Ibrahim, the self-taught artist

I came across Ibrahim on LinkedIn when he dropped a message in my inbox advertising his works and inquiring if I was interested in acquiring some of his pieces for my home or office. I decided to inquire further about his works and requested for his brochure. Although am yet to get one I felt, why not share his story with others?

Here is a short piece of the interview I had with him mainly through email interactions.

Why art?

Art, because for me it’s the only thing on earth as old as man that doesn’t discriminate or judge, and I believe with it I can make a difference.

What drives you?

First and foremost God and secondly, my doubters.

God, because I see everything He has created as a piece of art from which I derive my inspirations from.
When I say I have a lot of doubters to prove wrong, I mean it in a positive sense. Not everyone will believe in what you do. In the past I’ve had people say I will not get anywhere with my art career and because of that I never gave up. It was this desire to prove them wrong that has helped me to come this far.

” Everyone has what it takes to paint the world just as an artist paints on his canvas.”

Ibrahim

What are the challenges you encountered and how did you manage to overcome them?

As a self-taught artist, raising money for art supplies was my greatest challenge and in the past, I have always neglected my love for art in search of jobs in factories. These experiences have had both positive and negative impact on my art career.

The talent has always been there but nurturing it required a lot of dedication. After my secondary education at O’Reilly senior high I wanted to learn how to paint since what I was taught was mostly theoretical. Unfortunately, the artist who was to teach me told me an artist I know had informed him to turn me down whenever I came over. It was a surprise to me since I had not discussed these plans with any other person. Irrespective of this, he was still ready to take me on but I didn’t return as I felt discouraged. It was at this point that I decided to learn on my own by practicing.

I was able to finally raise money for my art supplies by doing pencil portraits for friends online via Facebook.

How do you use your art for charitable purposes?

I live in a rural area in the central region of Ghana, where I see lots of children of school going age that due to no fault of theirs don’t have formal education. So what I do is to bring them together to teach them how to draw and paint. I use part of the money I get from my art sales to buy art supplies for them.

I believe working with children is like planting a seed.

Artist for Humanity_kids sample

Art piece completed by one of the kid’s under his tutelage

Word of advice or motivation

” Everyone has what it takes to paint the world just as an artist paints on his canvas.” It means that everything in life is beautiful depending on who is looking at it.

 

Samples of his artwork

art 1art 2art 3art 4art 5

 He currently has two kids under this tutelage and his paintings cost between GHS500 to GHS5,000. If you are interested in purchasing any or supporting any of the kids you can contact him directly through a phone call or email.

Contact details

Phone number:  +233 547 115 079
Email: myartmirrorkoncept@gmail.com

 

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/artistsforhumanityint/

Maternity leave in Ghana (#6monthsmaternityleave)

I had this topic saved as a draft as far back as 10 October 2015 but never got around to completing it.The motivation to finally sit down to get it completed was after I saw an online petition requesting parliament’s approval for 6 months maternity leave. Just in case you are not aware yet, kindly check out the link to the petition and don’t forget to share. The greater the number of people talking about this, the better.

Days after seeing this petition circulating on social media, I received a call from a friend asking if it was true that parliament had finally approved the 6 months period of leave. Thoughts running through my mind were, if this turns out to be true would it have a prospective or retrospective effect? Would employers buy into this extension? I quickly googled and checked with my HR but sadly that was not the case. My excitement quickly died down, I was really looking forward to an extension as I am currently on maternity leave and coming to the less shocking realisation that the 3 months period is just too short!!

So I decided to do a brief write-up on this and possibly suggest some potential win-win alternatives.

What is maternity leave?

Maternity leave according to the Oxford dictionary, is defined as a period of absence from work granted to a mother prior to and post childbirth.

The hustle with planning one’s leave can be likened to balancing a scale where weights on either sides are uneven. You wish for rest for your exhausted self prior to delivery but that also eats into your already insufficient 3 months (12 weeks). There are situations where ladies go into labour at work…….no worries they always drive to and from work with their hospital bag in the boot,so just like the boys’ scouts and girl guides, they are always prepared!

Why is maternity leave considered essential?

Paid parental leave (this includes paternity leave which some companies have started granting to fathers) based on research can have substantial positive effects on both the mother and child.

It gives the mother some time to readjust plus allow parents some time to bond with the baby. The most important is to give the baby the opportunity to be exclusively breastfed for 6 months.

We currently have day care centres that enroll kids as early as 3 months so the argument would be why not just pack some milk and bundle the little one to daycare. That should be easy! It’s not that easy breezy, pumping of breast milk is no small task and not all working mothers are endowed with abundant milk supply like others and the hours spent at work with no place to extract milk might eventually deplete the already scanty baby chopbox. Our 6 months exclusivity KPI then goes down the drain!

What research reveals……………….

