Rabu, 01 Februari 2012



PLAN Ghana International, in collaboration with GRATIS Foundation and with funding from  KOICA and Hyundai Motor Company has cut the sod for the construction of  a technical training centre for the training of youth in  automobile engineering in Koforidua.

The training centre dubbed “ Hyundai KOICA GRATIS Dream Centre “estimated at US 7,500 dollars is expected to be completed in July, this year.

It will equip at least 300 youth with  skills in auto mechanical engineering.

The Country Director of Plan Ghana International, Mr Prem Shukla in his  speech said, the organisation was committed to youth empowerment  and development in the country  .

“Youth empowerment is very dear to the heart of Plan because they are the main source of human capital and key agents for socio-cultural, economic, and political development  as well as technical innovations worldwide,” he said.

He added that training, development and empowerment of the youth were the key determinants of progress and the future of a society.

He explained that the centre when completed would aid skills acquisition, and capacity building among the youth for self reliance and reduction of unemployment.

“This centre would serve not only the training needs of the region but also the entire country as a whole,” he stressed.

The Eastern Regional Minister,Dr Kwasi  Apea-Kubi at the ceremony said , technical education was rapidly becoming the pivot for development 

He added that it was important for Ghanaians  focus on the development  of technically competent workers.

He explained that the perception  that  technical and vocational skills  were for the less brilliant children in society was an issue  that needed urgent correction  for the development of the country.

Dr Kubi was optimistic that the centre when completed would  provide employment for most of the youth in the region.

He also pledged the government’s support  to the private sector and non governmental organisations  to expand technical and vocational schools in the country.

The  Ambassador of the Republic of South Korea, Mr Kyun Jea-Min said the construction of the training centre was necessitated by the relationship existing between Ghana and Korea which was fast growing.

He was optimistic that the project would help deepen the relationship between the two countries and also open doors to complement the governments efforts of solving the problem of unemployment in the country.

In a speech read on behalf of the Chief Executive Officer of  GRATIS Foundation, Mr Emmanuel Aseidu,  he said the training programme would involve metal machinery, welding, fabrication and wood processing with  senior secondary school and technical school graduates as the target .

He however urged the youth in the region to enrol in the training programme to  equip themselves to meet the high demand for  mechanical engineers in the country.

He also pledged to take good care of the facility upon completion  for the benefit of all who would  gain admission at the centre.

Picture: From (extreme left) is the Ambassador of the Republic of South Korea, Mr Kyun Jea-Min, the Regional Headquarters representative of Hyundai Motor Company,Mr Kim So Young, the Eastern Regional Minister, Dr Kwasi  Apea-Kubi, and extreme right is the Country Director of Plan Ghana International, Mr Prem Shukla and some dignitaries at the sod cutting ceremony of Hyundai KOICA GRATIS Dream Centre in Koforidua.



Story: Zainabu Issah

THE Deputy Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing , Alhaji Dr Mustapha Ahmed, has presented 31 computers worth GH¢46,500 to the Mfantsipim Secondary School in Cape Cost for wining the Ghana National Junior Water Prize Competition.

The computers were donated by Xylem Watermark Company for the junior water prize programme through the ministry’s facilitation.


The project, which has run for over 15 years,  provides an opportunity for the brightest young minds in science to begin their journey as the next generation of leaders in the water sector .

It  also focuses on creating awareness on sanitation in the open community and the building of a simple filtrations plant for the same community.

The deputy minister said the gesture formed part of the continued support promised by Xylem Watermark Company and called on students to take part in the competition.

He also urged heads of secondary schools to provide the needed support and encouragement to their students to enable them to take part in competitions.

The Headmaster of Mfantsipim School, Mr Stephen Arthur, thanked Xylem for recognising the potential of the children and pledged to put the computers to good use  for the benefit of the students.




The tick-tock taps from the shoes of this beautiful woman caught my attention as she walked into the washroom. I had also made use of the facility and was washing my hands. Adorned in a tight-fitting jeans, I kept on admiring this woman who was well endowed. That afternoon, I wished I were her. I will secretly enjoy the stolen glances  and the attention that come with having such a graceful figure. Then she smiled. My heart froze as she showed a perfect set of white teeth. I mean this lady was just a perfect creation.

