ERIC EDEM AGBANA – CARVING A NICHE FOR STUDENT VOLUNTEERS

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Today, Rising Africa joins Coca Cola to celebrate the shining star Eric Edem Agbana of United Volunteers Network. Eric is a Radio Host, a Policy Analyst, a Development Finance Professional and a Social Entrepreneur.

This 26 year old University of Ghana alumni comes from a disadvantaged background and has struggled to get an education against all odds. Having experienced the sting of being less privileged, he decided that he was going to do all he could to better the lot of those less fortunate. He was able to fulfil this by volunteering to be a teacher at schools that have challenges attracting and maintaining teachers. After doing this for while, his friends joined him as volunteers. However, it was in February 2014, when Eric and his friends volunteered to teach in the Central Gonja District of the Northern Region, that United Volunteers Network was born. At that time, the district was performing poorly in the national Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE). United Volunteer Network saw this as a challenge and they deployed teachers to assist them.

A volunteer teacher in one of the schools

Today, United Volunteers Network has worked with over 3000 student volunteers in numerous tertiary institutions across the country. Students from all walks of life and from different countries have volunteered through United Volunteer Network and taught in several less privileged communities in the country. The aim of United Volunteer Network is to encourage young people to give back to their country and be socially responsible through volunteerism.

Currently, Ghana is facing a deficit in qualified human resource especially in remote areas. United Volunteer Network works with the District Directors of Education to identify schools in need of teachers. They then organize student volunteers to go to the communities and teach. The cost of transportation, accommodation and some basic food supplies to sustain the student volunteers is provided by United Volunteer Network for the duration of the student’s stay in the communities.

Some student volunteers

Apart from Nestle Ghana which sponsored some students with their products, Eric and his dedicated team at United Volunteers Network have been working with almost no sponsorship. Out of the support and contributions of the willing students, transportation and basic meals are arranged for the volunteers.

The team plans on scaling up the organization so that every tertiary campus would have a Volunteer club. They also plan on organizing students to work at Schools with Disabled students and students with special needs.

Apart from volunteering, Eric and his team perform advocacy, documentation, and promotion of mobile libraries. Partnerships and sponsorship are the major tools that United Volunteers Network need to be able to continue its work of promoting the volunteering spirit of students and encourage their participation in the development of education in the country. The financial strain of organizing these voluntary programmes is a major challenge. Hopefully, individuals and organizations can take the mantle of supporting this worthwhile cause.

Currently, Eric works at a renowned radio station, radio XYZ, as a programme host for “Defining Moments”, a leadership and entrepreneurial empowerment programme.

We salute your selfless example Eric.

Shine on!

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