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Monday, 30 April 2012

Update from the Ghana Field School


Subject: Ghana up-date
Good morning (or late evening for you),
Thanks Dave for sharing a bit of Costa Rica - we must have been channeling each other as our group just put something similar together that folks who are interested can check out. I also can not remember if I shared the blog address for the study tour: http://sites.viu.ca/ghana2012/
The students and I are blogging through the university's Global VIU set up and will also be contributing to PAPR blog once the data analysis (and findings are determined!) wrap. To date the students and I have travelled from the southern capital of Accra to the northern gateway city of Bolgatanga with a few points in-between!
Brianne, Ashley and I visited with an organization in Tamale that specializes in coordinating the efforts of churches (i.e., foreign missionary based development) in northern Ghana and spoke with a women who's portfolio includes Gender and Environment. It was an extremely enlightening meeting and Mary shared a great deal of information regarding regional differences as well as the rural/urban differences. One of the startling things that she mentioned is that girls (and boys) as young as 12 will travel into the two larger northern centres (Tamale and Bolgatanga) to sell items no the streets and to act as porters in order to raise the funds to pay for student fees. The luck ones are able to stay with a family member but many of them are simply living on the streets. During this time Amanda Moore (BMT '08) and Jay Bodner met with organizations that work in human trafficking and were fortunate enough to meet some young girls who had been rescued and were in the process of reintegrating into the community. Our experiences here lead to some very interesting evening discussions for sure!
In Bolgatanga we met with an organization called AfriKids (www.afrikids.org) a group that has a fundraising arm in the UK and the development arm firmly planted (and staffed) in Bolga. The approach of this group is three steps:
1. Listen to what a community knows it wants, 2. Empower them to make the necessary changes themselves, 3. Ensure absolute sustainability
One of the most unique features of this particular NGO are the goals of the two partner organizations (Ghana & UK) and the fact that they have only 11 UK Staff to 160 Ghanaian Staff.
UK chapter: To make AfriKids Ghana financially and managerially sustainable by 2018, so that they can continue to work towards our mission independent of handouts.
Ghana chapter: To create independent local sustainability that will ensure we can continue making real and tangible changes in our region that are needed to ensure every changed has their rights met.
This particular organization works in maternal and child health, education, community development, sustainable livelihoods development, and they are moving into tourism. One of their plans for financial sustainability is to develop an eco-lodge near Bolgatanga - Ray has already indicated that they would really love to work with folks like us and perhaps host some interns to help with the development of the project! I think that this organizations approach to development and to foreigners volunteers is one that could prove to be a good partnership and a great place for grad and undergrad field placements/co-op placements.
Since leaving the 'urban' north we've spent a week conducting gender research in Larabanga - one of our primary partner communities. I extremely happy with the efforts of the students and am glad that we did this as it has not only provided some keen insights into how the community is run and organized (along gender and age based roles) but it also provided me an opportunity to check in and set-up our activities in June (with Jay, Katie, Luis, Ryan, and Aaron and Michael from FFRT). There are a few very tangible projects (mostly training and product development) that the students will be working on!
Today we are at Mole National Park and beyond the usual swimming in the pool and watching elephants, we will be having a data analysis party and Ashley and Brianne will be busy writing up their final paper for the BTM!
All in all it has been an excellent trip so far and looks like it will only get better!
Hope all is well back on campus,
Aggie


Northern Ghana Roadtrip: The Trailer

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