10 Apr Chatting with Prosper, a Pioneer of Horizons Children’s Centre
Written by Michelle Newlands, West Africa Grassroots Education Program Leader
Horizons Children’s Centre (HCC) is a registered charity in the upper east region of Ghana that provides housing, clothing, food and education to young boys in the Sandema community. HCC is one of Operation Groundswell’s oldest partners and best friends! Those who have been there know the centre is a family built with people from all over the world with love and support for all who walk through the centre’s doors.
OG has had the honour of working with this incredible group since 2006. Over the years, we have watched the young boys at the centre grow into remarkable young men. Since it was founded by Heather Menezes in 1999, we’ve seen the centre’s programs expand from supporting 5 boys to 25 individuals with up to 14 secondary school scholarships for young women in the nearby communities.
Among HCC’s amazing team is Agamboa Adadi Prosper. He was one of the first to join HCC and considers himself a pioneer of the centre. Prosper was 12 years old when he came to the centre in 2000 and met Heather. At that time he was living on the streets and sleeping in bus stations. Over a decade later, Prosper has overcome incredible obstacles and is proud to call HCC his home. Each year when OG visits Sandema, Prosper shares his story with us giving a glimpse of what young boys, forced to live on the streets, face each day just to survive.
Finding a permanent position at a radio station is a great accomplishment, how did you find yourself here?
I’ve always had an interest in the radio station and always had intentions of working here but I didn’t just walk in and tell the manager I was looking for a job.
I organized a youth radio program with my colleagues, it was called A Voice of the Builsa Youth. Our show was 1 hour and 30 minutes of discussion and 30 minutes for phone-in questions, comments, criticisms, and contributions. The youth program coordinators would meet to discuss a topic at hand for our airtime show. The issues were based on youth, a necessary topic because youth are the future leaders and they will be carrying the next generations to come. The program looked into issues affecting youth; we researched solutions and spoke with resource personals and role models in the community.
The topics we discussed included drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, child labour, child abuse, parent/child conflicts and the education system in Ghana, specifically in the northern regions because there is a vast difference in our education system between the north and the south. On air, we really dug deep into these issues and looked at their causes and effects and how we could try to remedy them.
The program ran for 2 to 3 months and eventually I informed the station manager I had interest working at the radio station. To my surprise he told me it was not a bad idea! He said he had been monitoring my program with my friends and through that had noticed my performance and said it wouldn’t be a bad idea to hire me as one of the permanent presenters.
What are your main work responsibilities as a permanent presenter?
I DJ the music, host programs on air, run interviews, assist with news reports on local issues, read commercials and advertisements, and organize a youth program. Sometimes I also accompany the reporters to events in the community and we report live.
What are some new skills you’ve gained working at the station?
Even though I haven’t gone to journalism school, I’ve learned how to conduct interviews on any issue with any calibre of person. I’ve gained these skills through self-experience, observation and the ability to learn and apply. This is how I continue to learn new things, by seeing how things are done and trying to do it in my own way.
What is your favourite show to host?
We have a home dialogue program based on our culture. In recent times, our generation has begun to throw away our culture, so in order to correct that, the elders have taken to coming here in the evenings to discuss some issues, cultural issues and things that were done in the past that are not anymore. These programs are very educational, they reveal things even our parents would never learn because the elderly people are so strong, they teach us about things we need to know. This is the program I enjoy because when you listen to the elders you learn a lot because they have a lot of wisdom.
In the evenings there is also a text message segment where you can request songs, probably to a loved one, maybe your mom, your dad, your siblings or your partner. It can be any song, could be a local one, reggae, gospel, azote, R&B, hip hop, anything, and I will play it on air. I give you the opportunity to say something personal to someone, you know, to put a smile on someone’s face. This one is very liked in the community, and by the end of the show I do not even get through all the messages people send in!
If you were to dedicate a song to your HCC family, what would you choose?
I would dedicate the song by Lucky Dube called Stand for the Truth, a song I like very much because I am a reggae fan.
The message in the song is to stand for the truth. Sometimes, if you stand for the truth in this world you stand-alone because sometimes the truth really hurts. But, you’ve got to try really hard to stand by it. I think the lyrics in this song are very powerful. it teaches so much about society including the bleak parts of what is happening in society.
You’ve come a long way in the past year; do you have any plans for what might come next?
Well, I am trying to come up with a program that focuses on the talents of youth…I have observed many of them are very talented in music but the encouragement to make it in the industry is just not there, and it is difficult because in the north we have such a lack of resources. I want to make time to bring musicians in every week and actually display what they can do to our listeners. Then the listeners can vote for their favourite by sending a text message with the person’s name. At the end of the day we will announce the favourite. I am still working on it but I know a lot of people are going to love it!
On behalf of HCC and your friends all over the world, we wish you good luck, Prosper!
Learn more about Horizons Children’s Centre and meet the faces behind the organization this summer! Join us on our West Africa Grassroots Education program!