Saturday, June 29, 2013

Last one standing.....

Today, Saturday 29th June 2013, I should be waking up at home in Manchester, England after flying home with my second team yesterday.  Instead, I am sat on the front porch of my house in Sandema, Upper East region of Ghana, preparing for my third team to arrive.

This is by no means a sad thing, I am very, VERY happy to still be in Sandema, and still working on the LIFE project at CBR.  However, yesterday was weird.  It was weird speaking to my team (who incidentally even managed to make their last day in Ghana eventful by packing too much....reason #32874 why I love them dearly) as they made their way to the gate, it was even more bizarre speaking to Zoe, the Tamale team leader as she also made her way to the gate.  Myself and Zoe, along with Sean, the Bolga team leader, all arrived in Ghana together at the beginning of January.  For the last 6 months I have known that June 28th was going to be departure day, where the 3 of us would pass our projects to somebody else and head home.  So when the day came (and has now passed me by) and I didn't leave, I had some very mixed emotions about being the last one standing.

It is a matter of circumstances that allowed me to remain in Ghana and remain working on this project which I love so much, and feel very responsible for.  The team leader who replaces me in September will have to wrestle this project out of my hands!  So whilst it was a sad day yesterday, and I often felt like I had been left behind and a little bit in limbo, I'm not ready to leave Sandema, or Ghana, and am entirely grateful that fate intervened and permitted me to stay.  This project was nothing more than an idea in January, but across the course of 6 months I have watched two incredible teams, and 6 amazing individuals turn this idea into a project which is growing from strength to strength each day.  Why would I want to pass that up?  In 6 months, Poppy, Will, Jenna, Roya, Shazia, and Festus (and me!) have achieved the following:

- Written a comprehensive history of the Feok festival
- Understand the challenges towards including people with disabilities into the festival
- Gained the support of the Paramount Chief of the Builsa district (a big deal!) in the inclusion of people with disabilities
- Gained the support of the District Assembly....just in general.
- Trained 24 people with disabilities/caregivers in small-scale business management
- Devised an appropriate business plan for a soap production business attached to one of the Disabled People's Organisations, and put the first steps in place to implement the plan.
- Created 3 cultural groups around the district (involving at least 50 people with disabilities)

This is just a snapshot of the things they have achieved.  I couldn't be prouder of all of my volunteers and their achievements.  And this is why I am so happy to stay.  Tomorrow 4 more volunteers will be heading to Heathrow airport to fly to Ghana, and to continue the work of the project.  I can't say for certain, but based on my conversations with my new team, I think they will kick-start the campaign for disability sports.  I am excited to lead another team and develop the LIFE project further, and watch as they take some more steps to change attitudes towards disability in the Builsa district of Ghana.

To my previous teammates, I miss you all and hope that you are proud of all you have achieved.  To my new team (and future volunteers of LIFE) be excited, you are going to have a great time, but come ready to work.

As of Tuesday (when the new team arrives) I won't be the last one standing anymore.  I can't wait!

1 comment:

  1. Good job on moving the blog Tracy - it looks great! Its good to know we have you for a little while longer on the LIFE project. I hope the new volunteers are settling in well.