The Torch

Student Runs Ghana-based Nonprofit Organization Wekem, Supports Education for Children in the West African Country

Alana Loren Bethea, Staff Writer

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As the sun dipped below the horizon, the fleeting colors of orange began to fade and the congested roads of Stanbic Heights, Ghana quickly filled with African boys wiping down windshields of passing cars. Dressed in faded, slightly ripped clothing with their discolored, worn-out slippers, the boys noticed Winifred Edjeani, creator of the non-profit organization Wekem, roaming the streets with her filmmaking friends.

Edjeani asked the boys if she could document them working and give them money in return. One of the boys, named Kojo, agreed but refused to take her money. Instead, he proposed that Edjeani should pay for him to receive an education.

Kojo, like other African children, cannot receive any type of access to education, such as tuition, books, uniforms and other necessities.

“He lives in a group home and works during school hours to make ends meet,” Edjeani said.

Edjeani, a native of Accra, Ghana, created Wekem to assist Ghanaian children in their education. Over five thousand miles away from Ghana, Edjeani is a sophomore at St. John’s University.  She continues to raise funds by selling African clothing and bracelets for all Ghanaian children, because she believes education involves “inclusivity and equality.”

“Most of the money in African countries, specifically in Ghana, allocated toward education doesn’t really go to help education,” Edjeani explained. “There’s a lot of corruption and bribery so the money does not really go to the children.”

Initially, Wekem, which means “God’s making” in Kasem, was geared toward women’s education in Ghana. It mainly focused on the public school sector. Wekem also provided feminine products for school girls. “Those were immediate necessities for the girls,” Edjeani said.

Last year Wekem partnered with Kasapreko, a water production company, and raised $3,000 with the help of contributions and donations to provide scholarships for 10 girls.

On July 26 of last year, Wekem organized an “Our Day Party” event with Renegades Africa Advertising Agency Limited for the 1,200 students of the Kotobabi No. 2 Cluster of Schools to mark the end of their academic term.

The event took place at the school grounds and brought together students, faculty and staff. Activities for the day included face painting, musical chairs, dancing competitions, bouncy castle sessions, as well as food sponsored by Yummy Noodles and Equator Foods.

“Education isn’t supposed to be for one gender — it’s supposed to be for all,” Edjeani said.

“I have all these opportunities and privileges that I take for granted most of the time…when someone talks about giving, I see my dad. Even with the little that he had, he took care of everyone — even people in Ghana. He, too, paid for their tuition,” she said.

Edjeani lost her father just a year ago, a day after her birthday. According to Edjeani, her father always had faith in God.

“He believed the act of giving is more than the act of receiving,” she said.

Edjeani plans to carry on her father’s torch to help children in her native land.

Women in Edjeani’s family have also influenced her. Her mother, who works for Royal Crown Packaging Ltd. (Limited), is the factory manager for the company.

Working in a male-dominated position, Edjeani’s mother drives a forklift on a regular basis.

“To take on the roles that are inscribed for men, she is basically breaking those barriers,” Edjeani said.

Along with her mother, Edjeani’s aunt, Constance Afenu Edjeani, who is the first female Brigadier General in Ghana, has taught her that anything is possible. Aside from being a General, Edjeani’s aunt has her own nonprofit organization, JaniGre, which focuses on supplying sanitary pads and menstruation products to women.

“Given her position in society, she utilizes it to inspire other girls,” Edjeani said. “That’s phenomenal because not only is she a trailblazer, she inspires to see and create more trailblazers.”

Edjeani believes that everyone has a purpose in life. Although she doesn’t know what hers may be just yet, she is in the process of discovering what it is and where it will lead her, while helping others find their own.

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Student Runs Ghana-based Nonprofit Organization Wekem, Supports Education for Children in the West African Country