In April 2017 I accepted to be the Goodwill Ambassador for Accra Psychiatric Hospital. During the unveiling ceremony I planned my acceptance speech using the following principles:
Below is the transcript of the speech.
Twenty years ago, I visited this facility for the very first time. A friend of mine was working here. He had just graduated from medical school and he had invited me to come over. While we were in one of the wards, the open wards for men, somebody called me by my nickname. I was wondering who was around and I turned and looked at the gentleman. I was so shocked because the person who called me was one of the most brilliant of my friends in secondary school at Achimota, 6th form. He had ended up in the psychiatric ward. He was trying to convince the nurses that he knew me and they said "Where will you know this man from?"
That was my first visit here. Of course everybody knows somebody who has spent some time here. You may not be willing to admit that you have a family member who has spent some time here or you know somebody close but it's happened and it continues to happen and as the previous speakers have alluded, it's all about the stigma. Nobody wants to associate with a facility like this, the reasons for which you are all very, very familiar.
I've had to come to this facility to visit relatives and friends. My mother told me a story of the wife of one of my father's very good friends who used to be here. Her husband used to visit her here every morning on his way to work. And then at lunchtime he'd come back here, spend time with his wife and go back to work. In the evening on the way home, he'd come back here, spend time with her and then go home. And he did this till she passed.
I'm excited to be here. I'm glad, I'm humbled. My father was a diplomat for twenty years. I'm sure he'd be smiling to think that his son has been made an ambassador, a title that he didn't get. And in the spirit of the president naming ambassadors in this month, I'm glad to be named as an ambassador of the Psychiatric Hospital.
An ambassador is a representative, a promoter, an emissary, somebody who is sent out to represent the best interests of his employers. So I'm glad to take this position to work for the Accra Psychiatric Hospital to promote goodwill.
And by goodwill I'm talking about so many things: the feeling of understanding so that in my duties we will be able able to increase the understanding that the general public and people who want to support will have about this facility, to learn a little bit more about mental health, and how pervasive it is and what we can do in our small ways to get this facility running as it should. I'm thinking of when it was founded, in 1904. My grandfather wasn't even born. He was born in 1907. And to think that from 1904 to now, nothing really major has happened? It's almost criminal. So i'm glad to be part of a new wave of getting things to work the way they should.
I will be calling out to my friends wherever I find them, whether they are in the media or they are in the world of business or marketing. I will be knocking on those doors. I will be asking for collaboration. I will be asking for cooperation. I will be asking for support. I will be asking for understanding. I will be asking for sympathy. I will be asking for people to look at mental health issues and help this psychiatric facility help as many people as possible.
So if your question is "Do I accept this position?", that's my final answer! Yes, I do accept!
And on the 5th day of the 5th month of this year in just over 5 weeks, let us meet to raise 500,000 Cedis - that's our minimum - to help this facility get what it needs to thrive.
I thank you for the support.
I thank you.
God bless you!!