Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Ghana: A “Long-Drop” into the Real World

My view of the world has changed astronomically since my first week in the Northern Region of Ghana, Tamale to be precise. Being able to adapt to a new and unfamiliar environment has never been one of my strong points, but these three months have tested me in a way I could never have imagined, and it has undoubtedly been both the best and worst test I have ever taken in my life.

Edward Key running a Literacy Class
I have become, in some ways, very hardened to the day-to-day challenges faced by those growing up in a developing community. Between being faced with the “long-drop toilet” experience, washing myself and my clothes out of a bucket, and getting used to the power-cuts, thunderstorms, and heat waves (weather), the host home experience has itself played an integral role in the ICS adventure. But the more I began to delve into the placement and discover the more rural communities in the north of the country, I suddenly realised just how grateful I was for my own living experience. Sometimes, the best part about embarking on a journey into the unknown is coming home to tell everyone all about it. I may not have changed the world in the three months I have been here, but the world has certainly changed me.
I have become much more aware of the difference between the things I have in my life and the things I actually need. I have become much more accepting and appreciative of the simplicities in life. The use of luxury items has been somewhat helpful, but without the support and encouragement from my friends and the people around me, I would not have felt nearly the same level of comfort and solace as I did, during these 12 weeks. 

We are not just a Team but a Family
Sometimes, the sight of a smiling face is all the encouragement I needed to keep on going. My expectations were unrealistically high, at the start of the placement, but I later realized that, as long as I can make at least one single person smile, each day; as long as I can reach out and touch the heart of at least one person in my community, my work will have been done, and my single thread in the fabric of development will have been stitched. If I told myself this time last year that I would be teaching aspiring young school girls in rural West Africa, I would not have believed it. However, my time spent at the opposite end of the classroom has shown me a true sense of perspective: That I can adapt to new and challenging situations; that I can help these children to learn; that I can make people smile. To me, change must be a two-way street. Helping people to become inspired and motivated so that they actually want to make a change is fundamental in any volunteering experience, and I truly believe that Team ABC has achieved in allowing for that change to happen.

We have managed to conduct training sessions with the interns at Create Change, radio sensitisation sessions about the importance of education for children, and the newly established Kids’ Clubs and Literacy Classes in the local communities. All of these things have made me realise that the ground work for development has already been set in motion, and will be further enhanced by the next cohort. I will be able to leave this country knowing that we will have left our mark on it, if just a very small one. We were here; we lived; we loved. We challenged ourselves every day, from start to finish, and we will never be the same as the people we once were.

Thank you.
By: Edward Key 

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