Home Opinion Featured Articles Emmanuel Quarmyne Tells His Story

Emmanuel Quarmyne Tells His Story

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38045_104890082897868_2270021_nPrince: Thank you very much sir for giving us this opportunity to have? an interaction with you on ??the journey So Far??. We know you as Emmanuel Quarmyne; can you share with us when and where you were born?

Emmanuel: I was born in Ghana at KorleBu Hospital, grew up in this country spending most of my time in Labone and Darkuman where I have being living all this time. I am the middle born out of three siblings. My dad is an Auto Engineer and my mum a nurse.

Prince: What are the schools you have attended?

Emmanuel: I did attend St. Anthony Primary School to JHS,preceded to Ada SHS after which I continued University of Ghana for a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology with English.

Prince: Judging your achievements, I am convinced, it relates to what you accomplished whiles in school. Can you share with us those academic records?

Emmanuel: Since leaving school I have being involved in charity work
that I co-founded whiles in the University of Ghana. I took a course in MANAGEMENT OF NGO at the University of Ghana Business School and one of the course requirement was to come up with a mock NGO and present in class. That was how the idea for my charity was born and I co-founded with two American ladies I met in the University of Ghana. Coincidentally I was reading Sociology which was my major from the University of Ghana. My sociology major and NGO class experience is what I am using today with my charity work. My charity is called A Ban Against Neglect (ABAN). And what we do is to provide opportunities to the marginalised to learn a trade and get some income for themselves. This we did by getting them to recycle waste materials that we find on the streets into products that we sell and the proceeds goes towards their upkeep.

Prince: What was your inspiration to become a social entrepreneur?

Emmanuel: I would say it is a bit of faith and dedication. These are basic principles and I know you?ve heard about them about thousand times and how they work. In school when I started the charity, I was? stunted a lot because I was dealing with recyclable materials and picking sachet bags on the streets, which made many, brand me as Zoomlion. Today the very people who teased me back in school call me and ask me for employment. So it is really a lot of dedication, once you know you are on the right lane and get to speak to the agenda; in no time you will bear fruit. I?ve being doing this for five years now, and we compare very well to established NGOs that have being around for about 20 years, so if you ask me what inspires me or propels me, it is just the basic principles, doing the hard work and sticking to the agenda.

Prince: When you discovered those basic principles, can you share with us how you?ve being able to implement them to get to this stage?

Emmanuel: I just by initial happen to do small things very well; sometimes that?s all you need to do, master the little things. You don?t have to be a professor in rocket science to be a successful person. Once I decided that was the opportunity I had, I didn?t let go, I just stuck to it and did it very well. This is why I keep doing everything. That?s the same advice I will give to anybody.

Prince: How has the journey being so far?

Emmanuel: The journey has being exciting, challenging and very thoughtful. Traditionally young professionals will go into mainstream
banking, technology and the white colour jobs work for several years and in their late 40s and 50s, after they?ve had experience in the industry they then decide to give back to the society, and start an NGO. I have gone the other way round; I finished school and started charity. I am sort of learning what I should be learning in my 40s dealing with destitute people, and it?s being very exciting for me, I?ve come a long way.

Prince: What are some of the challenges you?ve faced so far?

Emmanuel: Challenges I faced in my line of working dealing with marginalized people is that you are helping somebody who does not have anything and expect they would be very grateful to you and you are one of the happiest people on earth because everyone is excited because of the help you are giving to people, but that?s not always the case.
Sometimes we get a lot of **flack**? from same people we are supposed to be helping and empowering. And in the country where illiteracy is very high, dealing with uneducated persons can be difficult, because
when you look into that, they misinterpret everything as you know there is spiritual quotations to everything, there is mistrust, we get a lot of **flack** coming from? this very same people that we helping. You should not always look for the gratitude from the people or the work that you doing, it is just like a teacher, who teaches a primary kid and the kid doesn?t realise how essential the teacher is? till when they grow to become adults and remember Mr. Mensa from class three and now recognise the works they did for their lives. That?s the nature of our work, it teaches you not to be give up, it?s toughens you up. In my young age, I thought of experience what people in the 40s and 50s experience. In my leadership role as well, I sort of understand the psyche of the people a lot better than I would have just work in a regular bank or someplace. Don?t look for the reward immediately all the time and even in terms of finance, beyond dealing with people, money is not an instant reward. When I started this in school, people mocked me because there were opportunities to go work with government institutions right up after school, do national service and hope you will get permanent employment at the place after the national service and everyone was struggling to make it big right after school. But I started to do ?Zoomlion? job and today, I am not a financially secured person but I am not a beggar as well and I am able to do the things I want to do and afford with this same ?Zoomlion? job; so the reward was not instant but its opened me up, I?ve met tonnes of people around the globe, my network is huge. So just keep doing the things you do, do them very well and the opportunities will come, don?t look for instant reward.

