The Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, moments after finishing her rather brief address on arriving in Ghana Sunday, made a momentary stop to exchange pleasantries with some pupils from Chorkor, a fishing community in Accra, who had come to welcome her.
The pupils, visibly excited about the Vice President’s presence, continued to wave their miniature Ghana and American flags, which caught the eye of the Vice President.
She walked up to them with the unique opportunity for the children to have some smiley moments and quick handshakes.
Accompanied by her husband, Douglas Emhoff, the Vice President wore her accustomed broad infectious smile and uninhibited by her heavy Secret Service details, had direct exchanges with some of the female pupils, igniting optimism in them.
That gesture, Christabel Naa Larley Mensah, a Basic Six pupil, and beneficiary of the BASICS International initiative, says brings her a lot of hope to aspire for greatness and strive to be the next ‘Kamala Harris’.
“I am happy to see her,” Ms Mensah, who wants to be a medical doctor, says with a wide smile.
She was part of the 150 children from Chorkor under the BASIC International initiative, who joined other dignitaries, including Ghana’s Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia; Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration; Madam Virginia E. Palmer, U.S Ambassador to Ghana; Hajia Alima Mahama, Ghana’s Ambassador to the US, at the Jubilee Lounge of the Kotoka International Airport.
Others were Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Minister for Information; Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor, Minister for lands and Natural Resources and Mr Henry Quartey, Greater Accra Regional Minister, among other dignitaries from Ghana and the United States.
To achieve her dreams and become a great medical doctor, Ms Mensah says she must “learn hard and obey instructions in class”.
Obed Tagoe, a graduate of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and a beneficiary of the BASICS International programme since age eight, says “Indeed, yesterday’s visit of the Vice President of the United States of America to Ghana was history made for Ghana and every single individual present at the event but most especially to us the Basics beneficiaries and the organisation as a whole”.
Her visit, Mr Tagoe adds “is a moment where the hopes to become great despite gender is reassuring”.
Now volunteering at BASICS International, he says “there is a great future that we will all play our collective role and also help others…”
The Brothers And Sisters in Christ Serving (BASICS International) is a faith based organisation in Ghana founded by Patricia Wilkins in 2000.
The Organisation’s initiative provides education and resources to impoverished communities in Ghana, particularly Chorkor in the Greater Accra Region, where most of the children are schooling.
Founder and CEO, Patricia Wilkins, says BASICS International has been a recipient of grants and support from the US Embassy in Ghana and offers support to the Organisation for its programmes and activities.
Ms Wilkins, an American Ghanaian, notes that the relations between Ghana and the US is long-standing and their presence at the Airport is to give the pupils and other beneficiaries of the BASIC International initiate some glimmer of hope to achieve more despite the odds.
She expresses appreciation to Kamala Harris for “inspiring women of colour and young girls around the world. Wherever a young girl is sitting today, they are looking at her and saying that could be me. This is something that we as girls and children are not being afforded; we have to fight for so many things. She sets an example that anything is possible.”
Vice President Kamala Harris, welcomed to Ghana amidst drumming and dancing by the Ghana Dance Ensemble, National theatre, said she was excited about the future of Africa.
“I am excited about the impact of Africans on the US and the rest of the world.”
The Vice President said the economic empowerment of women and girls, empowerment of youth entrepreneurship, digital inclusion, and support to increase food security, including adaptation to the effects of the climate crisis, would be her focus while in Ghana.
Her visit, she noted, reinforced the work the US and Ghana continued to do in increasing investments on the African continent and facilitating economic growth.
Kamala Harris, who will be in Ghana from March 26 to 29, said she looked forward to building on previous meetings with Ghanaian leaders to strengthen democracy and good governance, promote peace and security, build on long term economic growth and strengthen business ties.