UGfied for Impact: The Inspirational Story of A-ensonga Hearts

Amidst the challenges faced by underprivileged communities, A-ensonga Hearts, founded by Ms. Kenndicta A-ensonga Ajene, a passionate graduate of the University of Ghana, is changing and impacting lives.

Although founded in 2020, A-ensonga Hearts has spearheaded over 16 transformative projects in communities and impacted over 4000 pupils across Ghana. Some key initiatives, such as the "Floor-to-Furniture Project," provided desks to over 500 students in Goriko Primary School, Fr. Lebel Memorial R/C Primary School, Balungu- Nabiisi D/A K.G Primary School and Amoyaama Primary School in the Upper East Region.

The contributions of the organisation have extended beyond the provision of desks to the construction of boreholes in remote villages through the "Potable Water for All Project." Three basic schools in the Bongo community, Ayopia Primary School, Gowrie Primary and JHS and Kunkua Primary School, all in the Upper East Region, benefited from the water project. Each initiative embodies the Foundation's commitment to holistic development.

“We have donated teaching and learning materials, furniture, books and water bottles and also contributed to the renovation of school blocks/units, etc.”

It is interesting to note that the journey of A-ensonga Hearts traces back to the personal inspiration and commitment of its founder, Ms. Kenndicta A-ensonga Ajene, who recently completed her Master of Science degree in International Business at the University of Ghana Business School.

She graduated at the top of the postgraduate class of 2023 from the School of Graduate Studies with a final grade point average of 3.97/4.0, making her the overall best graduating post-graduate student of the University during the recently held congregation ceremonies at the University of Ghana.

For Ms. Ajene, her father, Mr. Roger Agongo Ajene's acts of kindness and long-standing support for underprivileged students ignited her desire to make a lasting impact. She says this has driven her vision of ensuring educational opportunities for all, especially those in rural communities facing significant barriers.

“Witnessing my father’s acts of kindness instilled in me a desire to follow in his footsteps and to make a lasting positive impact in the lives of underprivileged children, especially those in rural communities who would find it difficult to compete on the educational ladder without assistance,” she says.

Ms. Ajene has dedicated her efforts to transforming the lives of underprivileged children in the Upper East, Northern and Greater Accra regions through A-ensonga Hearts Foundation, an organisation that seeks to reach out to needy children in Ghana and developing a strategy to have a more sustainable solution for needy children in the educational sector. A-ensonga Hearts is more than just a charitable organisation. “It is a beacon of hope dedicated to mobilising resources for the educational development of children in deprived communities in the Upper East region,” where Ms. Ajene hails from.

“At its core, the NGO embodies values of empowerment, integrity, equity and compassion, guided by a mission to identify and address the unique challenges hindering children's development."

These successful contributions may not have been possible without the education she received from the University of Ghana.

Drawing upon the founder's educational journey at the University of Ghana, A-ensonga Hearts has been shaped by a commitment to excellence and community service instilled during her time at the University. Firstly, as an undergraduate between 2013 and 2017, pursuing a BSc. degree in Business Administration with a major in Marketing, and then recently, from 2022 to 2023, as a post-graduate student obtaining a Master of Science degree in International Business at the University of Ghana Business School, specialising in Marketing and Entrepreneurship.

For one of Ms. Ajene's lecturers, Prof. Kobby Mensah, “Kenndicta has enormous people skills, extremely good working relationships with her peers, and is always willing to share her experiences with anyone.”

Her leadership skills are never in doubt, with Prof. Mensah mentioning that, “She is a natural leader and demonstrated her leadership skills during her period as class representative. She exhibited great work ethics, being punctual and productive, helping to disseminate lecture documents to her class and arranging tutorial sessions.”

Prof. Mensah expresses confidence in her progress and contributions to society, stating, “I am very confident in her development to become a very important figure, especially in the lives of many who are socially disadvantaged.”

Reflecting on her inspiring journey, Ms. Ajene acknowledges, “the nurturing environment at the University of Ghana fostered my growth in two key areas: excellence and self-confidence. The dedication and accessibility of the lecturers instilled in me a deep appreciation for compassion. This spirit of giving back motivates my selfless work with the foundation.”

University life played a vital role in Ms. Ajene's transformation from a shy individual to a confident leader. Serving as a Course Representative allowed her to interact with senior faculty, bolstering her self-assurance. She mentioned that “these experiences, coupled with honed networking skills acquired through diverse interactions, proved invaluable in her fundraising efforts.”

Ms. Ajene attributes her ability to run an organisation to her academic pursuits, particularly in the Marketing and Entrepreneurship Department. The foundation of knowledge gained in marketing was instrumental in navigating interactions with volunteers, school authorities, suppliers and other stakeholders.

Her expertise, developed during her masters degree in International Business, has been a source of pride and a driving force for her aspirations. She believes it positions her well to lead the foundation towards even greater impact. As she succinctly puts it, "it has been further refined by ensuring that I am well-equipped to lead the foundation towards even greater impact."

Ms. Ajene's experience at the UGBS has left a lasting impression on her. She frequently feels the influence of the School's unique values guiding her actions and influencing her perspective.

She says, “Walking into meetings with the 'Legon Spirit' has always been a plus, often aiming for nothing less than the 'Business School' standards. The senior and junior members of the UG Business School probably understand this better than others.”

Although she is achieving incredible results with her initiatives, she notes that running an NGO comes with its set of challenges. In leading A-ensonga Hearts, “I've faced hurdles due to misconceptions about my age and gender. Overcoming these demands adherence to my values. Team building and fundraising remain significant challenges, with volunteers hesitant to offer financial incentives amidst skepticism towards genuine NGOs in fundraising efforts. Despite relying on social media for donations, every contribution, facilitates impactful change, transitioning children from floor to desk.”

Fueled by a passion for making a difference and guided by the lessons learned at the University of Ghana, Ms. Ajene remains steadfast in her promise to empower communities regardless of the challenges she encounters.

Looking ahead, A-ensonga Hearts envisions a future where every child has access to quality education and essential resources. With strategic objectives outlined for the next three years, she aims to lead A-ensonga Hearts to expand its reach and deepen its impact, partnering with esteemed organisations and leveraging the support of the University of Ghana community.

The support she needs can be directed towards the "Floor-to-Desk" project, which is already underway, with needs assessments completed and plans for 700+ dual desks to benefit 1,400 children in seven Bongo District schools. This initiative, in partnership with others, will particularly benefit around 700 girls, promoting gender equity in education.

As for her progress, does she have University faculty members to appreciate? Yes, of course. “In no particular order I thank Prof. Kwame Adom, Prof. Kobby Mensah, Prof. Mahmoud Abdulaih Mahmoud, Dr. Babara Esmond, Dr. Mahama Brimah, Prof. Tweneboa Kodua, Dr. Prince Kodua, Dr. Raphael Odoom, Dr. Adam Sulley, Dr. Priscilla Ntuo, Prof. Bedman Nartey and Dr. George Acheampong. I also thank Mr. Sadick Abubakari, Mr. Chris Atadika, Mr. Oliver Edem Ashiably, Mr. Edward Agyekum, Mr. Abdul Salam, Deli Dotse Gli and Mr. Eric Arhin who were great Teaching Assistants and all faculty who have helped to shape me into the person I have become.”