Ato the VIM Giver


Look at this picture carefully for a minute. What element of interest strikes you about it. Ok. Let me tell you a brief story with this photo as its fulcrum. The gentleman in the middle is Courage Ahiati, writer of this story.  On my left is my classmate from Opoku Ware School, Dr. Kofi Ulzen Appiah. To my right is his elder brother, Ato.  This picture was taken at the entrance of the legendary Larabanga mosque.  First time hearing about this mosque?  Then you need to take a trip to both Laranbanga and the Mole National park.  Thank me later.

Dr. Ulzen Appiah is a very cool dude but he is not my focus today.  Laranbaga and the interesting stories of its existence are things you must see and hear. However those captivating stories are also not my point of interest.

One calm morning during my national service days, I took a cursory virtual stroll in the Streets of Twitter (those streets were less vicious back then). The word BARCAMP captured my attention. My initial thought – a group of 21st century drunkards trying to promote their stupor agenda on Twitter? I saw a  tweet from Donald Ward, got in touch with him and he explained to me all that BARCAMP was and is still about.  We exchanged contacts and that is how I became part of the GhanaThink Foundation and its baby – BARCAMP GHANA.

That brings me back to the gentle on my right side in the picture, Ato. I might have not said it to his face before. I might have come across as a bit difficult or mischievous in my dealings with him, but I admire a lot of things that he stands for and does.

Photo Credit:

Perhaps you have never heard about him or met him anywhere before.  Let me attempt and squeeze why I have such a tremendous admiration for him into a few words. Ato Ulzen Appiah and his colleagues through GhanaThink Foundation and BARCAMP have and continue to positively touch and transform the lives of a lot of young folks in Ghana. He enthusiastically carries a torch of hope and illuminates the path of so many young people. I am sure the gentleman could have locked himself somewhere in another part of this world and perhaps in a more comfortable and better paying job, but Ato chose to serve his motherland in a rather unique and awe-inspiring manner.

As to how he gets the motivation to do this on a daily basis, I have no iota of idea. His sense of volunteerism is uncommon and worth emulating.  I am unable to go into details on how a lot of young folks have been positively impacted through his works.  I might risk elongating this short story. Maybe I will leave that to any reader who has come in touch with Ato Ulzen Appiah in any way to share their own experiences.

Ato, if you are reading this, know that your efforts are not going down the drain; you are causing positive change in incredible ways that I am sure you have not even imagined.  Keep the torch burning.