ghana First, We Love Peace", by the United Ghanaian Artistes for Peace - (This song proved that music can soothe the charged political situation in any country)
  3. "Ye dze biako ye" by Amandzeba Nat Brew (Danceable and inspiring message)
  4. "Telephone Nkomo" by Sloopy Mike Gyamfi (I think its just because I've missed home and many special people and I'm really terrible at staying in touch)
  5. "Ye di nkunim" by Tagoe Sisters (Classic gospel song of hope. I think the deep faith of the people of Ghana is one of the things that helps us to continue to have hope in a better future)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ghanaian Student Develops Technology That Could Save Your Life

The Problem
Have you ever had malaria or another disease and taken a full course of medicine but still remained sick? The problem of counterfeit drugs in developing countries like Ghana is one that could kill you. The WHO estimates that up to 30% of drugs in developing countries are counterfeit and a recent study by the International Policy Network estimated that over 700,000 deaths from malaria and tuberculosis are attributable to fake drugs. In a place like Ghana where many families have to sacrifice other needs to purchase medicine, counterfeit drugs reduce the confidence that ordinary people have in the health care system and make them more vulnerable to fake spiritualists and healers.

The Solution
One person who is not simply complaining about this problem but has created a breakthrough solution is Ashifi Gogo, a Ghanaian Ph.D. Innovation Program candidate at Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth. His company Sproxil provides technology which allows any consumer to confirm a drug's authenticity with a simple text message. To check if a drug is counterfeit, a consumer simply scratches-off a code on the medication, sends a text message and obtains an instant response which says "Ok genuine medicine" or "No fake". The benefits to pharmaceutical companies for using this technology according to Sproxil, include reclaiming market share lost to counterfeiters, sending real-time offers at the point of purchase through text messaging to customers and locking down their supply chain to prevent product diversion. Sproxil provides a win-win for everyone, consumers as well as pharmaceutical companies.

The company which recently changed its name from mPedigree Logistics to Sproxil has won various awards including first place in the Nokia Innovators Competition, second place in the 2009 Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC), and a World Summit award for e-health and environment technology solution

Ashifi also co-founded nonprofit mPedigree based in Ghana whose mission is to protect patients and consumers in the developing world from fake medicines through advocacy, public education, research, and support for innovative technologies. mPedigree and its partners have developed an advocacy video "if symptoms persist. Below is a short trailer for the "if symptoms persist video and a video on the Nokia award.

What Do You Think of This Story
Have you had an experience with drugs that did not work? Do you have any other ideas that could deal with the problem of counterfeit drugs or have you been inspired by this story? Leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you.