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Berichte der Afrikanischen Allianz der CVJM

Africa Alliance of YMCAs News Letter – 13. 08. 2014

On the occasion of this year’s International Youth Day, Ghana YMCA will want to add its voice to the need for all, especially governments around the world, to take a critical look at the issue of youth development and empowerment, with particular reference to youth unemployment and entrepreneurial training. “Youth in Entrepreneurship: Overcoming Unemployment”, the theme for our Annual Youth Conference for 2014 held in Kumasi from 7th – 10th August, 2014, cannot therefore be overemphasised.

We make this call at this time due to the sensitivity, relevance and need for a “National Youth Entrepreneurship Policy” for a secured future growth of this country and her young people. The youth phase of life is an interesting and an important phase of the development of any human society. It is the phase of life that shows signs to the end of an era (childhood) and the beginning of a new phase that transcends into adulthood. Where one’s life is overwhelmed with a plethora of challenges of which the African youth is not left out. The Ghana YMCA seeks to empower young people in Ghana for the African renaissance. To attain this vision, we strive to enhance development of the body, mind and spirit of young people in order to make them productive and useful citizens. It is this agenda that the Ghana YMCA shares with other YMCAs in Africa that has given us course to call for a National Youth Entrepreneurship Policy. As an organisation whose core business is youth development and just youth, we undertake to constantly engage them as raw materials and churn them out as final products after they have passed through our processor – the inverted equilateral triangle.

Conceptualising the Youth

The term ‘Youth’ has no universally accepted definition. To some, youth is a threat to existing status quo, while to others they constitute a hope for the future. In Africa, like most developed continents, a person is defined as youth when the individual reaches the age which is generally referred to as the age of maturity. This age is often 18 in most countries and therefore that particular individual becomes an adult member of society. The concept, youth, has been defined variously along different perspectives, backgrounds and for different purposes.

The UN General Assembly, the Commonwealth and the World Bank have tried to homogenise the categorisation of youth age to be persons between the ages of 15 and 24 (UN and World Bank) and 15 - 29 (the Commonwealth). For some countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone, this categorisation has been extended to 35 years and backed by the Africa Youth Charter.

The Ghana National Youth Policy (August, 2010) defines the term ‘youth’ as “persons who are within the age bracket of fifteen (15) and thirty-five (35)”. This definition as is clearly seen is similar to the definitions by the African Youth Charter, United Nations Organisation and the Commonwealth Secretariat. It is in line with the above definition that our understanding of the term ‘youth’ in this presentation will revolve around.

We have countlessly remarked on various platforms that the youth remain the bedrock on which every nation’s development thrives. The youth are the most exuberant, the sharpest in memory, the most talented, the most innovative and the healthiest in most societies. These qualities have made them the most potent resource without which society is lifeless. Despite these positive attributes, they are arguably the most vulnerable, the most deprived, most discriminated against, the most marginalised, mostly exploited particularly by some authorities in governance and traditional leadership, the most counterproductive, and the most endangered species in society especially in Africa.

Youth Entrepreneurship

This was the main thrust of dialogue, conversation, discussion and learning during this year’s Annual National Ghana YMCA Youth Conference. And it’s really an important subject for a day like International Youth Day.

The term ‘Entrepreneurship’ just like the term ‘Youth’ does not have a universally accepted definition. Generally, entrepreneurship can be defined as identifying the challenges of society and organising human and capital resources to solve those challenges through the creative and innovative production of goods and services. Entrepreneurs are people who see challenges as opportunities and take practical steps to turn these challenges into solutions and get profit or social recognition as their reward. They are adventurers and risk takers. They challenge their minds and the status quo to change society’s present and future propositions and fortunes. Youth entrepreneurs are therefore young people (within the age bracket under consideration) who use their creativity, training, skills, youthful exuberance, and attitude to mobilise scarce resources to create new ideas, values, products and services to address society’s pressing needs. Achieving these will require policy guidelines that will provide a friendly environment for young entrepreneurs to thrive in.

It is important though for us to appreciate that entrepreneurship is not only about economic profitability; otherwise we risk raising young men and women who will grow up thinking money justify the means.

Entrepreneurship is classified into four types by the International Labour Organisation and they are Economic and social entrepreneurship; Public entrepreneurship; Intrapreneurship; and Co-operatives. Economic entrepreneurs focus on wealth creation and profit maximisation through the provision of products and services. Social entrepreneurs are more focused on addressing social problems and achieving the public good. Public entrepreneurs on the other hand are those who function as intrapreneurs in the public organisations and within established large corporation and institutions.

It is also worthwhile to acknowledge that entrepreneurs are the agents of change and the drivers of the world economy. If the world today is considered a global village, entrepreneurs must be given the credit. Entrepreneurs, rather than politicians, are the world’s pacesetters and they transform and direct society. A country without entrepreneurs, particularly young entrepreneurs, is threading on dangerous grounds. New things must be created to satisfy the booming markets, the rising population and changing times.

