“Before the foundation came into my life, though armed with great future prospects of being an esteemed and exemplary luminary of my community, I confess the future was bleak. The adequate financial resources to fuel that drive were nonexistent.” – Ezekiel Odotei Odoi, 22.
The hope of every parent is to able to provide for the family, especially the children adequately so they grow up to become upstanding persons in society. Education is one major avenue through becoming one such personality. Unfortunately, not all parents are able to safely provide the means for their children to get the required education from the basic to tertiary level.
Thus, the government stepped in and despite efforts that have been made over the years to ensure increased enrolment at both basic and secondary education levels to achieve Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) as enshrined in the 1992 constitution of Ghana, access to affordable and quality higher education as a basic right –that leads to a more stable and financially secure future remains elusive to many of the nation’s young persons.
Data from United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO’s) Institute for Statistics shows that from 2010 to 2016, the average rate of secondary school enrolment in the country stood at 63.44%.
Whilst the figure has witnessed an appreciation to 71.32% as at 2018, the associated costs with higher education remain a barrier to entry for some of the most disadvantaged young people, with many simply unable to realize their dreams of pursuing post-secondary education irrespective of how much they want to.
What happens to all those who missed out on quality education? At best, they learn a good trade, informally, and try to make ends meet or at worst, they become society’s misfits. But not all hope is lost. Philanthropic organisations and individuals have usually focused their attention on education and health and their focus have helped placed so many kids on the path of a secured future.
One of such organization is the Robert Vogel Foundation. The foundation, a small-scale, low profile, self-financing Non-Governmental Organisaton (NGO) has been changing the narrative for residents of La in Accra with its discreet, yet high-impact initiative in education. Over the course of the last decade, the Foundation has expended tens of thousands in Ghana Cedis per annum on school fees for over 20 students.
Founded in 2010, the Foundation is the brainchild of Naomi Vogel, a native of La (Ofro Osro WE), in memory of her late husband Robert Vogel. This served a dual purpose, as it was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream of formally providing financial support to disadvantaged students, particularly indigenes of La, aware that continuous and sustained access to education leads to long-term improvements in productivity, reduce poverty, and help improve preventive healthcare.
Due to its impact on the La society, it wasn’t difficult in reaching out to some of the beneficiaries of the organisation’s benevolence.
Ezekiel Odotei Odoi, 22
I was a beneficiary of the Foundation from age 14 to age 17 when I received support towards funding my senior high school education at the Achimota Secondary School (2012-2015). Before the foundation came into my life, though armed with great future prospects of being an esteemed and exemplary luminary of my community, I confess the future was bleak. The adequate financial resources to fuel that drive were nonexistent.
Thanks to support from the Foundation, I was able to complete my secondary school education. Now, I just graduated from the University of Ghana and I’m currently doing my quota of national service at the department of modern languages, University of Ghana.
In all honesty, I can boldly say that I am currently in a better standing by virtue of the Foundation’s support. Beyond the financial liberation it brought to my family, it strengthened and refined my core values.
As someone who benefited from a Foundation that strives to give academic empowerment to bright yet under privileged children, I have my fair experience of how one kind gesture in the right direction can cause a great change. As such I have decided that in the future, when I do find myself in a good standing, I would take my stand also to extend this kind gesture to others like I benefited from years ago.
The Foundation has had an impact on the community as a whole. Over the last years we have witnessed the foundation undertake road projects abandoned for ages. Not only that, but the foundation can boast of a robust and effective health care strategy which aims at offering quality health care to the underprivileged and vulnerable.
Aside that the foundation is very well invested in awarding scholarships to brilliant but needy students who in the near future will be pillars who will herald greater exploits in the community and world at large.
Rabiatu Yemoley Yemoh, 27
I currently work as an auditor. I am the first student I’m aware of who was supported beginning at the tertiary level, where eight years ago, the Foundation provided a scholarship for me study Business Administration at the Islamic University and I am eagerly anticipating my commencement of an MBA program.
At the time I received support through the Foundation, I was struggling to fund my tertiary education and I was becoming despondent as I thought I wouldn’t be able to join my colleagues so early in school but the foundation made that possible. The support I received from the scholarship enabled me concentrate on my studies.
The impact of the Foundation has been community-wide because I know the beneficiaries do not exist in isolation but are part of the local community. Now that we are better equipped with knowledge and skills, we will use them to change the community for the better.
God richly bless the Director, Mrs. Naomi Vogel for the support, I have not had the opportunity to show you how much I appreciate your support but I‘m looking forward to doing that in the near future. Thank you so much.
Nadia Adjeley Okang, 23
I was 15 and waiting to further my education from the junior high school level to the senior high level when the Foundation provided support to me. I was hoping I’d get the chance to go to senior high school with less financial problems and hoping to work as a journalist but my family had significant constraints.
I had the opportunity to further my education and study freely without financial restraints since that was my main problem. It motivated to set goals and made me cultivate the habit of always wanting to learn more and make most of the opportunities given to me. This perseverance made me strive for the best after I moved on to the next level of education and I was awarded for that. I can proudly say this foundation built the courage I needed because it laid a foundation for me to build on.
