2023 GMB finalist launches foundation to help young people achieve their dreams

The GMB finalist and some stakeholders in the region.

A 2023 Ghana Most Beautiful (GMB) finalist, Mba Rejoice Aduanige, has unveiled a foundation aimed at helping the youth of the Upper East region to remove some barriers that stand strongly between them and their dreams.

One of such dream killers— substance abuse— was at the core of the speeches delivered at a press launch of the Nongre Foundation Ghana on Tuesday, 25 June 2024, in the region’s capital, Bolgatanga.

The Paramount Chief of Chiana, Pe Ditundini Adiali Ayagitam III, set the tone for the event, observing in his speech that many young people had fallen into the habit of drinking alcohol excessively in the region.

The Paramount Chief of Chiana, Pe Ditundini Adiali Ayagitam III.

“Sadly, many of our youth have cultivated certain lifestyles in our communities that continue to hamper their God-given talents that are crucial for achieving their dreams. In many of our communities, it’s common these days to see the youth within their teenage years taking to excessive drinking of alcohol.

“Excessive intake of alcohol at an early stage of life has the potential to damage future prospects of our youth who we [expect] to deliver a prosperous Ghana. The early involvement of the youth in social vices are a bane to the progress of our region and the country as a whole,” said the chief, who doubles as the President of the Upper East Regional House of Chiefs.

Upper East Schools Debate launched

Aduanige seeks to remove those barriers through a number of initiatives under the foundation’s banner.

One of those projects is dubbed “Upper East Schools Debate”. It was launched alongside the foundation.

“As custodians of the land,” continued the paramount chief, “we can’t sit idle and allow these social vices to consume our young people.”

“The house is, therefore, delighted to collaborate with other relevant stakeholder institutions to launch this all-important Upper East Schools Debate initiative with relevant stakeholders groups including the Ghana Education Service, Ghana Health Service, Food and Drugs Authority and the management of Miss Mba Rejoice Aduanige, finalist of Ghana Most Beautiful 2023,” he added.

The President of the Upper East Regional House of Chiefs, Pe Ditundini Adiali Ayagitam III.

Similarly, the Overlord of Kusaug, Zug-Raan Asigri Abugrago Azoka II, lamented the negative impact of substance abuse on young lives in the region.

“In recent times, studies have proven that most of our younger ones are into substance abuse. This is heartbreaking because drug abuse does not in any form mould people and so this would have negative consequences on their education and will go a long way to affect their productivity,” he said.

Nongre is a Kusaal word for love, according to Aduanige, a member of the Kusasi ethnic group in the region. She said her organisation was not just a foundation but “a movement fuelled by love, dedication, and a shared vision of a better tomorrow”.

2023 Ghana Most Beautiful (GMB) finalist, Mba Rejoice Aduanige.

“Our mission is to drive positive social change within our communities by fostering inter-ethnic peace, tackling environmental challenges, and empowering our youth through education.

“We also seek to create a sustainable, inclusive, and harmonious world where every individual has the opportunity to thrive and contribute to a better future,” she said.

FDA urges stakeholders to invest in solution

Addressing the gathering, the head of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) in the region, Sebastian Mawuli Hotor, itemised some illicit drugs commonly abused in Ghana at present.

They include cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana, ecstasy and cannabis.

He also cited aspirin, caffeine, morphine, fentanyl, tramadol, pethidine, alcohol and nitrous oxide as examples of legal drugs generally abused.

“Let’s always note and remind ourselves that there is no safe form of tobacco use,” said the FDA boss.

The head of the FDA office in the region, Sebastian Mawuli Hotor.

He said the circumstances required that stakeholders invest in activities and fora in the nature of the project introduced by Nongre Foundation Ghana.

Such investments, he added, would “prevent our young vulnerable ones from first and foremost initiating into the abuse of drugs so that we will not even have the headache of battling the effects on self, family, manpower, community and the whole nation at large.”

There is hope— Health expert assures region

The Upper East Regional Director of Health, Dr Samuel Kwabena Boakye-Boateng, was represented at the event by the Nabdam District Director of Health, Maria Mahama.

She noted that substance abuse hindered cognitive development, resulting in “poor academic performance and reduced intellectual potential among students”.

“It also leads to physical health problems, mental health issues, and even death, resulting in absenteeism, dropout, and reduced opportunities for future success,” said the director.

A cross-section of the audience at the press launch.

“However, there is hope,” she reassured. “With the right support, young people can overcome substance abuse and achieve their full potential.”

She lauded the Upper East Schools Debate project because it “will enable our students to read widely and get information to make healthy choices with positive alternatives to substance abuse”.

“Naba Chair, this initiative of a school debate to be launched today should not just be an extracurricular activity but a powerful tool for building a better future for our communities,” she added.

The event brought major stakeholders together.

The Upper East Regional Minister, Hafiz Bin Salih, urged the students of the region to take advantage of the debates by passionately engaging in them “to drive positive change” in their schools and beyond.

“The competitive nature of debates instills values of discipline, resilience, teamwork and leadership among students. It also enables you to think on your feet as you engage [in] various debate competitions,” said the minister in an address delivered on his behalf by the Chief Director of the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council, Abubakari Inusah.

Contestants and topics for the Upper East Schools Debate

The topics for the debate were proposed by the Upper East Regional House of Chiefs, the Food and Drugs Authority, the Ghana Health Service and the Ghana Education Service.

The Upper East Regional House of Chiefs proposed: “The institution of Chieftaincy in Ghana has outlived its usefulness and an anachronistic setup fit for the museum”.

The topic suggested by the Food and Drugs Authority is: “Protecting Children from Tobacco Industry Interference; Parents have a Greater Role to Play than the Government”.

The heads of the schools selected to participate in the debate programme.

The Ghana Health Service chose: “Substance Abuse: A Risk to Youth Education and Productivity”.

The Ghana Education Service wants the schools to debate on technology, with the topic: “The Use of Technology in the Classroom is Essential for Quality Education”.  

Eight schools, selected from among the thirty-five senior high and technical schools in the region, are set to take part in the competition. Bolgatanga Girls Senior High School will face off against Notre Dame Minor Seminary Senior High School. Tempane Senior High School is set to come up against Gowrie Senior High Technical School, the GMB finalist’s alma mater.

The region’s Physical Education Coordinator, Towoni Erastus Franklin, announcing the debate topics and the participating schools at the press launch.

Kusanaba Senior High Technical School is taking on Chiana Senior High School. And Kongo Senior High School will contend with Bawku Senior High School.

The Upper East Regional Director of Education, Bright Lawoe, said the debate topics were apt considering “some of the indiscipline behaviours” among students in the region.

“These are bothersome issues that triumph in our schools,” said the director in a speech read on his behalf by the region’s Chief Inspector of Schools, Alice Ayine. “And as such, we try to educate them on the hazards of those practices”.

The region’s Chief Inspector of Schools, Alice Ayine.

“We seem not to be achieving our goals. But as we continue in organising activities such as this, we hope a change will come one day”.

Adding his voice, the Regent of Kusanaba, Maurice Ayeebo Atia, told the students: “As you engage in debates, remember that the goal is not to win an argument but to illuminate the subject at hand, to learn from one another, and to grow intellectually.”

The Regent of Kusanaba, Maurice Ayeebo Atia.

The region’s Physical Education Coordinator, Towoni Erastus Franklin, who announced the participating schools and the topics at the press launch, said the debate programme would take place on Saturday, 27 July 2024, “barring any challenges”.

Source: Edward Adeti/Media Without Borders/mwbonline.org/Ghana


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