By Janell Hazelwood

I am… Nana Eyeson-Akiwowo, and I am 39 years old.

I was born in … Brooklyn, N.Y., but my heart is in Accra, Ghana.

I currently reside… in Cliffside Park, N.J. with my hubby and 3-year-old daughter.

I spend my days…navigating between being a mother, a wife, and a social entrepreneur, which oftentimes can be an epic failure resulting in someone not getting a kiss goodnight or being fed breakfast in the morning. But on the days it goes right, I’m developing fundraising strategies for Africa Health Now, an organization I started to advocate for and provide primary health-care information and access to women, children and families across Sub-Saharan Africa. I’m also working with my team to secure sponsorships and launch health-care initiatives for women and children in Ghana—all from my home office in New Jersey.

I am…funny, flawed, resourceful, and faithful

I was inspired to do the work I do … by my father. His sudden illness in 2006 made me come face to face with the primary health-care system in Ghana. But it was more so the way his community galvanized around him during his illness that made we want to take my thoughts and ideas and bring them to fruition.

A pivotal moment that shaped my life…was the day after our first health fair in 2006. An elderly woman showed up at my house. She said she heard at the market that there were doctors doing free check-ups and wanted to be seen. She had apparently used her transport money to come to us, as she knew she might have an issue with her blood pressure but couldn’t afford a doctor’s visit. Naturally, since I am not a doctor, I had to tell her that the doctors had left (she was a day late), at which point she began to cry. My father, who was home at the time, came down to see what was going on, and when I told him he said, “Don’t you have a blood pressure monitor here, and don’t you know what the appropriate number should be for her age? I said, “Yes, but I am not a doctor,” to which he replied, “But you have the information and that is what she needs.” At that point, I realized the information I took for granted could be lifesaving to someone else.

I’m proud that our organization’s impact has reached …  4,000 participants (and counting) in Ghanaian regions including Pokuase, Accra, Kumasi and Tema Station, providing blood pressure screenings, breast cancer information, dental care and more.  

Starting a nonprofit was easy… but sustaining it has been much more difficult. I always remember to tell people that nonprofits are just like any other business and that hard work without resources (human or financial) is just hard work.

My personal style takes cues are from…my mother, who can rock a pantsuit like nobody’s business and looks amazing in long African buba-style dresses. She has an amazing shoe collection as well. Solange Knowles is another one who gives me life. She looks killer in a pant, be it skinny, wide, cigarette, culottes—you name it.  

My wardrobe and vanity favorites right now arean AHN x Third Crown gold drum ring,  Estee Lauder Double wear concealer in Deep, all things Christie Brown, especially her fall/winter 2016 collection and Tom Ford Black Orchid fragrance.

My happy place…varies by the day but overall relaxing in bed with my daughter makes my whole being smile. I can’t say that I’ve found a balance between motherhood, marriage, individuality and professional goals. I can say that I’ve opted to forgive myself more and be OK with my husband being the person my daughter calls when I sometimes fall short.

My guilty pleasures are…eating gummy bears and watching CSI Miami repeats (you cant beat Horatio Cane’s one liners). Ultimate relaxation is a day spent at Haven Spa in New York City.

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The 2016 African Health Now Cocktail Benefit Reception will take place Thursday, October 20 from 6:30pm – 10:00pm at Chelsea Piers’ Sunset Terrace (2nd Fl., Pier 61), NYC.  For more information and to purchase tickets visit: www.africanhealthnow.org/events or (347) 389-2461.