A massive crowd of people in their thousands came out on the streets of Kumasi, capital of the Ashanti region of Ghana last Saturday to march in remembrance of over 126 people who died in a stampede at the Ohene Djan sports stadium in Accra on May 9 2001 during a soccer game between two of Ghana’s biggest football clubs, Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko.
The street march form part of a series of events that began in Kumasi on Friday by the private organizers of the yearly memorial events and donations championed since 2002 by Mr. Herbert Mensah, business man and former Asante Kotoko football club chairman who run Asante Kotoko as at the time of the stadium disaster fifteen years ago.
The street march took place on the principal streets of the garden city and was led by Mr. Herbert Mensah, former Kotoko chairman and many notable sports personalities and radio presenters, footballers and former footballers as well as football fans of both Kotoko and Hearts of Oak in Kumasi.
Families of the victims of the May 9 stadium disaster and the physically challenged community were also present to take part in the memorial walk.
Earlier on Friday, the chief Imam of the Kumasi central mosque Sheikh Abdul Mumin Haroun led prayers for the victims and their families after which donations of assorted items including food items, house whole consumable products and cash presented to families of victims by the organizers.
Sheikh Abdul Mumin Haroun praised Herbert Mensah for holding a yearly observance for the victims of the Accra sports stadium disaster for 22 years and urged him to continue the charity work of helping the needy in the society with the support of his business associates and sponsors. The Ashanti regional chief Imam also took the opportunity to congratulate Herbert Mensah on being recently elected as President of Rugby Africa, the continental governing body of the Rugby game in Africa.
This year’s May 9 memorial events in Ghana witnessed participation from families and their children who received support for surgeries on their hole-in-heart disease. The formerly sick children benefited from cash donations between $6000-$14000 from the Shen Yang and Shen Yuet Children’s Heart Foundation, who have pledged to pay for the high cost of treating some children in Ghana with a hole in heart disease for the next 10 years.
The Chinese charity foundation is named after 17-year-old Shen Yang, a hole-in-heart survivor and his brother, both sons of Chinese investor Shen Yan Chang, the founder and chairman of the SUNDA & KEDA International Group of Companies operating in Ghana.
This charity initiative for the children suffering from the hole-in-heart disease in Ghana was advocated for by Herbert Mensah, who himself has been personally involved in raising funds for the treatment of such poor but sick children and other needy people in Ghana over the years through his May 9 charity Foundation.
‘’So far surgeries have been done for about ten children with a hole in heart disease at Korle Bu. Eight of them were successful and two could not make it. Each of the surgeries costs between $6000-$14000.’’, Herbert Mensah told the gathering.
He continued, ‘’the entire costs is covered by the Shen Yang & Shen Yuet Children’s Heart Foundation which was started by one of my business associates. As secretary of this children’s heart foundation we intend to do between 20 and 30 surgeries every year for the next 10 years.’’
Herbert Mensah also added, ‘’we’re changing lives, we’ve taken pressure off the shoulders of many families, so this for me is an extraordinary thing that is going on and I am happy that the Shen Yang & Shen Yuet Children’s Heart Foundation and the May 9 Foundation could put together this 10-year project costing up to nearly $2M for the benefit of Ghanaian families.’’
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