The issue of developing young entrepreneurs and if I may add entreleaders, for our economy is not just about destroying the unemployment monster, but even more importantly is about ensuring that public institutions, civil and public servants who formulate public policies to drive government decisions and programmes, academia, and others incorporate youth development and entrepreneurship issues in the policies.

The YMCA in Society

This year marked the 170th year of the World YMCA’s existence and pursuit of its mission around the world. Indeed we have a beautiful global history.

From sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and striving for spiritual, intellectual and physical well-being of individuals and wholeness of communities; to empowering all, especially young people and women to take increased responsibilities and assume leadership at all levels and working towards an equitable society. We equally advocate for and promote the rights of women and uphold the rights of children.

We provide platforms for fostering dialogue and partnership between people of different faiths and ideologies and recognising the cultural identities of people and promoting cultural renewal. We strive in solidarity with the poor, dispossessed, uprooted people and oppressed racial, religious and ethnic minorities; by seeking to be mediators and reconcilers in situations of conflict and working for meaningful participation and advancement of people for their own self-determination. In all this we do our best to defend God’s creation against all that would destroy it and preserve and protect the earth’s resources for coming generations. To face these challenges, the YMCA will develop patterns of co-operation at all levels that enable self-sustenance and self-determination.”

Today, Africa has gone down the World YMCA history books for the distinct role played in redefining the current vision of the World YMCA movement. And here, I am referring to Africa YMCAs propagation and promulgation of the concept “Subject 2 Citizen”. And for us in Ghana, we feel proud because during the conception of this whole idea, the Africa YMCA Youth Committee was chaired by our brother Charles Habiah Esq. the National Vice Chairman of Ghana YMCA.

Today, on all continents in the world, the YMCA is passionately working to empower young people and to transform communities through the YMCA change model: SPACE | TRANSFORMATION | IMPACT. This model is the common DNA in our activities and that’s why being part of the YMCA is a life changing experience.

YMCA is now about the power of a generation in movement, it is about a strong voice being heard about hope and care; every day, side by side with youth.

YMCA – the Youth, our Intervention Beneficiary

The Ghana YMCA is an organisation that is concerned about issues that affect all young persons in Ghana. When we say the youth are our business we are not only referring to young persons who are registered members of the various branches of the Ghana YMCA, but all young persons in the jurisdiction of the Republic of Ghana. It does not matter if they are male or female; Christians or non Christians, Ghanaian or non Ghanaian whenever a youth issue arise, the Ghana YMCA will provide the voice for them to speak up.

Our theme for this year’s Annual National Youth Conference: “Youth in Entrepreneurship: Overcoming Unemployment”, introduced and exposed our young participants into the basics of entrepreneurship in an interactive workshops moderated by seasoned resources persons including bankers. Among the topics discussed include:

  • Building Your Entrepreneurship Competence Towards A Successful Business.
  • Indentifying Suitable/Profitable Business Opportunities.
  • Financing Your Future Business: The Personal Saving Option.
  • Business and Crimes: the Perspective of the Law.

I conclude my message on the International Day of the Youth, with the advice by the Metropolitan Chief Executive of Kumasi whose keynote address was read on his behalf as follows: I therefore encourage you to take the workshops very seriously. Read further and seek much information beyond what your resource persons will give you, then apply the knowledge that you acquire. I hope with determination, astute management and God’s blessings, you can create your own business, employ yourselves, give employment to others and be financially and economically independent.

Source: Ghana YMCA, Kwabena Nketia Addae, Executive Director, Ghana YMCA

Africa Alliance of YMCAs News Letter – 27. 02. 2014

Ahead of the maiden edition of the Inter-Cultural Youth Festival (ICYfest 2014), the Ghana YMCA and the University of Cape Coast have affirmed their partnership with the signing of a memorandum of understanding in Cape Coast.

The gesture is expected to clearly establish each party’s contribution towards the success of the event in July this year. Enthused about the concept of ICYfest 2014, Prof. Domwini Dabire Kuupole, the Vice Chancellor of the University, says the event will expose young people to diverse cultures and aid their appreciation of cultural integration, inclusion and diversity especially, students of the University of Cape Coast. Expressing the University’s readiness to host the event, Prof. Kuupole assured of his personal commitment and that of the entire University community to support the event and ensure its success.

Mr. Kwabena Nketia Addae, the National General Secretary of the Ghana YMCA in turn expressed his gratitude for the partnership. The global reach of the YMCA coupled with the richness of the city of Cape Coast's UNESCO adopted World Heritage sites are among some of the reasons why the city could not have been by-passed in carrying out such an initiative.

ICYfest 2014 is a 10-day cultural festival for young people between 18 – 30 years. It will be held in the historical city of Cape Coast, Ghana from July 19 - 29, 2014, to celebrate and educate the world about the contribution of young people towards socio-cultural integration in our globalising world. The theme for the festival is: “Globalisation through Cultural Integration - the Role of the Youth!”