After Senior high school I didn’t find it easy gaining admission into a university. I was disappointed in myself because I didn’t want all the support I got from this foundation to be in vain. I finally got the opportunity to enroll in a nursing school at the Family Health Medical School.
Because of my determination to succeed and me thinking of being successful in order to contribute to the foundation in the future, I studied hard and completed after 2 years as the overall best student in my class and three other courses. Without the support I got from this foundation. I wouldn’t have gotten there. The foundation did not only finance my education but also encouraged me to do better and be the best and corrected me wherever I went wrong.
I will like to thank the executives of this foundation especially Mrs. Naomi Vogel and Mr. Maxwell Ahugah; they laid a solid foundation for me. They are gifted at recognizing potential in young people and providing them the support to build on their talent helps in building a community
There exists intersectionality among education, access to healthcare and poverty eradication. According to a report by the Ghana Statistical Service in 2018, access to health services has seen an overall decline over the years. Relatively, there has been an increase in the proportion of the ill or injured that are likely not to consult a doctor or even visit a health facility for treatment. This situation is quite worrying since a healthy population assures increasing economic productivity.
In view of this, the Foundation has not rested on its laurels but has proceeded to offer health-based support to the community. Working in collaboration with the Ababio Memorial Clinic in Labone, the Robert Vogel Memorial Foundation continues to offer financial support for access to quality healthcare to those who need health care but are unable to access it due to financial difficulties.
Currently, the annual bill absorbed by the Foundation on behalf of its beneficiaries stands at almost GH¢10,000, with efforts being put in place to increase the level of health-based support.
The Robert Vogel Memorial Foundation recently constructed a 240-meter bitumen surfaced road for the La – Aborme community which has been neglected for over five decades at the cost of almost GH¢200,000.
In addition, the Foundation has made donations to educational facilities within the community such as the bestowment of books and other teaching materials to the La Anglican JHS. Furthermore, the Foundation has been a source of support, financial and otherwise, to the traditional rulers of the La.
About Robert and Naomi Vogel
Robert Vogel was born on the 8th of June 1919 in Hamburg, Germany where he obtained a Middle School certificate in 1935. After that, he attended a commercial school for a year. He then undertook a full training course as an estate agent and mortgage broker. From April 1938 he was employed by a “Handelsgesellschaft m. b. H.” (a property management company) which belongs to his family.
From April 1939 to March 1945, he was attached to the Labour Service in the Third Reich, military service in the army (non-commissioned officer, no decorations), then a prisoner of war in the USSR until November 1949. He was never a member of the National Socialist Party or one of its organizations, such as the Hitler Youth Movement or the ‘Swing Youth’, a group of young people in Hamburg whose views were dangerously liberal at that time.
Then, in 1949, he became an independent businessman with concentration in land development, building management, letting properties and administration.
In addition to his successful career, Robert Vogel was also politically active. He was Regional Chairman of the FDP (Free Democratic Party) from 1987 to 1993 where he acted as Member of the Hamburg Parliament from June 1987 to October 1993. At the same time, Robert Vogel was a member of the National Executive board of the FDP from 1988 to 1995.
After his work in the Hamburg Parliament, he assumed the duties of the Honorary Consul General of the Czech Republic from April 1993 to June 2003. His attitude in life was also to get involved in social issues. As a typical Hanseatic he made no fuss about it and treated it as an obligation. He acted whenever he saw a need. It should be mentioned at this stage that he was rewarded with numerous honors such as:
- Kingdom of Belgium: „Chevalier de l’Ordre de la Couronne“
- Republic of Italy: “Cavaliere Uffiziale”
- Republic of Austria: “Großes Ehrenzeichen”
- Federal Republic of Germany: “Bundesverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse”
He died after living a fulfilling life in 2008.
Naomi Vogel (nee Yemotsoo Tetteh) was born on the 4th of January 1954 in the colonial town of Abengourou, La Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast).
Her parents were Ghanaians who settled in the Ivory Coast, where her father the late Mr. Joseph Yemoh Osu Tettey alias de Gaulle (assistant to the late Odoi Wulomo) worked. Naomi was sent back to Ghana at the age of 5 years to live with her grandmother at Osu, a suburb of Accra.
In February 1973, shortly after her 18th birthday, she left to study in the United Kingdom – a decision informed by her late sister Mrs. Emelia Yemorkor El Aschkar, wife of the late Mr. Jamil El Aschkar founder of the pharmaceutical company formally known as PHARMADEX.
In the late 70s, Naomi moved from London to Hamburg, Germany. In 1983 she met her late husband, Mr. Robert Vogel. They became friends and the rest is history. He was her mentor, best friend, and her beloved husband.
In 2004, she was diagnosed with an aneurysm; Naomi the fighter successfully went through surgery. To show her gratitude on her full recovery, Naomi explored ways to which she could give back to the indigenes of La; a people she truly loved and cared for and this fuelled her philanthropic journey.
Naomi lost her husband Robert in 2008. Two years after his death, she founded the Robert Vogel Memorial Foundation in La-Accra, to help socially disadvantaged young people in the La-Community (Accra, Ghana) by giving them the opportunity to get a higher education, something which was very dear to the heart of her late husband.
Donation of books to the La Anglican JHS 1
Directors of the foundation at the 2017 Nexus Global Philantropic Summit at the United Nations headquarters – (New York)