Wednesday, March 18, 2015


NORIKA means 'final' in Buli

Some of the team outside Radio Builsa after having an interview.

The journey on ICS has come to a bridge, together we are crossing it to the next level of action. It's been a lot of weeks on the LIFE project in Sandema, or ‘sun city’ as the natives call it, and you have been with us through our blogs. This is our final blog for cohort 11 and the amazing team members have their thoughts in this once in a lifetime experience:

Ak: And here it is time to say goodbye. Over the past 10 weeks I have gotten to know this group of volunteers extremely well, both professionally and personally. Professionally, I have witnessed them all dedicate themselves to this project through their hard work and commitment. Personally, I have made some friends who have been able to make me laugh continuously. Saying goodbye will be difficult but I have some fond memories to reflect on.  Such as the time our project partner gave a speech in which he was convinced that when white men get angry their hair stands up. The hilarious team bonding exercises that ranged from when Sanpreet’s ‘never have I ever game’ to Abolnab’s ‘cry like an animal‘ game. Or Muniru’s hilarious and slightly unrealistic stories; Priscilla’s terrible singing; Abigail’s cheeky requests; Bronwen’s long day dreams and Rory’s frequent and long trips to the toilet. And many more that would probably not be appropriate to include in this blog. In life you meet people that leave footprints on your heart and in Ghana I have met my fair share of those people, but I count myself blessed to be on a project where I managed to work with such people every day for 10 straight weeks.  We laughed like a family; we bickered like family; we all grew so close that I am sure when it is time to say goodbye it will be like saying goodbye to family.  

David:The smiles and expectations are unfortunately turning into sadness with a forced conclusion of a cross culture working environment. It is very hard typing this message. As one smiles nicely and expects, you need to learn how to say goodbye in circumstances of this nature. I say a big thank you to all the Ghanaians volunteers and UK volunteers. Let’s keep the flame of positivity burning brightly and God Almighty shall fill all our heart desires. 

Abigail: Sandema has been a place where one gets entangled with beautiful memories before leaving. Can you believe that it took three healthy human beings to kill a guinea fowl? Basically, it was two guys plus me. This turned out to be one of the most horrible moments for some of them but definitely one of the funniest for me because I finally had to kill it with the same knife that was said to be blunt -  but I believe it wasn’t blunt but it was lack of experience… Hahaha!!!! But more memories continued when Bronwen suddenly called me out of the bedroom to come and teach both her and Priscilla how to dance. Obviously, we learnt some few steps here and there but ended up learning pole dancing as we shook what our Mama gave us. Don’t think all the fun ended there because this is where I found myself shouting in the bathroom for Sanpreet after trying to wash my hair which didn’t work because the shampoo was ‘different’ from what I know. However, Priscilla thought I was probably in danger of some sort but it was actually a ‘cry for help by my hair’. My hair attracted two people to the bathroom and finally, Sanpreet ended up washing my hair with the same shampoo I struggled with and used some conditioners plus gel. This is one of the best hair washing spree I’ve been on.  

The LIFE project has been great with all of us going on sensitization programmes, executing ICT support class with great children coming around because of the love amongst us.  Every week with the Wiaga Girls’ Club was an opportunity to talk and educate girls and I realized that I wasn’t shaking anymore as I used to when talking in public - all the regular presentations with the sensitization built me to have confidence and live respectfully with all. The journey of LIFE, always an experience!!!

Rory: I have so many fond memories of my time in Sandema; however one that stands out for me is the day that the LIFE team went to visit The Paramount Chief of the Bulsa region. As we sat under the shade of the local summer hut, on the cool and smooth local wood patiently waiting for an audience, the importance of what we were about to became apparent. Many other members of the local community were also waiting to speak with the Chief and after about half an hour of waiting we were ushered to the meeting area. When we presented ourselves to the chief and the community elders we were met with a silence, during which time it seemed that no one was entirely sure who was going to initiate the introductions. After the silence which lasted all of ten seconds, but seemed to stretch on for ten minutes, the chief welcomed us all to his kingdom. In what seemed a very bizarre ritual, the chief spoke in the native tongue, Buli, which was then repeated by one of his trusted advisors in Buli. Once both the chief and his advisor had spoken, David, our in-country team leader, translated into English. The Chief gave us his blessing and, in a show of magnanimity allowed us to take a picture with him and the elders. We thanked everyone for taking the time out of their day to accommodate us and left. It is a moment that I will always hold close to me when I think of the time that I have spent on the LIFE Project in Sandema!

