The Michael Essien Foundation (MEF) is a local Ghanaian charity organization founded to create opportunities, hope & inspiration for the underprivileged in his hometown of Awutu Bereku area mainly and children all over Africa. The Foundation is managed by a Board of Trustees.
When in 2014 false news about Michael Essien contracting the Ebola virus began circulating on social media platforms, the footballer was keen to use the opportunity to activate fundraising plans with both of his charities: Health Africa International (HAI) and the Michael Essien Foundation (MEF) The outbreak had formulated the initial idea; the rumours simply sped up the campaign. Both charities realised from the onset that education about the virus was key. If preventative methods could be shared, it might at the very least help slow down the spread of the virus. After all, people around the world had access to and were sharing a variety of what could only be described as fabricated information, from purported cures to outright fictitious cases of Ebola. They had the means to search and attempt to educate themselves, just not the right content. And, having experienced first-hand how powerful a tool social media could be, the charities began to work on fighting spurious claims about the disease.
Driven by Michael’s wife Akosua and the teams at HAI and MEF, the campaign #UnitedAgstEbola, is in collaboration with Penguin Books and Baron Peter Piot, the Belgian doctor who first discovered the Ebola virus in 1976. The campaign focuses on producing a book, Ebola & You, for students between the ages of 8 and 15 in West Africa. The region is significant and close to the Essiens’ hearts for two reasons:
- To date, it has seen the largest outbreak of the Ebola virus (between 2013 and 2016) in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. At the peak of the epidemic, over 11,000 people perished, 10% of whom were healthcare workers.
- The Michael Essien Foundation and Health Africa International have always looked at giving back to Michael’s community in Ghana and others like it within the region.
A Night of Hope was the beginning of efforts by both Health Africa International and the Michael Essien Foundation to kick-start awareness and fundraising required to cover the book’s publishing costs. The event was held at Watches of Switzerland, Regent Street, 23rd June, 2015, and both charities had the primary task of reaching £70,000. It promised to be an exciting night, and indeed it was. Stars from around the world were in support of the cause, with footballer Rio Ferdinand, actor Boris Cudjoe and British Member of Parliament, Lord Boateng all lending their support. The soiree featured performances by jazz saxophonist Yolanda Brown, British-based R&B singer Shaun Escoffery and Afrobeats artist, Fuse ODG.
At the entrance, guests participated in the evening’s raffle by purchasing one of 200 locker keys, with only one containing the prize – a stunning Messika diamond jewellery set donated by Frost of London Jewellers. In addition to the raffle, there was a brief documentary that highlighted the Ebola virus as well as the Foundation’s goals, and an auction where guests bid on a collection of treats. The list included: wine tasting experiences in France, a weekend-stay in Monte Carlo with private helicopter city tour, branded Michael Essien watch by Mont Blanc, signed memorabilia from Essien, Messi and Ronaldo, as well as a fine selection of watches, jewellery, and luxury spa treatments from Champneys.
By the end of the evening, approximately £10,000 had been collected, with a further £1,000 received in the days that followed. Then, in December 2015, The Michael Essien Foundation teamed up with Alive & Kicking, raising an additional £3,000.
Efforts in 2015 to tackle the crisis, and hopefully prevent future outbreaks were successful, but, there is still a lot of work that that needs to be done for the Foundation to reach the publishing costs target. Members of the public are encouraged to join in and help ensure that the tragic events of the last outbreak are not repeated. Donations can be made at Health Africa International. If you want to learn more about future events with the Michael Essien Foundation and Health Africa International, you can follow @UNITEDAGSTEBOLA on Twitter.
Nimi Manyo-Plange is content writer and blogger with work experience in the Middle East and West Africa. She calls herself a ‘Ghabritarian’ (Ghanaian, British and Nigerian) and has worked for a TV station, three advertising agencies and one of the world’s largest travel agencies. Semi-dependent on caffeine and chocolate for survival, when not typing away at her computer, you can find her rambling across fields and parks, a camera in her hand as she searches for stunning photographic opportunities.
