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Monday, December 5, 2016

FROM “LOCAL CITIZEN" TO “GLOBAL CITIZEN”

As the popular saying goes “opportunity comes but once”. This was the first thing that came up in mind when I was first introduced into the ICS program. From the perspective of a young man from the central region of Ghana, joining ICS has been educative and entertaining as well. Before signing up to the scheme, Daniel was a “local citizen” but I can confidently say am now a “global citizen”. Travelling from the southern part of Ghana to the Northern part for a six month placement was a huge hurdle to overcome. This is no new perception from a person from the south since the gap of development is very wide between the south and the north in Ghana. But that notwithstanding, this even motivated me to see the other part of my country Ghana. What I thought to be a hurdle has now opened me up to enormous learning and opportunities.

CULTURAL EXPERIENCE/LEARNING
Breaking the barrier and perception between a typical “Fanti” young man and the culture up here in the Upper East region specifically the people of “buluk” was such a smooth integration. The witnessing and learning the builsa dance, “buluk” songs which I can sing a few although I don’t understand. In the Builsa land here where I have been for the past six months almost everybody has his surname beginning with the letter “A”, which to me was very interesting. But upon further chat with friends from Sandema they said it was a common phenomenon and it was as if it was part of their naming style. From Akambang to  to Achuroa, Asiawon,  Akalaya, Apina and the list can go on and on.

As if that is not enough, even the mention of normal names will not be spared with the start of ‘A’s (Daniel- Adaniel, George- Ageorge, Samuel- Asamuel). I guess you can add your own if you wish now! This is due to the fact that almost all the local names start with ‘A’ so they are used to that. The people of Builsa have a very rich culture. I once met with Mr. Afoko who happens to be a royal from the chief palace in Sandema who shared a lot of the history of Builsa. He told me more about their annual festival called the “Feok”. The Feok, he said means the abundance of food. It is celebrated to thank the gods for their harvest for the year.

PROJECT
My passion of working on any disability project dates back in school and ICS has offered me the platform to exhibit my capabilities. The LIFE Project has helped me to understand PWDs better. From the holding of sensitizations in communities, churches, and mosque, to the training of teachers on inclusive teaching, has really brought a huge impact to the people of Builsa. I recall vividly during a mosque sensitization, this woman called Hajia Mamuna was short of words when she heard for the first time that children with disabilities (CWD) also have equal access to school. The middle-aged woman has been enlightened and will from that day send her child with cerebral palsy to school.

As if that was all, during some of our meetings with members of the Disabled People Organisation (DPO), they could not hide their excitement. The members categorically said they now feel integrated into the community since the start of the ICS project in Sandema and its surrounding communities. These testimonies from community members and the members of the DPO made me feel happy for making and impact in people’s life.

Daniel and other LIFE Project volunteers speaking at a community sensitization in Suwarinsa

GLOBAL LEARNING
Working with people from different cultural persuasions was a bit difficult at the start of the placement. But with the support of the first and second cohort it was made much easier. My counterpart team leader from the UK called Lauren Kelly was also helpful in this regard. Due to the ICS program I have come to understand into detail global development issues. My knowledge of international development – ranging from human rights, education, environment, religion and politics, peace and conflicts – has improved tremendously.

I remember a guided learning session I led with my team leader counterpart on the sustainable development goals (SDGs). This particular topic helped me understand the details of the SDGs. I think going forward, I will carry the rich knowledge in my future endeavors since I want to work in the field of development. My personal learning and skills cannot be left out since now I always run on the UK time and not the GMT (Ghana man time) anymore! I know my colleagues in the UK will attest to this fact. Now I will be comfortable working in most part of the world especially the UK. This is why I boldly call myself a “global citizen”.

Daniel, the global citizen, with the international LIFE Team

By Daniel Agyei Mintah

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