IT and Hunger Relief: Blending My Passions to Drive Change
I grew up in the west African country of Ghana. Ghana is a great country, being the first to have gained independence from Britain after being a colony. My family lived in the city, Accra, and for the most part we always had enough. But in the 1980s when I was very young, our country was hit by a drought that lead to widespread food shortage, and this impacted my family. As a result, my parents didn’t have enough to feed us three square meals in a day. I remember I would wake up hungry, very confused and scared, wondering where I’d get my next meal. I remember going to primary school and not being able to focus because I didn’t have enough to eat. And even as a young child, I remember thinking: If this is what it feels like to be hungry, what must it feel like for people who are actually starving?
By the time I got to secondary school, I had the opportunity to go to a boarding school where all my meals were provided and I never had to worry about having food. I could focus and excelled in school. But my experience as a young child always stayed with me, and perhaps that set me on the career path that led to where I am today: at World Food Program USA.
After university, I worked for Network Computer Systems (NCS), a pioneer internet service provider in Ghana, where I worked on a project for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. This project provided internet connectivity to rural parts of the country. I often worked with small-scale farmers and saw how they struggled with poverty and hunger. This led me to an opportunity with ActionAid Ghana, a social justice organization that also worked to alleviate poverty and hunger.
During my time with ActionAid, I was able to travel throughout Ghana to help our regional offices set up internet connectivity. The project I’m perhaps most proud of was one that worked to empower women and girls by educating them on information and communications technology (ICT). I saw the difference this was making in their lives – and I became even more passionate about using my skills and career to give back and help fight poverty and hunger.
So, when I came to the U.S. eight years ago, I was looking for a job that wouldn’t just give me an income, but also provide me with a mission to serve. I had two job offers – one was higher paying but not service oriented, and one was with WFP USA. For me, the choice was simple. I accepted the offer from WFP USA and have since been working here. I moved up from database administrator to IT manager and now to director of IT.
Each day I wake up knowing my work is making a difference in the world. I know this because I saw the difference our work could make first hand through my work in rural Ghana. I am also proud of this because my work sets an example to my daughter. She understands that what really matters in life is helping others.
I am truly grateful for the opportunity to be part of a team fighting hunger, changing and saving lives. I cannot imagine a career doing anything less.