On this week’s episode of MTN Heroes of Change 2019, the MTN Foundation highlights the works of Diana Adjei, the founder of Aseda Foundation, an institution that takes prostitutes off the streets and equips them with trades that secures their lives.
Diana Adjei has a kind heart. For more than two decades, Diana, a beautician, has quietly moved prostitutes off the streets of Takoradi and equipped them with a trade-in beauty and personal care.
Even though she herself was not a prostitute, due to her fun-loving nature, Diana always hanged out in bars that were patronized by prostitutes and because she didn’t like the profession, she made it a task to help the ladies live a better life.
Thanks to her efforts, almost 3,500 people have received one form of training or another. Currently, she has 610 masters in 25 different vocations, who are currently training children of over 3400 from different parts of the country. Since the launch of the foundation two years ago, Diana has provided 90percent of the children the tools they need to work with, 400 sewing machines, hairdryers, toolboxes etc.
The beneficiaries supported her to build and furnish her office. Aside from training the children, she has been able to help some of the various masters upgrade their profession with professional courses from institutions like the Takoradi Technical University, so they can pass on the right knowledge.
“The least of them is organizing my team to visit the beaches to offer free pedicure and manicure to our fathers and mothers who fish for us for free, this is because they do not get the time to visit the saloon,” she said.
But how did the Aseda Foundation start? Diana, as a young girl never liked going to school because her main passion was to learn a trade. Due to her preference for a trade instead of classroom education, she has always been at odds with her father.
When one day her uncle came for her, it was on the premise that she will get an education but that also didn’t happen due to her insistence on learning a trade. On one of her birthdays, someone gave her a cash gift, and after enquiries, she used that money to learn the hairdressing trade within a year.
Every time she closed and stepped out to a bar, she saw ladies prostituting themselves by the roadside. “Honestly it was disgusting to me, so one day I approached them and offered to live with them and teach them what I know for free. Some of them agreed and they followed, so I started Aseda Beauty Salon. They were very hardworking and supportive at that time as sisters, so we were able to raise something to build a small kiosk saloon.
I wanted to build the sisterhood bond so they don’t return to the streets anymore, so I decided I was going to live with them in the kiosk saloon, they became fulfilled and secured, hardworking and dedicated. Since that time till now, 20 years and still counting Aseda Beauty Salon, which has been transformed into the Aseda Foundation, trains people for free,” she said.
At Aseda Foundation, what she does now is go around the country, mobilize people who are interested in learning trade and also people who by some reasons can’t further their education and are wasting away in some villages and towns, bring them to Takoradi and give them to some trade masters like welding masters, spraying masters, refrigeration engineering masters, tilling masters and many more to learn the job for free.
Her negotiations with the various masters for them to allow these children to learn for free, she says, “is by the grace of God.” She takes care of the trainees’ accommodation, feeding, clothing and some other basic needs, down to the tools they use to learn the trade till they graduate. Even after they graduate, she helps with their startup, some with funding, others by helping them secure jobs with other shops or institutions.
To her the challenges are uncountable but the root of them all is finances. For instance, because of the impact, a lot of the children are showing interest and when they come, accommodation becomes a challenge, as well as feeding, clothing and provision of tools for their trade, she says.
“The children are a lot, and besides you cannot learn a trade without your basics tools and these are people who don’t even have food to eat, so getting their toolboxes is a very big challenge. The masters are always on my neck asking for the tools, and how can I bring children for apprenticeship without learning materials? So all these are coming from the lack of finances,” she explained.
Fulfilment and future plans
Despite the challenges, she feels fulfilled when she visits the shops of beneficiaries who are now on their own and have employed others.
“I have had testimonies from some Ivorian girls who joined a group to come and train and what they said was for them, they thought they were coming for prostitution but my intervention has given them hope. Today they are established in Ivory Coast, and when I heard this I was filled with tears.
When we do attend beauticians’ conferences and meetings and people point at me as their madam who trained them, I just bury my head. I feel fulfilled and I give all the praise to God,” she added.
Her plan is the projects to districts so that the kids don’t travel all the way to Takoradi, because of accommodation and feeding challenges. Also starting from this September the foundation has arranged for the kids to write NVTI certified exams, to make the training more certified.
More on Heroes of Change
Commenting on Diana’s project, the Corporate Services Executive of MTN Ghana Samuel Koranteng said: “We initiated the MTN Heroes of Change to identify and reward individuals and projects such as Diana Adjei and her passion.”
The other nine nominees are Mawusi Awity, David Hagan, Louisa Enyonam Ansah, Rev Fr. Akologo Dominic Alale Azumah, Justin Yelevielbayire, Charles Ofori Antipem, Daniel Owusu Asiamah, Frank Abeku Adams and Benjamin Akinkang. Their projects which range from health, education and economic empowerment have benefited members of their communities over the years.
MTN Heroes of Change Season 5 was launched in November 2018 and submission of entries ended on 25th January 2019. Since the inception of MTN Heroes of Change in July 2013, a total of 40 people have been identified and recognized on MTN Heroes of Change platform for committing their personal resources to improve their communities and brightening lives.
Four out of the total number emerged the ultimate winners. They are Dr Abrokwa-Yenkyera, a plastic surgeon and founder of Grafts Foundation; Madam Paulina Opei, founder of Save Our Lives Orphanage; Genevieve Basigha founder of Research Utilization School for the Deaf; and Naomi Esi Amoah of Blessed Home Orphanage.
Heroes of Change Season 5 is airing on:
Friday: 6:00 pm
Saturday: 5:50 pm
Sunday: 5:50 pm
Saturday: 4:50 pm