Published on 03/19/15

Georgia 4-H student's project gains ambulance for Ghana community

By Sharon Dowdy

Many teenagers spend their afternoons watching television or playing video games. Shameka Robinson spends hers helping others, and her efforts recently led to the donation of an ambulance to a community in Ghana, Africa.

Robinson, an 11th-grade 4-H’er in Hancock County, Georgia, began searching for an ambulance donation for her Georgia 4-H Leadership in Action project. She wrote letters to ambulance companies in Georgia, made phone calls, visited doctors’ offices and started a Facebook campaign, all to find a fully equipped ambulance for the Nhyira Medical Relief organization, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group operated by Dr. Sam Amporful and his wife, Sabina, of Macon, Georgia.

Both born in Ghana, Africa, the Amporfuls came to the United States so he could earn a medical degree at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. Thirty-five years later, the couple has raised children here and they are semi-retired. But they haven’t forgotten their home country.

Robinson’s search for an ambulance ended rather quickly when Jim Adkins, CEO of SouthStar EMS in Augusta, donated a fully equipped ambulance stocked with medical supplies. Having been on eight mission trips to Romania, Adkins had seen firsthand the great need for medical services in developing nations.

“We had several people offer to give us ambulances, but they were basically empty vans. We needed one with an inverter. That’s what’s important because it provides power to all the equipment,” said Randie Gray, the University of Georgia Extension 4-H agent in Hancock County, explaining the significance of Adkins’ donation. “Mr. Adkins also included heart monitors and stretchers.”

Gray’s husband, Pete, is an emergency room nurse and works with Amporful at Washington County Regional Medical Center in Sandersville, Georgia. Gray’s husband told her about the Amporfuls’ Ghana relief effort and she, in turn, shared the information with Robinson.

Robinson felt the ambulance donation project was a perfect fit for her because she hopes to attend medical or veterinary school. “I knew this project would help me in the future with my college plans, but I’m now proud to be able to help someone in another country,” she said.

Georgia 4-H’ers, like Robinson, submit their projects into the Leadership in Action competition each year. The winners receive $500 college scholarships.

“I try to talk my 4-H’ers into doing a leadership project because it looks good on scholarship applications, it helps build their portfolios for college and it teaches them valuable leadership skills,” said Gray. She said scholarships are especially important to her 4-H’ers as Hancock County ranks as Georgia’s poorest county.

Donations of medical supplies and equipment began coming in to the relief organization after an Augusta television station interviewed Robinson. “I think having UGA connected to the project through 4-H helped,” Gray said. “People trust the name.”

Last month, Robinson was awarded the Georgia 4-H Community Service Award for her efforts. For more information on the Nhyira Medical Relief organization, go to To learn more about Georgia 4-H, go to

Sharon Dowdy is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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