Kwasi Ampadu, founder of the Abofra Foundation says that the organization is a window into his compassionate side. He holds a deep belief that every child in Ghana should have an equal opportunity to acquire basic computer training, especially those children in deprived areas such as the Madina suburb of Ogbojo, where the Foundation has its office. He and his partner, Felix Asante pour their hearts and souls into this every single day. My time with them was through the guidance and support of Photographers Without Borders (@photographerswithoutborders).
Growing up, Kwasi observed the emergence of technology around him but the educational system in Ghana did, and still does, little to progress the next generation of Ghanians into the digital world. Coding, much less computers, rarely exists in public education and instead is the benefit of the more privileged who can afford to send their children to private or boarding schools. Ampadu says, “Although I found my way into computers through graphic and web design, most of it is self-taught through internet resources. If I would have earlier exposure and access to such technology, my career might have accelerated.” His hope is that the afternoon computer program will inspire these underserved children to see their potential as future coders, I.T. administrators, system developers, or even designers like himself.
Currently there are two programs in force at Abofra Foundation. Abofra, which means ‘child’ in the Ghanian language of Twi, provides after school computer education, and a newly added art program. The computer school was the basis for the Foundation, but Ampadu realized that art would be a way of engaging these young minds that range from 6-13 years of age in a way that computers alone could not. Kwasi beams, “This is a creative platform to express their innate capacity and ability.”
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he/she grows up.”
– – Pablo Picasso – –
As most western cultures struggle with including art programs in public schools, Ampadu echoes a familiar refrain, “Art brings out creativity and through imagination, a child can bring their own dreams and ideas to life.”
The Abofra Foundation is largely self-funded through the graphic design and web site projects that Ampadu can acquire in this emerging African nation. The majority of volunteers come through AIESEC (https://aiesec.org/), a global organization dedicated to building youth leadership through volunteer and entrepreneurial experiences with NGOs worldwide. Although Ampadu welcomes these volunteers who bring passion and a variety of skills from countries abroad, they do not provide any financial support for Abofra. He hopes to add listings across platforms like GivingWay (https://www.givingway.com/) and Idealist (https://www.idealist.org/ ) to generate income, in addition to the support he has received from Photographers Without Borders in order to increase the number of children he can serve in the area of Ogbojo.
“Our limitation to serve more children is only restricted by the personal funds I put into the program.,” says Kwasi, “If I could engage more volunteers who would pay a small weekly stipend, we could exponentially increase the student numbers.”
Kwasi and his team already have procured space for a dormitory that would house up to 12 volunteers, with a shared washroom, lounge area, and kitchen for meals. It resides near the Foundation office, but provides a safe, gated area for volunteers to relax at the end of a boisterous day with the children.
In the end, Ampadu’s dream is a big one. He would like to grow his Foundation, program and curriculum, and space to be able to provide free computer education and art program to every un- or under-served child in Ghana.
For more information and to donate, please go to https://abofra.org/