Harriet Bruce Annan

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From "Toilet tip" to Federal Cross of Merit

Still Life tells the most incredible and exciting stories:
At Dec 19 in 1965 Victoria Lankai lamptey delivers birth to a girl in Africa, baptised as Ani-Agyei, later given the name Harriet. At March 7 in 2013, more than 47 years later, the Federal President of Germany Joachim Gauck awards Harriet Bruce-Annan for her social engagement with the highest German state’s honour, the Federal Cross of Merit.

From Accra, the capital of Ghana/West Africa to the Castle Bellevue, office residence of the German President in Berlin - a more than extraordinary path of life, not ended to date...

"Former cleaning woman is awarded Federal Cross of merit"says the header of the newspaper March 8, 2013. The report says: "With her non-profit association "African Angel" the former toilet woman supports the school education and vocational training of under privileged slum children in Ghana/West-Africa".

Behind these non-spectacular words, a hard and exiting path of life is hidden, a life finding crabwise its destination. Where and how began everything? Of what was the little girl Harriet dreaming of? For sure not being the honour guest of a state’s president in a country far away...

  • A resplendent Harriet Dansowaa Bruce-Annan at the award of Federal Cross of Merit by President Gauck in Berlin/Germany in Mark 2013....
  • ... and little later in Ghana her fosterlings gaze at the photos of this great award celebration.

5.000 Euro Toilet tip enable a shelter house for 26 slum children from Bukom Accra

In December 1990 Harriet came with her Britsh spouse, officer of the British Forces, to Germany. First the couple lived in a hotel in the Germany City Düsseldorf, then they moved into a small apartment to the German town Oberhausen. As educated IT programmer, Harriet actually wanted to study computer science in Germany becoming a system analyst returning to work again in Ghana. However, this never happened...instead her beloved husband turned out to be violent maltreating her. After two hard years of suffer and misuse she flew into a woman s shelter house, took a job as cleaner working for nearly two decades at Exhibition centre in Düsseldorf daytimes. And at night, cleaning toilets at pubs and restaurants in Düsseldorf s down-town.

Young Harriet worked day and night enabling poor school education for poor Ghanaian slum children from afar. The thankfully letters of those children hearted her during the hard times to hang on.

Filled with bitterness or disappointed from life? Not Harriet, her great believe in our saver Jesus Christ enlighten her heart, and who ever met her in the down-town pub toilet in those years still remembers her joyful laughs and overwhelming good mood! Might be that some guests were extra generous with their tip giving more than the usual "50 Cents" for Harriet's collection plate.

So, Harriet's toilet tip summarized up to € 5.000,00, as fundament for her children s shelter house in Ghana.

Harriet and "her" children from Bukom, now and then, they are purpose of her life and her proud and joy!

Change the world with 50 Cent - and save life

Regular guests of the pubs where Harriet supplied toilet service called her "African Angel" and encouraged her to establish a non-profit organisation. In 2002 Harriet founded the African Angel e.V. (registered association) in Düsseldorf. With € 5.000,00 she flew to Ghana realising her dream of a shelter house for slum children from Bukom.

Overcoming many obstacles Harriet managed to rent a house in a better quarter of Accra, large enough to accommodate 26 former slum children. Before moving in, her 26 fosterlings, aged 4-12 years, experienced their first medical examination in their young lives. The doctor discovered some life-threatening diseases requiring immediate medical treatment to save the lives of three of "her" children.

Harriet and two of "her" African Angel girls of "the first hour", today, 13 years later, they live happy and healthy facing a future in their own country Ghana!

African Angel in the spot light: More members and more challenges

Of course the little shelter house with 26 former slum children well accommodated, cared and going to school was a well-down project, but for Harriet and her German supporters only the first step.

To do more for the poor children of Bukom, African Angel needed more members and sponsors! At that point, media played an important role: In February 2007 the public Television and many newspapers started reporting about African Angel and Harriet Bruce-Annan.

Many people heard about the courage toilet woman and her humanitarian project starting to support her with regular donations. After the property owner of the rented shelter house had quit Harriet could buy a real estate with two old buildings in the quarter of Lashibi in Accra. The 26 African Angel children moved there after renovation was finished, with grand opening of the new African Angel cottage in presence of the German Ambassador to Ghana.

Since 2009 African Angel in Germany and the tasks to operate the African Angel Cottage in Ghana had increased so much that the Board of the association decided to hire Harriet as executive enabling her to spend her complete time as "African Angel".

That year also her biography "50 Cent for an Angel" was published, and Harriet had the opportunity to follow invitation of media, churches, schools, universities and to other events presenting African Angel to the auditors. Thanks to her cheerfulness, her optimism and her uncompromised Christian believe Harriet is a liked guest, who has to say a lot.

African Angel Cottage gets the 3. House with space for 100 slum children from Bukom

After the grand opening celebration of the African Angel cottage and the at the same time accommodation of new children from Bukom the Board of African Angel decided to start the construction of a 3. house, multi-levelled, with library, computer room, sanitary room, guest rooms and much space for many new children!

Harriet started the construction of the new house in 2008, actually brick for brick, according the collection of donation in Germany.

Fortunately, Harriet was nominated for the award of "Golden Women of the year" by the popular German women s magazine "Goldene Bild der Frau". The nomination and award of it was a wonderful event and a great success for Harriet and African Angel in 2011, enabling her to make remarkable progress of construction work.

After 5 years of construction and donation collection Harriet could start the last finishing in October 2012, to be ready end of 2013- with space for 40 new children!

To date, the new house is for the girls, the 2 existing buildings are for the boys, and 98 children are now sheltered in the African Angel cottage, from Kindergarten to University.

  • A great evening for Harriet in March 2011....
  • ...and important support for finishing the construction of the new House -Home for 100 former slum children!

In October 2012 African Angel e.V. and its members celebrated "10 years of African Angel". A good reason for Harriet to follow the African tradition of drumming during African Angel s birthday party in Düsseldorf!

The future?

Harriet does not have the time or the will to rest! She has accomplished a lot, from her deep wish to improve the bad living condition of poor people in her homeland Ghana. She had recognized early: Education is the Key! Africa has everything - but Africa needs education!

For sure, Harriet will follow her target also during the coming years and decades.

In 2013 she could matriculate the first four African Angel students, former slum boys of the first hour had become college absolvents ready to study computer science, agriculture and economics.

Also in 2013 Harriet laid cornerstone for a vocational training centre for boys from Bukom to learn about metal working and mechanics.

In 2015 Harriet found a large piece of farmland for African Angel, where fruits, vegetables and corn for self-supply of the African Angel Cottages can be farmed. At the same time the African Angel Farm should be school garden for the poor rural population showing how to grow their own food easily on a small piece of land...fighting the extremely increasing food prices in Africa!

However, financing of the African Angel Farm is still not accomplished.

2015 is also the year where the first African Angel girls of the first hour have finished college, waiting for scholarship or sponsors enabling them to study medicine, chemist and architecture...., but without money, their higher education cannot take place.

Harriet's challenges are great, and we hope on many "African Angels" to support her and her projects for a better life for the poor children of Ghana in future!