When Kobina Essian was told by his family that they could not afford his junior high school fees, he realised that his dreams of becoming a medical doctor were no longer likely to come true. Leaning up against a coconut tree, he closes his eyes and remarks
I always liked their white outfits, it made them look so knowledgeable. It still hurts I never achieved that, but life goes on.
Now 36 years old, the Central Region native runs a successful taxi business in Ajumajo Techiman and says he is happy with the path his life has taken.
His face breaking into a broad smile, Kobina’s eyes light up as he explains how he realised that even though he didn’t have a degree, he could still help save the lives of mothers and their newborns.
"In 2009, I attended a workshop held for the Ajumako Ghana Private Road Transport Union by health workers from the Cape Coast and Ajumako district hospital, on how we could contribute to maternal and newborn health...They made us aware of some of the challenges pregnant women go through. They said that we could help if we use our taxis to convey pregnant women and their babies to hospital."
Kobina tells of how, after the workshop, he was determined to put these lessons into action.
"I was driving around 11am when I had a phone call that a woman was in labour, 6km away. I was already carrying a passenger but I managed to convince him to alight and drove as fast as I could to Essiam. On our way to the Ajumako district hospital, the woman delivered...I was very scared. I kept praying in my head for God’s intervention as the woman’s screams and pain were unbearable."
Despite his fears, when both mother and baby made it safely to the hospital, the nurses commended Kobina’s effort, even saying the child should be named after him.
Kobina says the experience made him realize that every person can be involved in helping improve maternal and newborn health.
I get calls sometimes around 12am when I’m sleeping to take pregnant women to health facilities. I am happy doing that because like a medical doctor, I am also through my job helping to save the lives of pregnant women and their unborn babies.