Updates

International Private Equity Firm, Warburg Pincus, Sponsors TBCA

Tarkwa Breman Community Alliance is proud to be partnered with Warburg Pincus, an international private equity firm based in New York City.

As a firm, Warburg Pincus is committed to responsible investing that encourages environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and effective corporate governance. The firm actively promotes and practices these ideals with a variety of ESG initiatives. These initiatives include the Green Council, a periodic webinar that allows portfolio companies to share best practices on ESG issues, and the Warburg Pincus Foundation.

TBCA is honored to have the prolific financial support of Warburg Pincus. We are very excited about the future of this partnership, and warmly welcome Warburg Pincus to the TBCA family.

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Prestigious New York based creative boutique, Fancy LLC, partners with TBCA

Tarkwa Breman Community Alliance is ecstatic to announce its new partnership with Fancy LLC, a 100% women-owned and operated advertising agency located in New York City. Founders Katie Keating and Erica Fite Horvath recognize the importance of advancing the lives of women and girls globally. They understand that when women are socially and economically empowered, everyone benefits.

In addition to offering TBCA pro-bono branding advisory services, Fancy LLC has also graciously committed to sponsoring annually, ten students at TBCA’s Tarkwa Breman Girls School, with the creation of “The FANCY Scholarship.”

We welcome Katie, Erica, and all of Fancy LLC to the TBCA family and look forward to a long, fruitful partnership.

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Tarkwa Breman Girls’ School Launch

After several months of committed hard work, the Tarkwa Breman Community Alliance team is proud to announce the official launch of the Tarkwa Breman Girls’ School!

The school opens with two pioneer classes of 30 Pre-K students and 30 Kindergarten students. We are thoroughly excited to embark on this incredible journey with them, as we nurture their growth and guide their development into confident, impactful leaders who go on to transform Ghana and beyond!

Accordingly, we would like to say massive thank you to everyone who helped us get this far and every individual who continues to support us — We couldn’t have done this without you!

Check out photos from the launch below and order your official TBCA V-neck here, to help us reach our funding goals for the next phase of our project!

#StillWeRise!

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4 Reasons to visit Tarkwa Breman

Tarkwa Breman has loads to offer that will simply leave you breathless. I would probably fail if I tried to tell you about every single one of these awesome things. Honestly, I would.

I thought it would be better to simply  highlight a couple of the things which initially stood out to me when I first visited this amazing place I can now call my second home.

Here goes:

1. The People

Tarkwa Breman is filled with diverse characters and personalities that come together to create a welcoming and vibrant community. The people of Tarkwa Breman are warm, expressive, hard working and are looking forward to what TBCA could potentially achieve.

The community is closely knit and feels like one big family. We will encourage everyone to visit our new home and interact with its amazing inhabitants. The people of Breman always try to wear a broad smile regardless of the situation and that adds to the within the community. Despite a clear existence of respect for the elderly, there is an undeniable unity, understanding and equity amongst all locals and its absolutely fantastic.

Regardless of your race, ethnicity and background, the people of welcome will receive you with open arms.

2. The Cocoa
Agriculture composes around 20% of Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually. Being the single largest crop, cocoa accounts for 10% of the sector. Cocoa plays an integral role in Ghanaian society. Cocoa has enormous importance to the culture and economy of Ghana. Majority of the people in Tarkwa Breman are cocoa farmers and they work assiduously to make a living from farming. TBCA is trying to concentrate on what we believe the community is already good at (cocoa farming), to generate enough income and improve the general standard of living, create new opportunities and sustain the school and hospital.

It amazing to think that chocolate is made from cocoa because in its ripe harvested state, the cocoa beans are sweet, and have a tingly sensation. However, once the beans are dried they are then sent to manufacturing processing plants to produce what we call chocolate.

3. The Food
It’s difficult to fathom how we would survive without any form of nutrition. However we are certain that the food in Tarkwa Breman is arguably one of the best. Being a predominantly agricultural community, most of the food is freshly collected from the farm and consumed in an almost seamless manner. With stews, sauces and soups are freshly made and rich in taste, creating a satisfying feeling. We have a plethora of meals that we can enjoy while in the village, be it freshly made fufu and soup, banku and okro, rice and stew, ampesi (boiled yam and plantain and spinach/kontomere) accompanied with loads of protein, most meals are sure to blow your mind away. Not forgetting the sweetness and richness of the coconuts too : ]

4. The Simplicity 

In all the warmth and activity that goes on within TB, there is a subtle tranquility that transcends within the community at any given time. People live regular lives trying to make the best out of what they believe they have. The scope of daily activates carried out in the village- farming, walking daily, interaction and greeting each other- builds up the personal bonds within the community. The simple nature of life within the village, which embraces the concept of family and community, will allow almost anyone to easily adapt to life in it.