Prince: As ABAN, what do you do as an organisation?

Emmanuel: ABAN started as an NGO that recruits street girls? mostly teenage girls and we get them to recycle waste products from the streets, mostly pure water sachet bags that litter the streets of Accra. So we would wash and sanitise pure bags and make gift items. And then we sell, mostly in the US, cofounders of the organisation are Americans, and the proceeds goes towards the girls education and vocational skills. After a while we realised that not every street girl wanted the help, some girls we bring into the compound where we house them for two years with shelter and some being the first time, they?ve had a roof over their head would decide they want to go back to the streets and live their free lives. So we had to revamp the programs and now we are offering help to marginalised young people
still concentrating on girls. We now look for the x-factor in people when we are recruiting them, we want people who are not necessarily on the street but people who want to change their lives. So a girl can be
in a poor rural community, but she is gotten pregnant and cannot continue school but just wanting an opportunity to just do better with herself then we recruit such a girl and be able to help them achieve
those goals. Our age limit is 17 to 22 years old but we do have exceptions if the girl has the qualities we looking for. And today we?ve gone beyond getting the girls to make the products that we sell
for their education; we have now setup an offshoot of ABAN that we call ABAN community employment. So now we?ve recruited 10 professionals from the Aburi town where we operate and we get them sew? all our products for us. The girls still play a role in making the products by washing and sanitizing but we leave the headache of making the products to the professional so that the girls can have time for
their rehabilitation programs.

Prince: What have being the achievements that you?ve chalked as an organisation?

Emmanuel: Since 2008, we’ve helped about 51 girls so far, who have come in contact with us through our programs. All of them are now ambassadors of ABAN in their communities, some of them after their completion we got them employment, and some of these are girls we took from the streets are now able to take their own kids to school themselves. They get regular employment plus when you affect the persons mind and after two years which we have tackled their attitude which we feel is mostly the problem our hope is that we are not only ending up the cycle of poverty with the girls but also ending the
cycle of poverty with their kids who would otherwise have continue on the street and become the second generation street kids. In terms of physical achievements, now ABAN is a fully fledged registered NGO in
Ghana and the US, we have acquired about six acres of land which we intend to build an ABAN village on; we are looking at a multi-purpose facility that would have dormitories, sports complex, and clinic for
the girls. We are doing well and gathering more momentum.

Prince: What are some of the feedbacks you get from beneficiaries and the communities?

Emmanuel: It takes me to the point when I was talking about dealing with uneducated persons so we’ve got mystery actions. The thoughts are that as an NGO, you have a lot of money so we are just expected to freely give the money to people who are poor and needy. They have a possessive mentality, people do not feel they need to do something to earn money; they think and feel that you owe it to help them so it?s being difficult. On a positive note, we still have a lot of support from community leaders; the Aburihene is one of our very good patrons in the community. We’ve met with the DCE and others in political authority, so the community response is good. The girls parents themselves are sometimes supportive and the girls themselves obviously will be the best ambassadors of what help they?ve got from us. It?s being mixed, it is an NGO work, you helping people, and you expect
that it is excellent but I will be lying if I tell you the reaction we get is excellent. We do give the help, it will take time for people to realise the impact we’ve had on them.

Prince: What has being the biggest failure that ABAN has encountered?

Emmanuel: That?s a good question. I think for every girl that leaves
the program back to the street is a big failure for us. Because the idea now is of going to recruit people even not from the street but from homes. If a girl comes to us and after two years she goes back to
square one. That’s a big failure for us, there is a lot of money that goes into their rehabilitations and you finish putting all these monies into the girls and committing time and effort to try and help people and they go back to square one, that?s a big failure and we’ve had a couple of cases like that. Sometimes the people just decide they prefer to go back to the street where they are from.

