Wednesday, March 9, 2016


When people get to understand each other’s culture, they enjoy living together as one. As an in-country volunteer, I have never been in Sandema community before and I have never been with people from different country and from different cultural background. So it is difficult to be in a strange community and with strange people. But with effective communication and understanding, all is going on well. I am a volunteer, as already said earlier, of the Local Integration for Empowerment (LIFE) Project under International Citizen Service (ICS), which is in partnership with Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR). The projects that we undertake currently are inclusive ICT, Boys club, Girls Club, Drama, Inclusive sports and sensitisations (community, school and radio). I am currently part of the Inclusive ICT, Boys club, Inclusive sports and the sensitisations. 

The inclusiveness of people with disability in all activities and fighting for the rights of disabled people is our hallmark and we do this by creating the awareness of people in and around the community to make disabled people feel involved in their day to day activities, without any discrimination or stigmatisation.

People with disabilities are maltreated and discriminated in their homes, schools, communities and their work places and this is the reason why people with disabilities are always seen as poor people and people always have the perception that the only way for them to survive is begging, not knowing it is because they have been discriminating them. People with disabilities can be more intelligent and much talented than we the able people; it is just that, we don’t give them the chance to bring out their skills and talents. As the saying goes, ‘it is our prime responsibility to help people with disabilities and if we cannot help them, then we shouldn’t hurt them’. 

When the team arrived in Sandema, we were eleven (11) in number, five (5) UK volunteers, four (4) In-country volunteers and two (2) team leaders, one (1) from UK and one (1) from Ghana. In a week time a team member lost her grandfather and that made her left without ending the placement.
The cultural dynamics start from the community I’m staying now, in this community, that is the Builsa land, specifically Sandema, the enskinment of a chief is by voting and in my community, that is Dagomba land, it is done in the chiefs palace and by the will of the paramount chief. Also, the prayer of Islamic wedding in my community is done in the mosque and this is done outside the mosque here and it is very different.

The other one is about the culture in Ghana and UK, I have learnt from my counterpart that, people always appreciate when they give, ask, collect or you do something wrong to them and you use these words ‘thank you, please or sorry’. In Ghana, we are not used to saying that kind of words to people, and my counterpart sometimes say I am rude, by asking for something from her without the word ‘please’. So now am adjusting and  now start to use that word. 

My UK counterparts, they take the rights of animals so seriously, I can remember a day when we close from office and were on our way home, we saw a big snake crossing the road, and we the in-country guys jump from our bicycles and run after the snake and kill it and our counterparts were having problem with that and they were questioning us about why we did that and even said, it was like a snake murder.

I have also learnt that from my UK team mates, people shed tears when they are displeased with something and it always disturb there team members from Ghana, by making us feel very bad. Another dynamic of our culture is about the language that is English Language, this language is the mother tongue of people in UK and we are learners, and sometimes, it take us much time to understand what they are saying and we always say ‘pardon me or sorry’ but they sometimes become upset. 

I have also notice that, our invitation is different. In Ghana, when we invite someone out to have dinner with us, we always pay but it is different in respect to UK invitation, if my memory set me right, the day we arrived in Sandema, our UK team leader said ‘lets go for lunch’, and we the in-country guys didn’t know that we were supposed to pay for whatever we ordered, so we were just ordering a lot of things and at the end it was said that, everybody should pay for what he or she ordered, so we were confused but we couldn’t have any option than to pay. So this makes us not to always able to take part in invitation by a UK member. This is just a bit about the cultural dynamics I have learnt so far, and I will say that, it is good to experience these kinds of behaviours in life or else you won’t know what others are doing in different places around the globe.

With all these cultural dynamics, we have been able to live happily but with some small problems in the first four weeks of our stay in Sandema, but we hope that with effective communication and understanding, everything shall come to pass in the good form. 

Disability is not inability, being able today is not because of your power or strength, and it is not a guarantee that you will remain same till the end of your life, so never discriminate or stigmatise any disabled person. 

Written by: Baba

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