Born and raised in abject poverty, Shadrack O. Frimpong has defied numerous odds to win this year’s Future Award in the upcoming 2017 Ghana Legacy Honors for his involvement in community health and education for poor children in his village, Tarkwa-Breman, in western Ghana.
Frimpong’s work has been recognized by the U.S. White House, Ghana’s Flagstaff House, and former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. He has also had an opportunity to dine with the world’s most powerful people, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
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Speaking to Face2Face Africa, Frimpong expressed his delight and gratitude for winning this year’s Future Award, which celebrates individuals whose work is expected to shape Ghana’s future.
Frimpong was inspired to pursue a medical career, after suffering a life-threatening infection as a young boy back. At the time, his two legs were almost amputated since local herbalists couldn’t find a cure; yet, he “miraculously” survived the infection.
“This experience taught me about the importance of second chances, which I like to term as ‘life’s greatest miracle.’ I have since committed to live a life that will provide others with second chances too,” Frimpong says.
With the help of a Ghana Cocoa Board scholarship, Frimpong was able to enroll at Opoku Ware School in Kumasi, Ghana, and later joined the University of Pennsylvania in the United States, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology in 2015 as a flagbearer, university scholar, and the first Black student to be awarded the prestigious $150,000 President’s Prize.
See how he won the President’s Prize at the University of Pennsylvania here:
While in college, Frimpong founded the Tarkwa Breman Community Alliance, which runs a school for girls and a community hospital back in his village. The foundation is funded by proceeds from a cocoa plantation in Tarkwa-Breman.
Today, Frimpong is also the founder of the Students for a Healthy Africa, which offers free health insurance for HIV/AIDS orphans in Ghana and runs a health clinic and portable water well in two communities in Nigeria, and the African Research Academies for Women, a fellowship that bridges the gap between male and female scientists in Africa through yearly summer research internships.
Succeeding Against the Harshest Odds
The Legacy Awards celebrate achievements made by Ghanaians both locally and globally and look at the positive impact they have had on the country’s image and future.
Frimpong adds, “It is an endorsement of our collective efforts in healing and empowering lives in rural Ghana. It symbolizes a belief in the resilience and strength of rural Ghanaian farmers and their unique ability to re-channel that energy in sustaining social services like education and health care in their own community.”
For Frimpong, his biggest inspiration are his parents who, in spite of their abject poverty, worked hard to provide him and his brother with the opportunities they never had. His father worked as a farm laborer, and his mother traveled long distances to sell charcoal.
“My passions stem deep from my parents’ deep-seated convictions that if we strive hard enough for ourselves and for others, we can improve our own circumstances and positively transform the lives of others as well,” Frimpong says.
His greatest wish is to see Africa become a place where health equity, with a particular focus on rural medicine, and gender equality in accessing education is a basic human right and not a privilege.
This year’s Ghana Legacy Honors event will be held on March 25th at Movenpick Ambassador Hotel in Accra, Ghana.