FULL INTERVIEW: The ‘poor’ Ghanaian ‘hero’ rubbing shoulders at Johns Hopkins; the story of George Mwinnyaa
Having several wives and children, perhaps to help around with household chores and farming activities may have been his ultimate destiny had it not been foresight from his visionary mother who sowed the seed of the relevance of education into him.
With that, there was a little bit of hope to succeed, move into some ‘white-collar’ job and help his other 31 siblings and mother, especially because his dad had passed.
Optimism, but not quite enough to hope to be at the world’s number one public health care facility, one which has housed several big names in neurosurgery and health delivery; the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
10 angels from heaven wouldn’t have been sufficient to make him buy the idea of having the tiniest bit of chance at that.
Defying the odds and obstacles through sweat and tears, however, George Mwinnyaa, the last of 32 children from a remote village at Nandom in the Upper West region of Ghana is influencing breakthroughs in health with research by ‘rubbing shoulders’ with global icons and pioneers at Johns Hopkins.
Age as a figure comes as an abstract since he was introduced to the harsh realities of life at an early stage having lost his father, the sole breadwinner of his household.
The absence of electricity and learning materials are just a fraction of hurdles Mr Mwinnyaa had to surmount in order to make it out of primary and secondary education. At certain points, he literally had to put together pieces of used soap from his peers to be able to bath, beg for a pen in school to write and hawk on the streets of Accra to survive.
A team of health experts from Canada whom he worked with during his travails as volunteer sparked a flame in George Mwinnyaa to set sights at schooling in Canada; a dream which would later be thwarted by his spouse in a serendipitous manner.
Among many other daunting challenges after marriage, he worked as a janitor, juggling classes and husband/father duties to write an examination for exceptional students to earn a full scholarship to study in his ‘heaven’, the Johns Hopkins University.
In this edition of People and Places, George Mwinnyaa retells the story of how he rose above a dumsor riddled and poverty-stricken environment to earn his seat among the greats at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health