The city of Cape Coast is situated in the Central Region of Ghana with the Gulf of Guinea to its south. From the 16th century, the city has changed hands between the British, the Portuguese, the Swedish, the Danish and the Dutch and was the capital of the Gold Coast, now Ghana. It is the cradle of education in Ghana and has some of Ghana's finest secondary schools including Mfantsipim School the first secondary school in Ghana which was founded in 1876 and the University of Cape Coast which will be the venue of the Festival Village.

The festival is a platform to harness the intellectual dispositions as well as the leadership potential of students and youth globally, toward a mindset of cultural integration and its impact on global development. It is a time to reason together, time to share, a time to appreciate each other, a time to have fun, time to tour and a time to meet and strategise. Mr. Kwabena Nketia Addae, National General Secretary and Mr. Odeneho Kwame Amponsah, Board Member of the Ghana YMCA signed for the Ghana YMCA whereas Prof. Domwini Dabire Kuupole, Vice Chancellor and Prof. John N. Buah, Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast signed on behalf of the University of Cape Coast. Present at the short ceremony at the Vice-Chancellor’s office were Prof. B. A Ntreh, Dean of Students of the University of Cape Coast, Mr. Reginald Ffoulkes Crabbe, Greater Accra Regional Secretary of the Ghana YMCA and Coordinator of ICYfest 2014 and Mr. Joel Arthur, National Youth President of the Ghana YMCA.

Source: Ghana YMCA

The Ghana YMCA hosted a two day intensive deliberation process from 24th-25th January 2014 by first looking through achievements made in 2013, second the challenges faced and thirdly, what the future holds for the movement. This meeting brought together the staff and board members of the Ghana YMCA with their partners from the Africa Alliance of YMCAs, YMCA of Toronto and the CVJM Westbund in Germany. The two day meeting had discussions centred on Infrastructural, programme, local and regional branches development. Partners who showed appreciation of the progress made also expressed their desire to be able to better track progress so that they could advised the leadership of the Ghana YMCA to work within their strategic plan which guides their development focus. In as much as progress seem to be made there is still a need to build the capacity of local and regional staff and board members to be able to adequately deliver services to young people and their communities and increased their income generating sources as a means of their sustainability.

The entire discussion for the second day was centred round the new strategic plan and the budget for 2014 which needs to be reviewed to take on board comments/inputs made by partners. At the end of the meeting, the partners registered their appreciation for the good work that has started in the Ghana YMCA and encouraged the leadership to continue making a stronger foundation as they empower young people for the African Renaissance. One key message that we all shared at that meeting was to Think Big, Start Small and Expand Fast.

By Christian Kamara, Western Zonal Facilitator - AAY

The success of the YMCA in Africa hinges on how well its young people transit into positions of leadership. In this respect, the story of Reginald Ffoulkes Crabbe can attest to one out of the many positive impacts of YMCA in grooming Africa’s future. A YMCA member since the age of 10, Reginald's rise through the YMCA ranks has been nothing short of exceptional. His knowledge of the Ghana YMCA, its function and potential, is experience-based and this has allowed him to communicate the organisation’s goals to a wide audience locally and internationally. His transition from various leadership roles within the organisation has therefore been gradual and seamless. Reginald embodies the imagined product of youth leadership in Africa. His tireless work exemplifies the core values of the AAYMCA in its attempts at crafting the next generation of change agents on the continent and beyond.

On various occasions, he has represented the Africa Alliance on the international stage, such as the ‘Transformational Youth Leadership Development Workshop’ in Thailand and several 'S2C Capacity Building programmes for selected Youth Leaders' in Kenya, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe. Most invaluable was his experience in the USA where he was interned with the International Group of YMCAs of the USA to observe best practices in YMCA programming and management; strengthen his program development capacity; and grant writing skills among others. He also assisted the international group in areas of interest. Reginald’s participation in these continental discussions has not occurred in isolation however. Through strategic sessions with the leadership of local branches, he constantly reviews, translates and applies lessons to the Ghanaian context, allowing for YMCA members and the wider community to benefit as well. His personal and professional development, receptiveness to learning opportunities, and contribution to organisational growth has made him an invaluable asset to the Ghana YMCA and hence the AAYMCA.

In connecting with various stakeholders over the years, he has gained an understanding of the issues faced by young people and a keen sense of the appropriate solutions in tackling them.

