“I cried that day. I got to a place in search of a man, but he was not at home so the little boy at home went in search for him. and I asked why the boy was not in school, the man said ‘if I take him to a school who will come and call me when I’m not at home.
‘…I said seriously this is someone’s future!”, this and other encounters were the driving force and motivation of Augustina Ayarika an alumnus of the University of Professional Studies, where she had her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.
In 2018 she took the initiative to choose the three Northern Regions for her national service. Instigated by the fact that most of her colleagues were not willing to do their one-year mandatory service in the northern part of Ghana, she was then posted to Mamprugu Moagduri District office in the Northern region.
She embarked on a six-hour journey to the North, for her preliminary registration process, where she had to travel in a goods-only/ food truck because of the scarcity of alternative commercial vehicles like taxis and buses (trotro). The journey was more discomforting when she had to use a boat through a flooded area to the district she was posted to.
It was a rainy season in that part of the north at the time, hence she suffered some insect bites and returned to Accra after a few days with severe rashes. The discomfort of the journey and the challenges she faced on her first visit were enough reason for Augustina to change her resolve to continue her service there.
“I had a thousand reasons why I could change “she recounted, but considering the condition and the impact she could have on those in the communities, she quickly resolved to serve in the District and make an impact the best way she could.
Living in the north was not an easy feat compared to her friends and colleagues who served in the southern parts of the country. Access to transportation was very difficult. The only means available was the goods only truck. It took her about two hours to get to work, and access to clean water was a challenge for her as well hence she used sachet water for all her cooking.
In the age of technology, lack of electricity can be a challenge for someone who is used to enjoying these basic amenities.
Augustina’s impact stretches far beyond the classroom to address the daily struggles of people in the wider community.
She was unsettled upon reaching the district by the fact that, most children especially girls were not in school. Most of them at very tender ages did not have any form of educational aspiration but rather looked forward to getting married.
Rukeima is one of such girls, who wanted to marry at the tender age of ten but was encouraged to pursue her education instead. Augustina motivated her by buying school uniforms, stationery and other school materials for her schooling, and till date, Rukeima is in school.
Augustina observed that a lot of the parents and leaders of the communities had little idea about the significance and value of education for their children especially the girl child. These communities are characterized by high teenage pregnancy rates.
She also realized that some of the girls were betrothed to some elders and men in the communities.
All these and many other reasons informed her decision to empower young people especially the girls and sensitize, inform and educate parents and the community leaders about the importance of education.
She took this sensitization process a step further by organizing a program under the theme “Exploiting Educational Opportunities in Ghana – A tool to transform the Northern Youth”.
She used drama, talks and held discussions all geared towards exposing the people of the district to the opportunities of education.
She also organized weekend classes for final year students in the basic schools to help them in areas where they struggled academically to enable them to write the standard Basic Education Certificate Examination. This reflected in their final results.
Some of the children in these communities barely wore clothes or shoes. They are exposed to the harsh weather conditions of the north with nothing to wear, so she spent her Christmas break with the people of Mamprugu Moagduri by organizing a party for them where she shared clothes, food, shoes etc. she did these events and activities while evangelizing to the people of the community as well which is another area she is very passionate about.
Her contributions and impact in the district got her recognized and awarded by the National Service Scheme as outstanding service personnel, by accepting the challenge of doing her service despite the odds.
Augustina has a great desire to see the living conditions, the number of young children of school-going age improves in rural communities across the country.
She sought the support of World Vision a Christian NGO that has supported and transformed the lives of people in the North over the years.
She, however, calls for the support of NGOs, ministries and government agencies especially the Ministry of Gender to support individuals who desire to help develop rural communities across the country.
She advised that service personnel should work assiduously to have good reports and recommendations. She also encouraged potential NSPs to take the challenge to serve in rural Ghana especially the three northern regions.
She hoped that hers and other stories will motivate them to serve the country to their best ability.
Her happiness for this award was justifiable. She expressed her appreciation for being recognized by the scheme, expressing her profound gratitude to the Directors and staff of the National Service scheme for the honour of her and other well-deserving personnel.
Source: NSS Corporate Affairs Directorate