The saying that behind every successful man there is a strong and wise woman holds true at the Manhyia Palace.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II appreciates the role his wife, Lady Julia, has played in the success story of his reign.
Speaking exclusively to Graphic Online at the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi last Saturday, as part of his 20 Years on the Golden Stool anniversary celebration, Otumfuo Osei Tutu said "being Asantehene is demanding and you need to have a wife who understands you."
He said most often the only day that he finds time to sit down with his wife and children were on Saturdays.
Serwaa Ampem Foundation
With quality and sustainable health care services to all Ghanaians one of his core priorities, Otumfuo Osei Tutu in 2002 established the Serwaa Ampem Foundation for Children, and put Lady Julia at the helm.
She has also been the pillar of the Otumfuo Osei Tutu II Charity Foundation (OOCTF) where she chairs the Board of Trustees.
The Asantehene observed that the strides made by the Serwaa Ampem Foundation, a non-governmental organisation, named after his mother, the late Asantehemaa, Nana Afia Kobi Serwaa Ampem II, attested to the industry of his wife.
The Foundation handles the health component of the Otumfuo Osei Tutu II Charity Foundation, which seeks to improve the lives of Ghanaians by implementing the ideals, values and visions of its patron, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, and thereby use it as a vehicle in the transformation of Africa.
Of specific importance in the activities of the Serwaa Ampem Foundation is children infected with HIV/AIDS and family planning.
This has been in response to the high levels of discrimination and stigmatisation children infected with the disease face.
Other notable programmes being implemented by the foundation are the Otumfuo Mobile Dental Project and the Serwaa Ampem Orphanage of Wheels, which have supported over 150,00 children and other young people.
Vehicles carrying health professionals go to the town's and villages to offer dental services to the people and orphans.
A latest report by the OOCTF said the health programmes being undertaken by the Serwaa Ampem Foundation had been limited to advocacy, infrastructural and materials support.
Lady Julia and her outfit have been in the forefront of health promotion, especially disease prevention programmes, notably in HIV, tuberculosis, immunisation and malaria.
In collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the World Bank and the Ghana Health Service, the Serwaa Ampem Foundation undertook a pioneering work in the implementation of Mother-to-Child Prevention of HIV through series of sensitisation workshops for 560 traditional leaders and subsequent organisation of community durbars in the Ashanti and the former Brong Ahafo Regions.
Besides, 48 paramountcies were covered on advocacy issues between 2006 and 2010 with support from the World Bank Partnership with Traditional Leadership programme.
Community durbars under the auspices of the traditional leaderships in selected communities were also held.
Topics treated included HIV and AIDS, personal hygiene, immunisation, sexually transmitted infections and teenage pregnancies.
According to the report, the community durbars drew large audiences with a total of over 1.5 million people participating.
Pregnant women and their partners were educated on the need to get tested for HIV to prevent their unborn children from contracting the HIV infection.
A number of health facilities have also received support from the foundation, ranging from infrastructure to equipment, to boost health delivery.
They include renovation and refurbishing of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Obuasi Government Hospital, Asante Mampong Children Home, Suntreso Government Hospitals and other 15 Health Centres and Community Clinics.
The foundation also donated a 24-Seater Benz Bus to the Mampong Children Home.
Profile of Lady Julia
A qualified lawyer, Lady Julia Osei is the Executive Director of the Serwaa Ampem Foundation for Children, an NGO set up in 2002 to be an advocate for vulnerable children in Ghana and to make interventions on issues affecting children in our society.
Lady Julia had her secondary school education at Wesley Girls’ High School, Cape Coast. In 1989 she entered the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana, Legon, where she obtained a Bachelor of Law Degree, LL.B (Hons.) in 1992 and continued at the Ghana School of Law, Accra, where she completed the Professional Law Course and was called to the Ghana Bar in 1994.
In September 1995, Lady Julia was admitted to postgraduate studies at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and obtained a Master of Laws (LL.M) in International Humanitarian Law, after which she served as an intern with Amnesty International’s United Nations Office in New York.
In 1998 she joined Ecobank Ghana Limited as Legal/Corporate Affairs Officer. She was until March 2002, secretary to the National Partnership for Children’s Trust, Ghana.
The scope of activities of her organisation cuts across many social issues but predominantly in the areas of education, health, water and sanitation.
Combining new innovations and improvement on the existing strategies for tackling these issues, her foundations over the past years have provided support for organisations and individuals, and strengthened social support structures in Ghana.
These activities are not limited to only the jurisdiction of the kingdom of her husband but cut across many regions and ethnic groups in Ghana.
Prominent among the foundation’s activities are provision of educational materials for schools, scholarships for brilliant needy students from very deprived areas, institution of an annual national award for teachers from very deprived areas in Ghana as a way of motivating them to stay.
Among some of her innovations are the establishment of ‘Orphanage on Wheels’ – which support Children Infected and Affected with HIV, to help reduce or remove stigmatisation associated with service provision for this vulnerable population.
The Otumfuo Mobile Learning and Mobile Dental Project is committed to ensuring that deprived children in rural communities have access to computers to train in ICT; as well as providing dental care in their own communities. These three programmes have supported over 150,000 children so far over the past five years.