His leadership objectives have reflected this sense of duty and responsibility. As Greater Accra Regional Secretary of the Ghana YMCA, Reginald has been integral in the reshaping and rebranding the Accra YMCA. He envisions a YMCA that will be catapulted into a vibrant and responsive unit that places the interest of youth in Ghana at its nucleus. This work has involved the recruitment and appointment of a new crop of core leadership personnel with progressive ideas. Reginald provided excellent support in the design and implementation of Ghana YMCA’s classic Community Fundraising Gala in January of 2012 at the Golden Tulip hotel. The event which brought together distinguished people from across the Accra area of Ghana was graced by H. E. President John A. Kuffour, former President of the Republic of Ghana. The renewed dynamism has birthed new partnerships with organisations like the UN, connection with corporate bodies, the establishment of flagship programmes, and a pool of great ideas that will foster a more sustainable focus for the Ghana YMCA.

As part of this process of renewal over the past several months, Reginald has been working to deliver on the objectives of the ‘Subject to Citizen’ framework as a vehicle of transformation.

He has thus provided the leadership in converting the aim of “empowering young people for the Africa renaissance” into tangible terms through the much lauded launch of Youth Initiative for Effective Leadership Development (YIELD). In this effort, Reginald seeks to aggressively reach out, target and meaningfully engage youth across the country. For Reginald, the present and the future success of Ghana and Africa can only be harnessed through real involvement of young people. As such YIELD sees young people as partners in development, innovators and persons with solutions to the persisting issues of our world and therefore aims to put them to task in accepting this reality. Reginald’s view of citizenship as an active process that involves individual realisation, engagement, acceptance of responsibility and participation in nation building is highlighted in the program design. And so he envisions that YIELD will produce young individuals who will be better prepared to carry the mantle of leadership required in the process. In formulating the ideas for the project, this concept of Citizenship remained a guiding principle. As such, youth leaders will emerge from YIELD with new personal identities that internalise the ideals of democracy, citizenship and leadership. Reginald sees participants who will be better equipped to articulate their particular role in nation-building not as passive persons but enthusiastically as citizens.

In many ways, much of Reginald’s work with the YMCA and especially on the current S2C-themed project of YIELD is reflective of his own leadership journey which began as an adolescent member of the organisation. It is also reflective of the hopes of the YMCA for all young people on the continent. In creating an environment of mentorship, leadership and self-discovery, projects like YIELD, with the guidance of dedicated individuals like Reginald, are leading the way toward an empowered youth populace and a true African renaissance.


By Reginald Ffoulkes Crabbe

Profile: Reginald Ffoulkes Crabbe  

The S2C programme takes center stage in Ghana as the YMCA of Ghana launches their Youth Initiative for Effective Leadership Development (YIELD). The initiative which will be rolled out later this year in partnership with the Ghana Center for Democratic Development under the auspices of the National Youth Authority was launched in Accra on June 4, 2013 at the Alisa Hotel. It is a nationwide youth civic education, leadership development and social transformational initiative in which YMCA, schools, communities and organisations will involve students in hands-on learning experience.

An informed and actively participating youth with a shared common value system is said to be crucial for building strong communities. Young people need to understand that they can have an effect on themselves, their communities and their country through their actions. YIELD is designed to give youth both the tools and the character values to empower them to solve problems within the established system of government at local, regional and national levels. Participants will be provided with an arena to test their beliefs, share their frustrations, examine their ethics, and broaden their knowledge. Emphasising the four core values of the YMCA – Caring, Honesty, Respect, and Responsibility, the YIELD programme will work to produce young people who will accept the challenge of leading their generation into a new millennium.

Mr. Prince Allotey, Greater Accra Regional Chairman of the Ghana YMCA, welcomed participants at the launch and expressed his excitement about the fact that the YMCA is not only creating a platform to harness and internalise the potential of young people but most importantly helping transform their thinking pattern and attitudes.

Delivering the YMCA’s statement at the launch, the National General Secretary of the Ghana YMCA, Mr. Kwabena Nketia Addae indicated that YIELD came about as a result of the new direction taken by Africa YMCAs through the “Subject to Citizen” (S2C) concept. This has enhanced the development of the Ghanaian Democratic system by enabling young people to prepare for moral and socio-political leadership through experiential learning. One of the goals, he said, is to encourage responsible citizenship by increasing awareness of societal issues and understanding of the processes by which laws are made to govern. It will largely inspire young people to develop integrity and social responsibility as they deliberate issues faced as a country, and to accept some responsibility as they help to solve these issues. The areas of training range from civic competence, research skills, advocacy, financial literacy etc. 120 students will be selected from schools in the Accra region for the initial training, Mr. Nketia Addae indicated.

The event brought together very distinguished leaders from partner organisations who made very key statements. Dr. Franklin Oduro, Deputy Director of the Centre for Democratic Development, Ghana and Mr. Prince Derek Adjei, Deputy National Coordinator of the National Youth Authority threw in their support to the YIELD Programme as partners in helping to create an informed youth. On his part, Dr. Oduro indicated that CDD Ghana is very excited to partner the Ghana YMCA in providing technical support to this agenda. He spoke of the need for a transformational programme like YIELD to intervene. As the state agency mandated with the responsibility of handling youth matters in Ghana, we always have and will continuously associate the resources of the Authority to very relevant programmes being pursued by youth organisations registered with the National Youth Authority, said Mr. Adjei. This platform being created by the YMCA is both timely and crucial for not just the youth of the country but the country’s security as well. An informed citizenry has an informed leadership and creates an informed country, he said. The draft YIELD manual was formally launched by Mr. Prince Derek Adjei on behalf of the Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Elvis Afriyie Ankrah.

