Don’t get me wrong…. I love Oprah and Michelle Obama, I am even inspired by some of my amazing female friends and the various jobs they do be it a Psychologist, DJ, Mother, TV Producers, Musical engineers, Event organisers …the list is endless. However, no two women inspire me more than my two Grandmothers, (God rest their souls).
My Grandmothers were deemed as matriarchs my paternal Grandmother – Molaki Williams-Baffoe (I am her namesake) after a stint as a telephonist she later on became a businesswoman. She opened three shops, one at the local lorry station in Koforidua Accra, Ghana and sold fabrics and textiles from the second shop in our house called Katesville also in Koforidua. Grandma Molaki also opened a third shop at Kedde in the Eastern province of Accra . She had a total of 8 children my father was number four. She was very forthright and kept her maiden name – “Williams” and named her children Williams-Baffoe, an action considered quite bold for a woman of her day. Her father was commissioner James Alexander Williams he was half Welsh and half Ghanaian. Commissioner of eastern province in Dodua (former capital) Ghana.
By all accounts she was very strict and grew up in Dodoa and Koforidua. Married to Mr. Michael Baffoe, a lorry haulage and delivery company owner. The company carted cocoa palm oil and rice, which were exported to Europe. Grandma Molaki was a very firm woman with resolve. Molaki had been business orientated from an early age and also quite altruistic. She set up a women’s co-op so that women who could not buy goods from the large wholesalers could purchase from her. The women didn’t have access to UAC United Africa Company – it doesn’t exist anymore (formerly Unilever) but it was the sole supplier of wholesale goods in the forties and fifties.
Grandma Molaki would advance the women with credit to do this. This is how she operated most of her business; during the Second World War when it was difficult to source supplies the women would come to her and purchase products on credit. Commodities such as kerosene, corned beef, rice, soap etc so that they could stock their stalls, earn a decent wage and feed their families.
Grandma Molaki also had a cocoa farm in Nsawam from 1920-1948.The cocoa was harvested and shipped to Cadbury and Fry in the UK until the Cocoa Marketing Board became the sole purchasers of cocoa which is still the case today.
Cocoa farming was one of her main sources of interest and finance until the crops were devastated by swollen shoot disease (a virus that attacks cocoa trees). Sewing was her hobby and she produced wedding gowns for friends, and prominent dignitaries in Koforidua. She also made clothes for all of her children. She was the church organist at Holy Trinity Cathedral Church in Accra and Koforidua on Sundays. She played the piano and violin.
My Maternal Grandmother was a Grandmother to all. Grandmother Alice and my connection with her is equally as strong. We were both born on the 14th November. Grandmother Alice helped to establish one of the first orphanages in a town called Tema in Accra, Ghana. She helped to set up SOS Ghana.
The SOS Children’s Villages idea established by Herman Gmeiner more than fifty years ago is at the heart of all the endeavours of the organisation. At the SOS Children’s Villages the children enjoy the security of a family with a mother and with brothers and sisters. This is very important for their socialisation as preparation for life as young adults. Now represented in over 131 countries, the long-term vision of the SOS Children’s Village is for every child to have a family. In response to the needs of children orphaned or abandoned after World War II, Herman Gmeiner, now deceased founded the first SOS Children’s Village in Imst, Austria in 1949. Gmeiner had a simple, but profound concept: every child deserves to have a mother, brothers and sisters, a home and a village. Today, his model has been adopted in 131 countries and territories, where there are 439 villages and more than a thousand youth facilities, kindergartens, schools, medical clinics, training and social centres serving SOS children as well as families in the surrounding communities.
The bravery and determination of many women such as the late Alice Afuma Appea popularly called Grandma Alice of the SOS Chi1dren’s Village in Ghana enables children who have not experienced the security and love of a family to live in a home.
Grandma Alice is one woman who put all her heart, vigor, energy and skills into ensuring that the SOS concept in Ghana did not expire. The staff and children of SOS-Ghana continue to remember Grandma Alice as playing a significant role in the establishment and expansion of SOS. She was instrumental in helping to raise funds for the organisation. She resigned her work to fully concentrate on building SOS Ghana at a time when as a widow with six children she had to perform the role of Village Director (my Mother was her fourth child). She approached anyone she knew could help: political figures, kings and queens, business people, and lived with the orphan children throughout the rest of her life. Grandma Alice was commemorated on the official SOS silver jubilee stamp in 1999.
The SOS Children’s Village is not the only children’s institution in Ghana, however their ability to provide long-term support to abandoned children even in the most desperate of situations needs to be recommended.
Find out how you can sponsor an SOS child here:
Grandmothers I salute you on International Women’s day