For many women in rural Ghana, childbirth could mean the difference between life and death. Run-down roads, an unreliable ambulance service and inadequate health facilities make labour a nightmare and child survival a matter of luck.
Despite huge efforts to bring down maternal and infant mortality and the strides already achieved, one new-born child dies every 15 minutes with 30,000 new-born deaths recorded every year according to the UN’s children Fund, UNICEF.
That is what Bernice Dapaah, a social entrepreneur is seeking to change. Bernice has been running the Bright Generation Community Foundation (BGCF), since 2008 and recently ventured into turning cheap tricycles into makeshift ambulances that could navigate some of Ghana’s dangerous roads to convey women in labour from hard-to-reach communities to health centres.
Bright Generation Community Foundation (BGCF), a youth-led community empowerment organization, is reaching out to less-privileged children in rural Ghana with solar panels to aid their learning. The “Light UP” project is part of a holistic education campaign dubbed “Education PLUS”, which has over the years trained 127 volunteer teachers, placed in 12 deprived communities.
This is in line with the objective of achieving Goal 4 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. One community beneficiary is Dunya, a farming community without electricity thereby making learning a difficult task after class hours.
The setting looks so 1930. Colonial Ghana, Gold Coast. Air-conditioned four wheel drives weaving through yellowish withered Savannah grasses. Glasses rolled up to stop dust from the run-down countryside road from coming into the car. Buckets of pick-up land rovers stuffed with loads of hand-outs. And the poor villagers, whom they are meant for, stand by the road side confused which government official could be in the passing vehicle and yet pull through occasional waves and constant wry smiles.
But this is 2015. And I am travelling with social enterprise workers with the Bright Generation Community Foundation (BGCF) to deliver locally made sanitary pads to vulnerable girls. The whole picture looks so distant and outmoded. But even more out of time is the reason why we are on this journey.
We are heading to Dawia, a remote town in the Sekyere Afram Plains district of Ghana’s Ashanti region. Bernice Dapaah, who is leading this trip, knows this picture all too well.
A Bamboo Bikes initiative in Kumasi is scaling up the production of high-quality multi-purpose bicycles for the Ghanaian, European and US markets.Bamboo is the fastest growing canopy for re-greening of degraded lands. It also provides nutrition for humans and animals as well as helps improve air and water quality.But in Ghana, a local bamboo bike industry is emerging to deliver a sustainable and affordable form of transportation that satisfies local needs and suitable for export.
Compared to the production of traditional metal bicycles, bamboo bikes require less electricity and no hazardous chemicals.Ms. Bernice Dapaah is Executive Director of Bright Generation Community Foundation, which is responsible for the overall management of the Ghana Bamboo Bikes initiative. She hopes the project will secure a contract from the government of Ghana to build bicycles for teachers and health workers in rural areas.
A Non-Governmental Organisation, Bright Generation Community Foundation, has begun manufacturing locall-made bicycles using bamboo under the Ghana Bamboo Bikes Project.The project, which is under a commitment project by the Clinton Global Initiative University, has been established under the Export Processing Zone to use bamboo in building frames when making the bicycles.
The Founder of Bright Generation Community Foundation in Kumasi, Bernice Dapaah, has emerged as a finalist of the 2010 Harvard University Women in Business Social Entrepreneurship Award. Ms Dapaah, who is currently pursuing a Human Resource Management programme at the Christian Service University, has started the Foundation to create employment opportunities for street girls and the physically challenged in Kumasi by rescuing oodles of plastic trash from the city of Kumasi and turning them into decorative beads and high fashion eco-green products like laptop bags, raincoats, tote-bags, wallets etc.
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