Posted:June 7, 2018
Emmanuel Ogbebor was someone who put a smile on people’s faces. He was driven to make a difference in people’s lives through his profession as a nurse. He loved education and was a graduate of Century College. His generosity of spirit led him to donate a kidney to a stranger. He was not only caring and kind, he was also filled with joy and humor. Sadly he passed away when only 29 years old.
“He was very passionate about his work, he had a vivacious personality. He was one of those people that if you meet him once, you have to be friends with him,” says Stefanie G. Asante-Totimeh, a fellow nurse and Executive Director and Social Media Manager for African Health Workers United. “He was very caring, he cared for his patients, his friends, and the people he worked with.”
The Emmanuel Ogbebor Memorial Nursing Scholarship provides $500 per semester to a nursing student of African descent in financial need. It was created by members of African Health Workers United which includes Century alumni who worked with him, as a way to honor Emmanuel, and to give back to the nursing community and to first generation or foreign born Africans pursuing nursing in Minnesota.
Many members of African Health Workers United started their education in Minnesota community colleges such as Century College, Hibbing Community College, North Hennepin Community College, Anoka Ramsey Community College, Normandale Community College, and Inver Hills Community College, and are rooted in the community college spirit – smaller classes, better relationship-building, and for many, a successful start toward a bachelor’s program.
African Health Workers United, now a group of over 20 members, have since expanded their philanthropic priorities to give back to their African home countries, which include Ghana, Liberia, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Cameroon. They began raising funds and collecting medical supplies to bring with them on their first medical mission trip.
In February 2018, five registered nurses from the group volunteered their nursing skills on their first mission trip to a poor rural fishing community in Ghana, West Africa. The villagers received free medical assessment, medications, culturally competent care, and hope and empowerment for their community.
The community served was in desperate need of their services. They did not have clean drinking water, and the closest health clinic, staffed only by community health workers, was an hour away. The area did not have a facility in which to give care - treatments were often given under a tree, or in a tent. Members of this community also had little exposure to basic health care education.
One case from their time in Ghana stands out – a 21 year old woman, undiagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. They were able to coordinate continuous care with a community health worker to check up on the girl, educate her on how to use a glucometer they left behind, and help her take her medications regularly. They also left money for her to buy more insulin, ultimately saving her life. Stefanie explains, “It’s a cash and carry system – if you don’t have the money, you don’t get taken care of.” The members of African Health Workers United made sure she was taken care of.
In addition to providing health screenings, the nurses gave basic health care education that they shared with community members at a local preschool. They taught the teachers basic CPR, safety in the classroom, and hygiene. They also discussed lifestyle choices such as walking, getting enough rest, and water safety.
The group made local connections with businesses that sponsored their efforts, and worked with a local NGO (non-governmental organization) to connect with local doctors who could write prescriptions recommended by the nurses after giving health screenings. The majority of funding was raised by members of the African Health Workers United to purchase medications and medical supplies which were provided free of charge to the patients.
In 2019, African Health Workers United seeks to continue to change lives through health education, assessment, and provision of free medications to another rural community in Kenya, East Africa. They just launched a Go Fund Me page for their second mission trip. The main focus of this trip will be on Diabetes and Hypertension, which are slowly killing these communities.
The group’s long term goal is to become the go-to resource for people wanting to give back to the African communities residing in Minnesota, and for people interested in doing international mission trips to Africa.
“We know what our African people need, who better to serve our communities than us?” says Stefanie. “We want to show our community in a positive light, not just to give to them, but to also empower them so they are not always waiting for a handout. That’s the way we can change the perception of our African continent. We have to empower them with resources and training.”