The Guest Speakers at the launch Mr. Stephen Eshun, CEO of Arch Media and Marketing Consult who doubles as General Manager of Sunny & Spring FM and Mr. Charles Sam, CEO of Future Generation Promotions spoke on “developing an all round youth”. Mr. Eshun called on stakeholders in the education sector to develop curriculum that would make the youth creative and innovative in their studies. He urged that YIELD be used as a platform to help inculcate into our youth with good moral values such as the YMCA’s core values of Caring, Honesty, Respect, Responsibility and others.

On his part, Mr. Charles Sam said that "this platform is the youth agenda; this is what this country should focus on”, he said passionately. He challenged the nation not to look back at past leadership mishaps but rather focus on what they “youth” can do to bring a change without waiting for someone. Mr. Charles Sam expressed a strong belief that the roll out of YIELD will largely help build responsible youth with better future leadership prospects for Ghana.

Mr. Seth Quaye, West Africa Managing Director of Metso Minerals, one of the major sponsors of the project also assured the audience of his outfit’s commitment to ensuring that the long term goals of YIELD is widely achieved. He invited Corporate Ghana to support what in his estimation is a worthy cause.

“Many people have asked this question and many more have been asked “why do we go to school?” Answers keep coming but I strongly think that, just the possession of skills measured by pen and paper tests and ability to solve intellectual puzzles and rewarding academic skills alone is not enough. Rather the acquisition of full range of competences such as civic, vocational, emotional, cultural, physical, ethical and social competences is instrumental for our youth to become independent and productive citizens” said one of Africa’s distinguished S2C Ambassadors, Reginald Ffoulkes Crabbe who happens to be Coordinator of the YIELD initiative in an interview with Ghana YMCA Motiv8 newsletter. For him, the major value of the programme lies in the development of young men and women who will be better citizens by being both knowledgeable and active in determining the future of Ghana and her democracy.

The launch witnessed splendid performance by the Tema YMCA Acapella group and Chemphe, an award winning R&B Musician and a Global YMCA Ambassador of the S2C concept. Their performance echoed the agenda of YIELD as an S2C initiative. Present at the launch were Heads and students from selected Senior High Schools; officials from the Ghana Education Service, National Youth Authority, UNDP/UNV, Youth Challenge International and a cross section of the media. The National Vice Chairman of the Ghana YMCA, Charles Habiah Esq. (Event’s MC), Greater Accra Regional Vice Chairman, Mr. Cyril Otoo, National Youth President and Secretary, Mr. Joel Arthur and Mr. Robert Nartey respectively, key YMCA staff including S2C Ambassador Mr. Gabriel Ofori Appiah were also present. Mr. Kwame Gyimah Akwarfo, National President of the Ghana YMCA was the Chairman at the launch.

This initiative is being supported by Metso Minerals, a mining service company operating around the world and the YMCA of Greater Twin Cities, USA.

By: Reginald Ffaulkes Crabbe, Ghana YMCA
Source: Ghana YMCA

S2C Ambassador brings former Ghanaian President into YMCA fold

Reginald Ffoulkes Crabbe is in charge of the Greater Accra region of Ghana as Regional Councillor with the YMCA. In March 2011, there was a leadership retreat dedicated to reviewing the Ghana YMCA and its membership. “It was decided we need to open up the YMCA to get more support and membership.”

The fundraising committee decided that they needed to showcase what YMCA has been doing to improve low visibility, and planned to have a high-profile community fundraising event to raise money from outside donors. They wanted to target influential people, to get an icon in the community to lend their name to the cause. “That’s when I thought of former president John A. Kufuor,” said Reginald. “He’s hard to get though, so we wondered how to approach him.” Reginald was eager to get him on board.

“All I needed was a telephone number to get to his personal assistance, so I had to ask around. Fortunately, I got the number through a youth leader of his political party. I phoned his secretary. I introduced myself and indicated to him the YMCA wanted to tell his story. I also indicated that YMCAs all over Africa wanted to hear the YMCA story, and needed the president to share his testimony. He asked me to forward a letter in order to arrange a meeting.” The meeting was successful, and Reginald managed to enroll Ghana’s former president as a YMCA member. He explained that his success was largely due to the way he communicated.

