Monday, 25 April 2016

Developing Yourself in a Developing Nation

First and foremost, we would like to say a great big hello and welcome to the blog of the third cohort of ICS volunteers working with Create Change. We are all looking forward to our three-month journey of hard work and development for both ourselves and for those in need of our support as we begin to establish a plan to satisfy our ultimate mandate: To help educate, inspire, and empower girls and young women living within the struggling communities of the Northern Region of Ghana. As far as personal development is concerned, it has only been since beginning life with my host family in Tamale that I have never really appreciated just how sheltered, and even insignificant, a life, I have had, up until now. I still remember arriving in London with only half the amount of home comforts that I initially had packed in my suitcase, and rightfully so, as I have just started to realise just how little I actually need in life to get me by, each day. I’m only two weeks into the process, just about settled into my host home, and International Service has already changed my life.

From using water sachets to ‘long drop’ toilets to washing ourselves and our clothes in buckets, and from mastering the “Azonto” dance style to serving and eating food with the right hand, Ghana has already proven to be a country full of charm and soul reflected by the busy streets of Tamale and beyond. The in-country volunteers also travelled from their homes across Ghana to Tamale; some from Accra; some from Wa; some from Takoradi; some from Sandema, and the change in environment was as equally unusual and challenging an experience for them to behold. Tamale is a fantastically varied city, and whether you are a Ghanaian or not, each and every person visiting Tamale for the first time will find something about it that amazes them.


But that’s just what volunteering with International Service is about! While a single person cannot expect to change the world after a volunteering placement, the world will certainly change them. Create Change, the charity with whom we are working, is designed to help volunteers understand the impact that they have made on the community, as well as the impact that the community has made on them. While our project is not quite yet underway, planning and organising the framework for our activities is ongoing, and we are already starting to understand the concepts behind them: Promoting education and its pathway for development for girls living within the rural communities of Northern Ghana. We are hoping to visit these communities, Yepala, Ticheli and Kpunduli, in a few weeks' time.

So, how much of a change can we actually make in these communities? We are hoping that the results our intended project will, while perhaps not being the ultimate solution to fighting poverty, mean some degree of sustainability for the improved perception of girls as equal members of society.  We hope to achieve this by setting up after-school Kids’ Clubs and Literacy Clubs to be run by the female interns of the charity, in order to improve the school attendance and academic performance of girls living within marginalised areas of Ghana, such as these communities. In addition, we are raising awareness through radio sensitisation about the importance of education for girls living in the rural communities so that the public will listen and recognise that this is a problem, and (hopefully) be encouraged to take an active role in acknowledging them as equals. Our first week on placement was admittedly quite slow as we had to wait for our project plan to be approved, and are still awaiting the necessary funding to be invested in the project, but we managed to use our time resourcefully by setting up some activities for the Kids’ Club. Such activities included making volleyball nets from empty, used water sachets, to stress the importance of recycling in a country where waste disposal facilities are significantly uncommon.

Team Working on a Volleyball Net

Until the time arrives that we venture into the rural communities and actively begin to live up to the name of our partner charity, we would like to wish the best of luck to all our fellow UK and In-country volunteers on placement, and to those of you at home who wish to make a positive impact on the lives of young people in struggling communities. This ICS placement, run by International Service, in partnership with, Create Change, is an excellent opportunity to make a contribution to the developing world and to develop yourself as a person. Let’s make a change, beginning with ourselves!

1 comment:

  1. Good work guys, keep creating that change, it may look small now but in the near future, the impact will be massive/great.