In a study by Chatterji and Markowitz (2012) on the impact of family leave after birth on the maternal health, it was concluded that having more than 8 or 12 weeks of maternity leave resulted in a lower likelihood of depression occurring and improves the maternal health with a positive impact on the child’s health and well-being.

According to the study, there is however limited research on the impact of paternity leave on the health of the mother and the baby.

My wish is for more research to be conducted on the impact of paternity leave on the family. Should you find any relevant article kindly do share with me (omtsdigest@gmail.com).

What the Labour act states

According to the Ghana Labour Act 2003 (Act 651) the following are entitlements of nursing mothers:

  • At least 12 weeks of maternity paid leave after which annual leave days could be added;
  • Additional 2 weeks for abnormal (eg. Is birth via c-section) confinements or multiple births;
  • Any other medical reasons attested to by a medical practitioner resulting from the confinement;
  • An hour a day to nurse the baby.

Note the underlined and boldened text. The Act states a minimum of 12 weeks paid, there is however no limitation on an employer to make this their maximum as is mostly the case. Employers can change the status quo without waiting on parliament’s approval especially if their values includes work-life balance and maximising contributions of women in the work place.

Views on maternity leave

The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has been advocating for some time now on the below:

  • extension of maternity leave from the current 3 months to 6 months to encourage working mothers to exclusively breastfeed for the 6 months period
  • mandatory nurseries set up in both public and private institutions

It is the view that although this would be costly to the employer, in terms of the overall impact employers should see the benefits from the long-term perspective in terms of human resource development (ie. Allowing mothers time to effectively raise well-trained and healthy children who would be the future workforce of the country) (Awadzi, 2013).

Others view maternity leave as a form of discrimination. What is their argument? They are of the opinion that having a child is a personal decision and  an employer is not obligated to pay you for charting this course.

What can I say? Sadly I have come to the realisation that one cannot have it all. You either excel at work at the expense of your family and vice versa. A colleague once confided in me on how devastated she felt when she did not get promoted. Mind you, this is a very hardworking person but due to her absence from being on maternity leave, she lost out. But as I always tell my friends, its your choice on whether you prefer work or family to suffer.

Examples from other countries

 Maternity leave days range from as low as 12 weeks to as high as 420 days. Will not delve into details but if you have the time, you can access details on maternity leave by countries from the International Labour Organisation’s website.

My views

 

I am strongly for 6 months of paid maternity leave, which mother would not want this? In as much as we would wish for this the best option would be to reach a common ground where employers do not feel it’s a cost to pay an employee on maternity leave for 6  months. Granting this might in the long-term result in discrimination towards ladies in the workplace and especially in the quest to search for a job.

Based on the above, I would suggest the following:

  • How about an employee setting the pace in Ghana by granting 6 months paid leave, after all the 3 months is just the minimum so why go low when you can go high?
  • Employers could have options available to enable an employee to decide bearing in mind the minimum 3 months period. Examples could be 3 months (full salary) + next 3 months (50% or whatever percentage is agreed on), 3 months (full salary) + 3 months (full salary to work from home) this is dependent on the nature of the work
  • Incorporating flexible working hours for nursing mothers
  • Maintain the minimum 3 months and set up a nursery within the vicinity of the workplace, with payments to be deducted from source. This would enable mothers have the peace of mind and also succeed with exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months. Before this option is punched down because of costs, the other alternative would be to partner with a day care close to the workplace (employer can even negotiate a discount).

What are your thoughts and experiences? What are other companies doing that others could emulate or learn from?

Just in case you forgot to sign the petition with the link I provided earlier. No need to scroll up, you can access it: change.org (petition for maternity leave in Ghana to be extended to 6 months)

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Further reading
Anon., n.d. Section – 57 – Maternity, Annual and Sick Leave.. [Online]
Available at: http://laws.ghanalegal.com/acts/id/162/section/57/Maternity,_Annual_And_Sick_Leave
[Accessed 16 April 2017].
Awadzi, H., 2013. Six months maternity leave is a must. [Online]
Available at: https://www.ghanabusinessnews.com/2013/07/15/six-months-maternity-leave-is-a-must/
[Accessed 23 March 2017].
Chatterji, P. & Markowitz, S., 2012. Family Leave After Childbirth and the Mental Health of New Mothers. The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics, Volume 15, pp. 61-76.
Oxford University Press, 2017. Definition of maternity leave in English. [Online]
Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/maternity_leave
[Accessed 18 March 2017].
Women&&Tech, 2017. Paid maternity leave. [Online]
Available at: http://womenandtech.com/infographic-paid-maternity-leave/
[Accessed 17 April 2017].

 

Quote

Food for thought

I came across an old post of mine and I thought it best to share with you. 🙂

Appreciation for the good and the bad

How come when bad things come our way we question God and ask for the cup of suffering to be taken away from us?

……Yet when it’s all rosy we do NOT question God or ask for the cup of happiness to be taken away……..

