“Sometimes it feels impossible to make a difference. Kanyiri is living proof we can.”
Sarah Annable-Gardner, Chief Executive
He’s only 23, but Kanyiri Kuube-isaan has already been working with Action Through Enterprise for over a decade – and is truly one of our rising stars. Today, he is doing his National Service as our Impact Manager, but his connection with the charity began back in 2012…
“Eleven years ago,” remembers Kanyiri, “hope was a distant dream for me. I lost my Dad in 2007, I was living with my Mum, who was unemployed, not educated, so things were really hard for me and my brothers. When I met Sarah and, of course, Action Through Enterprise, all the hope was restored and I was given a chance in life again.”
Autumn 2012. Sarah was feeling her way with the new charity, Kanyiri was a 13-year-old school boy working late shifts at a local drinking spot to help support his family. He made an immediate impression as an incredibly bright, engaging and hard-working young man – able to calculate any bar bill in his head! – and soon Sarah took him under her wing, encouraging and enabling him to continue his education.
Kanyiri threw himself into schoolwork – and began volunteering with the charity, helping to gather baseline data for the first ATE kitchen. “We were taking measurements, height, weight, so that we could measure the impact of the feeding on the pupils.”
It wasn’t just pupils at Karbo Primary who would benefit. “The work helped with my personal growth,’ says Kanyiri, “and I became more resilient. It also taught me how kind people can be, supporting my community.”
“Someone, somewhere believes in us”
Kanyiri volunteered for ATE even after he went away to Senior High School. “When I was home from school, I saw helping the charity as a family thing, because I felt ATE was a family.”
Over the years, Kanyiri’s role has evolved. From being the person who opened up the office, to supporting small business owners write their business plans, to his current role, working on our expansion to Nandom District. “My experience with ATE has given me extra skills, the opportunity to relate well with others, and also it has taught me to appreciate the importance of gratitude.
“I look at people in Lawra and put myself in their shoes. With the girls, especially, the support they receive is massive and has really changed the way they think about life. Before, they didn’t have the slightest idea they could make it to Senior High School, but now it has become possible. Someone, somewhere believes in us.”
“People are inspired”
Kanyiri has excelled in his own education – graduating with a first class degree in biochemistry – and is a role model to ambitious young people in Lawra. “I hadn’t really thought about it like that, but I think people are inspired, asking me, how do I get that grade, how do I get to SHS? It feels amazing to be in Lawra for my National Service Scheme [in which all graduates must spend a year working for the national development of Ghana]. Coming back home with ATE, where everything started, where my dream for higher education started, coming back to help my community – it’s hard to express how I feel.”
“Kanyiri is a young, brilliant, gentle man,” says Lawra Manager Kaamil Issahaku, “with experience of ATE gathered since childhood, a high level of education and maturity. He is a perfect team player, and I know he will always be a moral support to ATE, no matter where he finds himself in the future.”
And Kanyiri is already thinking about when his National Service is over. “Because of my experience with ATE, I feel I should always share with people the little that I have. So I want to go into academia, become a teacher or maybe a lecturer, and give back to society what I have received.”
“I am beyond proud of what Kanyiri has already achieved,” says Sarah. “It can often feel like it’s impossible to make a difference, and he’s living proof we can.”
From promising teenager to outstanding graduate, Kanyiri has a bright future ahead. “I don’t know what my next chapter will be in life, but I’d like to say I’m filled with gratitude for Sarah, and I say thank you to her for being such a wonderful ally to me.
“And thank you to ATE. It’s not only a support system to me personally, it instils in people the belief that it doesn’t really matter where you come from or your starting point, you can still make it, with the right support. And that is the kind of support ATE is giving.”