“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”
– Colin Powell

Ernestina Edem Appiah, born in 1977 is a Ghanaian virtual assistant by profession and a social entrepreneur. She is an inspiring lady and AWLO recognizes her this month as one of our extraordinary voices. We get to explore how inspiring and awesome she is.

Ernestina is inspiring for a number of reasons. Her story highlights a determined and focused lady who was able to shape her life to be something she wanted it to be,and give back to society in what little way she could.

HER DETERMINATION

Ernestina Appiah is the founder of the Ghana code club but before that she worked as a secretary for a Ghanian IT consultancy firm. Ernestina has always wanted a career in IT and when she saw the work the only lady in the consultancy firm did, it inspired her to take the bold step to learn all about HTML and all things relating to IT. She can be quoted as saying;

“I have always desired to have a career in IT, after starting working as a secretary for a Ghanaian IT consultancy firm in Accra in 2000. I admired the consultants as they carried along with their work, especially the only lady in their midst”

Even with her determination to learn, she says how she found the price of going to school to learn very expensive. But that didn’t stop her from learning. She was so determined that she found a way to get what she wanted;

“…I opted to hire a web designer to teach me the fundamentals of programming using HTML. This was how I got introduced into the IT industry. I then started practicing on my own, day-in and day-out to perfect my skills…”

Ernestina’s determination made it possible for her to have her career in the IT industry but did she stop there, no! she decided to give back to society by creating an NGO geared called the Healthy Career Initiative and also consequently founded the Ghana Code Club.

THE HEALTHY CAREER INITIATIVE AND THE GHANA CODE CLUB

Ernestina’s Healthy Career Initiative is a not for profit geared towards teaching and mentoring girls in the field of information, communication and technology. She cites how her life story influenced her to do this in order to help young girls.

“…I was so happy and overly excited about the paradigm shift in my life that I yearned to share my story and mentor girls into the field of information, communication and technology”

Not only did she start this, Enestina realized that there was a need for children to be taught at an early age about technology, coding etc. This occurred to her when she was trying to teach her son the basics of programming;

“One day as my son turned 5 years, I was looking for a platform to train him on the basics of programming when I came across a group of children from the UK using the Makey Technology kits to create digital content and fun activities, which picked my interest…”

She cites how this made her transition from the Healthy Career Initiative to the Ghana Code Club which is geared towards youth digital literacy. She believes children shouldn’t only know how to use technology but should also know how it works. Hence, the organization teaches children basic programming skills with projects from Scratch, HTML+ CSS and python.

The club gives children the chance to learn how to create and design games, animation etc. When asked in an interview why she’s teaching children coding, she had this to say;

[Tweet ““Learning to code is an important skill now that we are living in a digital age… Learning to code doesn’t just mean you can become a developer – it strengthens problem solving and logical thinking skills, and is useful for a range of other disciplines, careers and hobbies.””]

“Learning to code is an important skill now that we are living in a digital age… Learning to code doesn’t just mean you can become a developer – it strengthens problem solving and logical thinking skills, and is useful for a range of other disciplines, careers and hobbies.”

Not only is the club for children, they also train ICT teachers to be more proficient and updated.

Although she faces struggles such as funding, it doesn’t stop her and her team of volunteers from doing what little they can and to influence the world and that alone makes Ernestina an inspiration.

She is one of the 30 Extraordinary Voices featured in the Women’s Month Series by AWLO. Click on your favorite social media button below to share if you have been inspired by Ernestina Appiah.