India’s Airtel touches lives in Ghana

airtel headquartersBy Francis Kokutse 

 Ignatius Bugyei is an ICT teacher at Som Nyame Kodur Junior High School in the Central Region of Ghana. But his school does not have the basic ICT set-up — computers.

For that he has to travel with his students by public transport on rough and dusty roads to the nearest town, Twifo-Praso, about nine km away, where one of the schools has an ICT centre. The ICT teacher discloses that the perils involved in such travels discourages him from doing it as often as he should so as not to put his life and that of the students at risk.

And then Indian telecom services provider Airtel stepped in. As part of its corporate social responsibility, Airtel Ghana came to the aid of Ignatius’s school.

Apart from these daunting challenges for both students and teachers, the Airtel team found that the school also does not have electricity, their source of power — a solar panel — having broken down some years ago.

In the spirit of helping people make their change, Airtel has promised to repair the solar panels and provide batteries so that electricity can be restored to the community. In addition, the company is renovating the school’s ICT centre and also providing computers and internet connection so students can gain practical knowledge of the subject.

The Som Nyame Kodur Junior High School’s case is just another example of Indian corporates coming to the aid of the needy in Africa.

Airtel Ghana’s initiative is part of an annual television programme called “Touching Lives” to help identify people who have either excelled in life in spite of disability as well as people who have helped to bring about changes in communities that they live in.

The programme has become an annual affair on television and recounts the stories of people who have been nominated and rewarded for all that they have done. The company is hopeful that the programme will help motivate more people to improve their lives as well as bring about changes in the community that they live in.

Officials of the company said that recognising and rewarding people who have worked selflessly to make an impact in their communities is the only way they would be fulfilling their mandate of helping these individuals to continue with their efforts to create a better world for themselves and others.

Another person to be assisted under this programme is Linda Boamah, who became paralysed at the age of two, but has been able to become an inspiration for many in her community. Her sheer determination to make it in life pushed her to pursue an education although funding this dream proved to be a constant challenge.

The company is also helping a teacher at Wiamoase in the Ashanti region. Elvis Cletus Afrifa, a physically challenged teacher, supports over 90 schoolchildren through various levels of education. He had a pathetic background himself and said, he lost his mother at a very young age. With the help of the Catholic Church, he managed to get educated. To help pay his school fees, he worked as a shoeshine boy in Ghana’s capital, Accra.

Afrifa is however, helping other young disadvantaged people. “I am supporting students at all levels. If I say at all levels, what I mean is from class one to the university level. In all, I have about 98 students now and I’m staying with one in my house”, he added.

To fund his philanthropic acts, he got a loan to buy a vehicle that he operates as a taxi to raise more funds. Even though he aspires to support more children, he’s unable to do so due to financial constraints. According to him, he has not registered a non-governmental organisation because he feels it’s better to use the registration fees and other costs to sponsor more children. He admits that he needs help to register as an NGO in order to raise funds to help provide the young ones under his care with uniforms, bags,

Airtel says, those they support are usually nominated by anyone who thought the person awarded deserved to be commended. It can be a family member, a colleague, a friend or even a community.

“One can nominate a school but there needs to be a person behind the nomination. We can award a dream to the school but we need to know what the individuals behind the school have done to make the school special,” an Airtel official told IANS.

After the nomination, the Airtel “Touching Lives” team visits the nominees in their communities to interact with them and finally invite them into the “Touching Lives” studio where they are presented with their rewards.