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Letter from The Founder

Dear friend,

In 1999, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that over one billion of the world’s people could not access the advances in health that took place during the twentieth century. With a population of 27million, 60% of them living in rural areas, Ghana is a developing nation where a majority of citizens, plagued by health inequity, can’t enjoy advances in health care. It only takes a visit to my village, Tarkwa Breman in the Western Region of Ghana, to confirm this reality.

Born and raised in Tarkwa Breman, I lived and witnessed poverty, first-hand. Until 2005, we had no electricity or running water – these were mere luxuries that I could only dream of, as a child. Until TBCA’s efforts in 2016, we had no nearby health facility and the harsh poverty in the village forced parents to place priority on male-child education. The effects hit home — at age nine, my legs were nearly amputated after I had contracted a life-threatening water-borne infection from swimming in the village river, Ankobra. Month after month, I watched helplessly as my own family members and close friends died from preventable diseases. I saw my female classmates drop out of school only to succumb to early marriages, teenage pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS.

In the midst of all this chaos, one thing struck me: how could it be that many people in the community, like my parents, who are hard working cocoa and rubber farmers and consequently key drivers of national development, wallow in abject poverty? How could we resolve this injustice?

As an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), my search for answers to these questions inspired me on a journey of learning and leadership. Through my own experiences, my conversations with people in my village and my work with the non-profits I founded over the years, I discovered that health equity is the way forward for my community. By addressing social determinants of health, which include education and healthcare inaccessibility, we can achieve 100% health equity that is self-sustainable and create cycles of prosperity.

In the spring of 2015, I was awarded Penn’s President’s Engagement Prize (PEP) to make this a reality. With my parents, village elders and the wider Tarkwa Breman community, we brainstormed together and came up with a bold plan: establish healthy agro-campus, which comprises a community hospital and girls’ school that is self-sustained by proceeds from a community farm plantation.

There have been some exciting moments thus far, but the decision to pursue this path hasn’t been all rosy and has definitely been a risky one. I have had to turn down other career enhancement opportunities, move back home against the backlash of friends and family, work out land issues and get other professionals on board with the vision. However, every time I see my aunt, Maa Frimpomaa, who is in her late stage of type 2 diabetes, is quickly losing her eyesight to retinopathy and is at the verge of death, I am reminded yet again, why I chose this uncertain risky path. Lately, I also think a lot about my two younger sisters, Naomi and Deborah, who are in high school and college, respectively, and how similarly, so many young girls in my village could be empowered to reach heights like they have done. TBCA’s work is deeply personal to me. Rural communities with enormous cash crop production, like my village, have an amazing potential to self-sustain any social service. But they will need our support to ignite this fire of transformation. Our support.

By working with them to build and expand the school and hospital, we amplify the power of our belief and investment in the resilience and potential of a people who have been long neglected. I have resolved that successfully navigating this path will take more than talk – it will take guts and quality execution. But I remain strong because I know I am not alone, and that you will always be there to support me every step along the way.

Together, you and I can transform Ghana, one village at a time. I’m so glad we’re on this journey together.

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Shadrack Frimpong of Penn to Establish Community Clinic and Girls’ School in Ghana

(This is the first in a series of features introducing the inaugural Penn President’s Engagement Prize winners.)  

As a young student growing up in Tarkwa Breman, a rural village in Ghana, Shadrack Frimpong was surrounded by many bright peers, both male and female. But as the years passed, many of the female students stopped coming to school.

“There was one girl in my class who was always topping us,” says Frimpong, a senior at the University of Pennsylvania. “But I later found out her parents had pulled her out of school, first because of poverty, and second because they believe if you take a girl to school she’ll eventually get married and wind up in the kitchen, and then there would be no point of her education.”

The notion that investing in girls’ education isn’t worthwhile is one that Frimpong has vowed to challenge. Now, as one of the winners of Penn’s inaugural President’s Engagement Prizes, he aims to make a difference for the girls and families of his village as well as several surrounding communities. His prize money will go toward the construction of a facility in his village that will comprise a school for girls and a medical clinic, the Tarkwa Breman Model School for Girls and Community Clinic.

