In the rural area of Ordorme in the Nanumba North district Ghana, poverty rates are high and the diet is poor. Low literacy rates and a lack of jobs plague this forgotten community, void of any assistance from government or non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
This is where Sr. Stephany Ayomah, Sisters of Mary Immaculate (SMI), conducts her ministry. Many would argue that her presence in Ordorme is not only helpful; it’s absolutely vital.
Using the skills she’s learned in ASEC’s Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI) program, Sr. Stephany works with only one other Sister to implement human development projects focused on economic empowerment, gender equality and healthcare.
“SLDI has changed my life in so many ways,” she says..
When Sr. Stephany started the SLDI program, she entered with a goal in mind: to learn skills she could use to improve the lives of people in her community. Upon graduation, armed with grant writing, accounting, leadership and many other skills, Sr. Stephany began to implement what she learned… in a big way.
Sr. Stephany is not your ordinary accountant. She is building hope through multiple projects aimed at improving nutrition and job creation. Through her ministry, Sr. Stephany is creating a sustainable community filled with hope for a brighter future.
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The Ordorme Rural Women’s Empowerment Project
One of her initiatives is a women’s group called the Ordorme Rural Women’s Empowerment Project. Sr. Stephany teaches the local women a variety of income-generating skills such as farming, batik tie and dye and soap-making. She helps the women sell the items and farm produce both individually and as a group. Group sales allow Sr. Stephany to give out small loans to assist the women with unexpected expenses, like medical bills. The skills they are learning from Sr. Stephany are reducing the gender gap and building hope in the community.
With the most humble beginnings, the project began with training sessions under a mango tree. But, heavy rains and dust would often interfere with the group’s activities. Using the grant-writing skills she learned in SLDI, Sr. Stephany was able to acquire funds to build a 200-capacity meeting hall with offices and a silo used to store the women’s farm produce and other items. Her efforts also increased membership of this very active group to about 100 women.
Ordorme Bakery Construction
In addition to her success with the women’s empowerment project, Sr. Stephany continues to build hope through her bakery. The project serves a dual purpose:
- To create jobs for the youth, especially those needing financial support to further their education.
- To provide a source of income for her congregation, the Sisters of Mary Immaculate.
Through multiple grants, Sr. Stephany acquired funds to construct the bakery building and purchase a new oven. The bakery now creates jobs for the youth, who use the money earned to further their education. It also gives residents of Ordorme a healthy place to eat.
Improving Nutrition and Health in Ordorme
It's clear that Sr. Stephany is focused on improving the nutrition and health of the people she serves. That's because Ordorme is severely affected by food insecurity and malnutrition. According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) (February, 2018), the country of Ghana has a 19% stunting rate as a result of chronic malnutrition. But in the Northern region where Sr. Stephany serves, stunting rates have reached a staggering level of 33%. The rate of wasting (losing weight as a result of acute malnutrition), is also higher in this area.
Since 2013, she's been the accountant for St. Joseph’s, Ordorme's health clinic that sees 65-100 patients a day in the rainy season. To build hope, Sr. Stephany obtained funding for St. Joseph's to drill a borehole, build a lab and supply food to malnourished children. She now wants to build a nutritional unit and new kitchen, where severely malnourished mothers and children could be admitted until they are healthy. The new unit would also organize food programs and community outreach activities centered around nutrition. She’s currently awaiting a response from the donor for this massive project.
It’s evident that Sr. Stephany is a leader in both her congregation and her ministry.Through grant-writing, community outreach, relationship building and leadership skills learned in SLDI, Sr. Stephany is reducing poverty, empowering women and improving health and nutrition in her community. She says that the education she's received through ASEC has changed her life in so many ways. And in turn, she wants to change the lives of others.
Overall, Sr. Stephany has secured more than $108,000 for these impressive human development projects in Ordorme. In her own words, Sr. Stephany adds,
“I have come to understand how to identify the real needs of people, projects and even myself, how to work with others in a team or develop personal leadership skills.”