Vida Yakong teaches a class in Ghana, while Salmon Arm visitors Lorraine Ellens and Kay Braby look on. (Photo contributed)

Vida Yakong teaches a class in Ghana, while Salmon Arm visitors Lorraine Ellens and Kay Braby look on. (Photo contributed)

First United in Salmon Arm successfully supports Ghana girls for close to 20 years

Fundraising gala with meal, entertainment, silent auction set for May 7

Following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, First United Church in Salmon Arm has resumed a successful project making a difference in the lives of girls and their communities in northern Ghana.

The Ghana Girl Child Education Project began in 2004 when Salmon Arm’s Joyce Henderson met Vida Yakong, a young woman studying nursing at Okanagan College. They discovered they had much in common.

In 2007, Yakong decided to build a school in her home village of Nyobok-Nenzesi where the nearest school was 15 kilometres away. First United and other partners launched a fundraising campaign to build a school and raise enough money to start a lunch program.

In a recent media release, First United announced the renewal of its fundraising campaign, which will include a fundraising gala on Saturday, May 7.

The release pointed out that, over the years, funds have been raised to educate about 250 children, some who have gone on to attain post-seceondary education in nursing, teaching, construction and agriculture. Other members of the church have continued the relationship, some travelling to Ghana to meet students and teachers.

“One of the remarkable things about this project is how it has changed the village’s attitude towards educating girls,” Vakong said. She told of a 16-year-old who became pregnant. Normally that would mean the end of her schooling. Instead, her parents told her they would look after the baby because she needed ton cointinue her studies.

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The media release noted Vakong is a role model for her village regarding the power of education. She completed her Bachelor of Science and Masters in Nursing, then a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies at UBCO. She is now dean of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at University for Development Studies, Tamale, Ghana.

Because the program focuses primarily on children who are at a disadvantage in terms of receiving an education, most of the support goes to girls. That education helps empower the whole community.

Added Henderson: “Because we have a direct connection, we know exactly where the money is going, and there are no overhead costs.”

If you would like to support the many children waiting for an education in northern Ghana, you can donate directly at firstcommunity.ca/donations. All funds raised go to the Ghana Education fund.

The May 7 Gala for Ghana Girls will include dinner, entertainment and a silent auction. Tickets are $50, which includes a charitable donation of $30, tax receipt issued, and can be obtained through First United Church at 250-832-3860 or online at firstcommunity.ca.




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Vida Yakong from northern Ghana and Joyce Henderson from Salmon Arm teamed up in 2004 to start supporting girls in Ghana to continue their education. (Photo contributed)

Vida Yakong from northern Ghana and Joyce Henderson from Salmon Arm teamed up in 2004 to start supporting girls in Ghana to continue their education. (Photo contributed)