No GravatarEmmanuel Kojo Adjei found growing up in Ghana to be a tough proposition. These days, Emmanuel finds himself playing a key role in a project that can bring a brighter future to the Otinibi villagers and people in the surrounding area.
Ghanians place a high value on education because it represents hope for a better life. As a child, Emmanuel struggled to stay in school.
“At various times, I had to stay with different uncles who helped support my education,” Emmanuel said. “I was determined to complete my education so that my children would not suffer the same fate as so many others. Now, education is everything in Ghana. Everyone, rich or poor, tries to give his or her child a good education. Parents hope it will help their children escape a difficult life. Unfortunately, not all parents are able to support their children through the process. Even with free primary education, some are not able to provide the few things required of them.”
Emmanuel Adjei addressing villagers in Otinibi, Ghana
Emmanuel Adjei addressing Otinibi villagers
Emmanuel’s determination to study hard and succeed paid off. He is a trained Civil Engineer and Project Manager and is currently completing an MBA degree. Emmanuel has worked in the construction industry since 1978 and is now director of a small construction company that he owns with a friend, Sam Dsane. His company has built several residential and commercial buildings and has earned an excellent reputation.
Emmanuel first worked with TPRF on a clean water initiative in Ghana and became the contact person for the Foundation in 1998. Now he works regularly with government agencies and business leaders to raise awareness of TPRF’s humanitarian work. He also serves on the board of Prembaf, the local charity that TPRF will fund to build and oversee the Food for People center in Ghana.
School children in Otinibi, Ghana
School children in Otinibi, Ghana
“My role as TPRF contact person started with one thing and grew steadily into my involvement with the Food for People project,” he said.  “My experience with Prem Rawat has given me so much, and therefore it is with that appreciation that I also give to society.”
The generous gift of land by the Otinibi Chief helped significantly to make the project possible. Emmanuel tells the short story behind the land grant:
“We met the chiefs and opinion leaders and briefed them about our plans for the village after completing our needs assessment. We then explained the scope of the project and suggested that they could speed up the process if they could offer land near the school for the FFP facility. This was readily accepted without debate, and within a matter of about a week, we were shown the land.”
Emmanuel reports that the local people feel “great excitement and expectation” about the project. He speaks to the Otinibi School Headmistress on a regular basis. Her first words upon hearing about the project were, “This is God sent.”
in Ghana.
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No GravatarHow different is life in southern Ghana from your life? Read this first-hand report from guest blogger Bobby Hendry to find out.
Ms. Grace Ninsaw, the headmistress of the Otinibi School, told us to come early in the morning for our interview with her. I went bleary-eyed with Sam Dsane, the Assistant Project Manager. Grace greeted us, and we went to her very simple office at the corner of the school where she has a good wide view of the open play area. While talking to us, her sharp eyes missed nothing. She excused herself a few times to admonish some unruly pupils. A few of the older kids were cutting grass and cleaning up the whole area.
Grace started by saying that two days earlier the Greater Accra Regional Minister, GNA-Nii Armah Ashitey, and the District Chief Executive for GA East, Mrs. Ernestina Arthur, had paid a surprise visit to the school. The impromptu visit was apparently the result of an interview with Grace that appeared on the Accra TV evening news. Stories about Ghana’s schools have been in the news lately. Yesterday’s Accra newspaper quoted the Minister as saying that he had found fifteen pupils in one class using two desks. He pledged to take care of this and all furniture problems in the future.
The District Chief Executive reported that school enrollment was rising. As a result, the Government has decided to embark on an enrollment drive to encourage more parents to send their children to school. A major obstacle to the success of such drives is that the majority of the districts are in farming communities. Many parents continue to send their children to the farms despite government intervention.
An Otinibi Child at Play in the Village
When three representatives from Otinibi joined us later, we were able to ask them questions about village life. They told us that the only crops grown in the area are maize, cassava, and vegetables. I asked about livestock, as I had seen a few cows and goats when driving from Accra.  The villagers told me they were not rich enough to own animals. The livestock I had seen belonged to wealthier private owners. The only farm animals I saw scattered around the village were chickens. When I asked if theft was a problem, Sam explained that  people keep them secure inside their homes at night.
Grace then showed us the school enrollment book, which showed nineteen new students. I asked her what caused this spike in enrollment. She explained that the school had recently undertaken sensitizing meetings with the villagers to inform them about the Food for People project. She went on to say, “The parents want the children to be fed, and they now know that they will get food at school. This is why there is a sudden increase in enrollment figures. The locals are very excited.”
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No GravatarDoes the word Durbar bring to mind a delicious brand of Dutch chocolate or maybe a new chain of coffee shops? In Ghana, Durbar is the name of a special town meeting.
The topic for discussion at a Durbar is usually a pressing issue that affects everyone in the town or village. The Durbar held in July in the village of Otinibi turned out to be more of a celebration than a meeting to work through a crisis or a set of problems facing the community. The chief and elders of the village called this particular Durbar to announce TPRF’s intention to establish a Food for People center in Otinibi. Ghana government officials, as well as TPRF officials, attended the event. The Otinibi villagers responded to the announcement with joy, relief, and gratitude.
To gain insight on the enormous impact that the model Food for People program can have on the quality of life in this region, watch the inspiring and revealing twelve-minute video, Flame of Hope.
The Durbar began with an opening prayer followed by a warm welcome from the Otinibi School Headmistress, Ms. Grace Ninsa. She expressed hope that the new facility would bring hunger relief to the pupils. Chief Nii Kweidza Mansa III then expressed his gratitude to the TPRF officials in attendance. He pledged full cooperation from everyone in the village to ensure the success of the project.
Next, Mr. Emmanuel Adjei introduced several key project members. Emmanuel and his business partner, Sam Dsane, own a small construction company and have offered to provide construction services and materials to build the Food for People center at cost (no profit). In addition, Emmanuel and Sam are helping to coordinate all aspects of the project. Emmanuel spoke to the gathering about the humanitarian activities of TPRF’s founder, Prem Rawat, and his tours around the world addressing audiences large and small about the possibility of peace.
Before the closing ceremony, a group of young Otinibi students recited a poem they had written for the occasion:
Let us all educate ourselves
Let us all educate ourselves in Africa.
With education
Success and prosperity is ours.
From Cape Town to Cairo

