Mawusi Awity and her husband come home at the end of each month with their monthly paycheck. Where she sits down and pulls a portion of her salary together to buy supplies and tools for women in the community.
This has been her life for the past 15 years. Week seven of the Season 5 of the MTN Heroes of Change (HoC) shines a light on Awity, who is the founder of Network of Women in Growth (NEWIG GHANA), a programme which gives Ghanaian women a second chance by teaching them vocational and enterprising skills.
NEWIG GHANA is a self- funded organisation that focuses on vocational skill set training, along with entrepreneur skill-building. The programme gives women a purpose in their lives that extends outside of just their family and home.
“I see men go on with their day to day activities and I realise all women should have the same zeal in waking up every morning to a job they have created for themselves and feeding their families off it,” said Awity.
With Ghana being a land of rich resources, Awity values the raw materials as something special Ghana has to offer. She believes that these resources should be taken advantage of when creating new employment and skills opportunities.
“Innovation to me is what the Ghanaian woman should take up. So on this basis, my project reaches out to our mothers and even the youth to train them to have something,” said Awity.
Since the creation of the program 15 years ago, they have already trained over 7,000 women across the country. Helping women and youths in various rural communities to master a variety of skills, ranging from craft making to electronically. The program has also helped establish benefit programs, such as school feeding program. Awity’s programme has also been able to reach less targeted women groups that may have been outcasted until finding NEWIG GHANA.
“We have trained over 100 women at the Gambaga Witch camp. For me, I think that is my major achievement because these women were seen as outcasts and now they feel important and also give back to the community. Anytime I see them, I get so happy and motivated,” said Awity.
However, she told Weekend Today that the programme has also had tolls on her life.
“I feel dejected certain times when I am not getting the necessary support from the state. Our country doesn’t have the spirit of philanthropic and it is sad and challenging.
Sometimes when the requests come and so many people want to have the training and I don’t have money or capital to respond to all these, I get so down. I sometimes even want to give up.”
But despite the financial struggles, Awity continues to feel empowered to give back to the community, her sense of giving has been contagious, as it has spread to women whom she had touched their lives. Gloria Kankam was inspired by Awity to create her own Non-Government Organization (NGO).
“Madam Mawusi has been a blessing in my life since the very day I met her. She trained me, showed me the ropes after training, even helped me to go to Canada and other countries to learn more and come back to empower others,” said Kankam. The lessons she learned have helped her develop her own NGO, giving her the chance to pay her thanks forward.
“I still feel I owe her a lot so I come over to help her every time. But she tells me to I don’t owe her, I rather owe the world so I should go out to communities and help others too. So I am doing that,” said Kankam.
The impact of her program has allowed women to branch out in the community and gain an education. She has even paid for schools fees for the women giving them the chance to discover dreams they did not even know they had.
“Throughout the times we have been at “New Century Career Training Institute”, we have paid nothing, even we get fed for free. We are more than 600 in number,” said Leticia Dzirasa, one of the women who Awity helped fund through school.
It does not matter who the women or child is, Awity always has her arms open, ready to welcome another woman into the world of education and opportunity.
“Not only in her community but in most parts of the country, a lot of people respects and appreciates her. Everyone calls her “Mummy” because she is a mother to everyone,” said Bishop Dusan Pobee, who has grown to know her over the years.
However, Awity is not done yet. She is ready to keep competing against the social gender roles of women by creating more programs designed to teach male-dominated industries.
“I want to establish a Vocational Institute that will train women in male-dominated vocations like Plumbing, Electrical, Carpentry, etc.,” said Awity.
Additionally, she hopes to establish a driving school that will train only female drivers. Allowing women to pursue jobs in the transportation industry.
“I feel more empowered to give back. Most of them call me telling me their great achievements now and I get so happy. I look in the mirror most times and I smile because of the good stories I keep hearing from my project.”
Story: Georgina FERNANDEZ, INTERN, UNIVERSITY OF OREGON, USA