One Year Later
Since returning home from Philadelphia, what has been your most successful achievement or accomplishment related to leadership in civic engagement?
The fellowship was a very life changing experience for me. With the work that I do it has helped me a lot. I have been continuing the work that I have been doing with the hospital and working on a grant application that I submitted and it is one that was selected for funding. It was for the project establishment of a community clinic in rural areas with no access to health facility. That was very good news for me to have the project selected and it is still ongoing. We are remodeling an apartment for the clinic and it has been covid-19 delayed. Additionally, I have applied for a reciprocal exchange grant with Michelle which is a joint project that was supposed to have happened in May but has been put on hold until October, now on hold until next year, maybe May 2021. It is a project to look at enhancing a built environment as a measure to reduce maternal levels of morbidity and mortality. We are going to create settings with horticulture to have an enhanced environment and create a meditation garden. We would also have a nurse practitioner to come and mentor on this. The good thing is that the funding for the project has provided accommodation where we can use the funds to rent a structure for an 18-month period to use it as a preschool that will then be able to house the children of healthcare workers since there is not currently a preschool in the area. One more thing is that I have applied to the World Connect Grant competition. Initially the project was to support the reciprocal exchange grant. However, when Covid-19 hit it meant that we could shift the grant towards covid-19 related work and intervention. With their approval we are now receiving funding to train women on sustainable vocational skills to produce consumer goods related to the fight of covid-19. So, we are training them to make homemade masks, which we will teach them to manufacture along with soap and hand sanitizer, which we will distribute to local areas and healthcare areas nearby. This will provide the women with empowerment and startup funds to start their own businesses to provide these products through a business of their own.
How have you engaged with other MWF alumni since returning home?
Others are doing great work in Ghana as well, both in my cohort and previous ones, they are all doing amazing work. It is great to collaborate as much as possible. In Ghana we have the alumni fellowship association and I ran for and was elected for secretary and so have been working with the association with a social media campaign on covid-19 to stay calm, stay home, etc., a stigma campaign, and running a series of programs including mentorship programs. I have collaborated with other fellow alum to run these campaigns.
Have you maintained contact with people from the Philadelphia area, if so, who and how?
I definitely have, the friendship and network have been great. I have remained in touch with the faculty members at Drexel – Adam and Anne – as well as others. I talk to Marilou every day and she keeps motivating us from afar. She was instrumental in reviewing my grant proposal. I am in contact with Michelle for the reciprocal exchange. I also still talk sometimes with the family that we had dinner with as well. I try my best to maintain contact.
What do you miss most about Philadelphia and Drexel?
Oh, I miss a lot! The time that we had at Millenium hall was great. Philly was a very warm city and with the reception that we received, I miss that. The reception of foreigners had a bad reputation before, but I never felt that being in Philadelphia. We met so many different people. I miss the Drexel faculty – they kept challenging us, giving a positive vibe to us where anything seemed possible, and provided such good training and mentoring as a positive force. I miss that positive force. I also miss the
community activities which helped me understand things about American culture beyond what I knew before from the media. I miss the bringing together of everyone from such a large continent with different ideas.
Talk about your 3 biggest take-aways from your time at Drexel and the Fellowship.
1- The networking – Drexel as a university provides as much as possible the tools for people to achieve their goals and reach their potentials to the best they can be.
2- Interacting and learning from the Dornsife center – how it provides community and deliberate strategy to work with the community in which Drexel is settled, with the demographic situation. The way it targets vulnerable populations and gives them an opportunity. I picked up that once in an institution you need to take deliberate steps to develop the area around you for that institution to develop its full potential.
3- The colleagues, being in a cohort together with them and how they have kept in touch with and encouraged each other as young ambitious leaders – I am always amazed by all the work that everyone is doing – everyone is doing something to help the community and is driven to do what they can now. I took away how we can contribute to help our society develop. It resonated with me how Drexel was able to appreciate our cultures and still help us learn without moving away from that.
What would you pass on to future Drexel fellowship cohorts?
We had such a great opportunity and time there. Anyone who passes through will see it as one of the best institutions. I would say put in the work and work hard, realize you are in an institution that will help you reach your best potential. Take the opportunity seriously and make use of what Drexel is happy to give you. You can achieve so much even just in the 6 weeks that you are there – work, discuss, and the answer lies just close to somebody’s ability to help you and guide you when you open up to them about their goals.
All in all, I just want to say that the fellowship has transformed me holistically in terms of leadership, network, career direction, and funding application. It has been amazing. Applying all of it to better the communities around me. Thank you for Drexel hosting us, thank you Adam and Anne and other helpers, Mabedi, Sabrina, Haley – I appreciate your time, effort, everything.