Let’s educate our children
As they will shape
Africa tomorrow

All children must go to school
Despite their sex
Being a girl child
Does not mean being disabled
Parents, guardians

Let's all educate our children
As they will shape
The economy of Africa
Otinibi School Children Reciting a Poem
Posted in Food for People, Ghana, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments
No GravatarBobby Hendry is today’s guest blogger. Bobby is on a first-name basis with food. He is an accomplished chef with a long career in the profession and has played a key role in the development of TPRF’s model Food for People program.
He recently returned from a trip to Ghana to pull together the threads of a project that will help the villagers in the Ga East Municipal District of Ghana get back on their feet, literally and figuratively.
Bobby’s activities during his one-week stay in Ghana included:
* Working with architects to draw up plans
* Helping to facilitate the process of transferring the ownership of the land for the center
* Planning menus
* Interviewing prospective staff members
* Meeting with the construction company and other key project members to create the development schedule

The following excerpt from one of Bobby’s initial reports from Ghana offers a glimpse of the work underway and the conditions in the area.
Otinibi is the main village in a cluster of four about 60 kilometers from Accra and is technically within Greater Accra.
At a special meeting (called a Durbar) at the village school of Otinibi in late July, the chief, who chaired the occasion, expressed his gratitude to the representatives of TPRF for choosing Otinibi for the Food for People (FFP) project. He pledged his support and that of the elders and the entire populace of Otinibi for the success of the project. The headmistress, teachers and some pupils of Otinibi School; Ghana Government Officials; and representatives of TPRF also attended the meeting.
I later learned that the first settlement on the land of Otinibi was around 1840. The current chief, Nii Kweidza Mansa III, has been the chief of the town and surrounding land and villages for the past 30 years.
I met the headmistress, Ms. Grace Ninsa, who profusely thanked TPRF for choosing her school. Accompanying Grace on the school board was a member of the Ghana assembly  and a representative of the chief. (I found out later that this is a common set-up across Ghana for the administration of the villages and schools.)
After the opening speeches, I asked the board members, “How poor are the local people?” They told me that the changing weather patterns are playing havoc with local farming. The farming does not sustain them. The fittest village people walk five kilometers early every morning to the mountains and break rocks for government roads.
I then asked, “What do they have for lunch?” I was answered with sustained chuckling, presumably because only a well-fed foreigner would ask such a silly question. “Nothing,” they replied. The villagers have to repeat the five-kilometer walk home in the evening.
Otinibi School Headmistress (Blue Dress) Addressing Villagers
Otinibi School Headmistress (Blue Dress) Addressing Villagers
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No GravatarWelcome to the TPRF blog.
I’ve never tried blogging before, but it sounds like fun! This is a good way to give TPRF supporters a ringside seat to follow the development of the next Food for People (FFP) program in Ghana.
It is especially heartwarming to launch this campaign on World Food Day, October 16. This is the day set aside to raise awareness of the issues behind poverty and hunger and strengthen the international resolve to find workable solutions.
Prem Rawat, who has often held speaking engagements in Côte D’Ivoire and Ghana, expressed an interest in developing a Food for People program in West Africa. After much research and many considerations, the village Otinibi emerged as the leading candidate.
There are several important criteria that the Foundation needs to consider when choosing a location for a Food for People facility:
  • The need for this type of program is great
  • Regional or local government assistance programs are lacking
  • International aid organizations have not been effective in helping local children with their nutritional needs
  • A local school exists, but attendance is low
  • TPRF supporters are available locally to participate in the program
  • There is a local charitable organization with similar goals, whose reputation is impeccable and is both fiscally responsible and compliant with local government regulations
Otinibi is a rural village of 1,500 residents. It is located in the Ga East municipal district, near the southern coast of Ghana, north of Accra in the greater Accra region.
Ghana’s dry climate makes farming a risky business. Otinibi villagers grow food for themselves and their families, but usually not enough to sell. Many village women create handcrafted items to trade in the city.
In 1962, the government established a school for the Otinibi village children. With aid from several charities, textbooks and qualified teachers are now available. However, because of the general poverty, school attendance is low and intermittent. Those who decide to attend school usually begin the day without a morning meal. Many of the older children drop out because there is not enough food and they need to work.
We are at the very beginning of an exciting journey that will lead to benefits similar to those enjoyed by the communities served by the FFP programs in India and Nepal. Through this blog, you can travel with TPRF through the entire process of creating a Food for People facility.
Stay posted for ongoing news.
Linda Pascotto
President, TPRF
Land for planned Food for People facility in Otinibi
Land for planned FFP facility in Otinibi