The President’s Engagement Prizes, the largest of their kind in higher education, provide winners with as much as $100,000 to support project implementation and $50,000 for living expenses. Launched by Penn President Amy Gutmann, the awards are supported by Trustee Judith Bollinger and William G. Bollinger, Trustee Lee Spelman Doty and George E. Doty Jr. and Emeritus Trustee James S. Riepe and Gail Petty Riepe.

Even before the Prizes were created, Frimpong, a biology major with extensive global health coursework, had set his mind to making a difference in access to both education and medical care in Africa. During his childhood, he witnessed friends and family members suffer from diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B. The nearest medical center to his native village is several miles away, too long a trip for many to make easily, much less while ill. And the closest comprehensive medical clinic is 150 miles away.

He also realized that the failure to provide an education to girls led them down a risky path. The academically gifted girl from his school whose education was cut short, wound up contracting a sexually transmitted disease and gave birth to a child while she was still a teenager.

“My friend’s situation showed me how health and education are inextricably linked,” Frimpong says.

During his time at Penn, he has made headway in his goal to improve both health and education in Africa. Students for a Healthy Africa, which Frimpong established during his freshman year, has provided free health insurance for HIV/AIDS orphans in Ghana and constructed a health clinic and potable water well in two communities in rural Nigeria. Last year he also co-founded African Research Academies for Women, a project highlighted earlier this year by the Clinton Global Initiative, which organizes annual summer research institutes for college women in Ghana and Nigeria.

Key to Frimpong’s success has been his willingness to seek out assistance and mentors. The heads of the research labs in which he has worked, including Michael Betts, Una O’Doherty, Elizabeth Lowenthal and Robert Gross of Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, have helped usher him towards topics that match with his interests in medicine and health policy. Penn faculty members like Penn Medicine’s Roy Hamilton and Larry Gladney of the School of Arts & Science’s have helped him shape his future in academic medicine. Being several thousand miles away from home as an international student hasn’t been easy, and he credits his college advisor, Tanya Jung, with helping him to balance his academic workload with his extracurricular projects.

When the opportunity for students to apply for the President’s Engagement Prizes was announced last summer, Frimpong recognized it as a perfect opportunity to obtain the support he needed to bring his dream of creating a clinic and school in his village to fruition.

To put together the application, he needed a mentor, and came upon an ideal match in Harvey Rubin, a Penn Medicine professor who maintains a basic biology laboratory while simultaneously engaging in development work in Africa. Rubin’s “Energize the Chain” project, which utilizes cell phone towers’ energy grids to power refrigeration for life-saving vaccines, is currently rolling out across Africa. Rubin has collaborated with the governmental as well as nonprofit entities and had the knowledge that Frimpong needed to organize and build momentum and support for his project.

Rubin was eager to help.

“I’ve been at Penn since 1983 and have worked with lots of undergraduates and graduates over those years, but Shadrack stands out,” Rubin says. “He is just electrifying. He is so articulate about what he wanted to accomplish, and it’s more than just, ‘I’m going to save the world.’ He really thinks deeply about these things and he knows how to implement them.”

Indeed, Frimpong’s plans for the rollout of the school and clinic are comprehensive. With the support of his parents, he met with his village’s chief, who arranged for the donation of 100 acres of land on which the facilities will be built. A portion of that land will be cultivated. Students’ families will work on the farm once a week in exchange for a free education for their daughters. Revenues from the cocoa crops will help pay for the school’s maintenance costs, and the school’s library will be open on weekends to the community. Frimpong hopes to offer places at the school for 200 girls, ages 5 to 17.

The community clinic will include consultation rooms, a pharmacy, a dressing/injection room, a laboratory, a delivery room and an on-call room. Frimpong is working with the Ghanaian ministries of Health and Education to supply teachers and doctors to staff the school and clinic. The goal is to open the facility in July 2016.

Frimpong will be in Tarkwa Breman this summer to oversee plans for the school and clinic. Penn architecture students, guided by Richard Wesley of the Penn School of Design, will also be traveling there to survey the land and design the building. Then, starting in the fall, Frimpong will be going back and forth between Ghana and the U.S. He hopes to attend medical school beginning in the fall of 2016, pursuing joint degrees in medicine and health policy.

Though his plate will be full, Frimpong knows that he has the support of his family, his community and his university to ensure that the clinic and school succeed, providing new outlets for education and medical care to communities in need of both.

“It’s wonderful that Penn is supporting me in taking this on,” Frimpong says. “It speaks of the University’s commitment to health-care access and women empowerment. I’m excited to see how this project can work hand-in-hand with the University over the long term.”

The chief of Tarkwa Breman and village elders show off the 100 acres of land to be donated for the school and clinic.

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