In July of this year, Prudential Life Insurance Ghana, a leading insurer in the country, announced its partnership with three institutions; United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the School of Languages, University of Ghana and United Way Ghana, to fund projects worth $80,000, set to impact over 23,000 Ghanaians in Covid-19 relief.
Two months on, the infection rates have dropped and so has the intensity of concern for the disease. The economic ramifications and impact felt by the underprivileged are far from dwindling.
The success stories pour in, from the kayayei (head porters), the aged, disabled, unemployed, deaf community and those excluded by language when Prudential Life through its funding and volunteering of its employees in partnership with the aforementioned institutions lend a helping hand.
A determined but shy 18-year old Mamprusi girl from Aaba in the Upper East Region of Ghana, a long way away from home, at the Tema Station in Accra looks into the camera. Her head covered in a pink turban, she fiddles with her hands and tries to gear herself up for what she is about to say
“My name is Gifty and I’m 18 years old. I came to Accra to be a Kayayo. I’m a leader of 20 people and this project has helped us a lot. It has taught us to be neat, to protect ourselves from STDs and to get health insurance. When we came to Accra, it was a problem to get money to buy food, but now we don’t use our money to buy food or soap and so we can save.”
UNFPA, the lead UN Agency that targets vulnerable adolescent populations, have harnessed their expertise to address the needs of Kayayei. Prudential’s fund has provided 500 Kayayei in the Tema station area with access to basic healthcare services, personal development and reproductive health education, provision of food supplies and care kits.
“It is great to feel the Ghanaian benevolent, camaraderie spirit not just in the peak of the pandemic but when its aftershocks are still being felt and the average Ghanaian is still reeling from it – needless to say, the underprivileged are even worse off.
“It’s been a real joy to work with Prudential Life and its staff who get involved on weekends sometimes on weekdays, helping us to offload the trucks, ensure that Covid-19 health protocols are observed and distributing food boxes to 500 Kakayei at the Tema Station area. They are one of the most compassionate corporate donors we have worked with,” Said Akosua Agyepong, Project Coordinator at UNFPA.
Adamrobe in the Eastern Region – The makeshift chapel which is actually a classroom with open ceilings, showing its wooden beams, buffed cement floors and yellow peeling paint, was buzzing with activity. About 26 deaf people, a majority of which were women and only a handful of men, between the ages of 19 and 75 years were in attendance.
About 20 children were also present, the youngest of whom was about 3months old. The slightly older children scurried to and fro with broad smiles excited for the company of visitors.
Most of them were murmuring, gesticulating enthusiastically in their sign language, with each other and to themselves as they watched the drama that was enfolding in front of them. They raise their hands a little above their heads, palms facing outwards and waving them from side to side – the sign for applause.
“We mix these leaves” she points to the leaves of the Nim tree “and those…someone brings in 2 branches with leaves varying in shape and size. We drink the water from the boiled leaves and use whatever is left to bathe. We wear face masks but no one has Covid-19 here. We don’t venture out from our community.
“We know about Covid-19 from watching TV and the young ones read about it from their phones. We don’t get a lot of information. I am surprised that you say someone can have the disease and still be healthy,” the strong 75-year old woman in her Sunday best with a handkerchief across her face signed in a spirited demeanour.
The University of Ghana School of Languages has reached the Adamrobe deaf community and made direct contact with some minority language speakers in selected market places, to fight stigma and misinformation on COVID-19.
They hope to provide local language interventions in traditional media and on social media platforms in the coming weeks in Akan, Ga, Ga-Adangbe, Dagbani, Ewe, Hausa, Fafra, Ghanaian Sign Language, Ghanaian Pidgin English, English, and French reaching over 20,000 Ghanaians in the process.
It’s 9am, a bright sunny morning in Ayeduase, Kumasi and the PPEs are piled high in an orderly manner as if a department store but no, it’s the OPD waiting area of the Ayeduase Health centre, the only government clinic serving the community.
Ayeduase Hemaa (The queen mother of Ayeduase) Nana Yaa Saa looking regal in her off-white and peach cloth with glistering silver trimmings thrown over one shoulder as is traditionally done, stands proudly tall with two of her sub-chiefs and Okyeame (linguist) by her side to receive the donation on behalf of the people of Ayeduase.
She thanks Prudential profusely and then turns with a pack of overalls, handing it over symbolically to the Physician Assistant in charge Ernest Gyamfi.
She admonishes the clinic to use the PPEs for their intended purpose and for them to uphold their Hippocratic oath to treat the sick people of Ayeduase to the best of their ability.
“PPEs are crucial in the fight against Covid-19 but they are expensive. These essential items will go a long way to protect the staff and patients of this facility from this dreadful disease and so we thank you,” says Ernest Gyamfi
United Way Ghana, a member of the United Way Worldwide network with expertise in the fields of education, health and financial empowerment are fighting the pandemic and addressing post Covid-19 social issues in underserved communities in Ghana.
Through Prudential Life, they have provided food for 300 families, literacy programs for 500 families (whose children are home as a result of schools being shut down), in the deprived community of Pig Farm as well as donated PPEs to the Ayeduase Health Centre in Kumasi.
Mr. Emmanuel Mokobi Aryee, CEO of Prudential Life Insurance Ghana said “Prudential is passionate about its purpose of helping people to get the most out of life, be it in a financial or socio-economic setting. Our mantra is always listening, always understanding.
We respond to the market with gap-filling innovative products and so in the same vain, we listen and invest in the community when it needs us. We live our purpose and values; they are not just pretty words displayed on a wall or a website.”