Monday, March 27, 2017

Once in a LIFEtime

Team LIFE with International Service CEO Jo Baker

After the hectic weeks 7 and 8, weeks 9, 10 and 11 have seemed quiet in comparison. However, these past 3 weeks have still been filled with an array of activities. We had the pleasure of joining our community in celebrating Ghana’s 60th year of independence, we’ve had two school sensitisations, an insightful visit from International Service CEO, Jo Baker, multiple meetings have taken place for the Monitoring and Evaluation Team regarding our Action Research with the DPO, and, of course, we also partook in a range of team social activities, including two parties and a trip to Tongo Hills for a Guided Learning Session.

Our 9th week started in the best way, celebrating Ghana’s 60th year of independence! All members of Team LIFE gathered at the Durbur Ground with the community of Sandema to watch the brilliant parade. The parade consisted of marches from the pupils of various schools, marches from the cadets, speeches from a collection of important members of the community, such as the director of education, and plenty of great musical cultural troupes throughout. One host mother even joined in! The chance to celebrate Ghana’s 60th year of independence in our host community surrounded by our new friends and families was certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity that will stick with all members of Team LIFE for years to come.

The Atomtechaab group, members of the Disabled Peoples Organisation who produce shea butter

The Friday following Independence Day, the 10th, Team LIFE delivered their school sensitisation at San. Prep. School, not once but twice! Due to the size of the school, it was not feasible to present to all students at the same time so, instead, the team were asked to condense their presentation to make time for us to present two back to back sensitisations to the school in smaller groups. This last minute change could have thrown the team but Team LIFE stayed professional and performed to the best of their ability as usual.
The week after on the 17th, Team LIFE delivered their final school sensitisation of the placement at Ayieta School. Our final sensitisation went exceptionally well, although some members of the team had fallen ill and were unable to attend. This meant the presentation once again had to be adapted slightly but, as before, Team LIFE were still able to perform professionally and deliver a successful sensitisation. The sensitisation was presented to 149 students under a tree outside the Ayieta School and all students were engaged and keen to learn. Honourable Gilbert kindly delivered a presentation to the children about how important the church was in removing stigma around his disability and in helping him become the respected member of the community that he is. This speech was positively received by the students, as all his speeches are, and his stories inspired the children to achieve all they possibly can. The sensitisation was a credit to us all and was a lovely way to end our sensitisation work.

On Tuesday the 14th of March, Team LIFE was privileged to receive a visit from International Service CEO, Jo Baker. The team was given the opportunity to share their experiences with Jo and ask questions about both her work and on how we too can become involved in international development in the future. These questions were answered in great detail with plenty of knowledge, which helped the team immensely. Following on from this, we were able to speak to Jo Baker about her own experiences of working in international development and the counties and cultures she had experienced. These inspiring stories raised the spirit and motivation of Team LIFE even higher than they already were. Jo Baker is a wonderful and approachable woman who we were glad to be given a chance to meet and we were all grateful for the knowledge she shared with us.

Team LIFE celebrating our last weekend together with DPO member Paul

Throughout all the busy-ness and excitement of weeks 9, 10 and 11, the Monitoring and Evaluation team have been hard at work with our Action Research project. The Monitoring and Evaluation team are working alongside the DPO to help the members build their business skills and, in time, be able to support themselves financially. The team are working with the woman of the DPO who produce and sell shea butter products, increasing the business skills of DPO members George and Charles who have a small weaving business. The team are also working with the Guinea Fowl Association to help them find a way of rearing guinea fowls to sell at markets. All these projects that the DPO have set up are a way for the members to be able to support themselves and will also help fund the running of the DPO as an organisation. The assistance Team LIFE is providing may not be financial support, but instead we are helping them grow their own business initiatives sustainably by gathering information which can be used by future ICS cohorts.

As our time in Sandema has been drawing to a close, the team have been involving themselves in a plethora of social activities to round off their experience. On Saturday 18th of March, we all put on our best Ghanaian wear to celebrate volunteer Olly’s 19th birthday in grand style! A party full of fun, food and dance was held for him and everybody immersed themselves fully in the festivities. The team have been lucky enough to go on an excursion to Tongo Hills, just south Bolgatanga, for our final Guided Learning Session. We were given a guided tour from a local of Tongo and were shown all the places of interest in the hills. This included the Hyena Cave which is used by the elders as a conference spot, Hiding Cave which the natives used to hide from the British colonials and a small cave which was used as a school before funding was available for a school building. The Guided Learning Session was the perfect way to start our final weekend as a team as it was a chance to see more of our Ghana whilst learning about it’s history. To celebrate as a team and to say goodbye to our final weekend in Sandema, the team arranged a leaving party for themselves and their host families. All members made the time to attend and celebrate our relationships within our host homes and our team.
The impressive geology at Tongo Hills

Unfortunately, during the weeks that this blog includes, we lost our brother Martin Afoko, the firstborn son of one of our host mothers, Madam Faustina. We would like to dedicate this blog to Martin and hope you will all join us in sending your love and prayers to Madam Faustina and her family. Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Family Chain
We little knew that morning,
God was going to call your name.
In life we loved your dearly,
In death we do the same.

It broke our hearts to lose you,
You did not go alone,
For part of us went with you,
the day God called you home.

You left us beautiful memories,
Your love is still our guide
And though we cannot see you,
You are always by our side.

Our family chain is broken
And nothing seems the same
But as God calls us one by one
The chain will link again. 
 Author: Ron Tranmer

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