Prince: Do you believe Africa can be rebuilt?

Emmanuel: I definitely think so. We’ve gotten enough human resource here to turn things around. What we are doing is a miniature level development but we just need a replica of stuff that we do all across the continent. Not only in charity but developmental work and attacking the real issues that affect the continent. But our future depends on us citizens and attitudes for the most part. I think we
have it all, everyone knows Africa is the richest continent and we have all the stuffs that will make us develop, its all about our attitude. Once we start affecting the people attitudes and adapting the correct strategies, I think there is hope for the continent.

Prince: In the near future what are some of the contributions we are going to see ABAN add to the rebuilding of Africa?

Emmanuel: In Ghana where we are located, we will start with Aburi, a small town where we are located, and what we are doing is to try and? scale our programs and have the capacity of recruiting more girls at a time and not only are we going to tackle our direct beneficiaries but now we are going to try and affect indirect beneficiaries as well.
Example is opening help centres that would provide support for poor persons living in the community at subsidized rates, opening schools: we cant have too much of education, there cannot be enough schools in Africa and definitely in Ghana where about 20% of the population is said to be uneducated. So more schools, more health facilities, building of roads and etc, we leave that to government but in our own
small way we feel if we sort of help with this amenities then we would be moving forward in the right direction.

Prince: Personally, what other things are we seeing you do?

Emmanuel: I mentioned that young people leaves school and go into mainstream work and then do the NGOs afterwards and I have taken the other route, so haven?t done charity for sometime now what lies in my future, I would look into upgrading myself a bit, I am talking about educating other people but you have to educate yourself too, upgrading my educational qualification, I have a bachelors degree, I am looking? forward for my Masters, try our For-Profit work. These days, For-Profit work can actually help in doing Not-For-Profit work. A lot
of companies now have Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) and they intend to help pressing issues in society, so I am looking to if possible try my hands on For-Profit works as well and in so doing
raise enough money to continue to help people who need some form of support and are now able to fully appreciate what people need, because I?ve had experience dealing with them directly.

Prince: Who are the people who mentor and inspire you?

Emmanuel: My role models are my parents, they are very hardworking people from very little means they gave us? a very good life: my dad was a Taxi driver growing, my mum a nurse but we went to the best schools in any place we found ourselves and they gave us the basic comfort of life. They realise the essence of education and all their hard earnings, they pumped into our education forfeiting the norm which is to own a house and own a car, our education was their priority, made sure we went to the universities and so I cherish that gift that they gave me. My dad is a very humble man, a very good friend and my mentor at the same time. If you take it beyond my parents, as a Ghanaian, the one person that I feel had a lot going for Ghana was Dr. Kwame Nkrumah , the man was a visionary and if you take a look at the stuffs he was doing back then even in today?s context, you will appreciate what a gem we let go. Of course I didn?t get to meet him but history books brought me loser to him but he definitely got my attention.

Prince: What do you see the world recognising for?

Emmanuel: They would recognise me for my dedication and commitment to working even in not so favourable conditions. Forbes and co, I think they recognise people in terms of riches, so I don?t think I make that line at all.

Prince: Do you have acknowledgements for some special people that havepushed you to this stage?

Emmanuel: For the work that we do, we have Vodafone Ghana and most of? our supports come from the US but we say thanks to everybody who helps us. Personally I want to say thank you to the professor in whose class the NGO started, Dr. Justice Bawule of the University of Ghana
Business School, to friends and families who have being supportive and anybody who has helped Aban or Me in any special way, I say thank you.

Prince: What are your final words to young people to who are also aspiring to do what you are doing today?

Emmanuel: Don?t despair, don?t be anxious. At some point at the university of Ghana, in my third year, I was getting anxious, few friends were beginning to fare well, they were travelling abroad, getting good jobs, and there was no prospect for me, so I was getting anxious, I was wondering, what?s gonna happen now, I am graduating, parents have poured money into my education and the anxiety was turning into panic attack and I know what it feels like for people to
be jobless, not being bale to do something for yourself and feel like a waste. Its not a good feeling, so for anybody in that situation, I will say to that person, do not despair, it?s just about time and pressure, do the right things and in any moment you can do something positive for yourself so look for that positive and wait for that moment and when that moment comes make sure you take it.

Thank You

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