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November 9, 2007

Beauty and Her Purpose: Miss Ghana

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Dadson looked serious as he leaned back in his chair. “Guinea worm is terrible,” he said. “So she went ‘round educating people on how to avoid catching the disease.” He then smiled and said, “Her campaign was very, very successful. She helped a lot of people.”

Lamisi was born in Bawku, in the Upper East Region of Ghana. She remembers the first time she became aware of guinea worm, when her mother told her she must only drink water at home and she was not allowed to play near the dam. “I thought my mother was like God — her eyes were everywhere, watching me. So I made sure to listen,” she said.

Eighty percent of guinea worm cases are in Northern Ghana. Lamisi feels particularly tied to the region because it is where she was born. She also believes poverty in Ghana will persist without access to clean water. Even after winning Miss World’s Beauty with a Purpose award, Lamisi plans to continue her role as an ambassador of the Guinea Worm Eradication Program. The organization works with groups like UNICEF, WHO, and the Jimmy Carter Center.

“I will keep working until the 80 percent is gone,” she said. Lamisi’s social work is not without perks.

In February, she met President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalyn. “I met them in Tamale when I was with my children.” She smiled and added, “You don’t have to give birth to be a mother.” When she met President Carter she was awestruck. However, she was also honored by the kindness and generosity bestowed upon her by villagers despite the dire circumstances they face. “These people walk four to five kilometers for a bucket of dirty water,” she implored, “and they still have hope.”

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