“I believe my approach and the way I carried myself helped.” When approaching the former president, Reginald explained that he used many of the skills he gained through his S2C training in Naivasha, Kenya, in 2011: “Knowing the skills to create rapport, perfect application of the 30-second pitch, the way I approached the conversation and introduced myself, knowing my audience… I had all of that.” By: Reginald Ffoulkes Crabbe, Ghana

Different ability is not inability: working with the deaf, mute and blind

My interaction with deaf, mute and blind students has reinforced the message that those of us with minor physical challenges have little excuse for not using our God given talents. Years gone by, babies born with disabilities were regarded in the Ghanaian society to be the result of curses, punishment by the gods, or the consequence of breaking taboos. It is said, in some cases, the children were disposed of immediately after birth in the most ignoble, cruel and horrible manner.

Some suffer abandonment by their parents and in some instances, if the the child remains with ther family, the entire family suffers social stigmatisation. Such disabled persons, if they survived at all, were regarded as outcasts and ostracised by their communities.

The thinking was that such persons would only live to be a liability to their families and the society. It was completely out of question to consider bringing up, educating and training any such physically challenged persons. Nowadays, these attitudes are changing, albeit slowly. Presently, few institutions in the country tend to carter for the needs of the physically challenged. One such place is Demonstration School for the Deaf in Mampong Akuapem (DEMODEAF) presently under the headship of Ms. Regina Danquah. Centrally located on the campus of DEMODEAF is the DEAFBLIND Department. Pupils in the DEAFBLIND Department are challenged in three major ways, namely vision (blind), hearing (deaf) and speech (mute).

Any teacher will tell you that teaching a normal child with all his/her senses intact is quite a difficult task. Therefore, taking up the job of teaching a child who cannot see, hear and talk is a daunting task indeed. To my mind, it requires more than just the training and skills a teacher has acquired in training college. Teaching such persons requires alot of patience, commitment, tenacity of purpose, a real positive attitude to life and above all, a deep love for these special children in particular and humanity in general. I find these qualities in the person of Ms. Nina Akourkor Afotu, the head of the special DEAFBLIND Department and her staff. Beyond the desire to educate their pupils, they want to equip them with vocational skills for a living.

They want these special ones to come out of school equipped to lead independent and fruitful lives. The expectation is that imparting some vocational skills to them would go a long way to empowering them socially and economically after leaving school. The idea is that they would be assets and never liabilities to their families, their communities, the society and our nation Ghana. Meanwhile in the past few years, Mampong Akuapem YMCA has embarked on a crusade in the community to let inhabitants realise the mess that indiscriminate littering of empty water sachets cause to our surroundings.

The YMCA, very much concerned about climate change, environmental degradation and sanitation has been drawing attention to the fact that these empty water sachets can be collected and reused in so many ways. Making of carrier bags, dust covers for computers, costume for dancing troupes, rain coats etc. are but a few of what this ‘waste’ can be used for. Madame Nina Akuorkor Afotu discussed with me the possibility of a collaboration between the YMCA and the DEAFBLIND department in teaching these special pupils the reuse of these ‘waste’ plastics. I have been amazed at the progress we have made so far. One would also be amased at some of the beautiful handicrafts that the pupils and students of this department have been able to make. Interacting and working with these pupils of the DEAFBLIND Department reminds us that ‘disability is not inability’.

We would encourage the general Ghanaian populace to visit this school. These special pupils are proving that the impossible can be possible with support and determination. The efforts of the Department and the Local YMCA are meant to prevent such persons from being beggars on our streets. They need every encouragement and support, material and/or financial, to be able to acquire skills that empower them to live useful independent lives. We believe NGOs, the National Secretariat of YMCA, philanthropists, government agencies and concerned citizens would take this opportunity to reach out to these groups of people.

By Fred Ohene, Ghana, Eastern Regional Chairman

S2C Ambassador brings change to Ghana Since beginning S2C training, Gabriel Ofori Appiah has found employment as the Regional Secretary of Ashanti YMCA. “When I came from S2C training in Addis, the region decided they needed a regional secretary. Because of the skills that I have, and because I was also helping the branch so much, they gave me a contract for two years.”

In his new position, Gabriel put the skills he gained through S2C to use to solve a problem he identified in his region. “For years, that branch had not organised any elections. When I took over as Branch Regional secretary, I used communication skills I gained through S2C to affect change.” Gabriel explained that his region is the biggest in Ghana, which can make S2C advocacy challenging. “Each time I come from S2C training, I have to go to the branches to transfer the skills that I have learned.” He is able to spread awareness about S2C through Hi Y and renaissance clubs. Gabriel described his experience with S2C as personally transformative. “S2C has helped me in so many ways. It has changed how I behave because I am the mouthpiece of the regional, national and AAY movements because I am an ambassador. It has shaped my inner being. There is a space for me.”

He also acknowledged S2C for helping him become a more active Christian. “Now I am a Sunday school teacher in my church. I teach 40 children 12-18. It is easy for me to make a change in young people’s lives because of what I have learned, and what I have learned about how to communicate. I speak to pastors about how they can make a change too.” Gabriel is grateful for the opportunities S2C has presented him. “I feel like I am the light in my family. I have been able to travel to three African countries and back. Each time I make an impact. “ He pointed out that the reason why S2C is so successful because ambassadors are committed to the program.

