Friday, 16 June 2017

Hi everyone, this is cohort six - welcome to our first blog!
Before I go any further I think I should introduce the new awesome team, who are all volunteers on the WOSAG project here in Tamale.

Our team consists of 8 volunteers, five UK volunteers (UKV’s) and 3 in-country volunteers (ICV’s). The UKV’s are: Olivia (25) who lives in London, Laura (24) who is from Newcastle upon Tyne, Katie (23) who is from Hertfordshire, Chelsie (18) who is from Eastbourne and Charlie (18) from Nottingham. The ICV’s are: Huzeifa (23) from Daboya, Suale (23) from Tamale and Yussif (22) from Yendi.

We also have two team leaders, Roz (from Ireland) and Ella (from the upper west region of Ghana).

The team from left to right – Ella, Chelsie, Olivia, Huseifa, Laura, Suale, Katie, Yussif, Charlie, Roz
Now that you know our names, ages and where we are from we think we should give you a bit more info by telling you our likes and dislikes - so here goes…
Ella likes food and dislikes lazy people.

The team from left to right – Ella, Chelsie, Olivia, Huseifa, Laura, Suale, Katie, Yussif, Charlie, Roz
Roz likes socialising and food (especially crisps). She dislikes early mornings - although she says she is becoming well acquainted with them being out here!

Katie likes meeting new people, yoga and smoothies. She dislikes rude people and anteaters.

Laura likes music, jammie dodgers and helping others.  She dislikes rude/lazy people and discrimination/inequality in the world.

Charlie likes orange juice and odd socks and dislikes pineapple on pizza.

Chelsie loves skating and dislikes banku (a soup like dish with some goey dough ball thing, it’s a traditional Ghanaian meal).

Olivia likes Buffy the Vampire Slayer and dislikes nuts (a good call I’d say considering she’s allergic!)

Suale likes joking, reading and playing music. He dislikes wrestling.

And finally we have Yussif. He likes chatting with friends, watching movies and research. He dislikes discrimination.

So yeah, that’s us – WOSAG’s sixth cohort. As the weeks go on you will hopefully find out a bit more information about us all  Before we go we just want to give you a brief overview of the work we have done so far.

The UKV’s landed in Ghana on Wednesday 5th April so we have been here for almost three weeks now. We had three days of in-country training where we met our team leaders and our in-country counterparts. We then started work at our project office on Monday 9th April. So far we have read the debrief and handover notes provided by cohort 5, written our project plan for this cohort and conducted research into the topics we will be dealing with as WOSAG volunteers (domestic violence, contraception, menstruation, consent, sexual transmitted infections and sexual reproductive health rights). We’ve also researched upcoming International Days recognised by the United Nations and we have met the two communities which we will be working with, Banvim and Kanvili.

Meeting the women of Banvim community!

Keep checking back for our next blog. Thank you for reading and I hope you find our work interesting.
Meeting the women of Banvim community

Written by Laura.

Monday, 27 March 2017

A Volunteer's Guide to International Development

Our first guided learning was based on Islamic marriage and traditional marriages in Ghana. We spoke to an Imam and he educated us on Islamic marriages. Afterwards, each volunteer then spoke about what they perceived to be a traditional marriage. We discovered that unlike the ICVs, UKVs don't pay for bride price when they are getting married. It was really fun and every volunteer spoke about how they want their marriage to be in future. Some wanted to get married and then give birth to children while others said they don't see the need to marry; some had single parent's so they wouldn't like to marry but they would still like to have children. It was interesting to have both UKVs and ICVs speaking about their culture and different family structures.

Our second guided learning was on the topic of the Sustainable Development Goals. Three of the volunteers led a really interesting session on the SDGs and we learned a lot about why they were created and what they aim to do. At WOSAG we're particularly interested in Goal 5 - Gender Equality! We also had the chance to visit an orphanage in Tamale called the Nyohini Children's Home. We went along with footballs, puzzle books, candys, and colored pencils for the children .We played football, games and danced with them for almost three hours! The children didn't even want us to leave and the staff really appreciated our visit. It was so much fun being with the children and making them happy. When we got back to the office we had a discussion about the whether it is better to volunteer your time or to give money to help a cause and we decided both are good but it depends on the situation and the resources and skills you have.

The SDG posters we made

Our third guided learning was a visit to the District Court in Tamale to learn more about the justice system in Ghana. On our visit, we had the chance to witness many cases such as one on domestic violence and one on defamation of character. Afterwards, we got to meet the head Judge and ask questions such as how they deal with each case and decide the punishments that are assigned to each case.

Our forth guided learning was a visit to the Shea butter factory in Tamale- PAGSUNG Shea Butter Factory- which is located in Sagnarigu where we had the chance to go through all the procedures involved in making Shea butter. The factory is entirely run by women and all the proceeds from selling the produce will empower women and improve their livelihood. Volunteers bought some of the Shea butter:some for hair, body and for lips. We really enjoyed visiting the factory!

The women mixing the shea butter by hand

Salah's sandal broke as were walking towards the factory so Auggy had to back her til we came across a shoe maker !

The sandal came apart!

Hot road = burning feet, so Salah was backed by Auggy
What a spectacle!

Onwards through Sagnarigu to the factory!

Our fifth guided learning was on Globalisation where we had a discussion on everyday items such as the phones we use, the clothes we wear, the tea we drink and the pens we use to write. We researched the products to identify all the people and places involved in the process of making these items before we buy them. From this activity we learned that globalisation is a big part of our everyday lives and we saw the inequalities that exist in the production and selling of our everyday products. Afterwards we split into two teams and had a debate on the pros and cons of globalisation - the Pro-Globalisation team won!

Our sixth and final guided learning was a visit to the Central Mosque of Tamale. We were led by a Gazale - an Islamic scholar in Tamale. Mariam invited him to our office to have a small question and answer session about the Islamic religion and afterwards he led us to the Northern Regional Chief Imam. We went to him and to the mosque because the group wanted to know more about Islamic religion and the do's and don'ts of Islam. We asked questions of the Imam and then went into the Central Mosque of Tamale and had a quick look around- the call to Zuhr prayers had already started! We really appreciated meeting the Imam and learned some interesting things about the Muslim religion.   

Guided learnings have been a great tool in educating the team about Ghanaian culture and involving the team in the community. They also helped us to learn more about the wider world and International Development. We consolidated our understanding of the SDGs, and crucially, became closer as a group.

Guided learnings have inspired respect, understanding, curiosity and an interest in Sustainability and International Development and how we can, individually, and as a group, make our own changes.

Written by Salah and Mariam

Here Salah (top) and Mariam (right) are working hard at the office ;)