The Journey to Miss Ghana USA 2017: Introduction
The gracious nation of Ghana was built upon gold and salt, which fueled much prosperity. Not only was the nation built upon material luxury, but also it was further built upon hope, promise, and strength. Natives of this nation are indeed people of favor, all possessing futures that shine as brightly as the gold that adorns the royal Asantehene of the land.
Miss Ghana USA, too, is a person of much favor.
As a native of the Ghanaian land, I indeed walk a life of favor. Originally born in Kumasi, Ghana, I was raised in the inner city of Newark, NJ, USA. My amazing parents had the difficult task of raising four beautiful daughters in a crime- and poverty-ridden city. However, this did not stop my reach for success. I am currently a scholarship-winning sophomore studying Public Policy, Law, and Human Rights at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. At only 20 years old, I have travelled through the United States, and abroad. I have won numerous leadership awards and excelled in academics throughout my educational career. I have landed highly competitive opportunities such as the ongoing opportunity to intern for Audible.com (an Amazon Company). Such successes are expected of an immigrant child whose parents have come to the great nation of the United States of America for nothing but excellence.
Recently, my successes have expanded into humanitarian efforts. Many of you remember in the summer of 2016, I landed the opportunity to volunteer with Saha Global to implement sustainable methods of water purification a to numerous villages in Tamale, Ghana.
Nelson Mandela once stated, “As long as poverty, injustice, and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.” Indeed, I could not rest once I returned to the United States. As I reflect on my experience in Tamale, I am absolutely convinced that I have the duty to spread awareness about the issues that continue to plague humanity, such as the issue of contaminated drinking water. I have considered it a personal responsibility to use my God-given gifts of public speaking and lucid writing to shed light on issues that negatively impact communities all over the world.
Poverty, injustice, and inequality are all forms of suffering that not a single one of God’s creations deserves to endure. The members of the Tamale community I worked in all suffer, yet simply because of the inability to access a basic human right to clean water. Many Ghanaians are still dying from being forced to drink water contaminated with cholera, E-coli, and fecal matter. Children are dying of diarrhea, parents are mourning their inability to harvest crops to feed their families, and the elderly are frequently hospitalized for intestinal illnesses, which further deplete families of the small income they earn from farming.
Suffering extends across all of humanity, but it takes several different forms. As for myself, my suffering has been centered in the dynamic of my family. Growing up in a domestically violent home challenged me, as the oldest of four daughters. Hence, I believe I am a walking testimony to tenacity. My parents, who immigrated with one dream to provide a life of abundant happiness and financial opportunity for their precious daughters, were faced with great adversities. This could have been expected to destroy a vibrant dream. Yet, my family was and continues to be held together by God’s grace, which is evident by the miracles that have encouraged me, my sisters, and my parents to keep working towards the fulfilling life that we dream of. From the youngest born—Libby—having been born during the night of a major hurricane, to government and legal intervention, to emergency financial assistance, to health complications, to sudden deaths and many more, countless occurrences of gut-wrenching events have pushed me to cling to faith.
Of course the suffering I have endured do not compare to that of individuals living in Tamale. However, suffering in itself connects me to them, on a silver thread. I am able to recognize that although many Ghanaians suffer as consequence of colonial history, there is still opportunity for upward mobility and socio-economic growth. Hence, I aim to create a platform that raises awareness on the importance of consuming purified water and the dangers of contamination. One would believe such sanitation education is wide-spread in Ghana, but unfortunately more citizens need to be educated on how the quality of a person’s health and life-expectancy can vary based on something as simple as consuming clean water. In fact, according to Safe Water Network, more than 40 percent of Ghana’s 25 million population are denied access to purified water. This is indeed a troubling violation of a basic human right, as we know that water is what life depends and thrives on.
As many in my country suffer, I too have suffered which connects the core of my being to theirs. I am moved to go beyond continuing sanitation education efforts. I further would like to promote the importance of self-advocacy. I aim to motivate Ghanaian citizens to voice their opinions on the many changes needed in the nation, including more access to clean water facilities. This can take form in monthly town hall meetings that do not include just the upper-elite, but rather include ordinary Ghanaians, many of whom are underrepresented in government.
Fortunately, with the plans new President Nana Akufo-Addo has to prosper the nation, there is much hope that the voices of everyday citizens can bring more urgency to enacting economic, political, and social change in the great land of Ghana.
Again, with one commonality of suffering connecting me to those struggling in Ghana, the other commonality of favor connects us even more. According to Psalm 5:12, so long as we live in righteousness, the Lord’s favor protects us like a shield through all our endeavors. I believe many Ghanaians are walking in righteousness yet many of those in positions of authority may not have the same focus, and this has led to the neglect of the common people and a widened gap between the poor and wealthy. Fortunately, as many and I are clinging to faith, we will indeed reap triumph. I believe this because my story is one of suffering and triumph, and it is an ongoing cycle. Life is not just one uphill battle rather a series of battles and cycles of highs and lows—events of joy and sorrow. So long as we press forward with the good Lord our God, we will make the most out of the life we are living. Whether living in cities across America or villages across Ghana, there is a silver thread—or should I say silver lining—that runs through us all. This silver lining exists because we exist. The mere existence of our lives is God’s clearest sign that He is not finished using us to fulfill His purpose on this Earth. The true focus is to advocate for the equality, justice, and sustainable living for all people. This is the grand purpose, and fulfilling this can take several different forms, such as the forms in which I plan to advocate.
Again, although my suffering is nothing equivalent to those in Tamale, suffering in itself unites humanity. If I can use my suffering to motivate myself to seek the prosperous life I am called to live, I know others can as well. Yet, sometimes one cannot find such motivation on his or her own. Sometimes one needs a push to take that leap of faith. Miss Ghana USA is that push. I believe I am that push. I am that young woman who sacrifices and will continue to sacrifice my own comfort and convenience for the progression of other lives. I am that young woman who encourages you to keep pressing forward, to have hope in healing, and to search for a resolution to your suffering. That resolution will always be God Almighty, through every single season of suffering: “And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10.
Keep pushing. I am right here with you.
Miss Ghana USA is not simply a beauty queen.
Her external beauty is a physical manifestation of God’s grace and goodness. Yet, the inward substance this woman holds is what places her in a position of true favor. She has experienced the depths and heights of life, all while holding onto her faith. She has recognized problems in her homeland and seeks to serve her country by wisely putting her great knowledge and resources to work.
Miss Ghana USA is determined, driven, focused, and hopeful. All of these qualities shall guide her in fulfilling her purpose to further educate and serve the Ghanaian people.
I believe I am called to fulfill this purpose.
So I leaped.
© 2017 Lucy Yeboah All Rights Reserved