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Ghana’s Ambassador, His Excellency Lieutenant General Smith, puts his support behind the West Africa

By Clarissa Bannor, November 2, 2015

The West African Community Collaborative (WACC) had the honor of meeting with His Excellency Lieutenant General Joseph Henry Smith, Ghana’s ambassador to the United States, in Washington D.C. on Friday, October 30th.

WACC is a grassroots organization that has championed getting resources in housing, education, and social services for members of the African community in Fairfax County Virginia. As an organization, committed to helping West Africans in the Washington, D.C. region, members of WACC’s board were invited to meet with the ambassador to outline it’s agenda and voice some needs and challenges the Ghanaian community face in the D.C. metropolitan area.

Recently, WACC organized members of the African community together to petition Fairfax County executives to consider allocating it’s vacant ISA building to the West African community for use as an African Resource Center. This effort to empower and organize members of the community together is what prompted WACC to reach out to the Ghanian embassy for support, shared Mr. Bright Adu, a member of the WACC delegation who met with the Ambassador on Friday.

Ghana’s chief diplomat to the United States, agreed that there is a huge benefit in partnering with WACC to engage the Ghanaian and greater West African community here in the United States. “The consulate is willing to lend it’s voice to your cause, because empowering the youth and community here, to achieve greatness, also benefits Ghana’s future,” His Excellency commented.

A study done by IPUMS for Fairfax county revealed West African immigrants from Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria as, “top communities of color leading the county’s growth”. The study showed black immigrants making up 88% of the growth rate of major racial/ethnic groups from 2000-2012. Among these black immigrant groups, Ghanians are third place with 70% of the total black immigrant population, after Somalia and Ethiopia, respectively.

As a fast-growing economic asset to the county, Vivian Boakye, WACC’s, board president said, “It’s important for West Africans to know about county resources that are available to them as members of the Northern Virginia community. Our work is to give citizens correct and timely information to access resources while also letting the county know of our community’s presence. Our goal is to engage the West African community enough so that they can take an active part in community affairs that will continue to help county grow economically.”

His Excellency Lieutenant Smith praised WACC’s efforts in being on the ground and helping the imperceptible community of West Africans access resources that they would otherwise not know about. The ambassador stressed youth engagement especially, since youth development is central to his personal agenda, “What you are doing, empowering and engaging the youth, is a mighty thing, others will follow your lead.”

“Obtaining the support of the Ghana embassy is a move in the right direction,” said Clarissa Bannor, a WACC board member. “The West African Community collaborative plans to garner the support of all embassies whose constituents they serve.”

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