Light for Children May 09′ Report

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Light for Children May 09’ Report

Why Obama is coming to Ghana

Written by Rhianydd griffith, LIFOC UK-Coordinator (rhi@hotmail.com)

President Obama has worked quickly since he entered office. However after almost four months as America’s first African-American President, he had yet to arrange one of the most widely anticipated trips of his early term. That is, until on 16 May the White House passed over Kenya, where Obama’s late father was from, in favour of Ghana when it confirmed it as the destination of his first presidential visit to sub-Saharan Africa.

Obama will travel to Accra on 10 July for an overnight stay at the end of a trip to Russia and Sardinia. The visit will surely attract global attention – not least because of the President’s  selection of Ghana as the nation of choice. Mr Obama’s advisers concluded that a year after Kenya exploded in political violence, it remains tense and an unsettled place. Ghana, by contrast, is an outpost of democracy.  A White House spokesman says “The President and Mrs. Obama look forward to strengthening the U.S. relationship with one of our most trusted partners in sub-Saharan Africa, and to highlighting the critical role that sound governance and civil society play in promoting lasting development”

When the President steps out into Accra this summer, it promises to be a moment of enormous historic and symbolic resonance – one by which both Ghanaians and westerners can be inspired. In certain ways President Obama’s situation mirrors that of Ghana’s. He is a President that represents change, libralism, progression and reason. But considering America’s economic troubles and damaged foreign policy, he has a mountain to climb before he can transform the “change” that dominated his campaign into a reality.

Similarly Ghana has been singled out in Africa as a country that has potential, particulary since its charactarisation by many as a mature democracy,  a phrase used to describe a country that has had not just one — but two — successful handovers of power from one legitimately elected leader to another. Most of the nations in Africa have unfortunately flunked this test.  Over the past four years, foreign investment has grown over twentyfold from around $100 million in 2004 to $2.6 billion this year, according to Rosa Whitaker, a former Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa who now advises the government.

But like Obama, it is impossible to forget that Ghana has a mountain to climb before the country can come even close to beating disease, eliminating corruption and achieving its coveted middle-income status.  Despite the economic growth, the average Ghanaian earns just $3.80 a day and dies before the age of 60. Much of the country has no reliable water or electricity and many of its children live as orphans. “If you think Ghana is doing so well, then hand me your British or American passport and I’ll hand you mine,” quips Kwesi Aning, an expert on politics who heads a department at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre.

So considering Ghana’s almost precarious position, soon to be bathed in the light of President Obama’s visit, the essential question is; can Ghana keep on climbing?

And the answer, of course, is “Yes she can!”

May Activities for Light for Children

Written by Mike Owusu, co-founder / Programme coordinator (inlawp5@yahoo.com)

New Arrivals

Light for Children has had the pleasure of welcoming 5 new faces this month. Sunday 3rd May saw the arrival of Swedish volunteer Theresa Aronsson, closely followed by JICA volunteer Misaki Asari from Japan on 4th of May.

JICA volunteer small

On the 5th Light for Children welcomed a second volunteer from Sweden in the person of Patricia Fortes Da Cruz. On 11th May, Kwame Nkrumah from the University of Science and Technology arrived to begin a three months placement and finally volunteer Fung Tung from Hong Kong touched down on 14th May – the first day his Ghanaian experience.

The fighting malaria movement continues

This month saw Light for Children continue its commitment to the Mobilise Against Malaria movement. On 12th May, Light for Children director Mike and co-founder Yaw, took part in a full day of education sessions on malaria which took place throughout the the Atonsu – Agogo community. Although most members of the community are aware of the dangers of malaria, there is unfortunately still a minority who are  unsure of the facts surrounding the disease.   The day was followed by an education about malaria gathering at the Atonsu Sawmill on 13th May.  Following these  revealing sessions, the Light for Children team is  even more focused on reaching those most in need of education on malaria treatment and prevention.

Light for Children has also continued its initiative to raise awareness of sexual assault in young people. On 15h May, 2009, volunteer Fung Tung joined Light for Children assistant Cecilia in giving a presentation on Child Assault at Swift Academy.

Another presentation on Child assault took place at Solid Hope Academy at Asokwa on 20th May. Following the presentations, the team returned to the Academies later in the month to collect assignments done by the children, on what they had learned during the presentations. Awards were presented to the pupils who did the best assignments in order to add to their enthusiasm and memory.

Light Children’s monthly socialization meeting  for HIV positive children and their carers took place, as usual, at Kumasi Cultural Center on the 16th May. Many of the children are progressing well on their anti retro viral medication

Light for Children has continued to act to reduce the stigma surrounding HIV and to promote positive life choices this month.

Light for Children’s Journey of Hope presentation was given at Arising Star, Gyinyase on the 22nd of May, and on the 30th, the team branched further into the community with an HIV presentation to Susanna Wesley Auxiliary Group of Atonsu Emmanuel Methodist Church about the social cost of HIV infection, stigma and other related issues.

The end of the month meant time to say goodbye and good luck to Canadian volunteer Kirsten, who was given a certificate of achievement after three months with Light for Children.

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