So why Ghana? Why did I suddenly decide to create this mission? There are other countries I could choose from, that's true, but I chose Ghana for a very personal reason. As many of you know, I lost my husband, John, nearly five years ago. This past spring, I ventured onto the online dating scene. A horror for many of you, I know. I know this first hand as I found myself weeding through one fake person (scammer) after another. It became so cumbersome that I started calling them out on it. The stories are all so similar and easily recognized if you pay attention. So, who are the scammers? Young Boys and Girls, some not even out of high school yet, surfing the internet as middle to senior aged adults. Who are the biggest targets... widows and divorcee's that are vulnerable. These teens profess love and have taken millions over the years from unsuspecting people.
After I confronted a possible scammer, the man revealed himself to me. His name is Andrew and he's 21 years old and has been scamming online since he was 17 years old.
So why? What's the issue in Ghana? It's a beautiful country. A democracy. There should be plenty of opportunities. Yes, but not for native Ghanaians.
The main industries in Ghana are oil, gas, gold, and farming. The only industry open to Ghanaian children is farming at less than $50 a month. The statistics on unemployment are very low, implying nearly everyone is employed. But it's based on "people who are actively looking for work." A better statistic would be how many jobs are available compared to how many people are actually of working age that are unemployed (or scamming). I bet that would bring the numbers up to 50% that are not currently employed.
The country's daily minimum wage was recently increased by 11% to 11.82 cedis (U.S. $2.16) in 2020, up from 10.65 cedis (U.S. $1.94) in 2019. Employers that do not fulfill their obligation to pay the minimum wage are subject to penalties. Unfortunately, farming, the biggest employer of children, is not included here.
And the cost of living in Ghana? Similar to Manhattan. That's right, Manhattan... NYC... the Big Apple. You got it. How can $50 a month do anything for young teens who are out on their own? Nothing, that's what.
Andrew shared with me his story of being the oldest child in a family of eight who are all farming. Andrew left home for the big city of Accra and lived on the streets living hand to mouth until he was introduced to the online dating business. That's right. To them it's a business, just that.
Now Ghana, previously known as the Gold Coast, has magnificent resorts and a good tourism industry for those lucky few to find employment there. Most of Ghana's employment is reserved for those professionals and skilled foreigners that are brought in to work in the oil, natural gas and gold mining industries. Scamming is officially illegal and, therefore, is not counted in any statistics or recognized as an industry, but it should be considered one of Ghana's top industries. So many teens and young adults are doing it. The government can't recognize it for fear they would lose funding from America and Europe. But they know it's being done and local officials look the other way because it has become a significant revenue source which helps drive their economy.
Think about if it wasn't happening. What would the economy in Ghana be like... better or worse?
While Ghana has many languages and dialects, Ghana's official language is English (unlike the US... sorry). Most children are well educated through their high school years and rank higher in intelligence than their US counterparts.
Ghana is considered one of the world's and certainly Africa's most peaceful and stable countries. Their people are extremely well mannered, respectful and friendly to foreigners. Ghana is mostly a Christian country with a large population of Muslims. Ghanaian children have a very strong religious upbringing.
A significant portion of the startup funds will be used to establish a worksite, i.e., securing office space, office furniture, computer equipment and software, copier, printer, telephone system, initial salary for a support staffer, general office supplies, transportation and operating costs.
Funds are needed immediately so that I can travel to Ghana and continue to expand on the network of government officials and businesses in person, while I also continue to work through the red tape of other funding sources, such as government grants from the Ghana and the US.
Many of you who know me long and well enough know that Africa has always held a special place in my heart. I have dreamed of going since I was no more than eleven years old. It has also been a dream of mine to help those less privileged than I. I was fortunate to have a wonderful upbringing with good family values. I also “fell into” the field of Human Resources and had a magnificent mentor, Yolandó, who honed my people skills and taught me much. I enjoyed a wonderful 25+ year career. And for my FB family you know the saying I live by… “Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is around to see it.”
Ghana is ripe to become the first African country to come out of “third world” status and join the main stream with help from people like you and me.
I have had a blessed life and I’m asking, no begging, each one of you to help me help others have a blessed and fruitful life.
- Larry Kassen
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