National Service Scheme Experience, Barimayena is farming community in the Atwima Mponua District of the Ashanti Region that has benefitted immensely from the National Service Scheme. It was in this remote community that a young volunteer initiated a journey that promised to leave footprints in the sands of the history of the community.
Without necessarily making a deliberate and conscious effort to make history, Mr. Wisdom Deku Apedo, a National Service Person with the Ghana National Service Scheme, has brightened his small corner and illuminated the way for children who, through no fault of theirs, have found themselves in a part of the country many see as forbidden territory.
“Our community is so remote and unattractive that trained teachers refuse to accept postings here”, Mr. Stephen Agyapong, the Barimayena Unit Committee Chairman and the Chief of Barimayena, Nana Kofi Mensah stated this in an interview.
Mr. Apedo, a Higher National Diploma (Marketing) graduate from the Cape Coast Polytechnic, by some design or fate, found himself posted first to the Ashanti Region for his national service. I believe he was excited that being a Marketing graduate, he was going to be assigned to a commercial firm where he would put his marketing skills to practice.
He got his first jolt when the Benz “trotro” bus brought him to the Atwima Mponua District where his initial expectations fizzled out. He was in a bigger shock when his final destination was the remote and deprived community of Barimayena. “I could not believe my eyes when I got there. I had very high expectations because I thought with my background in Marketing I was going to be assigned to a commercial firm where I would put my marketing skills to practice”, he said.
According to the Ashanti Regional Director of the NSS, Mr. Kwesi Quainoo, Mr. Apedo was tempted to follow others to abandon the people of Barimayena for obvious reasons. Mr. Apedo said apart from the remoteness of the place, there was a serious handicap in the form of a language barrier. He is from Battor in the Volta Region and speaks Ewe, while his hosts are Asante Twi-speaking people.
Mr. Apedo was asked to teach in the kindergarten class of Barimayena L.A School. “I saw my posting to this place as a challenge to build the capacity of the pupils and the people of the community”, he stated. He went about sensitizing the community on the need to send their children to school. “This was a very difficult task since most parents are more interested in sending their children to the farm. Barimayena is a farming community so this explains the reason why most of the parents send their children to the farms”, he explained.
Nana Mensah who described Mr. Apedo as a very hardworking and respectful young man said the local school which started with only 25 kindergarten pupils had seen tremendous growth and improvement since Mr. Apedo’s arrival in the community. He said the school had grown to Primary Two, bringing current enrollment to 83.
More startling was the revelation by the chief that through Mr. Apedo’s personal initiative, the community had been able to raise GH₵1,700.00 to help build additional classrooms and expressed the hope that very soon, the school would expand intake to Primary Six to have the full complement of a primary school.
“We have been inspired by Mr. Apedo’s selflessness and the spirit of voluntarism he has exhibited. It is even more astounding considering that he is not from this area. We want to secure the future of our children and Mr. Apedo has taught us that this can only be done when we invest in the education of our children. We shall organize a community durbar to mobilize more funds to put up more classrooms for our children and those of the surrounding villages”.
Nana Mensah emphasized the determination of the community to continue with the good works of Mr. Apedo and stressed the need for other volunteers to emulate his works.
“Through my activities in Barimayena, I have come to realize that helping to change the fortunes of a people whose situation looks hopeless is what true national service mean. I challenge the youth of this country to volunteer wholeheartedly since service to the nation is service to God”, Mr. Apedo surmised philosophically.
Mr. Apedo may move on from here to pursue his ambitions elsewhere but the people of Barimayena will never forget his contribution any time the issue of education is brought up. Who knows – many decades to come, some Ministers of State and Members of Parliament will come out from that small village, thanks in part to national volunteering rendered by one person when others saw the place as hell and abandoned the people to their fate.