Priscilla: Generally speaking volunteering on ICS means a lot to me. With mixed feelings of excitement and dedication to real hard work you can be down at times. Finally the period to supporting others and ourselves is coming to a close on ICS but hey it doesn’t mean it’s all over, we are keeping the flames of volunteerism alive with even more fire! There are such a chunk of moments, especially on field activities were we got teachers blindfolded and students would have the opportunity to laugh freely at their teachers (though of course this was not the ultimate aim of the activity it was still fun), translate English to English. At times, I was scared to make some presentations but I can’t just do anything about it and I would have get to the grounds where there a magical courage would take over and I couldn’t believe I was the one so confident before the crowd. The “never have I ever” activity was such revealing fun. You can try it too, you are assured of getting some questions you can’t ask personally answered.  

Abolnab: During our stay in Sandema, the memorable moment I will never forget when I finally say good bye to my friends was a time in office where I and Rory did the Dagomba dance, which we learnt in Tamale at the team leader’s house at the induction ceremony, during our usual break. The whole team was exited and jealous at the same time of how we managed to remember the wonderful dance performance of the Dagomba. It was fun and interesting to see the black man doing his thing better than the white man doing his best. The second moment is when I and Muniru embarked on an official journey in distributing questionnaires, but unfortunately the motor broke down on the way and we had to push it to the nearest mechanic shop. On the way of struggling an idea come up where one will push the other for a while and the vice versa as well. This is what I will never ever forget.  

Muniru: Sandema is a wider village found in the Upper East Region where the big rocks and mountains dominate. The following are some of the memories I won’t forget over the 10 weeks of stay on the Life Project in sandema. It has been a great pleasure for me working with a prince in the person of Abolnab for the first time. This is a memory I would never forget because, I have been doing field work with him and since he is a royal person, he seems to know everybody with dignity in the society. His popularity and the respect he has in the society helped make our work easier especially in collecting the baseline data from the various schools and also the cordial relationship he has with most of the head teachers of the various schools makes the work easier. So working with a prince for the first time is what I can’t forget about and our bonding spirit is also unforgettable.

Bronwen: Cycling back and forth to work in the scorching heat everyday has almost come to an end. Spending 10 weeks volunteering with ICS in the beautiful town of Sandema has been the most amazing time of my life, and this is going to sound cliché, but I’m still going to say it, it has really changed the way that I look at life. Don’t get me wrong, as all experiences in life, there have been the highs and the lows. I’ve met so many amazing people, and learnt so much from them. The list of amazing, funny memories is endless, from the strange marriage proposals from elderly men to Abigail’s pole dancing classes, but the funniest memory is definitely the epic failing of the slaughtering of a guinea fowl by Rory and Ak, which then had to be taken over by Abigail who did it like a pro. Poor little guinea fowl! Working on the LIFE team has been amazing, the sensitization programs were a great success, the ICT lessons with the exited children running about were both fun and successful and the Girls’ Club sessions were an unforgettable experience. I’m going to miss all the ‘saluk’ ‘cantio’ and ‘junai’ (Buli greetings) and this is the final goodbye from me to Sandema.

Sanpreet: After spending a wonderful, hot, at times water-less, but definitely yam and bean full, nine and half weeks here in Sandema, it’s finally time to leave.

I feel like we’ve done a lot of good community work, from the ICT Support Group Workshops and the Wiaga Girls’ Club, as well conducting a lot of research which will help future cohorts. But, the sensitisation programmes we did is something I will remember for a very long time. Standing up and talking in front of 300+ children. who can only hear ‘smallee smallee’ when you talk, isn't the easiest thing. But, when we were at Afoko JHS, the children made it so much easier. There was a girl who kept her attention on us, diligently took notes, asked questions and freely volunteered for our activities. When you have children like her in the audience, you know that you making a positive impact.

I’m full of fond memories which I’ve made from working with LIFE. Every working day has been a fun and crammed with laughter. I feel fortunate that I’ve had such a loving, friendly, motivated and dedicated team to share this experience with. Our cohort has worked very well together, lead by two fantastic and supportive team leaders. It will sound like a cliché, but really, we have grown to be a little family here: sharing all our good, and sometimes bad, moments together and supporting each other through all our difficult times.

It’s sad to leave and I’ll miss many things about Sandema: the warmth of the town and the people, the friendly and excited children and yes, I will even miss riding a bike daily (I didn’t have (many) more accidents after the first day). Most of all, I will miss our wonderful team members.

Kunyi Mahar!


Yesterday also marked the 25th birthday of Rory. Happy birthday Rory!


Thank you to everyone who has seen us through this journey and read our blogs. We'd like give a special thanks to all the staff of CBR, and especially Mr. Maxwell, the co-ordinator, for his unwavering support and charismatic energy. 

The new LIFE team will be arriving in Sandema in just over two weeks -  we wish them the best of luck! With hard work, motivation and dedication, we're sure that they'll do an amazing job. 

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