This is an interview conducted by TPRF correspondent Alex Wierdu with Christian Yaw Adinkra (pictured to the left), head of the social studies, sports, and religious and moral education departments at the Otinibi school served by the Food for People (FFP) program in Ghana.
How does Otinibi Basic School compare to the school where you used to work?
Otinibi has a greatly increased enrollment due to the recent addition of students from all over the municipality. Food for People has made the Otinibi school unique. No other school in the municipality, or even the country, has such a facility. Also, the performance of students here is much better than at my previous school.
What impact does FFP have on kids at the Otinibi school?
I am awed at the power of food to help these children. Now they are excited, happy, and able to just be kids. It’s amazing! They are more dedicated to school, knowing they will at least get a delicious, healthy meal. Trust me, it’s not easy to study on an empty stomach. The children are more relaxed, focused and in the right frame of mind to learn and do better in school. They are also more hopeful. The thought that hunger will not make them drop out and that they will be able to complete school successfully gives them so much hope.
The money their parents used to give them for food is being used to pay for tuition, which allows them to stay in school. The health of the children has drastically improved, dropping the hospitalization rate and school absenteeism. Performance in academics, sports, and extra curricular activities are also greatly improved, making Otinibi a very popular school in the municipality. Kids are now proud to say they are students at Otinibi Basic School.
Is FFP helping the local economy?
Yes it is. Monies parents would have given to their children for food at school are now saved and invested in petty trading and other small business ventures.
What challenges do graduates from your school face if they want to continue their education?
The primary challenge is usually financial. It used to be grades, but now even those are better. Being unable to afford the cost of higher education is still the main reason most students are not able to further their education. Also, some prefer to do menial jobs than to continue school because they see that as a quicker way of making money.
A few further their education to senior high schools, while others learn a trade or a skill such as sewing, hairdressing, masonry, carpentry, plumbing or driving.
To your knowledge, have any Otinibi Basic graduates successfully completed Senior High School or entered a post-high school college or university?
Well, prior to the facility being here, there were none that I am aware of. But after its establishment, the first beneficiaries are currently writing their final examination and are yet to graduate. I am very much hopeful that some of them will go further.
How does the FFP program compare to other NGO programs you’ve seen that try to help children?
Well, as far as l’m concerned, none have been as committed as this one. The few that l know of that have tried, have failed. FFP, however, looks like it’s come to stay. The staff is more dedicated and caring. The facility is hygienic and clean. The food is both nutritious and palatable, which is the reason the children do not miss classes. All these make FFP stand out from other NGO programs.
What’s the hardest thing about your job?
Apart from the fact that I can’t speak Ga, their local language, teaching, marking assignments, and trying to control the large class sizes are problems for me. But I consider those occupational hazards, so I manage.
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
What I really enjoy is the fulfillment I get from knowing that my students are focused, happy, willing to learn and more enthusiastic about school. It makes me very happy and proud when we participate in quizzes and sports, and my students excel. I also enjoy walking with them as they chat happily on their way to the facility for their food.
What would you like to say to the donors around the world who support the FFP program in Otinibi?
Words are not enough to express my gratitude and appreciation to everyone who is helping in one way or another to support this wonderful program. I want them to know that their efforts are not in vain, and their support is going a long way to empower and mold the future leaders of Otinibi. It also gives hope to parents that their children will have a brighter future. God bless Prem Rawat and every donor for thinking about us. Thank you very much.