Perhaps no one is more familiar with the concept of giving back than Diasporans. Old clothing, toys and books were packed up and shipped “back home” to a myriad of family members in need. Nana Dabanka, the president of Star100, a charitable organization with branches in London and New York that works for the advancement of Ghana, takes that concept above and beyond.
As president of the New York group since 2006, when she took over from James Aggrey-Orleans, she’s been at the helm of various projects that have served Ghanaians, both in the country and in the diaspora, in areas such as healthcare, education and infrastructure. We caught up with Nana to learn more about her work:
ASD: Tell us the story behind the creation of Star 100.
Nana Dabanka: I did not create Star100. William Tewiah, the founder came up with the name because “star” is supposed to symbolize the “Black Star” of Ghana and “100″ because he was aspiring to find 100 members to join the group. We have far exceeded that number today. Star 100London counts more than 500 members and Star 100 New York more than 200 members. In New York, we endearingly refer to our members as “stars.”
You’ve been operating since 2004, has the mission of Star 100 changed over the years?
NB: The core principles of the mission of Star 100 have not changed. [It] was founded based on theGhanaian proverb “WO FORO DUA PA A YE PIA WO” which translated from Akan means “If you climb a good tree, you get a push.” This saying emphasizes how with a common benefit in view, a community will provide the aspiring climber with support and encouragement to help reach and bring down the metaphorical fruit.
I think the approach toward fundraising and networking have changed. We have adopted various ways of raising funds such as bike rides and fundraising parties…with the emergence of social media we are now able to connect via various channels such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter.
The organization was created to be an informal, non-political network of like-minded professionals based in London and New York who have a personal passion for Ghana and a strong desire to make a difference there.