I was jostled out of my daydream  as the master of ceremony’s voice boomed and urged all participants of a programme I was scheduled to cover, to be seated for the programme to begin. The event was the launch of HIV and AIDS Ambassadors who are to lead the crusade against stigmatisation of persons living with the virus.
As a Journalist, my beef has always been with long winding speeches with no substance. The interest is always in a juicy cocktail of controversies,  surprises, facts and figures of which this programme was  no exception. I got the facts, now I wanted the proof. HIV and AIDS are real and that I already know. But how true was the existence of these diseases? Is it true that persons living with HIV could not be noticed and hence they walk around as all healthy persons?

There has been a lot of advertisements in the media about the disease and the importance of knowing ones HIV and AIDS status. I remember writing an article on it myself, advocating with my last drop of ink for Ghanaians to accept the reality of the disease and check their status.

However, the same stigma and discrimination that I fought  against does not encourage me as a writer to take a peep into how it feels to be positive.  I view it as a death warrant on earth before I start to check on where my fate lies. Personally, it is a risk I would not want to take.

As I watched and listened to the panellists  on the high table  calling on Ghanaians to know their HIV status, I asked myself if the preachers had practised what they were preaching and had an awkward laugh as the programme rolled on.

Then I heard the MC say, “Now let’s invite our HIV and AIDS Ambassadors who have been living with the disease for some time now to give us a word or two”.

This time my pen got stuck on my note pad waiting to give a vivid description of these ambassadors and to write their names if necessary. My camera was also ready to play its role. With my prejudiced image of how a person living with the disease should look like, I was not going to allow the moment to pass. I was going to hit the nail straight on the head with the support of my pictures so that the world would know how skinny and ugly the disease can make you.

At a point, I imagined them in quarantine clothes so that they would not get others  infected with the disease even with their look. My imaginations were wild and too outrageous and I even suspected myself for building castles in the air but this was my “Alice in Wonderland” story.

Then I began to perspire, not even the chilly air in the room could help. I was stunned, my jaw dropped, my pen found its way to the floor, and my notepad followed. What is going on? I  whispered to myself. The truth was  shocking.  The lady I admired  in the washroom with all the endowed features is HIV positive.

Words can’t describe how I felt when I saw her walk  to the stage. She looked so beautiful, too endowed and too eloquent. I rubbed my handkerchief twice on my face and pinched myself twice to make sure I was not dreaming.

She held the microphone and mentioned her name with a broad smile, and  confirmed what I thought was not, “My name is Joyce. I am HIV positive,” she said. I could immediately see that I was not the only one shocked at this revelation but everyone who thought the same as I did, but no one could say it loud.

She has been living with the disease for the past four years and is now married with two children. Now 24 years old and on antiretroviral therapy, she had the disease through sexual intercourse with her partner.

Another lady ambassador who suffered an unfair treatment from friends and neighbours including those at her workplace and  at a point felt like killing herself has also been living with the virus for the past eight years. “I have experienced extraordinary good health and productive working life since being on HIV treatment,” she said.
She explained further that before going for the therapy, she moved from one prayer camp and herbalist to the other with no improvement and was in denial for all those years.

Two other  ambassadors of the initiative, a couple,  who have been living with the virus for the  past 10 years, narrated their ordeal in the hands of their families, the community  and  worse of all,  the church that teaches love for one another.

“Stigma and discrimination towards persons living with HIV is an act against God. See God in everybody and treat all human beings the same because God created us in his own image,” Rev Azumah, an HIV positive person, said with a hand around his wife’s shoulder.

These soothing words and confessions from the bold ambassadors glued me to the seat with goose pimples and the sweat routinely outdoing each other to take over my body. My mind was cold to the news I just received. I needed the surprise, now I have it. Yes that was the truth. HIV and AIDS are real no doubt.
HIV and AIDS  do not respect a child or an adult, a man or a woman, young or old rich or poor. A vulgar person could be infected so could a saint.  HIV can be transmitted through sex, infected sharp objects and blood products, or from an infected mother to a baby. We are all at risk and stigmatising people living with HIV and
AIDS is not the best. Let us together fight discrimination against  Persons Living With HIV and AIDS, in the same way as we campaign for peace in our upcoming elections.