Torwomenye Azaglo’s office is hardly empty. At Ashesi, where TK (as he is called) works as an Assistant Dean of Students and Community Affairs, he is deeply involved in helping students balance their academic and personal lives while providing mentorship and guidance to them. Outside Ashesi, his work is only slightly tweaked. He still works with the same students, though this time, with them also as mentors. Together they form the Future of Africa’s mission to impact the lives of street children in Accra.
“Leadership is about service,” he explains. “We are all leaders and we need to serve. We need to go to the bottom, to the most rejected and neglected people in our society, and serve them. That’s where I feel called to serve.”
About six years ago, while as a student in Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada, TK founded Future of Africa to raise awareness and erase misconceptions about Africa. The club gave students the chance to engage and help low-income communities in Africa, while empowering locals to create impact as well. When TK returned to Ghana, he sought ways to extend Future of Africa’s activities to his immediate surrounding. In October 2015, while driving around Accra’s Airport City’s environs, he was struck by the destitution of street children, sleeping out in the open air, and looking frail from hunger. Before long, Future of Africa found it’s new calling, and since then, TK’s Saturdays have been blocked out to help make a difference in the lives of these children. “We’re doing this because we care about individuals, and these children are the future of Africa,” TK says. “At the end of the day, we want to invest in the kids who are vulnerable. Then there’s also something about being around kids who are not expecting anything from you. They’re just happy to see you.”
Slowly TK’s passion has rubbed off some of the students who walk into his office. Many of them now join him every Saturday, and together they have established a literacy and feeding program for the street children. For some of the volunteers, this experience has been life-changing. “Future of Africa has changed the way I think,” said Marilyn Acolatse ’17. “It’s taught me not rush into judging people, because when you hear the backgrounds of these kids and yet you see the smiles on their faces, and talk to them or just give them a little attention, it makes such a difference in their lives.”
In less than six months, the pavements of the Stanbic Heights building at Airport City became a rare sight on Saturday evenings. Close to 80 street children and volunteers from Ashesi learned, played, ate and built strong relationships.
“The point is not just about teaching and feeding,” TK explains. “We are working around a model to provide opportunities, relationships, skills and resources. Those are the essentials for people to be able to do something meaningful with their lives. And right now, we’re focused on building relationships, and when you want to build meaningful relationships with people you need to hang out with them.”
Back at Ashesi, every student who walks into TK’s office faces the same question, “Who are you?” For TK, the need for introspection to find fulfilment is key. “Who we are is what we stand for and what we stand for are our values,” he says. “For me, the biggest thing that brings fulfilment is serving other people; when you put yourself aside and put others ahead.”
The Department of Social Welfare, in recent efforts to get street children off the streets of Accra, has been working with the Ghana Police to relocate the children to the department’s facility in Madina. In early May, a number of the children were relocated to the facility.
Future of Africa now meets with the children at the Social Welfare department’s facility in Madina every Saturday, and still carries out the literacy and feeding programs. TK eventually hopes these children can be placed in homes with dedicated adults to help guide them towards achieving their aims in life. Visit Future of Africa to find out more.
Story credit: Ashesi University College