Joseph Opoku Gakpo, an environment, agric and rural development journalist for Joy FM and Joy News TV, a 2016 Cornell Alliance for Science Global Leadership Fellow and the Alliance’s Ghana correspondent, has received an MTN Heroes of Change Award.
The award celebrates people who are making extraordinary contributions to their community. Opoku was recognized for a series of outstanding video and newspaper reports.
It all started with Opoku’s Joy News video report that assessed the progress Ghana had made in meeting the Millennium Development Goals and highlighted widespread rural poverty, despite Ghana scoring highly on meeting the goals.
This, in turn, prompted the involvement of a US charity organization, Cooper Union, whose leader saw the story about conditions in Nyitavuta and was prompted to install solar lamps and solar panels for the community’s residents.
The coverage also motivated the Ghanaian government to resume work on the feeder road leading to Nyitavuta, which had stalled for many months. The Rotary Club moved in to dig a borehole (well) for them and another organization, Seven Seas stepped in to train women in alternative livelihood sources as a way to lift them out of poverty.
In another community, Atsivikope, a borehole project which had stalled for five years resumed days after the story was aired. The local representative in the area explained that after the story aired, the district chief executive brought in his team to complete the project for them.
Opoku was awarded a Heroes of Change citation for his efforts, as well $2,500 to invest in a corporate social responsibility project of his choice somewhere in rural Ghana.
“A day after the award, I got a message from a leader in Nyitavuta, saying they are grateful for the goodies and proud of my award, but they still don’t have a health facility in their community,” Opoku said.
“When MTN is ready to release the funds, I intend to use that as seed money for the construction of a health post in the community. Hopefully, we will be able to raise additional funds to complete the project.”