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In the six weeks since coming back to Ghana to oversee the Girls Education Initiative of Ghana, GEIG, I’ve had many joys and challenges living and working here. My greatest joy has been meeting the girls and being able to match their applications to their personalities. One of the first things I did was visit their schools again and reintroduce myself to school administrators and students.

I’ve now visited the schools of all 12 beneficiaries, met their heads of schools, teachers, and parents. Whenever I meet the students, they’re always surprised that I’m Ghanaian. When I transition from English to Twi (Ashanti language) it seems I earn more of their trust and they see me as one of them.

But, there are still challenges. Ghana politically, economically, and socially goes through ebbs and flows. Civilians are upset about the country’s direction – the general feeling is that the leadership in the country in unresponsive and inefficient. There have been many protests. Still, I’m excited to see civil society engaged around these issues.

Amidst Ghana’s current situation, it is reassuring to see the 12 GEIG students determined and excited about their education and futures. It is my hope that GEIG’s programs, specifically the mentorship and leadership development programs, will teach our students to informed citizens who have the tools to create the changes they’d like in our society.

In the first year of junior high school, students will be paired with mentors who are either professionals or of university age. Having these mentors will encourage the girls to aspire beyond heights they ever thought possible.

In the following year, students will be tasked with developing sustainable solutions to issues plaguing their communities. GEIG will assist students with these ideas in community service projects. I hope GEIG can teach our girls to be socially and politically conscious and take action whenever it’s needed to advocate for their rights.

Overall transitioning to Ghana has been really good. I’m home and as a friend told me some time ago, I’m doing “God’s work”. In the difficult moments, I think back to a lunch meeting with the Greater Accra students where students met me for the first time. They were surprised I knew them by name and bits about them and their family. The students had heard of me and I knew them only on paper.

This informal meeting made GEIG real for all of us. Their excitement around meeting me humbled me. Having lunch and interacting with them assured me that I’ve made a good decision to come back to Ghana to work. They are what sustain me.