We all love good things but let’s bear in mind that the road of life would not always be smooth, there would certainly be some bumps here and there,

Irrespective of the size of the bump let’s give thanks to God,

Whatever you may be facing today may be the stepping stone to greater heights.

No matter the circumstance, let’s rather focus on counting our blessings instead of bemoaning our struggles.

Have a bumpy free day and should you encounter any bump remember to sail through it like the PRINCE or PRINCESS you are. Our father, the KING would most certainly be proud of you.

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Diary of a Ghanaian taxi driver 3

This post has been sitting in my drafts since June 2016, that’s how long I have been preoccupied with family, work and other equally important things. This is a continuation of my personal project of documenting my encounters with taxi drivers.

On this particular day my assigned official car had gone for servicing so I had to wait to be picked by hubby. He was also stuck in traffic around Kanda and we had to pick our daughter up from school latest by 6pm to avoid paying any late penalty fees. It’s not that much but as an accountant it’s a cost that could be prevented and utilised in other areas………….the opportunity cost of money…………in order to avoid it we decided that I would take a cab to her school for him to pick us both from her school. I don’t recall the name of the driver but we had an interesting conversation………

Date and time check: 30 June 2016 at 5:24pm

Me: How long have you been in the taxi driving business?

Driver: I have been doing this for the past 10 years.

Me: Is this your own car?

Driver: Yes. I initially started as a side driver, then later saved to buy my own cab.

Me: How much did it cost you?

Driver: GHS 6,000

Me: So how are your earnings like?

Driver: On average I can make GHS40 per day and GHS1,000 on a monthly basis.

Me: Are you married (Me and my small body with the BIG mouth!)

Driver: No am not. I got my heart-broken by a lady and since then it is difficult for me to trust ladies. Luckily I was saved and counselled by a pastor.

This is the part that kills me…………..

Driver: Although am not married, as a man I have to satisfy my desires.

Me: Please explain further, I don’t understand. (I asked in an innocent tone).

Driver: I patronize the services of the night workers at St. John’s (area at Dome).

Me: Why do you do that if you are not married? Your pastor and God won’t like it. And how much do you pay for this?

Driver: About GHS50

Me: Instead of going this way why don’t you save the money and settle down with a respectable lady?

(He laughs at my proposition then says he has heard me)

Ironically just when we got to my destination and I was about paying up his pastor called……..I told him to tell his pastor what he has been up to.

I discovered a new short cut the same day thanks to this driver. That’s the route I now use to drop and pick up my daughter which helps me escape the Westlands traffic.So sometimes it’s worth it to ditch your ride and pick a cab or troski!!!

Share your taxi driver experiences with us: the lessons and the fun stories and you would be featured on this blog. Use the hashtag ‘taxidriverdiaries’ and ‘omtsdigest’.

 

The shattered joy of parenthood

This short piece is specially dedicated to all parents who have either lost their kids at a young age or the expectant parents who did not get the opportunity to meet their precious angels. May God continue to grant you strength and may the beautiful and precious souls of these little angels rest in perfect piece.

I WONDER

Sometimes I sit in deep thoughts and wonder, what would have been the best;

For you to have never given me any hope of your possible existence, my dearest.

Or the thought of knowing that although you left too early,  I was blessed with the opportunity of knowing how it feels to be a mother,

It hurts that I never experienced the opportunity to know how you were going to be a sweet bother,

For you to grow within and feel your kicks as the days go by,

Only for you to leave without a proper goodbye;

At least I caught a glimpse of you, but would have loved to touch and cradle you for a little longer,

Sometimes I try to picture how you would look growing up but since you are gone, does it really matter?

Sometimes I feel sorry and saddened especially for those who left too early in the developmental stage,

How could their parents even create beautiful memories to fill their minds pages;

What of those who bonded well but got devastated as you spent a shorter time with them on earth,

That could potentially stop a mothers’ breath,

No amount of words, what ifs or had I known would bring you back,

How I wish I got the opportunity to hold you more and spend time with you,

But I hear it’s best this way because if we had bonded, it would have been difficult to easily let go of you,

Sometimes I wonder which is best: to have spent a short time with you on earth after the long nine months or to have you leave without completing your full sentence of nine-months.

However, am grateful you left. 

Because of you I started a journey of positive self discovery,

I discovered talents I never knew existed,

I discovered an inner strength that I knew not of,

I began to reset my priorities,

I became a motivation and mentor for other mothers,

I discovered new passions,

Your absence brought us closer and forged an unbreakable bond,

And most importantly I knew God hadn’t failed me yet, he needed to reposition us on the correct path before blessing us with another,

MOST IMPORTANTLY!!!

Value what you have and make time for the things you value. You never know when it will be too late to go back.

Piece is inspired by Jordan and Jayden who never experienced life on earth and Jesse who lived for a short while. You are eternally etched in our memories. Lots of love from mom, dad and Janessa.

FOREVER GRATEFUL TO GOD!