A glimpse of Ghana and its people
Skokie teacher Shelley Nizynski Reese recently won the Illinois Holocaust Museum's new Power Of One Award for her passionate work in generating crucial support for the children in Ghana. | Photo courtesy of Shelley Nizynski Reese
Updated: March 29, 2012 3:53PM
There are as many or more preventable deaths in Ghana as there are anywhere in the world, Shelley Nizynski Reese has said.
Facing that reality during her first visit there in 2006 turned the Skokie teacher into a tireless advocate trying to raise donations for the children struggling to survive and thrive. She created the foundation, A Better Life for Kids, to help children in the West African country.
Ghana is bounded on the north and northwest by Burkina Faso, on the east by Togo, on the south by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the west by Côte d’Ivoire.
Formerly a British colony known as the Gold Coast, Ghana in 1957 became the first black nation in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve independence.
The country is named for the ancient empire of Ghana, from which the ancestors of the inhabitants of the present country are thought to have migrated. The country occupies 92,099 square miles with Accra its capital and largest city.
Although Ghana’s natural land possesses gold, its everyday citizens face a difficult life.
According to ghanaweb.com, 30 percent of the country’s population live on less than $1.25 per day and an additional 46 percent on less than $2 per day.
The CIA’s World Factbook lists Ghanians as of 2009 as having an average life expectancy of 59 years with an infant mortality at 51 per 1,000 live births.
Attempts to improve the healthcare system in Ghana have been hampered by a very high rate of corruption within the Ghana Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service and National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), according to the CIA.
“Ghana sustains a life force that, in spite of poverty and misfortune, holds each person as a friend, sister, or brother,” Nizynski Reese says on her A Better Life For Kids website. “It is this strength that binds the people together, uplifting culture, and stopping time.”
— Mike Isaacs