“I’m passionate about what I do. YMCA does not pay us, but we do the work that we do. The education is what I’m benefitting from. I believe I can make a change.”

Greetings from the Ghana YMCA, where I’ve happily been working for the past six weeks as Marketing and Communications Innovator in collaboration with Ghana YMCA partner Youth Challenge International. My primary role here is to promote the diversity of service the Ghana YMCA offers across the country. In an effort to spread the good word I’ve been visiting various YMCA branches to profile what each one does, and interviewing YMCA staff, students and supporters.

With branches across eight of Ghana’s ten administrative regions, the Ghana YMCA serves approximately one million people in 75+ communities across the country, with its presence particarly strong in the Greater Accra, Eastern and Western regions. Its facilities range from early childhood development and daycare centres to vocational training institutes -- one of which I was lucky to visit last month. Established in 1989, Takoradi’s YMCA Girls Vocational Training Institute predominantly serves the Shama Metropolitan Assembly in Ghana’s Western Region, helping young Ghanaians to become self-sufficient through the development of employable skills in trades like catering and dressmaking. Principal Emelia Boafo, credits the institute’s success to its inclusive and participatory approach.

Under her tutelage a lot has changed in the past 20 years. Enrolment is now mostly girls aged 16-24, with specialized programmes such as Cake Decoration and Batik and Tie-Dye Printmaking added to the curriculum to satisfy rapidly growing demand. Back in 1989, there were 15 students; there are 130 today. And this number is only set to grow, perhaps especially in sectors such as Catering -- with the region experiencing a boom in hotel construction and hospitality services following the discovery of oil off Ghana’s coast a few years ago.

With 85% of graduates currently employed, and many others self-employed within the Sekondi-Takoradi region, the telling employeability of the institute’s graduates proves that if you give someone a fish, they’ll eat for a day. But if you teach someone to fish, they’ll eat for life.

Veronica Lasanowski, Youth Challenge International Marketing and Communications Innovator, Winter 2012

Bawleshie near Dodowa in the Dangbe West District of the Greater Accra region. The Member of Parliament (MP) for Kpone-Katamanso, Hon. Nii Laryea Afotey-Agbo, who commissioned the facility, called on the people to make maximum use of it.

The project was jointly financed by the Ghana Movement of the YMCA and their German counterpart CVJM Rechtengbach to commemorate the 25th partnership anniversary between the two organisations. Hon. Nii Afotey-Agbo, who is also a Minister of State at the Presidency, pledged to register free of charge people in the community who have not registered with the National Health Insurance Scheme. He also assured the people of his preparedness to solve problems facing the community clinic. The MP donated 10 Dell Computers with accessories valued GH15,000 to the YMCA. Mr. Kwabena Nketia Addae, National General Secretary of the Ghana YMCA, said the Association was determined to build the capacity of young people throughout the country and equip them with employable skills.

On his part, Mr. Martin Schmidt, Chairman of CVJM Rechtengbach, hoped the project would help to further strengthen the bond of friendship between his country Germany and Ghana. Later, Nii Afotey-Agbo and Mr Schmidt jointly unveiled the plaque to commission the auditorium.

Source: Ghana YMCA, 21st March 2012


Every year, a highlight on the Ghana YMCA's programme calendar is an annual gathering of young people drawn from all regions across the country. The annual gathering, normally referred to as Ghana YMCA Annual National Youth Convention (ANYC), is organised to offer young people an opportunity to network in an educative environment, learning through experiential and fun activities. Since its inception some 8 years ago, the event has been rotated among different locations in a number of regions to provide delegates with opportunity to showcase the work in their region. Over the past eight years, the ANYC has been hosted Mpraeso, Takoradi, Koforidua, Prampram, Ho, and Kumasi. This year's program is being held in Cape Coast, under the theme of "Be seen, be heard, Young people communicating to influence for change".

As the theme suggests, participants will undergo training that will equip and enable them to communicate their interests in practical ways, in order to bring about desired change.

Unique to this year's convention is the delegates' conference, which will serve as a prelude to the convention itself. In this segment, selected delegates from the regions will come together for deliberations on issues concerning the YMCA. During this 2-day conference, delegates will help the YMCA define its path for youth, by highlighting issues and exploring ways forward. In addition, they will undergo training about leadership and management, gender sensitivity, rights and responsibilities, and resource mobilisation. The purpose of the delegates meeting is to allow for intimate conversations with selected regional representatives, who will in turn, be able to drive the communicated messages to the regions and the rest of the YMCA membership.

