Goodwill Ambassador Misako Konno sees Ghana's Development gains
UNDP NewsfrontAugust 7, 2003 Posted to the web August 8, 2003
UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Misako Konno spent four days in Ghana last week visiting joint UNDP-Japan projects to see development at work, as part of the countdown to the third Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD III), to be held from 29 September to 1 October. As she travelled through the country, Ms. Konno, a well-known author and actress in Japan, reached out to Ghanaians from all walks of life, learning about their experiences and conveying to them that the United Nations and the Japanese people care about their well-being and progress. Initiatives such as those she visited will be reviewed at the Tokyo Conference, which will chart future development priorities for all of Africa. Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama commended Ms. Konno for "keeping track of progress towards the Millennium Development Goals on her visit." The goals, endorsed by world leaders at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000, range from halting the spread of HIV/AIDS to putting all children in school, and aim to lift hundreds of millions of people out of extreme poverty by 2015. A dramatic durbar (convocation) of Chiefs and local people in Odumase Krobo, 50 kilometres from the capital Accra, welcomed Ms. Konno and her husband, where they saw the untiring efforts by traditional women leaders in the campaign against HIV/AIDS. Responding to the plight of nearly 600 children in the area orphaned by HIV/AIDS, 370 members of the Manya Krobo Queen Mothers Association have assumed responsibility for the care and education of 466 of the children. Civic groups, with support from the Ghana AIDS Commission, are caring for 120 more children. Ms. Konno donated school supplies for the children, and said: "The Ghanaian people welcomed me with warm hospitality and heartfelt kindness. When I shared embraces with the Queen Mothers, I felt from the bottom of my heart that we are all fellow human beings regardless of our race, cultures, and countries." To symbolize the bond between them, the Association installed Ms. Konno as a Queen Mother with the title Nene Lako. Esther Kpabitey, project coordinator of the UNDP HIV/AIDS Orphans Initiative, welcomed Ms. Konno and the opportunity to exchange ideas on stemming the ravages of HIV/AIDS. UNDP, with support from Japan, has helped the AIDS Commission formulate national policy guidelines on care and support for children orphaned by the pandemic. Ms. Konno also visited a project that brings information and communications technology (ICT) to thousands of school children on two buses equipped with computers, an initiative at the Supreme Court and Accra High Court to modernize the judicial system through ICT and staff training, and the Clothing and Technology Training Centre in Accra, set up by Ghana's President J.A. Kufuor.The centre, with support from the UNDP Private Sector Development Programme, has trained 1,500 men and women for jobs in the garment and textile sector, part of a major effort to spur exports and create employment opportunities. This was Ms. Konno's fourth trip for UNDP since she was appointed Goodwill Ambassador in 1998. For further information please contact Iddrisu Siddiq, UNDP Ghana, Akiko Fujii, UNDP Tokyo Liaison Office, or Cassandra Waldon, UNDP Communications Office.