Water is a basic necessity and clean water is vitally important, that is why Michael Essien through his Foundation built a borehole water pump in his village. However Michael has decided not to stop there and a result of the fact that not everyone has access to clean & safe drinking water, he has decided to team up with Solve Sunglasses to make a differenceMichael & Solve have created a branded Essien sunglasses to sell and raise money for Clean Water Projects. Money from the sale of the ESS branded sunglasses will be used by Water Missions International for water projects and provide portable clean water to deprived communities.
Solve is a for-profit business committed to solving the water crisis. They can create sustainable giving to create a better tomorrow. When you purchase a pair of SOLVE sunglasses you are changing a life. They encourage people to purchase a pair and raise awareness, together we can SOLVE. With every pair you purchase, SOLVE will give someone in need clean water for life. They are partnered locally with Water Missions International, an organisation dedicated to transforming lives through sustainable safe water solutions http://www.solvesunglasses.
com/Water Mission International is a nonprofit Christian engineering organisation providing sustainable safe water and sanitation solutions for people in developing countries and disaster areas. Safe water is the source of life. It is the foundation for health, education and viable economies. Through the generous support of individuals, churches, our corporate partners and many others, Water Missions International has brought relief and hope to more than 2.5 million people across the globe. www.watermissions.orgSo buy a pair of the ESS and change a life – #1pair1life. To Purchase the ESS visit http://www. solvesunglasses.com/
Every 2 years Michael Essien hosts World Football Stars in a football match between a select African 11 side led by himself and a world 11 side. It is a CHARITY FOOTBALL GAME to promote and rally support for Peace in Africa. This event also aims to raise funds for charitable projects in Ghana
NIGHT OF HOPE
Hope for communities
Ernst & Young partners The Michael Essien Foundation to select relevant local NGOs in Ghana. It is also responsible for financial monitoring of funds donated by the Michael Essien Foundation (MEF) to beneficiary charity organisations. The recent funds donated were the proceeds from the 2013 charity game dubbed “A Game of Hope and Inspiration”. The objective of the game was to create awareness of the need for Africans to make more efforts at inspiring the youth towards peace and give a sense of hope and inspiration. Each selected charities’ focus was on supporting the youth in rural Ghanaian communities through activities veered at empowering them with hope, necessary technical and social tools to build better lives for themselves.
Mohanini School Project
This is an association with another charity to build a school Ghana. Michael Essien Foundation’s expertise and knowledge as well as Michael’s image is fully behind this project to provide educational facilities for those in need
YOUTH IN VOCATION
The Youth in Vocation project supports school dropouts and needy children under 18 to learn a trade of their choice so as to provide a living for themselves. Each year the Foundation selects 10 people and enrolls them in a trade of their choice. They are supported throughout and the full apprenticeship fee for the 3 years is paid for plus a yearly stipend given to them to facilitate their commute to training centers. Part of the proceeds from the Game of Hope is used to support this project.
YOUTH IN SPORTS
As part of its annual activities the Foundation selects boys from the Awutu Senya District to participate in academy programmes with football clubs in England. This programmes offers underprivileged children opportunities to personally experience the game of football at the highest level. Talented street kids had the opportunity each year to visit Football Academies in Europe and Africa. The first beneficiaries had the privilege of partaking in the Chelsea Football Club Academy programme in 2011.
This is aimed at cultivating reading habits at a tender age during the long school period for children between the ages of 8 – 12 years. It will run for four weeks every quarter and the children will be provided with books and school bags at the end of each session
This programme targets 10-16 year olds. It is normally carried out during the long school vacation and runs for a month. Each year a different community is used so communities in our catchment area will al benefit. A maximum of 80kids attend each session
The Library project is an ongoing project to provide Community Libraries to towns and villages in the Awutu Senya District. This project builds libraries from scratch or renovates existing school and community libraries.
WATER AND SANITATION PROJECT
Most of the villages in our catchment lack safe and portable water which means school kids have to travel long distances to get water sometimes before going to school. Unclean water also poses a serious health risk for the communities. The Foundation provides Boreholes for villages and towns in and around Awutu -Senya