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25.10.2005 Diaspora News

Lebanon: A New Dawn In A New Era

By Emmanuel K. Asiedu
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The Ghanaian Community in Lebanon (G.C.L.) on Sunday October 23, convene its first ever General Assembly after its election of officers under the theme: COMING TOGETHER AS ONE PEOPLE TO THINK AND BUILD. A NEW DAWN IN A NEW ERA.

Leaders and representatives of the various Ghanaian organizations that constitute the G.C.L also attended the meeting, which was graced by the presence of H.E. Mr. Michel Haddad, Honorary Consul General of Ghana to Lebanon.

In his lengthy address, the newly elected Chairperson of the community, Mr. Albert Atta, who is also the Pastor and leader of The Church of Christ thanked H.E. Michel Haddad for honoring the Community's invitation to attend the meeting as the Guest of Honor. He also thanked the leaders and representatives of the various Ghanaian organizations for their support and cooperation and took the chance to brief the community about the history of the G.C.L.

“In the past years, the Ghana Welfare Society (G.W.S) effectively ran this community. But of late, about three or four years ago, the GWS ceased to function, reasons I cannot explain here.

The Executives of the GWS and our religious leaders both Muslim and Christians decided to revive the community again on June 10, 2004 during a meeting here at Peak-Hall.

An interim executive board was appointed to take the responsibility to steer the community for a time being to prepare it for election of a management team.

I was choosing to lead the interim executive as an acting Chairman, and Mr. Mustapha Alhassan Sam and Mr. Samuel Nortey of the Muslim Group and the Ghana Welfare Society respectively acted as liaison officers between the community and the Ghana Consulate. Later on Mr. Emmanuel Asiedu of the Ghanaian Catholics in Lebanon was called upon to help and he became our Publicity Officer bringing all our community news to the Ghanahomepage and thus to Ghana and Ghanaians abroad.

With the backing of the distinguished Leaders of the various Ghanaian organizations and some prominent members among us, it was agreed that each organization presents a maximum of four representatives to form a broader executive board from which a management team that will comprise of: A Chairperson and his Vice, a General Secretary and his Assistant, an Organizer who will head a team of organizers from all the groups, and a four or five member board of Financial trustee to manage the monetary affairs of the community will be elected.

The following are the names of groups and representatives as presented to the interim executive board:

Church of Pentecost: Leader – Elder John Yeboah

Representatives – Mr. Philip Dennis

- Mr. Newking Owusu

- Mr. Jackson Nana Ofori

- Madam Hilda Adoko (Sister Abena) who is also a Special Women representative)

Church of Christ: Leader – Mr. Albert Atta

Representatives - Mr. Robert Owusu

- Mr. Martin Peprah

- Mr. Justice Aborah

- Madam Mary Boachie as a Special Women representative.

A New Dawn in a New Era-3

Catholic Church: Leader – Mr. Vernatus Ankrah

- Mr. Jonathan Oboum

- Mr. Emmanuel K. Asiedu

- Madam Grace Azangbiok, S.W.R and one of the pillars of G.W.S

- Mr. Edmund Dosso, Elder

- Madam Mary Appiah, Special Women Rep.

Muslim Brothers: Leader – Mr. Mustapha Alhassan Sam

- Mr. Musa Balarebe

- Mr. Prince Abubakar, also an elder

- Mr. Bashiru Hassan

Ghana Welfare Society: Leader – Mr. Joseph Ahwireng

- Mr. Samuel Nortey

- Mr. Stephen Boye, also an elder

- Mr. Osman Ayaba

- Mr. John Koto, also an elder

Baptist Church Haddath: Leader – Mr. Isaac Anum Williams

- Mr. Joseph Amoah, also an elder

- Madam Evelyn Eshun, also a Special Women Rep.

Cross Baptist Church: Leader – Mr. Sam Borqueh

- Mr. Dennis Afari

- Mr. Kwame Ben, also an elder.

- Mr. Richard Kojo Addison, also an elder.

Independent Candidate representing Ghanaians who does not belong to any of the above groups and resides in the Zalka vicinity – Mr. Asuo Kumi.

Deliberations went on, and on August 28, 2005 all representatives met at the residence of Mr. Mustapha Alhassan Sam, a convenient place for such small-scale meetings since the Interim Administration has no money in its coffers to pay for rentals.

Elections took place as planned, and I am hereby delighted to present to you officers elected:

Chairman – Mr. Albert Atta – Church of Christ

Vice- Chairman – Mr. Mustapha Alhassan Sam – Muslim Group

General Secretary – Mr. Osman Ayaba – Ghana Welfare Society

Assistant General Secretary – Mr. Jonathan Obuam – Ghanaian Catholics in Lebanon.

Head of Organizing Team – Mr. Emmanuel K. Asiedu – Ghanaian Catholics in Lebanon.

Mr. Joseph Ahwireng, Chairman of GWS and initiator of GCL, was present during the elections, but declined to assume any post citing personal reasons, which the board understood and accepted.” En quote.

Mr. Albert Atta went on to bring the community up to date with GCL's dealings with the Consulate.

“During this transitional period, we have done a great deal of work in collaboration with our Consul General H.E. Mr. Michel Haddad, and the office of the consulate most of which you yourselves are witnesses to. In spite of the current political situation in the country, we managed with the tireless effort of our Consul to send home our sick and the critically stranded under special consideration from the immigration. All our detainees both in prisons and the immigration detention center have been successfully sent home with the exception of about two new cases which we are still finding solutions to,” he said.

The Chairman's speech, however took a bitter tune when he mentioned efforts of some members of the GWS to sabotage the hard work of the GCL by withdrawing from the meeting at the last minute, saying “their efforts will not bring down the strong team of church organizations and their Muslim counterpart who are determined to move ahead.”

However he said all efforts would be made to bring every Ghanaian in Lebanon on board. “Ghanaians in Lebanon lacks behind, and although we have a lot of grievances we can still do much for ourselves and also for the less-privileged back home like others are doing elsewhere by cooperating and thinking positively.”

Leaders and representatives of the various groups who took turns to address the community reigned in their gratitude to the Consul General for his support, encouragement and dedication towards the community. They also praised the good work of the Chairman and his team and pledged their continue support and cooperation.

On his part, the Consul General and Guest of Honor H.E Michel Haddad thanked the community for their cooperation with his office, and promised better future through collaboration and solidarity, but urged the newly elected executives to do all in their power to bring the GWS fully into the community. “Together we stand, divided we fall,” he said.

The Guest of Honor also donated $220 (Two hundred and twenty US dollars) to the community during an appeal for funds and stressed on the need for the Community to be prepared financial in order to meet its obligations.

In her vote of thanks, Madam Grace Azangbiok on behalf of the Community again thanked the Consul General for his fatherly affection with which he stood behind the community, and advised members not to leave all the Community's work on the Chairman and his team alone, but to work hand –in-hand.

A formal letter of update on the outcome of the election jointly signed by all leaders of the various groups with the exception of the GWS was given to the Consul. A formal declaration is also to be forwarded to The Ghana Mission in Cairo and also to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Accra through the Consulate in Beirut.

The Vice Chairman and leader of the Muslim Group, Mr. Mustapha Alhassan Sam was absent. He is currently on a one-month vacation to Ghana.