Nyarko Twum Berima, known as Twum, has been working with our office in Ghana for five years and now serves as Partnership Facilitator Supervisor.
Twum attended a small-village elementary school and proceeded to secondary school, where he obtained his ordinary and advanced levels certificate in education. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology as well as a master’s in business administration.
Twum is married to Esther. They have three children — a girl and two boys. His daughter, age 4, is the oldest; the second child is a 2-year-old boy and the youngest child is an 8-month-old baby boy.
I spent some time getting to know Twum and learning more about his work in Ghana.
What did you do before coming to Compassion?
I pastored a small church in Accra and also worked part-time with the Scripture Union. One day the then General Director of the Union informed me that his friend was bringing Compassion International to Ghana and that they were looking for qualified people.
I went to the Compassion website to find out more about them. I realized that they were into holistic child development, which was in line with what I was already doing as a youth and children’s pastor. So I applied, went for an interview and got the job.
I started as a Program Facilitator and not too long after that, I was promoted to Senior Partnership Facilitator. I combined the work of a facilitator with the work of a Complementary Interventions Administrator. In the course of time, the Program Manager left and I acted in that position for 11 months.
Fortunately a new Programs Manager and a Complementary Interventions Administrator were hired and I moved to the position of Program [Partnership?] Facilitator Supervisor. That has been my position for the past two years.
Does this mean that your work load has been reduced?
Not really; I am now supervising 10 Program Facilitators and I am also responsible for new church partners.
I am in charge of recommending church partners to our office. I still do some of the Complementary Interventions proposals, monitor Complementary Interventions activities in the child development centers, and write some of the Complementary Interventions completion reports.
In addition to these responsibilities, I am actively involved in advocacy issues. So my work has rather increased.
What is your favorite part of your current role?
The advocacy issue is very exciting for me because you are supposed to think outside the box and do something. There is always more room for you to explore and discover new ways to help.
For example, we realized that children in Ghana are normally in their school for a greater part of the day. So together with the Country Director and others, we started child protection training for teachers’ training colleges.
With this training we hope that teachers in the making will be informed about child issues before they step into the classroom and that they will treat children well and be advocates for them.
I get bored with routine and I love to explore. Advocacy activities give me new opportunities and variety in my work.
What are the challenges you face in your role?
There are a lot of challenges. Most common are conflicts within the child development centers. Sometimes a center worker will have a misunderstanding with a church partner committee member or a pastor.
Some conflicts can become long and drawn out and it is a big challenge to find a lasting resolution, which sometimes makes my work hard.
The most heartbreaking aspect of my work is that sometimes in the rural areas I will come across an issue that I cannot fix because a particular child development center is not equipped to manage those issues. That is when I come home feeling stressed out and angry for not being able to help the situation that center is facing.
Some of the challenges also come with church partner selection. We have a policy that there are some specific things that should be in place in order to qualify a church for partner selection.
When you have a church that is poor, and they do not have all the things to qualify them because they are very much under-resourced, the question becomes, do you leave out those who are not resourced but have a heart for children? Or do you select the church that has so many resources in every area but does not have child ministry at heart?
So it is a challenge for us to make the right decision and to get the right partner in place. These challenges are many, but to me that makes the work enjoyable.
Do you have any lessons or innovations you would like to share with others?
I want to encourage others to embrace teamwork in all their endeavors. I work with a team of 10 Partnership Facilitators who are involved in everything I do, especially during the church selection process.
My team works together and this brings out the best of decision making. The essence of teamwork is great.
Another thing I have noticed is that, if you want to create innovation, then you have to allow for mistakes. You cannot crave innovation and frown on mistakes. I have noticed that a lot of mistakes we make turn out to be great lessons.
There was a time when we were building a classroom block for a church partner and we made a lot of mistakes. Those mistakes taught us so much and have helped us in subsequent building projects.
I personally think that it is good to allow people to explore and make some amount of mistakes, to learn from them and become better informed for the future.
What motivates you to keep on doing what you do?
When the challenges I meet on the field get resolved I have more vim to get up every morning to continue my task of releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.
Recently we attended a one-year anniversary celebration of a child development center. I looked back to the day we first stepped into that community; they were under-resourced and the children could not do anything.
But now the children are doing choreography, they are singing, and they have done beautiful beads, artwork and many things which they have exhibited.
I saw the potential in the children and realized that without the development center, their potential would have been untapped.
Also, sometimes we meet very serious medical situations during child registration, but with our intervention these children bounce back to life. An example of this was a child who was born with no anus. This child was in a hopeless condition and could not mingle with other children. We came in and, after a couple of surgeries, the child is now living a normal life, has been enrolled into school and plays like every normal child. Imagine where that child would have been now if we had not gone into that community!
Those are the things which motivate me to wake up every morning to go to work. When I weigh the success stories against the stress, I quickly cross out the stress and say,
“Yes, something is really happening, so let us go on.”
Where do you hope to see yourself five years from now?
I see myself here five years from now, still serving our church partners.
Let me say one thing: I enjoy working in the programs department and especially with program facilitators out in the field.
Several job vacancies have come up in other departments but I have never applied for any of them because the partnership section of the ministry is where I really want to be.
So what position do you want to see yourself occupying ultimately?
I believe that God places us in positions, so to me every position is a privilege given by God.
Whatever position He deems fit for me is good. I have never applied for any of the positions that I have held. I just want to be here to serve, learn and grow.
What parting words do you leave with the Compassion family everywhere?
I want to say that we are doing a great job; we are building the next generation and that should be our motivation to work even harder. It is a joy building human resources and we shall see the fruits of our labor.
I want to encourage everyone globally to keep working; do not stop, for God is recognizing our work. Amen!