Monday, November 24, 2014

Sensitisation Central

Word of the week: Tagrug – meaning ‘change’, something we hope that our placement in Sandema has contributed to.

Before our placement even began, we were told to prepare for how fast the time goes, and that we will feel like the work is taking off and we’re making real progress just as it’s time to leave. But no amount of preparation can prepare you for an experience as rewarding and as challenging as this one. With our placement drawing to a very sudden close, we’ve all found ourselves becoming more reflective about our time in Sandema, and about how our project is progressing and what its future will look like.

Despite the great work that CBR and other organisations do in the region, there is still a lot of stigmatisation and mistreatment towards persons with disabilities in the Builsa region. It has been important, therefore, that alongside our other work, there has been more focus on pioneering a sensitisation programme; the pilot presentations of which we conducted this weekend. The purpose of these sensitisations is to educate the people of the Builsa region on the rights of persons with disabilities and to champion equal opportunities for such persons, to address the stigma’s that people have about persons with disabilities, and ultimately, to encourage more inclusion of people with disabilities into the wider community. We conducted the first of these presentations at the weekly Girls Club meeting on Saturday. Not only did the girls respond really well to the presentation, and seemed to take a lot from it, we also feel like it has laid the foundations for a relationship between the youth in the community and persons with disabilities.

On Sunday, the team then split up and went to various churches across the region. Lee and Julie conducted their presentation in the Assemblies of God church in Sandema, with the help of Yaw, a native of Builsa, who told the inspiring story of overcoming the barriers of living with a disability in the region, and succeeding in opening his own Kindergarten school, that now has 53 students. Emily and Gifty presented in the Catholic Church in Chuchuliga, which was attended by the Deputy Interior Minister for Ghana, James Agala. Joanna conducted a presentation in the Balansa Presbyterian church and Amy presented in the Wiaga Catholic Church. Overall, we are all really pleased with how our first presentations went, and collectively we’ve reached over 600 people in Builsa North. We have more programmes of this nature planned in our last few weeks of our placement, and we hope that this will serve as a platform for future cohorts to build on our work, and continue to address the challenges that people with disabilities face in the Builsa region.

In other news, our volunteers have been continuing to work closely with the Girl’s Club. Attendance has increased due to announcements on the radio and in the local churches. Julie led a session on leadership, where the members discussed the qualities it takes to be a good leader, and the opportunities they have to be future leaders in their own communities. Our volunteers have also been working with a past IS volunteer who works at CBR, who has started up a Girl’s Club of the same nature in the nearby town Wiaga. On Tuesday, Ak and Julie conducted the first session discussing sexual health, and was a great success.

New Era has had a second production of soap this week. This production was made with locally-sourced Shea Butter, which is also made by a group of women with disabilities. Unfortunately, this production has not been as successful as the last as the Shea Butter was not of the same quality. Upon reflection, the Shea Butter producers may need more training and we are now looking into providing that for them in order for them to produce quality Shea Butter for the New Era producers. We are still looking for fundraising to support the women in their business - www.gofund.me/newerasoap. Having faced the first real challenge with soap production, we’ve learnt the value of trial and error, and we are continuing to support the women in their endeavour to produce real quality soap for their customers.

In addition, we have also written a constitution for the Sandema Disabled People’s Organisation, which will allow them to get registered as an official organisation with the District Assembly, which in turn will facilitate further growth and development as an organisation through more support and funding. We met with the organisation on Saturday, and discussed the aims and objectives, membership, Powers and the Executive Committee of the organisation.

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