Audience stood and clapped and fireworks flared when the Executive Director of MTN Ghana Foundation, Mrs. Cynthia Lumor announced Madam Paulina Opei as the winner at the grand finale of the 2015 MTN Heroes of Change last night at the Accra International Conference Centre.
By the time she stepped up to receive a dummy cheque for GHC 100,000 as prize for her dedication and selfless work, it appeared to have arouse the audience that giving one’s time, energy and other resources in the interest of other people would always be a worthy sacrifice.
The ultimate winner who received the award including a plaque, and a citation could not control her tears of joy yesterday.
Madam Opei as a trained nurse spent greater part of her life in support orphans from rural and poverty stricken communities in the country.
Her love for the orphaned children motivated Madam Opei to set up the “Save Our Lives” Orphanage to support orphans with formal education and provide them the opportunity to have brighter future.
Initially, all the 10 finalists were onto the stage to receive citations and hampers from MTN Ghana.
Winners in the various categories were Dr Emmanuel Bidzakin (Health), Rev Jehu Appiah (Education), and Nayina Karim (Economic Empowerment).
Each winner in the categories received a plaque, a citation, and GHC20,000 to help them carry on with their good works in their communities, while the other nominees of each category received GHC5,000.
Speaking on behalf of the award winners, Madam Paulina Opei: “It has not been easy. It is a surprise to me. Let me first of all; give glory to God for how far He has brought us”.
She also thanked MTN Ghana for unfolding their works which are located at hidden places.
Madam Opei dedicated her award to all the orphans.
In his welcome address, the Chief Executive Officer of MTN Ghana, Ebenezer Asante encouraged the MTN Heroes of Change Season II winners to Keep on shining, and keep on touching more lives in the country.
He stated that; “the stories of the heroes should challenge all of us to go the extra mile in everything we do. For us at MTN, the greatest result we hope to see from this project is to see more heroes being borne”.
Let’s all be challenged by the leadership and courage of these Heroes. Let’s all go out and create opportunities for members of our communities. Let’s be the change we wish to see, Mr Asante admonished.
Dr. Doris Dartey, a member of the jury added: “After going through the works of these heroes, I really believe that there is a bright future for this country”.
“The heroes have allowed their lives to shine. So, let’s all go out there to allow our lives to shine”.
Madam Paulina Opei (the ultimate winner) set up the “Save Our Lives” Orphanage to support orphans with formal education and provide them the opportunity to have brighter future.
Dr. Emmanuel Bidzakin (Health category winner) is a medical doctor. He established Faith Community Hospital, the only hospital in Nakpanduri (in the Northern Region of Ghana. The hospital has so far catered for 96,520 patients.
Rev. Jehu Appiah (Education category winner) has set up a centre dedicated to the care of disabled children in Apam, in the Central Region of Ghana.
Nayina Karim (Economic Empowerment category winner) is a Social Entrepreneur who established a rehabilitation centre and school for malnourished children in Karaga community in the Northern Region.
Emmanuel Quartey established the Jaynii Streetwise Foundation that helps street children acquire skills in music, dance, drumming and the development of artifact. He currently has 52 children benefiting from his charity.
Nicholas Kumah established a child advocacy group which ensures that the children a in his catchment area re registered on NHIS. His group also takes care of street children and undertakes activities aimed at protecting the child in his community.
Paul Semeh has an NGO called Street Children Empowerment Fund which seeks to rescue children from the street and put them into school. He assists by paying for their education and he also provides them with school uniforms and text books. Very often he has to give them stipends to help them take of their basic needs.
Mrs Salome Francois established the New Horizon School 40 years ago to support children with disabilities. Through her hundreds of children with learning disabilities have acquired creative skills.
Isaac Adjaottor is a Community Health Worker from Ada Foah in the Greater Accra Region. He has distributed over 6,000 bed nets in his village and surrounding villages to help reduce malaria in the community. He has set up “Farm for School” (a farm he cultivated himself) and uses proceeds from the sale of the products,” to pay the school fees of deprived children.
Yvonne Boaduaa is from the Eastern region of Ghana. She has set up a training and housing facility dedicated to giving physically challenged persons the skills they need to enable them work for themselves.
MTN Ghana received an overwhelming response following the launch of Season II of the Heroes of Change CSR program.The company received over 1,000 nominations for the second season, a stark increase over Heroes of Change Season I’s 600 nominations.
Launched in April 2015, Heroes of Change Season II programmed a three-month window for submission of entries.
The entries were submitted online, via whatsapp and in hard copy at MTN locations or by post, with online entries recording the highest number of submission, with 850 entries.
After the submission deadline of June 16 2015, entries were screened and pruned down to an initial short list of 100 entries.
The shortlist was pruned further to 30, following which a team visited each of the project sites to verify submissions.
The final selection jury are Rev. Albert Ocran (Motivational Speaker), Dr. Doris Dartey (Communications Consultant), Mr. Mohammed Awal (Publisher) and Mr. Sidney Casely Hayford (Economist). They selected the top 10 projects which were televised in a 13-week period, starting in December 2015.
To be selected as an MTN Heroes of Change, an individual should exhibit selflessness and must have made a personal and sustainable effort in addressing a significant issue. He /She should be able to justify their nomination based on one or more of the following fields of endeavour:
Education – engaged in educational projects aimed at improving literacy and enabling members of the community to become agents of social change
Health- dedicated to awareness creation and advocacy for eradication of any identifiable health issue.
Economic Empowerment– engaged in projects aimed at building the capacity of members of a community in order for them to become self-sufficient and to enhance their livelihoods.
Instructively, the MTN Heroes of Change was launched in July 2013 with the aim of identifying and recognizingpeople who have been proactive about sacrificing their time and resources to improve their communities and brighten lives. Dr. Abrokwa-Yenkyira, a plastic surgeon and Founder of Grafts Foundation, emerged the ultimate winner for the maiden edition of MTN Heroes of Change in 2014.