Thursday, March 27, 2014

Poppy's goodbye to Sandema

How do I begin to say goodbye to Sandema? I have done once before when leaving as a volunteer but now, with another 6 and a half months under my belt I’m really struggling to find the words. Sandema has become a home away from home and sometimes just my home. Sandema along with the LIFE project and CBR have taught me more about myself in 9/10 months than I’ve learnt in 24 years previously. The phrase “smiley smiley” has never been more apt. My last year has revolved around Sandema; being in Sandema, trying to get back to Sandema and then being back in Sandema. There are countless people I need to thank so; I will take this time to mention a few key people who have made this whole experience one of the best of my life.

Rush hour on the commute to work could be a real nightmare in Sandema

-          Maxwell, for proving that 24/7 really is a working pattern and that with good work comes good things. You are an unbelievable inspiration of the person everyone can be if they work hard and love enough
-          Festus, for teaching me that strength and friendship are two of the most powerful forms of love
-          To my volunteers; all of you – thank you for providing the perfect balance between hard-work, friendship and a lot of fun. Every single one of you has risen to every challenge and turned the project into a resounding success
o   Waris, Kerris, Tom and Siobhan – thank you for every 5am start and 7pm finish, no complaints, just hard work that paid off in the most beautiful way, your passion for the project and Sandema is inspiring
o   The Sandem Mandem; Ollie, Ollie, Liam and Rob - thank you for your patience, independence, laughter and hard-work, My initial panic over having an all-male team was of course completely unnecessary. You are some of the sweetest, passionate and funny people I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending time with.
-          To the Canadian interns; Sean, Kelly, Chels, Ali and Kev – thank you for all your love and laughs, you have a way of making people better just by being around them
-          To IS Ghana; Patience and Rene – for always going above and beyond in all cases. You are the glue that holds us all together and I couldn’t be more thankful to both of you
-          To CBR – the work you do is incredible, I have never seen such acts of selflessness on a daily basis
-          The National Volunteers; Francis, David, Gilbert, Maurice and Comfort – thank you for all your hard work and commitment
-          To my friends in Sandema: you have made this place a home. I have a faith in people now that I never had before; your warmth, kindness and consistent screaming of my name as I cycle through town warms my heart, thank you
-          And finally to the other IS Ghana team leaders: Therri, Tash and Matthew – we had fun didn’t we?

The project has been an enormous success. Some of the many things we have managed over the last 6 months:
-          The inclusion of persons with disabilities in to the annual Feok Festival for the first time in the history of Builsa
-          A celebratory march through Sandema with over 200 people for international Disability Day
-          A 300 strong celebration of World Mental Health Day
-          The first ever completely free martial arts and singing class, encouraging boys off the streets in the evening
-          Two all-inclusive football matches showcasing the skills and abilities of PWDs in the district
-          Successfully launched the NEW ERA soap production business
It’s hard to quantify my love for Sandema and put my experiences in to words. Sandema, CBR and the LIFE project has made me the person I am today; a stronger, happier and more determined human. I will forever be indebted to Sandema so, thank you. Thank you for everything, for the most fantastic collective 10 months. With every low came an even bigger high. The people of Builsa are a shining example to the whole world of the meaning of family, friendship and community.
And HUGE thank you to: Falishia, Conifahs and Joyce, pure water, Margaret, matching jumpsuits, swimming, Busua, Burkina Faso spring break forever, showertime with Therri, puppies, Horizons, charging elephants, Foster Home, posh mixers, bonfires, Rose, team lea-wha? Team lea-who? Team lea-duh, Poppy goes to Bolga every weekend, FEOK FESTIVAL, Radio Builsa, Azonto, the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pantsuit, LIAL, video star, rooftops, Silly South, “WONDERFUL” North, chop my money, bicycles, Mavis, rap battles, tangleteezers, failed Miss Feok attempts, mi Buli jaeger jaeger, INSANE, fi nala, head hunting, performing to church congregations, 67 missed calls from Therri, WILDNESS, running water – no water, Alvaro, jelly, party tro, Blue Jeans, Carley, Ace Gang, Good Family, open top 4x4s, Sangatanga, danger everything, 1994 and CAMERA WHEELING.

I’ll close with words from Maxwell:
If you fail to see the potential in the person but see only the disability, then who is blind?
if you cannot hear your brother's cry for help and justice then who is deaf?
If you cannot stand up for the right of all people, then who is physically disabled?
If you cannot have the patience, the tolerance and understanding for individual differences then who is mentally handicapped?
Your attitude towards persons with disabilites is the biggest handicap.
Change your negative attitude to positive attitude for an inclusive society and development for all.


So yeah, that happened.
 Siobhan, Waris, Me, Kerris and Tom
Oliver, Rob, Me, Ollie and Liam

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