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1st & 2nd Ladies of Ghana; the voices of humanitarian relief for the less privileged

Fri, 29 Aug 2014 Source: Maxwell Okamafo Addo

The President John Mahama and his Vice have admitted that times are hard and that the problem is our collective problem and requires all of us to solve it, so we must work harder than before, and must be ready enough to sacrifice a little more for Ghana, wear back our fast-eroding senses of patriotism, because the problem is just a short term.

But the good message for Ghanaians is their spouses seem to be complimenting their efforts in nation building.

The First and Second Ladies Lordina Mahama and Matilda Amissah Arthur respectively are increasingly teaming up to promote education, health and women’s rights in the country.

Historically they have shifted the role of the First Lady and Second Lady from domestic responsibility to a much more of a pragmatic orientation. They spend much of their time in philanthropic work, particularly with widows and orphans of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and quality Health care delivery.

The first Lady is a member of the Organization of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS. OAFLA was created by African First Ladies to advocate for increased awareness and mobilize resources for HIV/AIDS on the continent.

I want to take a look at the stabilizing roles that the First and Second Ladies play in the lives of the President and the Vice President, in the area of Humanitarian services and ensure that they remain grounded because as we see in Africa today governance can be challenging – especially in societies where citizens expect their leaders to do everything for them.

The First and Second Ladies of Ghana are dedicated to the successes of their husbands. Every problem comes to the desk of their husbands, and they take the criticisms and successes of their husbands to heart.

They also have a complicated position and can turn it into what they want it to be; but you have to remember-they can be an advocate for policies but not policy makers, that is exactly what they are doing.

Beginning from this edition, we will be taking an in-depth look at some of the laudable initiatives they have championed and how they have been the rock of stability to their husbands.

We begin this edition with Her Excellency – Mrs. Lordina Mahama the First Lady of Ghana who has a deep compassion for the less privileged.

As the President buries himself with the mechanics of governance, his wife – Mrs. Lordina Mahama, the First Lady, has an NGO known as the Lordina Foundation – a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Non-Political and Non-Profit making charitable organization , with advocacy for the mobilization for the promotion, protection and realization of Women’s human rights, the elimination of all forms of repugnant practices as well as violence against women and the enhancement of their living standards, through Family Life Enhancement Initiative.

Through the laudable efforts of her project, she has brought joy where tears had once been a daily diet, she has given hope where hopelessness had been an abiding companion, and she has restored a sense of self and endless possibilities where despondency had once held sway.

Through the NGO she has visited those who have been afflicted with medical conditions and ostracized by family members calling them witches and has been championing the cause of the widows, those who have been ostracized socially due to medical conditions, the less-privileged and the indigent in the state.

The widows who sometimes are left to deal with situations that can be described as double jeopardy mourning the loss of their husbands, and fighting for survival have benefitted immensely from her generosity and kindness.

Mrs. Mahama has visited the witches’ camp at Gambaga and interacted with the inmates, and donated food items to them and assorted items including bags of rice, quantities of cups, washing basins, hundred pieces of clothes amongst others, for their upkeep.

She is putting up a Skills Training Centre being constructed by the Lordina Foundation at Gambaga, to empower the vulnerable and women with economic skills to become self-employed.

She has rendered a lot in the health sector service for a long time and she has vividly manifested a motherly and leadership role in Ghana for which she is referred to as the “Mother of the nation” in short “Mama Lordina".

Some of the beneficiaries of the First Lady’s humanitarian gestures are the Tamale Children’s home, South Tongu District Hospital at Sogakope and also through the Foundation presented an ambulance to the Princess Marie Louise Children’s Hospital in Accra with the aim that the ambulance will ensure speedy transfer of patients to and from other health facilities.

She has visited the Saltpond and Apam hospitals in the central region, and donated assorted medical equipments, has done a (7) District medical outreach programme to donate medical supplies and equipment to the District Hospitals in the Northern region.

The beneficiary hospitals were Baptist Medical Center at Nalerigu in the East Mamprusi District, Walewale Hospital in the West Mamprusi District and the Savelugu Hospital in the Savelugu/Nanton Municipality, Tolon/Kumbungu District Hospital and Yagaba Kubori District Health Centre. The items donated included, hospital beds, mattresses, and catheters, drip stands, breathing circuits, syringes and walking aids.

The First Lady has also visited the Nyohini Children’s Home and the Anfaani Orphanage in Tamale, and interacted with the children, during which she donated food items including bags of rice, sugar, tins of milo, biscuits, and toiletries, for the upkeep of the children. She also presented facial mask, gauze syringes and other items to the Jasikan district hospital where she also cut sod for the construction of a maternity block.

The First Lady is compassionate, especially touched and moved by the plight of those whom the society had for no fault of theirs confined to the fringes of life.

Empowerment and gender equality has been her goal. She believes it’s time for women to recommit themselves to working harder for gender equality.

