Monday, April 8, 2013

A little catch-up from Team LIFE!

The last few weeks have flown by and so much has happened.  Unfortunately, we neglected our blog a little bit so I thought I would catch us up quickly!

The first Sandema team worked incredibly hard in the last couple of weeks of the project, putting together a brilliant report on the Feok festival which serves as a written document (the first of its kind that we know of!) explaining the festival and its traditions.  The report also analysed the inclusion of people with disabilities into the festival and identified some of the key issues which prevent their involvement, including financial concerns, discrimination, transport and mobility issues, as well as a complete and utter lack of awareness on the abilities of people with disability to participate.  The team followed this up with a Stakeholder Engagement meeting, where we had representatives from the District Assembly, Disabled People's Organisations, the Paramount Chief, community chiefs, health organisations and social welfare officers present; all with the view to discuss the inclusion of people with disabilities in the Feok festival.

The team gave an excellent presentation summarising the state of the festival and its popularity (not very popular!) and the issues surrounding disability inclusion.  The meeting was a huge success and we earned the support of the district assembly, and importantly, the Sandema Chief (Paramount Chief of the District) as well as a pledge from him to ensure changes are made to the festival this year.

Well done team!!

The final weeks were busy socially as well, as Poppy, Jenna, and Will all wanted to make sure they said their final goodbyes to everyone they had met and made friends with (this was a LOT of people - the team were so well loved and made a lot of friends in Sandema!).  The final weeks were memorable though and involved a great day at the swimming pool with the children from the foster home; a dinner with the CBR staff and some of our friends, some last minute clothes-making trips, plus much, much more!

In our final week as a team, we, along with the other ICS teams in Ghana, took a trip to Accra to visit the DFID office at the British High Commission.  We each presented our projects and outcomes of the past 12 weeks to DFID (including the Head of Mission and her second in command....this was a big deal!!).  All the volunteers did a great job and it seems that DFID were very impressed with their work.  The volunteers also provided DFID with further ammunition to remian in Ghana - apparently there is talk that DFID has no role to play in this country anymore, but our research and findings suggest that there is a greater need than ever for DFID, and other development organisations, to have a presence in Ghana, particularly in the north of the country.  International Service are hoping that we can build a good relationship with DFID in Ghana and develop future projects - the teams definitely helped make a contribution to that relationship.

The trip to Accra unfortunately signaled the end of the volunteers' time in Ghana, and the day after the meeting they flew back to the UK.  Myself and Zoe (Tamale team leader) waved them goodbye and then turned to each other as if we had both just lost a limb!  We really did not know what to do for a while (luckily Patience, the ICS Programme Manager, showed up not too long afterwards and sorted us out!!).  Another post will follow about what two team leaders get up to when there are no volunteers about!!  I do remember being on a trotro to the mountains though, and looking at my watch around 7pm and finding it incredibly strange that my team were already back in the UK!

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