News Release

Church Impacts Life of Environmental Health Scholar and Lecturer

In October 2014, Mormon Newsroom engaged Dr. Dzidzo Yirenya-Tawiah, a distinguished environmental health specialist, zoologist and experienced lecturer at the University of Ghana, Legon, in a hearty conversation.

As a renowned scholar, wife, mother and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Dzidzo Yirenya-Tawiah talks about how the Church and gospel of Jesus Christ have influenced her life. 

Below is a transcript of the interview:


Family Background

Mormon Newsroom: Can you briefly tell us something about your nuclear and extended family before you had your own family?

Dr. D. Yirenya-Tawiah: Yes. By ancestry I am from Anyako in the eastern part of the Volta Region of Ghana. I was born in Tema.  My mother was a nurse and my father was a civil servant. They have both passed on. My parents had two of us; my brother and myself. My brother is a medical doctor who practices in Accra, and is married. I come from what I will call “a protected family.” My brother and I were provided with the basic necessities of life so I did not really face what some people may describe as “the challenges of life.” I am very grateful to God for that.  

My parents were very religious. We attended church almost every weekend. My parents belonged to the Evangelical Presbyterian (EP) Church and so I was brought up a Christian. 

Mormon Newsroom: Tell us about your own family.

Dr. D. Yirenya-Tawiah: I am blessed with four wonderful children -- The first two [a boy and a girl] being a set of twins, -- and a loving husband.

The older ones are in senior high school while the younger ones are in basic school.

We are a close-knit family. I am grateful to see my children grow up in the gospel [of Jesus Christ] which makes a lot of difference. The things they are able to do I wasn’t able to do at their age.


Educational Background

Mormon Newsroom:  Tell us about your educational life.

Dr. D. Yirenya-Tawiah: I attended Morning Star School in Accra; Achimota School; proceeded to Mawuli Secondary School; and then the University of Ghana, Legon. At some point I also pursued a higher degree outside the country.


Mormon Newsroom: How do you combine family and career responsibilities?

Dr. D. Yirenya-Tawiah: When it comes to the family, my husband and I share the responsibilities. He has been very supportive. At a point when I started working and at the same time had to travel out of the country to pursue a higher degree, he had to stay back and take care of the children. 

Mormon Newsroom: Has the gospel of Jesus Christ had any influence on your career?

Dr. D. Yirenya-Tawiah: In our local settings people pay so much respect to authority. My students likewise tend to show so much respect to me and sometimes there is a barrier. I try to break that barrier. Through the gospel I know we are all brothers and sisters, so I treat my students as my brothers and sisters. What I do is that once you approach me, I set my standards and if you are able to adapt, we get along. I also have a good relationship with my colleagues.


Membership in the Church

Mormon Newsroom: How did you become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? 

Dr. D. Yirenya-Tawiah: I am a convert. I got into the Church by marriage. It was after marriage that I started visiting the Church. Initially it was challenging because of the information that I had about the Church at the time. But I was convinced, looking at my partner and who he was.

Prior to our marriage, I said okay, I will marry him – I admire him for everything but not his church.

Mormon Newsroom: Did you tell him that?

Dr. D. Yirenya-Tawiah: Oh yes, he knew that. One of the promises I made to my parents prior to my marriage was that I wouldn’t join the Church. Even after marriage I was not attending the Church. Later I decided to start visiting the Church to find out what was actually going on there and what the Church actually teaches. I must also confess that even though I had [Latter-day Saints] missionaries visiting and teaching me, I had a closed mindset and so I did not pay particular attention to them.

Even though I used to receive the missionaries nicely, I was just not interested in their message. I later started visiting the Church a little more regularly. Let me also confess that it was the hymns that got me visiting the Church more and more. I love hymns. In fact, the lyrics of the hymns were very inspiring and it was one of my major reasons for converting into the Church. The teachings of the Church were good and I loved the reverence in there. I was baptized into the Church in the year 1999.

Mormon Newsroom: Do you believe the gospel of Jesus Christ has played any role in the lives of your children? 

Dr. D. Yirenya-Tawiah: Definitely. You see it in the way they behave and the way they talk and all that. Because of the gospel they don’t go along with just anybody at all. They influence their friends. My first son is eager to go on a full time mission. I am grateful for the Church because it is really guiding my children. 

Mormon Newsroom: You earlier alluded to the fact that through the gospel your children are doing some amazing things that you could not do at their age. Now, looking back in life, do you think you could have done better if you had the Church of Jesus Christ earlier in life? 

Dr. D. Yirenya-Tawiah: Definitely. I must say that one difficulty that I have had, which the Church is helping me to deal with, is the ability to face people and engage in conversations. Growing up I was a very shy person. But my children are different because of the opportunities offered in the Church. They are able to give talks and participate in Church and other activities.


Sharing Beliefs

Mormon Newsroom: Do you share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others?

Dr. D. Yirenya-Tawiah: Oh yes. I usually do that in informal settings. When I am with friends, colleagues and my students and the opportunity presents itself, I do that. I don’t push or force people to do things. I only take advantage of “teaching moments” and it works.


Final Words 

Mormon Newsroom: Do you have any final comments you would like to share?

Dr. D. Yirenya-Tawiah: Yes. I know that the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are true, and I have not missed anything since I joined the Church.


Dr. Dzidzo Yirenya-Tawiah has more than 10 years of experience as a parasitologist, lecturer and research fellow. She holds a PhD in Zoology, MPH, MPhil in Zoology (Parasitology) and a BSc in Zoology. Her research works focus on public health, water and sanitation, parasitology, epidemiology, environment and parasites of wildlife.

Dzidzo has conducted several community-based related research projects in Ghana and undertaken a number of Environmental Impact Assessments in the Volta Basin of Ghana. She played an active role in rolling out the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative Ghana, which is aimed at harnessing comprehensive capabilities nationwide to achieve sustainable control towards elimination of the disease.

She has more than 11 publications to her credit with more underway.

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