Embak, a community service team from the University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho, emerged winners at this year’s Community Service Awards held on Friday 24th June 2016.
The Community Service Award is the biggest platform in Ghana for tertiary students to exhibit volunteerism and patriotism as their contribution towards national development. It was initiated in March 2014 by Osei-Kusi Foundation (OKF) and Selfless 4Africa Inc, (S4A) with the aim of cultivating a spirit of volunteerism and community service among young people.
Over the past two years, OKF and S4A through the award scheme have raised leaders to make positive contributions towards national development, one community at a time.
Since its inception, the Community Service Award has contributed to the setting up of a bakery for unemployed young women in Nanketewa a village near Sunyani in the Brong-Ahafo region and the renovation of the Occupational Therapy Unit of the Accra Psychiatric hospital while training the cured mental patients in beads making. The winners of the 2014 and 2015 edition of the awards undertook these two projects respectively.
This year’s award ceremony, which was held at the University of Ghana Law School auditorium attracted people from all walks of life including the Minister of Youth and Sports, Hon. Nii Lantey Vanderpuye (Guest Speaker), Rev. Dr. Joyce Aryee (Chairperson) and the Board Chairman of the Osei-Kusi Foundation, Mr. Emmanuel Dei-Tumi.
Dr. Joyce Aryee in addressing the audience as the chairperson entreated young people to arrive on time at events. “When you’re late it means that you have lost time and it is time you can never retrieve, so make it a point to be punctual and make the best of the 24hrs that you have,” she said.
The former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Mines spoke on the need for patriotism and volunteerism. “Volunteering is very altruistic. It is intended to promote or improve the quality of human life and a catalyst for socio-economic development. It is a social phenomenon that cuts across social groups, traverses borders and is present in all aspects of human activity. It is a formidable source that can be harnessed to address many of our country’s developmental challenges. Volunteerism is critical for every societal development and its sustainability,” Dr. Aryee said.
“Volunteerism is both an opportunity and a catalyst for development and it can be strategically channeled to foster growth and development. Organizations and agencies that volunteer for their communities provide important services at low or no cost to those who need them and this goes a long way to support development. It is true no one person can solve all of the world’s problems but each of us should try and make a change in somebody’s life in the little corner we find ourselves,” she continued.
The six finalists at this year’s event were Inspya (University of Ghana), Initiative for Community Development (University of Cape-Coast), Embak (University of Health and Allied Sciences), Youth Empowerment Society (KNUST), Life Changers (Valley View University), and The Mariners from Regional Maritime University.
The six teams in this year’s competition were later allotted five minutes each to give a face-to-face presentation of their various projects after which they were scaled down to three teams. Initiative for Community Development, Life Changers, and The Mariners couldn’t make it to the final round. They each received certificates from the Osei-Kusi Foundation. The Mariners on the other had a windfall. The Minister of Youth and Sports, Hon. Nii Lante Vanderpuye pledged a sum of GHȻ 2,000 towards their project of providing a six-seater public toilet facility for the people of Fante-Kura in the Kete-Krachi district of the Volta region. Hon. Vanderpuye said he was once a culprit of open defecation when he was a child, thus compelling him to support The Mariners to curb this unhealthy practice.
The three finalists Inspya, Embak and Youth Empowerment Society were each given one minute to convince the judges why they merit the award money of GHȻ 10, 000.
In the end, Embak the team from the University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho proved to the judges that they merited the award money of GHȻ10, 000. Their project is to construct a borehole for the people of Duta in the Volta Region. This is to provide the inhabitants with clean and healthy water to enable them to carry out their day-to-day activities with ease.
The Minister of Youth and Sports, Hon Nii Lante Vanderpuye in delivering his keynote address expressed worry about the lack of patriotism among the Ghanaian youth.
He lamented about how the menace of drug abuse and prostitution has become rife among minors in Bukom in the Greater Accra Region. He attributed this menace to the neglect of these people by society. He, therefore, called on the clergy and Ghanaians as a whole to get back to societies such as Bukom to positively impact their lives and change their mindsets in order to improve their way of life.
Hon. Vanderpuye, who is also the Member of Parliament for the Odododiodoo Constituency, entreated the various community service teams not to only focus on the benefits of their projects but also to focus on changing people’s mindsets in their communities. He encouraged the youth to be focused on their goals in life and be unique in all their endeavors.
The Board Chairman of the Osei-Kusi Foundation, Mr. Emmanuel Dei-Tumi, spoke on the importance of sacrifice. “There’s something unique about sacrifice. There’s something so fulfilling about thinking of others and being selfless. The more people you can serve, the better it is for you to also have your vision spread to a lot more places, and you get fulfillment in return,” he said.
He also spoke on the need for innovation and creativity among the youth. “Innovation is dying among the youth. We are living in a global world, which is driven by creativity and innovation. If you really want to make an impact and make your presence felt anywhere that you go, you’ve got to be original in your thinking. That’s what makes you who you are,” Mr. Dei-Tumi said.
He encouraged the youth to be selfless, committed and patriotic in all their endeavors.
Report By: Desmond ‘Pappy’ Tawiah, threesixtyGh Writer