Becoming an Ambassador
Christian’s experience of growing up in Ghana with very little means he has never forgotten his roots or his people back home. “Whenever I go home, I am happy. You never forget the person you were before you left. I survived but I don’t forget,”. His desire to help, care and support communities back in Ghana led him to the connection with Arms Around the Child and becoming the Global Ambassador for the charity.
Talking about his role as an ambassador Christian said “I know where I came from so will always be grateful and try to give back to the community. I feel like everyone has to be happy and has the right to be happy. Before I reached this level, I was supported. People need support in life to chase their dreams. I went to see the children back home and went to the school and the orphanage [Senya Beraku, Ghana]. They were happy to see me. It is pretty cool and a great honour for me to do.”
“Thanks to the work of the charity, these children go to school and have clean water and food. I am very happy to help because I know they really need me in this kind of situation. I want to help them and also inspire them. I want to make them smile. They are always excited to see me.”
Charity Work & Building a School
Atsu tries to visit the kids on a regular basis when he is back home in Ghana for the summer. When he visits he likes to bring gifts to the children. He organised for loads of Newcastle kits and training gear to be sent, as well as football boots, books, stationary and other essential items. After years of doing charity work and visiting the kids in Ghana, Christian said “I wanted to show love to the kids. I had a difficult childhood. I will not allow these kids to go into the same situation as I did. We have to do everything possible to help these kids, to provide food, water, everything and give them shelter.” Importantly for Christian, this meant making sure the kids had a good education and the opportunity to go to school. “I believe that when these children live on the streets they have nothing and sometimes can become armed robbers. To prevent these things, you have to give a better education.” He added “I don’t want this to happen to anybody; suffering because of a lack of money and not having an education. It’s not right. I will try as much as possible.”
In 2018 Christian and Arms Around the Child launched a campaign to build a new school to benefit orphaned children and the local community in Senya Beraku, Ghana. Together AATC & Christian organized the Black Star Gala, a special fundraising event at the Hilton Hotel in Gateshead, Newcastle to kickstart the fundraising effort for a new school. Team-mates Mo Diame and DeAndre Yedlin attended, as well as Akosua Puni Essien, the wife of Michael, like Atsu, an ambassador for the charity Arms Around the Child, and the rapper Ramz performed.
The event was a real success and meant the first stages of the school build could begin. The land was acquired and work on the foundations began in 2019. Work on the building was halted during the pandemic in 2020 but with more financial support from Christian, work was able to resume in 2021 and now the school is nearly finished. The structure, plastering, flooring and roofing are complete and the electrical fittings and plumbing are nearly finished. To finish the school, we need a final push to furnish and paint the interior and equip the school with essential provisions like books, computers and stationery.
AATC is immensely proud and privileged to work with Christian. He is a truly humble, honest and compassionate man. Despite his successes and escaping poverty his priority is always others and doing what he can to help. “We have to build a better world. As a grown-up guy like me, I can suffer. That’s fine. But not the kids. Not when it’s not their fault.”
Christian had a tough upbringing in the village of Ada Foah, an hour up the coast from Accra, Ghana’s capital. One of 11 children, he says his own family had “very little money and very little food” and used to spend every spare hour kicking a ball about without boots. Atsu’s parents were farmers. His father passed away when he was a teenager and the family didn’t have enough money to take him to the hospital for treatment. This tough upbringing meant Christian never forgot where he came from and encouraged his desire to help others.
As Christian grew up he stood out as a potentially talented footballer, playing on rocky pitches with no grass and no shoes. He progressed through the Feyenoord feeder academy in Accra and moved to Europe when he was 17. During the early stages of his career, Atsu helped Porto win the Portuguese title in 2013, before moving to England after securing a transfer to Chelsea. The Ghana international had temporary spells with Everton and Bournemouth during his time at Stamford Bridge and headed to Newcastle on loan in 2016.
The 31-year-old starred for the northeast giants during his maiden campaign at St James’ Park and helped them win the Championship title in 2017, scoring five goals and three assists in 32 appearances in the second tier. He then made his move to Newcastle permanent and went on to feature 121 times for the club during a five-year spell before linking up with Al-Raed. He joined Hatayspor in September after a season with the Saudi Arabian team Al-Raed. He has won 65 caps for Ghana and won the player of the tournament and goal of the tournament awards at the 2015 African Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea.
The School Build
Christian with Arms Around The Child in Senya Beraku, Ghana
Build A School with Christian Atsu
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School Building Progress Report
The School building has undergone several developmental phases since the last report in April 2022. The development of the school will give the children at Becky’s and in the local community a great opportunity to have a school where they can receive formal education to help build their lives and nurture them towards achieving their aspirations in life. Below we have an update on the progress of the school building in Senya Beraku, Ghana.
- Roofing of both buildings has been completed.
- Window and door frames have been well fixed with security iron protectors (keys and doors are secured to be fixed after plastering is completed).
- Interior and exterior plastering are ongoing.
- Floor concreting of all the rooms has been completed.
- Electrical chiseling and pipes have been laid.
- Cables are secured and ready to be fixed after plastering.
- The first phase of plumbing work is completed.
Steps needed to finish the building:
- Provision of furniture for the various classes and offices (i.e. tables, chairs, cupboards, lockers, white writing boards)
- Purchasing and fixing of Window louvres
- Tilling of washrooms
- Purchasing and fixing toilet bins and basins
- Purchasing and fixing electrical bulbs, switches and fans
- Fixing of library shelves and cabinets for books
- Final phase of plumbing works
- Interior and exterior painting
- Arts works (wall decorations and designs)
- Provision of Computers and machines for the computer lab and science lab
- Provision of books for the library