Who We Are & What We Do
The Gyedi Project, founded and headed by Kweku Hazel, MD, and Cynthia Hazel, DrPH, MSc, is a grassroots community group centered in Aurora, Colorado, aimed at empowering minority and underserved communities to tackle health inequities and improve community well-being. The Gyedi Project is focused on Black, Latinx, and immigrant communities in the Denver Metro area.
“Gyedi” is a Ghanaian Akan word that means “believe”. It is also a noun that translates to “self-belief”. The concept of gyedi is fundamental to taking full control and the self-assurance to overcome any situation. We leverage the concept of gyedi as well as values of shared humanity such as “ubuntu” (which means ‘I am, because we are’), to build individual ownership of community health, increasing awareness about the importance of supporting one other on our individual and collective journeys to achieving better health. We emphasize the importance of gathering and sharing accurate and beneficial health knowledge that can better prepare the community to address ongoing health challenges and emerging health threats.
The project prioritizes community and sub-community outreach, health education campaigns, and leadership trainings of volunteers to create access to health services among underserved communities.
Our mission is to empower minority and underserved communities to tackle health inequities and improve community well-being.
Our vision is to see historically marginalized communities take complete control of their health and realize their full life potential.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the project has focused on three primary areas:
Educating community members about the COVID-19
Creating awareness and addressing vaccination hesitancy in minority communities in the Denver Metro area
Reducing barriers to vaccine access via community-based pop-up clinics
Addressing gaps in accessing COVID vaccines
The Gyedi project uses education seminars, social media, and news channels to increase awareness about COVID-19 vaccines and address associated misinformation. While tackling vaccination hesitancy and apathy, we have also created accessible channels to help address existing health service gaps through pop-up vaccination clinics. In our first three pop-up clinics held at the Solid Rock Baptist Church in Aurora, we administered a total of 2,116 vaccines over a two-month period. Approximately, 80% of vaccinated people were Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), and were located mainly in Arapahoe, Adams, and Denver counties.
The Gyedi project receives foundational support and fiscal sponsorship from the OMNI Institute, where Dr. Cynthia Hazel is currently employed as a public health research manager. OMNI and our teams recognize that historical, cultural, structural, and social factors profoundly shape health outcomes for minority and underserved communities and individuals. We use ethical, community-informed, and culturally responsive approaches for the Gyedi Project and across all our community outreach work. These approaches consider the experiences, perspectives, and needs of different populations to address health disparities, including those stemming from race/ethnicity, disability status, socioeconomic status, geography, sexual orientation, gender (identity), and their intersections. Read about the Gyedi project at OMNI.
Dr. Cynthia Hazel is a Doctor of Public Health and lead coordinator for the Gyedi Project. She is also a Research Manager at OMNI Institute where she leads and supports projects focused on community and behavioral health. Her research interests are in health equity, maternal and child health, economic evaluation, and digital health technology. Dr. Hazel received her Masters in Public Health Policy from Durham University in the United Kingdom, and her Doctor of Public Health degree from the University of Colorado School of Public Health, where she specialized in Community and Behavioral Health. Originally from Ghana, Dr. Hazel has also been involved in health promotion efforts focused on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in her city of Aurora, Colorado, especially the African immigrant community. Her recent work involves reducing inequities in vaccine distribution and reducing COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy in Colorado’s BIPOC communities.
Dr. Kweku Hazel is a board-certified general surgeon and Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Colorado Hospital. He received his medical degree at Texas Tech School of Medicine in Lubbock, where he also started the Barbershop BP program which is aimed at educating communities of color about chronic health conditions including high blood pressure and diabetes. Dr. Hazel completed his general surgery residency in 2019 and has been involved with educating community members in Aurora through churches and community organizations since moving to Colorado in 2012. His recent efforts have been focused on promoting vaccination equity and vaccine acceptance, while reducing hesitancy in communities of color. Dr. Hazel is a Co-Lead of the Gyedi Project.
Both Drs. Hazel are members of the Colorado Vaccine Equity Taskforce and serve on the community outreach and policy committees.
Nii Armah Sowah
Logistics Support; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Specialist
Isaac Alawobu, MBA
Logistics Lead and Program Management
Ivonne Parra, MPH
Community Outreach Lead
Kanku Sumbundu, MPH
Community Engagement Lead
Registered Nurse, Medical Volunteer Coordinator
Stephen Asare, RN