Georgina Kwakye is a former TV presenter and actress, who now works as a communications specialist and trainer. She has been a valuable partner in the CD4D project since 2017. Since 2020, she has been involved in the CD4D Ambassador campaign, which aims to make diaspora engagement more visible in the Netherlands. This article highlights her story and motivation to work with diaspora communities.
“My name is Georgina Kwakye and I am half Ghanese, half Hungarian, and born and raised in the Netherlands. I am proud of my Ghanaian father and Hungarian mother. Both came to the Netherlands and worked as doctors. They always stayed connected to their countries of origin by transferring their knowledge.
My father´s dream was to build a hospital in his hometown. He lost his mother due to pneumonia when he was ten years old. This tragic life event motivated him to become a doctor. He received a scholarship and got the chance to study in Europe. He stayed there to work as a heart surgeon but living in the West was not easy. It was difficult to get settled as a migrant and there was inequality. He visited Ghana on a regular basis and wanted to give something back to his community.
He started different projects like an ambulance service, scholarship program and the construction of a hospital. As an 83-year-old, he remains committed to supporting the people in his hometown with his knowledge and expertise.
The garage at my parents’ house in the Netherlands was always stuffed with hospital beds and medical equipment. My father shipped these items to Ghana once every three months for the hospital he was building. Moreover, he was helping the community to improve their living standards.
In 2005, I went to Ghana with my father to see what he was working on, and I filmed his projects. His approach inspired me and gave me a whole different view on development cooperation; development support from within, from the people who know the best of both worlds. Like my father who managed to transfer his knowledge, which he had gained in the Netherlands, into concrete tools to start successful development initiatives in his country of origin. For example, he bought two ambulances and started an ambulance center because he was astonished that patients had to walk for many kilometers or had to be carried to the hospital.
I founded the ‘Ghanasi’ Foundation in 2007 to financially support my father’s projects and I organized fundraising events. I made my father and his projects visible to the Dutch public. We received many positive reactions. In 2009, the hospital which we had built in Ghana was opened.
I am convinced that migrants and diaspora have an important added value within development cooperation. Their contribution to improving the socio-economic situation in their countries of origin is important and often successful because they know the culture. I realized that my father is probably not the only one contributing to his country of origin. That is why I started the ‘Pimp My Village’ Foundation and platform to support diaspora and migrant organizations.
Over the past 10 years I have given capacity building and visibility training to support diaspora – and migrant organizations. I started working for IOM the Netherlands to raise awareness about the important role of diaspora and migrants in development cooperation.
Most of these diaspora members studied in western countries, which enables them to integrate their expertise from these countries into development projects. Moreover, they exchange knowledge to help improve the socioeconomic situation in their country of origin. In this way diaspora and migrants can effectively help reduce poverty, support access to education and healthcare, and encourage business innovations. Their connections last, which makes the projects sustainable.
For me, using the expertise of diaspora and migrants is crucial in development cooperation. Support for development cooperation should come from within the community. That is why I aim to support diasporas and migrants through training and coaching sessions.”