Though FOYS was registered as an NGO in 2006 it came out of several years of pervious activity by the founder Mrs Patience Gibbs in Abiriw. The ground work carried out by Mrs Gibbs informs the context in which FOYS the NGO operates today.
For a number of years, Mrs Gibbs worked on a project by project basis without paid staff. She had met many of the incidental costs herself and had employed collaborative methods of proceeding, that is to say she had contracted with existing providers to deliver training or services as and when needed.
Projects undertaken prior to registration in 2006 included backing what was known as the Planned Parenthood of Ghana Teens’ Centre in Abiriw. Support for the Centre had included securing funding for construction, providing sewing machines, donating children’s books, initiating an HIV/AIDS awareness forum (illustrated lecture), organizing a drama workshop for tutors and students, and addressing students on issues of motivation and their futures.
She had also been active in promoting the cause of another important local initiative: the Abiriw Branch of the Ghana Library Board. Over the years she had obtained money for repairing the ceiling, reconnecting electricity, constructing KVIP Toilets, and purchasing books – including children’s books from the African Books Collective and technical volumes from the Intermediate Technology Group. She had also made personal donations of books and educational materials, and obtained a secure bookcase to house a collection of Abiriw-ana.
In order to improve the local diet and increase options for income generation, she had made arrangements, in 2003, for a lecture and demonstration on Mushroom Farming to be given by a team from the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). In 2004, she followed this up by arranging for a two-person team from the CSIR to conduct a course on Snail Farming. This was attended by sixty people, many of them young, most from Abiriw, a few from Dawu and Awukugua.
Anxious to broaden the horizons of local women, Mrs Gibbs had promoted annual outings by the Presbyterian Women’s Fellowship. The tradition began with a visit to Akosombo Dam in 2000. Places of natural, historic and economic interest were visited in subsequent years.
Concerned that local awareness of recent history was being lost, Mrs Gibbs began a Local Oral History Project. She conducted, and has translated and transcribed, interviews with senior citizens of Abiriw.
In taking forward these projects, Mrs Gibbs had collaborated with a number of registered charities and organisations, some of which have already been mentioned, including the African Books Collective, the Intermediate Technology Group. She also worked with Book Aid International, Ghana School Aid, and the Presbyterian Church. Support for the Library has continued, and the local history project continues. For example during March 2009 local academic and activist Jonas Yeboa-Danquah was interviewed. The mushroom-growing also continues and an extended programme has included establishing a special relationship with the Teens’ Centre, now known as the Resource Centre, so that students can get hands-on experience.
In 2006, a hut was constructed in Dawu, evidence of increasing interest in the scheme. Within two weeks of the snail-rearing workshop, some eight members of the Presbyterian Women’s Fellowship had started rearing snails in their compounds, and the impact has been lasting. Feedback attests to the markets for the products, and to the health benefits of eating mushrooms and snails. In 2006 FOYS was registered as an NGO.
Day Trips from Abiriw have continued, with a balance struck between destinations of natural and industrial interest. Trips were undertaken to the Shai Hills Nature Reserve in 2006 and to Kpong HEP installation in 2007.