NSUTA, Ghana -- A U.S. Army Soldier, born in Africa, brought smiles to young Ghanaian students' faces as he returned to his hometown and organized a large-scale school supply donation, July 2018.

U.S. Army Spc. Denis Miezah Duku and his wife raised over $4,500 in school supplies for his alma mater, the Dadwen Schools Complex.

"I have always saw the need for it and wanted to give back to the community," said Duku, a horizontal construction engineer with the 188th Engineer Company, North Dakota Army National Guard. "I decided to help when I heard the school was lacking adequate learning and teaching materials and how many of the children did not have backpacks or school supplies, hindering their learning experiences."

Upon arrival to Dadwen, large crowds of excited kindergarten and first grade students cheered for Duku and soldiers from various units offloading a van full of supplies. Duku and the team met with the school faculty for a short meeting, including introductions and Duku's background. Once the meeting ended, Duku gave inspiring words to the students waiting outside in formation.

"Study hard, because at the end of the day you never know where you are going to be in life and when you are going to need that knowledge," Duku said. "There is time to play, and there is time to work. Make sure you pay attention in school and respect your teachers. The more you read, the more you learn and it will help you with your future."

The children applauded and in return sang the school's anthem. They were then moved to the location of the school supplies and lined up in an orderly fashion to receive the donated items. Duku and the soldiers handed out backpacks filled with school supplies to predetermined students as the cheering and smiling never stopped.

The visit was approximately two hours long, but gave memories that will last a life time, according to Duku.

"I was overwhelmed with the love and positive reactions which makes me thrive and press on to do more," Duku said. "The joy and smiles on the children's faces as they took the gifts brought the feeling and sense of fulfillment."

Duku's primary role in Ghana is supporting U.S. Army Africa and the Ghanaian Armed Forces's combined, joint exercise United Accord 2018. His donation team included soldiers from the 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion, New York Army National Guard, the 188th Engineer Company, North Dakota Army National Guard and U.S. Army Africa.

The team of soldiers who joined Duku said it was an easy decision to support his generous gesture will remember the event as a once in a life time opportunity. The civil affairs team also benefitted by assessing the road network and meeting local leaders from Duku's hometown.

Nsuta's Municipal Chief Executive for Nsuta's Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipal Assembly, Gilbert Asmah, showed their appreciation by organizing a quick introduction, delivering personal gratitude and joining the team for the donation.

Duku left Ghana at the age of 20 to pursue his dream in the United States. He moved to the states and graduated North Dakota State College of Science with a Computer Information Technology degree. He is currently pursuing a degree in Operation Management at Minnesota State University. Duku currently resides in North Dakota with his wife and two daughters and works at Microsoft as an escalation support engineer.