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Ghanians debating with the best and the brightest at Oxford University – Help them get there!

So throughout my time in Ghana I have met some very special people and one person I’m going to highlight to you today is Prince Asamoah. A liberal, democratic and logical person, prince questions how things are currently done in Ghana and creates a well-structured and coherent argument. He is a breath of fresh air often challenging the orthodox and traditional ways in a country that’s political system has become stale. These are the people that will ignite change in Ghana and aid positive development. Please take a moment to read Prince’s story:-

Why I speak out! – Prince Asamoah

Prince12“I have been speaking for the most part of my life. Two years ago, I really learnt the ability to speak by meeting the ability to think critically and analyse issues and speak to influence people. I have learnt throughout this period how to make the information I have a positive influence for my community and together with other people, I have founded an organisation that teaches the speaking abilities I have learnt to kids who need to be the future voices of discernment of my country – Speech Forces (like our Facebook page! – https://www.facebook.com/speechforces/?fref=ts ).
Today, I embark on a journey that means so much to me. I am set to be up against the best of the world in debate as I go into the Worlds Universities Debate Championship in December. In preparation for the tournament, I have been accepted to participate in a competitive debate tournament organised by the Oxford Union – The Oxford IV. At this tournament, I get to compete against the best as preparation for the World Championships where I and my team mate hope to put Ghana on to the centre stage. This means a lot to me because I get to live a dream I have had for some time now. But more importantly, I get to learn from the best because my ability to speak and influence is a constant quest to learn to be more impactful in the lives of others.
In the coming year, I will be training a new breed of young Ghanaians to learn to debate as ferociously as I. My hope is that they will continue on their own quest to be the best they can be at the World Schools Debate Championships. It’s always a path of learning in a country where debating on such a scale is relatively new through Speech forces I am trying to maximise my impact by teaching others how to question the world around them and speak out!
I can’t tell you how much it would mean to go and debate with the best and brightest minds at one of the most prestigious university’s in the UK. Every piece support I get from a share on Facebook to a donation goes further than just getting me to Oxford in November. It goes a beyond sustaining debate in Ghana as well. It helps to sustain a culture of speaking, researching, analytical thinking and respect for opinions in Ghana. Most importantly, you endorse the qualities debate embodies and its existence in young people from all backgrounds.”

Neil Walker’ Princes Counterpart at ICS Challenges Worldwide

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“My name is Neil Walker, and I’ve spent the summer of 2016 working in Accra, Ghana. Whilst here I’ve had the pleasure of being paired with Prince Asamoah, a student at the University of Ghana entering his final year.

Prince is not only one of the nicest people I’ve met, he, along with his partner Aurelia Abane Attipoe, are debaters who have won Ghana national championships as well as numerous others. Prince has competed in Nigeria and in South Africa, and Aurelia is the chair for West African Women in Debate caucus. Both are incredibly worthy causes for money.
Prince and Aurelia will both be going to the World Championships in Amsterdam in December this year. In preparation for this they have been accepted to compete in the Oxford Inter-Varsity Debate Competition in November ( http://oxfordiv.com/ ). This highly prestigious tournament will pit Prince and Aurelia against some of the best in the world, and prepare them on their mission to be the first Ghanaians to win the World Championships.
Prince and his debate partner Aurelian are trying to raise £1000. The money raised will go to purchasing the flights, currently at £450 return each, for both of them. Funding is scarce, and with the World Championships so far away there is no help for the pair to reach Oxford.
Please join me in helping an incredibly deserving pair realise a dream.”

As you can see Prince here is articulate, talented and aspirational. If you wish to help his  and Aurelia’s dreams become a reality and donate, please go to https://www.gofundme.com/2nhv6crg . Thank you for reading and I hope you find his story as inspiring as I have!

#StopTheKnot – The fundraising backstory

On the 28th of February after hearing about my successful assessment centre day for ICS Challenges I started my fundraising campaign. The 28th isn’t really the correct date that I started – I actually had been thinking about what I could do from the assessment centre, forming a whole campaign people could get involved in. I decided it would be funny, engaging but with a serious undertone. Hence I used the hilarious #Stoptheknot YouTube video and played on that – I formulated what I needed and set about creating on paper. Once the idea was mapped out I would pitch it to family and friends to see what their thoughts were.

Once happy with the initial plan, I wrote up my story, conducted a relevant photoshoot, created a short poorly edited video AND perfected up my Just-Giving and Facebook page (without going live). I set up how people could donate e.g. online or by text (knot88 in my case). I got a few friends to donate before launch to give me more traction and to look more established. Once set I put everything online on FB at peak time (7-9pm Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and got as many friends to share as possible. Before I knew it my old school friend’s mums were donating!

It wasn’t just about social media, I also emailed everyone I knew, used linked in and my parents sent texts and emails to all their friends to. The email campaign was particularly successful with teachers old and new donating and giving messages of support. I also believe that because I was donating my hair it quantified what I was doing as sometimes it can be hard to empathise with poverty all the way in Africa. It’s also important to communicate that this money is not funding your trip! People will not be happy to pay for a holiday.

After 8 weeks I had surpassed the £800 fundraising target by £357.25 – bare in mind that the halfway deadline set by ICS was Monday 25th April. So by planning ahead and having an engaging story I kept my campaign short and sweet and didn’t annoy everyone with the constant posting. Initially, I hadn’t expected to reach this just by cutting my hair and I was expecting to do bucket collections and the like. However I think having a story and something engaging that people follow brings it into their lives.

I was very fortunate but I spoke to a multitude of local hairdressers and organised with one salon in particular a PR stunt as it were. They cut my hair for free and even donated! All in return for a news story and to be a part of the campaign (advertising to my 130 something followers). If you get the chance or see the opportunity try to work with a business as it can be mutually beneficial!

So my 5 key tips:-

  1. Start Early
    • Think of an idea and think about why people should care- what makes you unique?
  2. Prepare
    • Don’t just put some spiel about how you’re saving the world with an empty just giving page – most people won’t take the time to read it.
    • Why would they read some long bland post when there’s a video of a Chinese man putting a water filled condom over his head just below? The internet is a fickle place.
  3. Create a FB page AND connect with Challenges!!
    • Use your pre-existing networks to get a bigger audience!
    • Keep followers updates
      1. Post daily on more appropriate sites like Instagram or twitter to connect with followers and keep them reminded
      2. Don’t just ask them for money just keep them engaged with interesting pieces
  1. Not everyone is on Facebook
    • Use your parents email and yours to connect to work colleagues etc.
    • Every outing is a sales pitch! Tell everyone you meet what you’re doing à they might even donate!!

 

Challenges I faced:-

  • Maintaining motivation throughout (Have several different themes or sub-campaigns e.g. I did a series of funny challenges on YouTube)
  • Consistency with posts and enthusiasm (we’re busy people set an hour a day set aside to post and create content
  • Converting people who are watching to donate (In this regard talking to people was much more effective)