At the larger convention, participating youth will have a chance to interact with each other while learning important lessons associated with the year's theme. With an emphasis on advocacy at this year's convention, youth will be asked to examine their role within the YMCA and within the larger community in which they live. In this, they will be tasked to reflect on how they can impact the YMCA and their communities in meaningful ways.

Aside from plenary sessions highlighting such areas as gender & communication, information management, and leadership, participants will engage in a variety of entertainment and sporting activities. Furthermore, there will be trips to significant cultural and tourist destination, as well as participation in community-building exercises.

The annual youth convention is simply an opportunity for young people to enjoy each other's presence, and more importantly, to learn about the creative ways in which they can transform their communities.

The Delegates' Conference which will take place before the main convention from 8 - 10 August, 2011 and the Main Convention itself is slated for the 10 - 14 August, 2011.

By: Reginald Foulkes Crabbe, Ghana YMCA

Portrait Ozdyk

Guenter Ozdyk is the newest addition to the Africa Alliance of YMCAs (AAYMCA) team. Sponsored by the Church Development Service, an association of Protestant churches in Germany, Guenter will be working as AAY's IT expert over the next two years. Based in Nairobi at the AAYMCA head office he will be improving the organisations IT infrastructure and developing an intranet network to connect all the National Movements across Africa. Guenter is accompanied with his wife Magaret who is hoping to become active in a local church and volunteer her time and expertise to local community based organisations.

Having served as the IT expert and coordinator of the ICT Assisted Development project for the World Bank in Ethiopia for the last five years Guenter is no stranger to working in Africa. He is also very familiar with the YMCAs across Africa having volunteered with YMCAs for over 25 years and even worked as the chairman of his local YMCA in Germany. These opportunities have allowed him to befriend many international partners based in West Africa.

When asked why he applied for his current post, Guenter explained that it was a combination of his training as a computer and electrical engineer, his long-held interest in Africa and his dedication to YMCA's that motivated him to join the AAYMCA team. His post in Africa is most fitting as he celebrated his graduation from university as a young man by travelling by road from Germany to Ghana, a journey he may choose to repeat but in the opposite direction, as a way to celebrate and commemorate his contribution to society as an IT professional.

Guenter has spent much of his life working with American IT companies while volunteering for his local YMCA, making his current post as AAY's IT expert a perfect fit. However, with our unreliable electricity supply, unstable internet connections and language differences Guenter has his work cut out for him. He acknowledges that the lack of necessary equipment or the latest technologies and few staff working in IT is likely to bring about challenges but his excitement and eagerness to visit the YMCA's across the continent and re-connect with old friends is likely to keep him motivated and optimistic.

We are lucky to have the opportunity to welcome Guenter to our team. his posting here with AAYMCA is likely to be his last official appointment before he returns to Germany to enjoy his retirement in two years' time! Karibu Guenter!

By: Clara Rutter, Project Assistant S2C Ambassadors

Portrait Kwabena

The Ghana YMCA "is seen now, by many, as a sleeping giant, a perception which affects our activities and needs to be addressed immediately," states Kwabena Nketia Addae, the new NGS of Ghana YMCA, as he comes to grips with his position.

Kwabena has taken on the mantle of NGS after a long and illustrious history with the YMCA movement and describes himself as a man who is able to see the big picture and recognise patterns, challenges and opportunities for strategic development. Before taking office as the NGS, Kwabena has worked for the Ghana YMCA as the Development Secretary and a project coordinator of various initiates.

The position of NGS formalises his previous role of Acting NGS which he had assumed in January 2011 and recognises his achievements within the movement which have included the renovation of a guest house to bring in added revenue, the addition of Canadian interns to fill the gender and youth desks, and successful fundraising strategies for projects he had been in charge of.

Kwabena is currently working towards a Masters in Business Administration through the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and holds a Honours in Science Planning from the same school.

As the new NGS, Kwabena, intends to prioritise the Ghana YMCAs growth in youth development work. Specifically, Kwabena intends to "reposition the Ghana YMCA as one of the leading youth organisations in the country" and to "initiate and implement community impact programmes which have relevance in the specific locations that they will be executed." For Kwabena this is necessary to ensuring that the Ghana YMCA becomes an attractive "association that young people will want to identify with and belong to."

Kwabena understands the challenges the Ghana YMCA is still to face, and how this aggravated weaknesses within the organistion. As Kwabena explains, "Ghana is developing at a pace which far outstrips that of the YMCA. One of the major weaknesses is that the Ghana YMCA has not been able to tap the available resources locally to improve our association."

For, Kwabena, youth development work is a crucial component of Africa's overall growth. As he explains, "most of the youth in Africa are energetic but we do not have systems that enable them to harness their potentials to develop to the best of their abilities. They are vulnerable to many avoidable circumstances." It is for this reason, that Kwabena finds youth work a wise investment, "I chose youth development work because a lot can be done to develop our continent if the youth are given the appropriate guidance in making meaningful life choices".

By: Christine Davis, AAYMCA Communications Executive