All with the believe that empowering women and girls and supporting their full participation can help solve the greatest challenges of the 21st century, they will find lasting solutions to many of the problems they face. Major challenges such as poverty, inequality, violence against women and girls, and insecurity will be addressed substantially.

She is an example to many women and has been working to help women and children in this country, something she has been doing fearlessly and passionately. Mama Lordina as she is fondly called is a woman who has proved to be loving, caring and helpful to many women and Children.

She has been working tirelessly to promote women and children and to improve their lives and make them what they should be in the family.

The Second Lady Mrs. Matilda Amissah-Arthur

The hardworking Second lady of Ghana on a scale of balance, she has complimented the efforts of the 1st Lady. For the past two and half years as the wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Matilda Amissah-Arthur, a professional librarian herself, and former President of the Association, is at the forefront by helping children in the country to advance social values and adopt reading as a habit of the youth of the country.

Mrs. Matilda Amissah Arthur, before becoming the Second Lady of Ghana had an NGO by name Reading for Life, an NGO that has passion for children and organizes reading clinics for children across the country because they are the future leaders of our country.

She has done significant work promoting greater emphasis on women and girls development in the battle for their health and education in Ghana.

Her open-door policy in running the NGO and the office of the Second Lady of Ghana has helped to create a good bond between her and the women. She has also built an effective and efficient channel of communication between her office and Ghanaian women and children which is another factor that has endeared the Second Lady to women and children in the country.

She has traversed the length and breadth of this country trying to encourage children to read and go to school.

Matilda Amissah Arthur is a woman who has got strength, vision and foresight.

She is highly innovative and does not slack in pursuing her mission in fulfilling her set goals.

She believes in creating a culture of caring and commitment to education by encouraging reading because a reading nation is an informed nation, and an informed nation is a powerful nation. That is what she believes in.

She says Ghanaians have to renew their commitment to building a Better Ghana, where all will have to advance in all spheres of social, economic, political and scientific fields. A Better Ghana where everyone’s right is not only guaranteed by the government but by the citizens themselves.

The Wife of the Vice President is generous in giving. Being a caregiver in the area of healthcare in the country like the First Lady is doing and has consistently called on Ghanaians to show love to other people as they love themselves.

She has done some work with HIV patients in Koforidua by spending time with them and attending their Christmas parties and donating to them. She has donated assorted items to the Cape Coast hospital, Sogakope Hospital, Eikwe Catholic Hospital, Taifa Polyclinic, Newtown Health Centre in the Ellembelle and Jomoro Districts of the Western Region.

She has also presented medical equipment to the Suhum General Hospital in the Eastern Region in line with her commitment to improve health service delivery in the country.

Others are the Kinder Paradise-Orphanage, BASICS international in Chokor.

She has also inaugurated an Information and Communication Technology and Teachers Resource Centre for the people of Lower Bobikuma in the Central Region,

The Second Lady, recently inaugurated a 30-million dollar computer laboratory for PLAY Soccer Ghana, a FIFA project based in Cape Coast where they use football and ICT to prepare children under nine years for football and leadership purposes, because ICT is now being used to teach many subjects in schools.

She visited and donated to the Weija Leprosarium where she joined the Lepers Aid Committee chaired by Very Rev. Fr Andrew Campbell to mark World Leprosy Day with the inmates and also donated towards an inmate who was to undergo an operation.

She believes in advancing equitable health and social health protection to achieve universal health coverage in Ghana.

The helping hand that she has offered to religious and educational institutions in the country cannot be measured. Mrs. Matilda Amissah-Arthur has also helped a non-governmental organisation in the Jomoro District, Sayi Foundation, by donating an amount of money for payment of registration fees for 1,660 BECE candidates in the district

The Second Lady has also attended a lot workshops, an example was the one by women in the weaving industry with support from the India Africa Craft Design Initiative at their training site at the Ghana Trade Fair Centre in Accra, where the India government is helping women in basket weaving to develop and improve their skills.

The Second Lady, Mrs. Matilda Amissah-Arthur's key message to the youth in the country whenever she interact with them, especially girls, is to take their education serious and aspire to attain higher goals in life by taking their lessons seriously and avoid issues like teenage pregnancy and other social vices that do not urge well for them in society because she believes that they can serve as role models in the communities by helping to fight indiscipline acts, such as littering of the environment and poor sanitation in their societies.

She’s been working with the First Lady in harmony as they determine to succeed in all the projects they undertake and that the First Lady is her elder sister and the respect and harmony that prevails between them cannot go un-noticed.

Matilda Amissah Arthur is a peaceful, caring and loving wife, mother and friend who has proved to be a perfect example in society. She is hard working and has the stature to help the first Lady in making the office an envy to many. She works very hard to eradicate teenage pregnancy in the country and she has been a success story.

May they continue to work in the interest of our women and may the bond between her and the First Lady continue to grow.

They are a typical example for many women and children to follow as they have done so much and have proved beyond all reasonable doubt that they are role models to our many young women and children in our society.

Columnist: Maxwell Okamafo Addo