‘We did our best but we lost her’, though a phrase that crushed the heart of a loving husband, it has birthed a saving desire.
Death found its way into the union of a couple who had toiled to make it in life just to help the needy.
Life should have been a little fair to such a couple but it turned against them with a big blow shattering the family of six.
Mr Ibrahim Oppong Kwarteng has been working as a journalist with the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation for over twelve years but had a difficult life to live.
Living in a one-bedroom house with his wife and four boys struggling to provide three square meals for the family and also fund the children’s education. Life was tough for the family. But God had acknowledged Mr Kwarteng’s generous intentions.
Despite her wife’s support, life was not getting any better and the presenter needed to put in more effort to provide a decent life for the family.
Mr Kwarteng did not give up albeit the discouragement from colleagues.
He pushed harder as apart from presenting news and hosting programmes, he reported from location and built contacts.
His chances of coming out of the dark moments in his life were nearing when the media wing of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission, Muslim Television Ahmadiyya International (MTA) approached him to host a programme on their platform.
This opportunity afforded him to travel in and out of the UK every month.
Through hosting the programme, ‘Contemplation’, he interviewed prominent persons both in the UK and Ghana.
Some of these personalities included; former UK Minister for Education, Justine Greening, former UK Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, and former UK Metropolitan Commissioner of Police, Sir Hogan-Howe among others.
Mr Kwarteng also interviewed the likes of the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, Ghana’s former Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Ocquaye and a host of high-ranking politicians.
Until a new opportunity also came his way from the International Labour Organization (ILO), he had travelled in and out of the country 37 times.
Mr Kwarteng was awarded a Chevening Scholarship to study at Brunel University, UK for his Master’s Degree. Whiles in the UK, he was admitted to the Association of European Journalists (AEJ) as the first African member.
But gaining unfettered access to the prisons and fighting for the rights of inmates was when he blossomed bringing Crime Check Foundation (CCF) into being.
‘I did not hesitate to ask for contact cards of CEOs and Heads of big organizations whose programmes I covered. I got the opportunity to cover the event of an international organization that subsequently fell on me to report on their events anytime. My explosion came when a former Director-General of Ghana Prisons, Matilda Baffour Awuah gave me the opportunity to access the prisons seeing my passion to fight for the protection of the rights of inmates,” Mr Kwarteng said.
Through its Petty Offenders project, the organization has released thousands of prisoners under its fine-paying module and has also reintegrated hundreds of ex-convicts under its Ex-Convict Re-integration project. This has helped reduce crime drastically in Ghana as it cautions the general public on the consequences of crime.
Beneficiaries of other programme categories of the Foundation, the General Charity and Village Charity Series are thousands of poor individuals who have had their lives improved with CCF’s business and financial support.
Many sick individuals, under Crime Check Foundation’s Health Check Series, have had their bills paid including that of surgeries.
Mr Kwarteng’s shot to fame began not just with his association with the organizations but his untiring work earned him his status.
He recalled putting together documentaries for the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) and the Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises (SCORE) programme under the auspices of ILO.
“I had a call from the ILO asking me to check from my bank account if I have received some money from them. I could not believe it. I went straight to ATM just to try to withdraw some money and to my surprise, it was an unceasing flow of money,” he jumped into the air in awe.
The Ghana Prisons Service recognized Mr Kwarteng’s work and made him the Ambassador Extraordinaire of the Prisons. The former President of the Republic of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama conferred on him the title when he presented a citation to him.
The father of four had already bought a half plot of land aiming to put up a one-bedroom house just to house the family.
“I turned the one-bedroom house which was under construction into a six-bedroom house. After building the edifice I would climb up and down because I never dreamt of owning a modern house.”
That was the beginning of a decent life for Mr Kwarteng and his family.
With a big heart, he did not want to enjoy his wealth alone. He started a Foundation to care for the poor, sick and prison inmates.
The Foundation thrived with sponsors across the world supporting his course of improving the lives of the vulnerable.
Among those, the Foundation catered for include breast cancer, kidney failure patients, and Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) helping them financially to enable them to undergo treatment.
Whiles passionately pursuing the well-being of strangers, Mr Kwarteng’s wife, Amina Oppong Kwarteng was failing in health.
Mrs Kwarteng had gone for a Covid-19 injection and was looking healthy and hearty until after three weeks when she felt a lump in her left breast. This was absurd to her.
“Take it to the hospital and let’s see what is going on,” Mr Kwarteng said to his wife.
It was shocking when doctors told her after diagnosis that she had contracted breast cancer.
Doctors recommended immediate treatment for her.
“She had to undergo 8 sessions of Chemotherapy and 25 sessions of Radiotherapy. In consultation with the family, we flew her to Turkey to undergo further treatment,” Mr Kwarteng recollects.
Mrs Kwarteng took the lead to Turkey with her sister because Mr Kwarteng was writing an exam for his PhD.
After a month when he was done with his exams, he followed up in Turkey.
When he got there, he found his wife’s condition in a deteriorating state and had to call her doctor immediately for attention.
“She couldn’t walk so I had to help her to the hospital. Her hand was swollen,” Mr Kwarteng narrated.
Mrs Kwarteng could not continue the Radiotherapy treatment because of the excruciating pain she experienced.
Mr Kwarteng was with her throughout her treatment in the hospital. Her condition worsened, her oxygen level dropped and was rushed to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
“I was back in my hotel room when I had a call from the room. The voice on the call was a frightening one. I hurried to the hospital and was asked to wait outside. They told me they were waiting for an interpreter to convey to me the message they had. I was shaken. Then the interpreter came and said ‘we tried our best, but…’. I broke down. I was not myself any longer. I nearly got knocked down by a car,” he detailed.
Mr Kwarteng now would have to return to his home country to announce to the family his wife’s passing; a difficult moment he had to contend with.
He refused to come home aboard the same aeroplane with the body of his wife.
“I couldn’t believe that my wife was referred to as the body. I couldn’t go to see her remains when doctors asked me to. They had wanted to put my wife’s body in the same plane I intended boarding but I refused,” he recalled.
Mrs Kwarteng’s body was transported on another flight four days later to her home country, Ghana.
The announcement of Mrs Kwarteng’s death devastated her children who were so close to her.
As per Muslim rites, she was laid to rest without delay when her remains arrived.
Mrs Kwarteng was the motivation behind Mr Kwarteng’s success in the area of philanthropy. Her death shook the philanthropy community as beneficiaries and donors received the news with utter shock and dismay.
Whiles, she was on her sickbed, Mrs Kwarteng vowed to fight relentlessly against breast cancer through advocacy and giving financial support to poor patients.
This birthed a breast cancer Foundation, the Meena Breast Cancer Foundation (MBCF) to wage an aggressive war against the disease to help reduce its related deaths.
Since the MBCF was established barely some months old, it has visited two Senior High Schools and a religious association to offer education on the disease and also screen participants.
The beneficiary institutions are; Potsin T.I Ahmadiyya Senior High School in the Central Region, St. Mary’s Senior High School in the Greater Accra Region, and the Kasoa Ahmadiyya Women Association.
Many patients have received financial support when they visit the Foundation’s office for support.
You can visit meenabreastcancerfoundation.org or its Facebook page, Meena Breast Cancer Foundation to learn more.
You can also watch some of its activities on its YouTube channel, Meena Breast Cancer Foundation.
To offer your support, kindly contact 0242074276.
By Rudolph Nandi