Omniseal Solutions & HTMS Support Akouyo (Togo)
The chance to become a foster parent
By Peter Horemans (October 2020)
When I joined High Tech Metal Seals in January 2018, I was given one of the most rewarding opportunities I have ever received in my life: the chance to become a foster parent. Of course, after the acquisition of HTMS by Omniseal Solutions, this important community outreach work has continued, but it is one of the most important memories of my induction to the company.
The team in Mechelen, Belgium has been supporting VZW Akouyo since 2014. The company lets its employees foster an orphaned or impoverished child in Togo, West Africa, and takes care of the financial aspect. At this moment, 37 of my colleagues are engaged in the plan.
Akouyo aims at assisting the impacted children by covering three basic needs: nutrition, healthcare and education.
Motivated by the generosity of the company and its founders, the commitment of the foster parents nevertheless goes further than the occasional letter or gift. We support the charity by attending their events, such as quiz evenings or cook-offs, either as individuals or in teams. We also take part in charity drives to collect supplies; or we arrange supporting activities by ourselves. Our waffle sale to raise money is well on its way to become a yearly tradition.
Going above and beyond, one of the company founders, Mrs Liesbeth Schwartz, organized a fundraising Christmas concert, which was attended by 750 people. This event was even covered by the national Belgian news media.
The proceeds were a huge help in funding the construction of the medical center, which was built by Akouyo in 2018.
The center officially opened at the end of 2018. Scores of people have already received medical care and a number of mothers have given birth in the center. In 2019, it was expanded. Today, the center provides emergency assistance, vaccinations and safe conditions for childbirth for the people of 19 surrounding villages.
Last year, I had the opportunity to fly out to Togo and visit the projects supported by Akouyo and the company. These are all located in the area of Lomé, the country’s capital. It was impressive to witness first-hand what has been achieved so far and how the lives of more than 180 families have been transformed.
Access to medical services, educational opportunities and safe living spaces has been life changing. The purchase of a grain mill and the drilling of a well for potable water have brought new opportunities. What matters most, however, is that these families have been given a future. Akouyo is really making the difference and going beyond the boundaries of possible - just like the employees of Omniseal Solutions.
I had the privilege to meet most of our foster children and the people caring for them, and I was overwhelmed by the strength and positivity of the Togolese people.
This visit will stay with me for a lifetime. It has brought my commitment and support to an even higher level. The Akouyo projects and our foster children have a very special place in the hearts of the Mechelen employees. It was especially important for us to see that these values are still carried high, now that HTMS has become a part of the Omniseal Solutions community. It is my hope that this tradition will be picked up by our new colleagues and that the outreach program will become richer and more fulfilling for all.
Our journey with Akouyo has been unique so far, and is still on going. We hope you may be inspired to join!