By: Nana Aduba-Amoah
24-year-old Heather Afriyie plans on reforming Ghana’s healthcare and education sector one crown at a time.
The beauty queen was crowned Miss Ghana USA 2018 after competing amongst 11 contestants in June. Miss Ghana USA is a national annual pageant created to aid young Ghanaian women in the African diaspora to achieve their career and humanitarian goals.
“My platform is entitled, ‘healthcare and education: our God-given right,” Afriyie said. “It focuses on the lack of access to health care resources and educational resources for women and children who are living in rural communities of Ghana.”
Afriyie’s educational background also aligns with her platform. She recently graduated in May from the University of Illinois-Chicago with a Masters degree in Healthcare Administration. She also obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Pre Med from Loyola University. While attending Loyola, Afriyie was active in protesting against social injustice and racism.
As a first-time beauty pageant contestant representing Chicago, and the Ashanti region of Ghana, being crowned Queen has given Afriyie the opportunity to carry out her desire to improve Ghana’s healthcare and education sector.
“I have this strong passion..about helping to..improve the maternal mortality rate in Ghana, as well as providing resources for young children who are going through some very dire situations in terms of sickness and illness…at various hospitals,” she said.
To assist her vision, Afriyie organized a go-fund-me page, entitled #SaveOurNICU, to expand and improve the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Effia-Nkwanta Regional Hospital in Takoradi, Ghana.
On October 11, Afriyie also announced the launch of the Health and Educational Resources for Success initiative, founded by the Ghana Health and Educational Initiative. HERS is an organization dedicated to assisting young women in Ghana to obtain the same educational opportunities granted to their male counterparts.
“The program focuses solely on empowering young girls and women to go forth and get that education that they need so they can uplift their families out of poverty,” Afriyie said. “It’s really focused on young girls who are in rural communities of Ghana.”
Furthermore, Afriyie created a project called ‘operation 5,000 diapers,” in hopes of collecting 5,000 diapers to support disadvantaged mothers in Ghana before she travels to Ghana in December.
Her trip to Ghana will also provide her with the opportunity to introduce her initiatives to the country’s President, First lady, and Speaker of Parliament, in hopes that they will assist in carrying out her vision to rebuild Ghana’s healthcare and education field
Afriyie advises young women who are interested in competing in the Miss Ghana USA pageant to be determined and passionate.
“Put your foot down and know that, ‘I’m doing this for a purpose. This is not for whatever anyone thinks it’s for. It’s to help another person. It’s to build another person up, and because of that I’m going to go for it and do it,” she said. “That’s the kind of mindset and mentality that you should have.”
To donate to Afriyie’s #SaveOurNICU initiative, visit: https://uk.gofundme.com/missghanausa2018.