In the Veteran Affairs office in Springfield City Hall you can find Emmanuel Owusu, a former soldier of the 18th Engineering Brigade of the U.S. Army, who after a trip to back to his hometown in Ghana, realized that he needed to help after seeing the conditions there.
Owusu was born in Old Tafo, Kumasi region, Ghana. In 2011 he traveled back to see family and friends and during his short stay realized the problems the community was having.
“Parents didn’t have the money to buy books,” said Owusu. “The school roof would leak, during the rainy season.”
Four months of the year the rains come, and the school has to close due to the leaks in the roof.
For Owusu, enough was enough and something needed to be done.
“I would ask people [in Ghana] what they needed,” said Owusu. He would then purchase the items, box them up and send them to his aunt and uncle to distribute to those that had asked.
“God didn’t create poverty,” Owusu said. “[People] create poverty.”
He said people don’t need expensive cars or jewelry and that helping those that haven’t had the fortune he has enjoyed is much more important.
For the last eight years, Owusu has not only been sending items from himself but also on behalf of his VA colleagues who, upon hearing what he was doing, wanted to support the effort.
Friend and fellow investigator Joe DeCaro, who works with Owusu in Veterans Services, has been touched by Owusu’s character and wasn’t surprised by his request today when asked if he could borrow a heavy-duty dolly.
DeCaro asked him what it was for but Owusu declined to reveal his plans.
“He’s very humble,” said DeCaro.
Owusu finally admitted to DeCaro that he had purchased $1,706 worth of bathroom supplies from Home Depot for the Municipal Assembly School in Old Tafo, Ghana.
Owusu isn’t used to talking about his charity work and looked visibly embarrassed when speaking of his donations. That changed when he talked of the four children he sponsors.
“One of the students is just about to graduate from university in June,” said Owusu. “These kids are brilliant.”
He sponsors four children in total; two at elementary school, then the other in high school.
When he was over in Ghana he had the opportunity to meet the students and their parents.
“I feel great [about the sponsorship],” said Owusu. “But I want them to have respect for their parents.”
He wanted them to know that although he was helping them they should hold their family in high regard and not take his help for granted saying to them that they should, “make sure you focus on education.”
There is much to be done in the town and at the orphanage. There are more than 70 children that attend the school from the orphanage and the area has very few opportunities for them.
Education is the key for children of Old Tafo to break out of poverty according to Owusu.
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