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Our inspiring community: Amma

In these extraordinary times, we’re celebrating the resilience, resourcefulness and compassion of our community.

  • Date

    Tue 11 Aug 20

Essex nursing student Amma Frimpong is currently completing her final placement on the NHS frontline, while another project has seen her fellow students help her support future female leaders in her native Ghana.

“You know, with education you can use it anywhere - nothing is wasted really.”

Amma Frimpong grew up in Ghana. Before coming to Essex, she studied both computer science and education, and worked developing parenting classes, with a specific focus on helping fathers who had children with challenging behaviour.

In 2017, she set up a social enterprise in the UK, Bridging Families, and a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Ghana. The NGO sets up reading clubs by shipping ex-library books from the UK to deprived areas in Ghana, enabling children between the ages of 4 and 16 years to continue their education.

Amma came to Essex in 2019 to complete a postgraduate degree in Adult Nursing, and in February was nominated for a national Student Nursing Award.

“I was shocked, but I was also humbled, to be picked,” she says. “I think it was eight of us nominated out of over 500 people.”

How has COVID-19 been for you?

“Those of us who were due to finish our degrees within six months were given the option to go on placement in the NHS. I chose to work in the community.”

“When COVID struck, we were all a little bit apprehensive but, you know, being a nurse is like being a soldier - you just want to go to the battlefield."

During her placement, Amma has continued to receive support from her tutors as well as from Essex Partnership University Trust: “We learn each day.”

Last year, Amma was encouraged by one of her tutors to apply to the Student Nursing Awards because of her contribution to families and children abroad.

“I saw the work of an NGO called Achievers Ghana on Facebook. Achievers Ghana works against child marriage, helping girls to stay in education, gain skills and become potential future leaders.

“I visit my parents every year and I thought instead of just going on holiday and being on the beach, you know, I could use the skills I picked up from running parenting classes and family learning groups, visit these girls and just read to them.

“These girls would print stories from the internet to read. I started a reading club called Shining Stars so they would have access to good story books. We had over 100 girls the first time.”

Returning home, she took the next step. “I showed my son’s head teacher the photos I had taken of the reading group and he said they were refurbishing their library and had books to give away.

“Another library in Redbridge said they were actually praying for someone to collect their withdrawn books.

“I shipped 47 boxes - 5000 books - to set up the first Shining Stars Reading Club.

“The first shipment went to Achievers Ghana. I then set up a second reading club in another area with the help of my fellow nursing students at Essex. They helped me with the shipment.

“I've got another 20 boxes of books sitting in my shed, waiting to be shipped.”

How will you remember your time at Essex?

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Essex.”

Amma feels the analytical skills she has developed at Essex have helped her in the current crisis: “I remember someone saying you have to ‘exhaust the whys’, you know. Why is this happening? What do I need to change? You have to keep asking ‘Why?’ until you have exhausted all the questions. That becomes part and parcel of you and it changes your mindset.”

“Two years have just flown by so quickly. It’s been hectic, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

"In the masters group it was eleven of us and we really supported each other. You cannot do this by yourself - the community spirit has to be there.”

“I’m still involved with the University, as part of a focus group tackling racism, so Essex will be part of me for quite a while.”