Lady Diana Adjei, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Aseda Foundation, won the season V of the MTN Heroes of Change Economic Empowerment Top Awards with a cash prize of GHC30,000.
Diana’s Aseda Foundation takes prostitutes off the streets and equips them with trades that secure their lives. Her project started with catering for dropouts from the Wassa East District of the Western Region to study Trade of their Choice under Masters in Sekondi-Takoradi.
For more than two decades, Diana, a beautician, has quietly moved prostitutes off the streets of Takoradi and equipped them with a trade-in beauty and personal care.
Even though she herself was not a prostitute, due to her fun-loving nature, Diana always hanged out in bars that were patronized by prostitutes and because she didn’t like the profession, she made it a task to help the ladies live a better life.
About 3,500 people have received one form of training or another. Currently, she has 610 masters in 25 different vocations, who are currently training children of over 3400 from different parts of the country. Since the launch of the foundation two years ago, Diana has provided 90percent of the children the tools they need to work with, 400 sewing machines, hairdryers, toolboxes among others.
The beneficiaries supported her to build and furnish her office. Aside training the children, she has been able to help some of the various masters upgrade their profession with professional courses from institutions like the Takoradi Technical University, so they can pass on the right knowledge.
“The least of them is organizing my team to visit the beaches to offer free pedicure and manicure to our fathers and mothers who fish for us for free, this is because they do not get the time to visit the saloon,” she said.
Skyy Media Group in 2018 honoured Diana the 2018 Mother of the Year during the station’s annual Mother’s Day celebration. As part of her prize, her project was packaged to be entered into the MTN Heroes of Change national competition.
But how did the Aseda Foundation start? Diana, as a young girl never liked going to school because her main passion was to learn a trade. Due to her preference for a trade instead of classroom education, she has always been at odds with her father.
When one day her uncle came for her, it was on the premise that she will get an education but that also didn’t happen due to her insistence on learning a trade. On one of her birthdays, someone gave her a cash gift, and after enquiries, she used that money to learn the hairdressing trade within a year.
Every time she closed and stepped out to a bar, she saw ladies prostituting themselves by the roadside. “Honestly it was disgusting to me, so one day I approached them and offered to live with them and teach them what I know for free. Some of them agreed and they followed, so I started Aseda Beauty Salon. They were very hardworking and supportive at that time as sisters, so we were able to raise something to build a small kiosk saloon.
I wanted to build the sisterhood bond so they don’t return to the streets anymore, so I decided I was going to live with them in the kiosk saloon, they became fulfilled and secured, hardworking and dedicated. Since that time till now, 20 years and still counting Aseda Beauty Salon, which has been transformed into the Aseda Foundation, trains people for free,” she said.
At Aseda Foundation, what she does now is go around the country, mobilize people who are interested in learning trade and also people who by some reasons can’t further their education and are wasting away in some villages and towns, bring them to Takoradi and give them to some trade masters like welding masters, spraying masters, refrigeration engineering masters, tilling masters and many more to learn the job for free.
Her negotiations with the various masters for them to allow these children to learn for free, she says, “is by the grace of God.” She takes care of the trainees’ accommodation, feeding, clothing and some other basic needs, down to the tools they use to learn the trade till they graduate. Even after they graduate, she helps with their startup, some with funding, others by helping them secure jobs with other shops or institutions.
To her the challenges are uncountable but the root of them all is finances.
For instance, because of the impact, a lot of the children are showing interest and when they come, accommodation becomes a challenge, as well as feeding, clothing and provision of tools for their trade, she says.
“The children are a lot, and besides you cannot learn a trade without your basics tools and these are people who don’t even have food to eat, so getting their toolboxes is a very big challenge. The masters are always on my neck asking for the tools, and how can I bring children for apprenticeship without learning materials? So all these are coming from the lack of finances,” she explained.
Dan Soko is a short story author and web content editor. He has work appearing or forthcoming in over a dozen venues, including GhanaScoop, Nigeria Daily News and CapitalBay. When he’s not frightening strangers with his post and writing, he’s most likely frightening his wife Mimi and their two mischievous cats: Buttons and Snaps. You can visit him at www.ghananation.com/author/webby.