Lawrence Fianko works as an Addictions Therapist at the Adult Addiction Clinic of Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
He got into this field to make an impact after seeing how people with mental illness, alcohol and substance use disorders are treated in Ghana.
“Growing up in Ghana, I noticed that individuals suffering with mental illness, alcohol and substance use disorders were considered outcasts and denied access to basic resources that could improve their daily functioning. I knew I wanted to help but did not know how. When I moved to the USA, I discovered the field of Social Work and how relevant the field was in providing education and resources to those in need,” he told Kuulpeeps.
Mr Fianko attended Accra Academy, one of Ghana’s prestigious senior high schools. After he graduated from SHS, he moved to the USA and enrolled at Bronx Community College where he obtained an Associate of Arts (A.A) degree in Human Services.
He later obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Lehman College, and then a Masters Degree in Social Work with a concentration in Mental Health and Addictions, from Indiana University.
Lawrence’s passion to change the mindset and attitude some Ghanaians have towards people with mental and health addictions propelled him to co-found an educational non-profit organisation that will focus on providing educational opportunities to bring about enlightenment such sensitive issues.
“Looking back, I realized that the limited access to education regarding such sensitive issues like mental health and addictions caused individuals and the society to essentially disown their members of their own family,” he said. “It was this realization that fueled my zeal to help and promote education in Africa and all over the world and thus, the brainchild of Educational Comnnumites Worldwide was born.”
Lawrence mostly focuses on this EduCom.World when he is not busily providing therapeutic services. He is the Chief Executive Officer of the organisation.
Educational Comnnumites Worldwide (EduCom.World) provides educational opportunities including but not limited to full-ride scholarships, internship opportunities, free school supplies, and skill development courses to underprivileged students in Africa and around the world.
The organisation’s pilot scholarship programme was launched in Ghana earlier this year. Mr Fianko, however, indicates that together with his team, they are working on expanding their reach to other African countries and then all over the world.
“This scholarship programme seeks to bridge the ever-increasing inequality gap between students who can afford to attend tertiary institutions, and those who cannot, eventhough they may be equally (or perhaps even more) intelligent,” he stated.
EduCom.World is currently sponsoring four undergraduate students in Ghana and covering the full cost of their university tuition and residence fees for the entire duration of their tertiary education. “Each student received a laptop for their studies,” Lawrence added.
The four beneficiaries are Christabel Konadu Osei (University of Ghana), Richard Owusu Asare (University of Cape Coast), Michael Naab (University for Development Studies) and Fatimah Basiru (University for Development Studies). They emerged successful out of the 198 first-year university students who applied for the scholarship across the country.
“We hope to expand this offer to 32 students; where two final-year high school students will be selected from each of the sixteen regions in Ghana, totaling 32 students, and granted a full-ride scholarship to cover their four-year education in a tertiary institution,” Mr Fianko said.
Aside from the scholarship programme, EduCom also undertake other impactful initiatives that seek to provide quality education.
EduCom.World have enrolled students in a Career Collective program, an initiative that sent students to ten countries with the goal of learning and returning to develop their communities. “We also offered them free career coaching services, proposed a cash card to solve their student debt and placed them as interns within EduCom.World and with other companies,” Lawrence said.
“In addition, we have made donations of books, stationery and clothes to schools and orphanages in Ghana. In partnership with How to be Global, we have also made financial donations to single mothers in Ghana,” he added.
Lawrence Fianko further indicated that EduCom.World is, at the moment, raising funds to send a 140′ container shipment full of Medical Supplies and PPE’s from Lacey, Washington, USA to Accra, Ghana and 1 or 2 40′ containers to Chennai, India.
“The PPE’s and Medical Supplies being donated by #providencehospitals need to get to Ghana and India to make it easier for doctors and nurses to save lives during this difficult time and for students to be able to continue their educations safely.”
Lawrence, however, indicated that while they are ensuring that young people in Ghana and other countries get quality education, funding continues to their “number one challenge”.
“In the past, we have received incredible donations through the support from our sponsors – Microsoft and Amazon. Presently, our fund development committee is working tirelessly to build potential donor relationships to support and fund our programs.”
He further stated that what keeps them going as an organisation are the smiles on the faces of the brilliant but need students the support, as well as the words of gratitude that comes from the struggling families they have helped by lifting a significant burden off their shoulders.
“This makes my day and makes me proud of everything EduCom.World has accomplished and continues to accomplish,” he said.
Lawrence Fianko also revealed that supporting students to have tertiary education in Ghana is “just the beginning” of what EduCom.World hopes to achieve.
“The goal is to help rural communities set up businesses, as well as supporting even more students around the world, including those in middle and high school. After all, helping to educate and train our youth enables them to build up and take their communities to greater heights,” he said.
“In the future, EduCom.World hopes to attain more financial support to enable the organisation grow into a force so powerful that it will sweep across the world, effecting change in each and every corner. We plan to increase awareness of our brand and programs, while continuing to raise funds for our current and future programs. In the very near future, we are most excited to launch an incubator program, which will mentor young entrepreneurs to become self-reliant and major contributors to their country’s economy,” he added.
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