Friday, October 28, 2016

Socialising in Sandema


"To me socialising means spending time with family and friends and meeting new people, which is what I have done since being in Sandema. The culture in Sandema is very different to the UK because here everyone is very friendly and always wants to have a conversation with you even if you are going to be late to work or some sort of function.

Through the ICS scheme we have made some lifelong friends. Every member of the team has helped to make the experience enjoyable and make the transition easier for me. By spending time with the in-country volunteers (Bismark, George, Faruk, Clara and Nelson) I have learned a lot about what is and what is not socially acceptable in Ghana. For example, it is not acceptable to give, take or eat with your left hand as it is a sign of disrespect.

Marie and her host mum

After spending a lot of time with these people I have learned a lot about myself. I have become more patient, I have learned to laugh more, and I have become less shy. We spend a lot of time outside of work playing cards and chatting about work and home. Some of the ICVs find it strange that we like to drink alcohol but they accept that this is something that happens in the UK. They are interested in our culture and the things we do in the UK, just as we are interested in the Ghanaian culture.

I also spend a lot of time with my host family. In the evening, we sit and watch TV and take silly photos on my iPad which has everyone laughing. When I finish work, my host mom Madam Faustina likes to sit with me outside and talk about what I have done at work and the rest of my day. Madam is very friendly and likes to make jokes. A few days ago, Madam’s sister came to visit and she took us out to a guest house. When I said that I didn’t want a drink, she asked why and I told her that I hadn’t brought any money with me. She just laughed and said that one person pays when people go out for drinks in Ghana.

Marie and her host sisters and brother

Even though it has been hard adjusting to living in a different country miles away from home, I know I have a great team to support me through the tough times."


"Socialising is the process of mixing with other people to build relationships and have fun. It is an important part of our everyday lives and I have learned that it is also an important part of the ICS scheme. Through socialising, I have been able to learn about a new culture and discussing my own culture with people who are not familiar with it has also enabled me to reflect on my own views and beliefs.

Together we stand; together we fall

It has been a very exciting experience to make new friends through ICS. I sometimes find it difficult to even call them my friends because I see them more as siblings. To have Sam, Lillie, Heather, Kitty, Lauren and Marie in your life is a great testimony to share with the world. These guys are very sociable, accommodating and kind. The difference in culture can sometimes be funny. For example, “let’s go for a drink” to us Ghanaians means “let’s go for a soft drink”, whereas for our UK counterparts it implies that we are going for an alcoholic drink!

I have also made new friends with some people from Sandema including Shatta who is a member of the Boys’ Club which was run by previous volunteers. Shatta is young man with an intellectual disability who is a very big fan of Shatta Wale, one of Ghana’s most famous singers, and this is how he got his nickname. He is well recognised as a very open person who is always ready to help and mingle with everyone. He has been a good friend to all the volunteers on the project in Sandema, both past and present. 

Having fun with Shatta

I have been living in Tamale for almost one year now and I have never thought of travelling this far North but I have really enjoyed my stay in Sandema so far. From the moment I set foot into this beautiful little town I could see that the people here are very hardworking and supportive. Working together as a team has really boosted my confidence in working with different people and I have also learned to become more accepting of the opinions of others. Being friends with Shatta has strengthened my compassion towards people with disabilities. The treatment I have received from my host family so far has also been amazing and I look forward to socialising with them and my new found friends a lot more."

By Marie McKenna and George Inkertsiah

1 comment:

  1. Well done Marie. We been trying to contact you buy no luck m. Glad you are ok. Amy n uncle Gary x