In pandemic, Ashesi alumni efforts provide examples of good citizenship

April 24, 2020
Across Ghana, many have reported seeing and hearing Ghana Airforce helicopters more frequently since the country started implementing COVID-19 safety measures. In addition to helping secure the country’s territory, the military has been called on to support in healthcare provision.

Ashesi graduate Flight Lieutenant Sackey, piloting the Ghana Airforce’s Mi17-V5, has been part of the team of military responders helping bring essential supplies to COVID-19 frontline healthcare workers and hospitals in Ghana.

“Aside from protecting the territorial airspace of Ghana, the airforce is committed to service in times like these,” says Flt. Lt. Sackey. “Being able to serve Ghana in this way is why I joined the Airforce.”

Like Flight Lieutenant Sackey, other Ashesi alumni have joined in efforts to assist, working in various capacities to help their communities in the wake of the pandemic.

Filling welfare gaps for Kayayei: Teni Agana ‘18

Since graduating from Ashesi in 2018, Teni has been working with initiatives across Ghana to help address rural-urban migration, particularly among Kayeyei (head porters) in Ghana’s market places. A former Kayayo herself, Teni had been able to attend Ashesi after receiving a full scholarship. As social distancing and lockdown measures were introduced in some of Ghana’s biggest markets, Teni understood how the livelihoods of Kayayei would be impacted.

“Kayayei depend on active market places to make a living,” shared Teni. “Now that markets have slowed, they hardly make ends meet. So together with Ashesi alumna Rose Dodd ’09 and other volunteers, we are helping Kayayei create alternative streams of income, so they’re not left stranded.”

Helping identify customers and retailers, Teni has retooled a smock-making business to make face-masks for the general public, providing them to many vendors in the markets. She has also led fundraising efforts to supplement the income of the Kayayei she works with, providing meals daily for the women and their families.

Simplifying COVID-19 data for the public: Benedict Quartey ‘16

When Ghana started reporting COVID-19 cases, Benedict Quartey ’18 realised that it was difficult to find all the country’s relevant data on one platform. So he built one.

“There was a lot of different data being shared, and it was difficult to make sense of it,” shared Benedict, who is a Faculty Intern and working on Robotics Research at Ashesi. “I thought that if I had this difficulty, others would too. So I built this platform to aggregate all the data being shared by Ghana’s Health Services, in the Ministry of Information’s press conferences and sometimes other trusted media sources.”

Producing face-masks at scale: Enoch Aworo ‘14

In response to the call for local companies to help manufacture protective gear, Enoch Aworo ’14 also refocused his clothing company to produce non-surgical face-masks.

“Our business depends on people being healthy and active,” shared Enoch, whose company, Grandpa Clothing, can produce over 300 masks each day. “We all cannot wait to see the end of the pandemic. And this is how we can help the nation.”

Enoch’s company has also given away hundreds of masks through various organisations and is now also working with companies to manufacture face-masks for their employees.

Providing a low-cost handwashing solution -Derick Omari ‘18

With handwashing established as a critical part of fighting the COVID-19 virus, alum Derick Omari ’18 also saw the conversation about how taps provided a potential transmission surface for viruses to be spread.

“With everyone opening and closing taps a lot more times now, there is increased risk of transmission from the contact surfaces,” shared Derrick.

So his start-up, Tech Era, designed an easy-to-install electronic hands-free faucet, especially for homes and public spaces in underserved areas. The devices can be installed on different water storage containers, with very little training.

“In the wake of COVID-19, we realized we could help by providing low-cost innovations that would help reduce the spread,” he shared. “So we came up with a ‘touchless’ tap that can be used in households and also in public places. Most importantly, we hope it will help improve hygienic practices.”

Helping high school students continue learning: Ebenezer Addo ’18, Lawrence Adjei ’18, and Francis Kornu ‘18

A year ago, Ebenezer, Lawrence, and Francis teamed up to build an online learning platform for high school students. With content specifically designed for exam preparation in Ghana, Adesua Online has been steadily growing in users. But in the wake of the pandemic, the team made the platform free for every student.

“With schools closed due to the pandemic, we decided that our platform could be helpful to the new surge of students now looking to continue learning from home,” said Ebenezer. “Moving forward, we’re exploring other platforms to make this more accessible to students across the nation.”

Rallying support for a healthcare facility in Accra: Steven Odarteifio ‘12

Learning about the emerging needs of local hospitals in Ghana, Steven Odarteifio ’12 reached out to classmates and friends to support one of the local hospitals in his community. Raising over GHS12,000, the group donated personal protective equipment and other essential items to the Achimota Hospital in Accra.

“We didn’t want to wait to hear about positive cases at this facility before we thought of ways to help,” shared Steven. “We hope this gesture encourages other individuals, who can, to lend assistance to our health workers, especially at this time.”

Providing relevant digital skills training: Regina Honu ‘05

When Regina’s Soronko Solutions IT-training institute temporarily closed in the wake of the pandemic, the training team reckoned that the time at home would be an excellent opportunity for many to pick up digital skills. Based on their experiences with a variety of students, the team deployed an online learning curriculum specifically designed for the local context.

“We have developed a skills assessment and online learning tool to teach users coding and digital skills,” shared Regina. “MyDigitalSkills will allow you to assess your skill level, and also and to learn online. I’m hopeful people can take advantage of any downtime they may have now, to develop digital skills that will help them thrive.”

As part of its features, the platform also comes with a COVID-19 education tool for children and adults to make sure they are well-informed throughout this period.

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