2015 YOUTH AWARD
EPF Educational Empowerment Initiative
In 2010, Winnifred Selby visited the Northern region of her native Ghana and encountered children who faced incredible obstacles to pursuing their education. She saw children who walked barefoot several miles to school, exposing their feet daily to injury and soil-transmitted diseases. She learned about the horrible lengths some girls had to go to procure sanitary pads and the health risks they faced by using improvised supplies. Moved to help these children meet their basic needs, she founded EPF Educational Empowerment Initiative to empower young people from deprived communities by breaking down barriers to education.
Winnifred’s Menstrual Pads for Dignity Project provides free disposable menstrual products for needy girls in the most deprived districts in Ghana. In addition, the initiative provides hygiene, reproductive, and financial education for the girls it serves. The result has been a drastic reduction in the high rates of menstruation-related absenteeism among school-aged girls.
World of Children connected Winnifred with Procter & Gamble’s Always Keeping Girls in School initiative in Sub-Saharan Africa and together, the three organizations have launched a three-party program to expand the Menstrual Pads for Dignity Project. Read more about the issue, and the project here.
For Winnifred, there was still more to do. She started the Happy Feed Initiative, which complements the government of Ghana free school feeding and free uniforms program by providing new shoes and other educational supplies such as bags, books, and calculators to needy school children in deprived communities. The result has been an increase in school enrollment. The initiative also integrates a deworming program, where children are treated for soil-transmitted worm infestation, which causes a host of serious health problems and often prevents children from attending school or being able to concentrate while in class.
Working in partnership with private universities in Ghana, she also started the Ghana Girls College Scholarship program which offers scholarships to brilliant but needy high school girls who would ordinarily not be able to afford the cost of a college education. Each participating university offers a tuition free scholarship to one girl each year, and the Foundation raises funds to support the student’s books, accommodations, and associated costs to attend the college.
Winnifred is also a successful social entrepreneur. At the age of 15, Winnifred co-founded Ghana Bamboo Bikes, a socio-ecological green initiative that employs and trains youth in building high quality handcrafted bamboo bikes. Ghana Bamboo Bikes directs 15% of profits to funding EPF Educational Empowerment Initiative projects.