On Tuesday morning, Peggielene Bartels visited the Main Campus to deliver a talk to Mentor/TEAM Grades 8-12 students. Who is Peggielene Bartels? King Peggy – as she is known – is the “king” or chief of Otuam, Ghana. Why is this important to a group of students in Mississauga? Well, King Peggy has done a lot and given the same to improve the quality of life for the people of this small African town.
One night in 2008, King Peggy (a clerk at the Ghanan embassy in Washington DC) received a late-night phone call from Ghana. Instead of what she called the “usual request for money”, her cousin on the other end of the line was telling her that, according to a decision made by town elders following their leader’s death, she had been chosen to be “king” of Otuam. So, “rather than hang up the phone”, Peggy decided to accept and pursue this offer.
She could have just accepted the title and enjoyed the comforts that might come with the position, but Peggy saw a real opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the townspeople. During her talk, she discussed the opposition she faced, and continues to face, as she tries to empower the town’s women and girls and implement changes that she knows will benefit the people of “her town”. With groups of HS students preparing to go Kenya this March break as well as to Cambodia and Nunavut next year, King Peggy’s message was certainly well-received.