Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Challenge Yourself To Change Your World…

For those who have been following the work of LIFE for a while, you probably already know Paul. For those who don’t, meet Paul:

Paul volunteered with International Service in 2016, and ever since he has been actively seeking opportunities to create change in his community and to develop his own skills. He has since become: secretary of the local Disabled People’s Organisation; an active member of a Guinea Fowl Association; continues to work with International Service volunteers, and still wears his ICS T-shirt with pride! Paul has said that volunteering on the ICS programme gave him many opportunities, and his confidence grew. As a disabled man himself, Paul is determined to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities. He wishes to create change and make opportunities, to learn and grow and ensure that being disabled does not mean that a person is not able. He is always thinking of the next idea, always looking for new routes to take or projects to start.

This attitude and desire to create change led Paul to apply for the International Service Alumni Grant. He wanted to facilitate a soap making training as he highlighted a need for young people in the community to learn a skill. This would help them to not fall victim to Ghana’s major youth unemployment problem. Paul has said that there have been soap/pomade/shea butter training workshops in the past organised either by ICS volunteers or by the local Rural Enterprise Project. However, he noticed that these training's were most often benefiting older generations and bypassed the youth. Therefore, he hoped that by including young people, specifically school leavers, as well as people with disabilities, they would have a chance to learn new skills that would help them generate an income for themselves.

Our lovely UK Volunteer Madison sat down with Paul to discuss his motivations for involving young people in the training and the potential opportunities it could offer them. He stated that:
‘The youth are very important when it comes to addressing unemployment in Ghana. By involving the Youth in training like this, they have a chance to develop further and hopefully begin to make a living for themselves. At the moment, the participants are planning to sell the soap they produced during the training and use the money to buy raw materials to continue production. The skills they have gained will allow them to start making money, and also may make them more employable to existing businesses. They will be able to contribute to the economy and ensure they are not dependent on their families.’

The training itself was a great success. Over the course of three days, twenty five participants learned how to make three different kinds of soap from scratch. Former volunteers Raphael and Samuel were on hand to help, as were all of the current LIFE project team, by taking photos and helping with questionnaires as well as learning a little about soap making. The feedback Paul received from the participants after the completion of the training was extremely positive with many thinking of diverse ways to use their new skills. One participant said:

‘I have learned how to make many different types of soap. I can use this knowledge to help other people in the community learn too. I hope we can sell the soaps and use the money to buy materials to continue making soap. I hope it will help us to reduce poverty in our community.' – Afoblikame Mary

Photo Credit: Kate Glover
One of the most vital principles of the human rights based approach to development is EMPOWERMENT.  International Service advocates for beneficiaries not to simply be ‘recipients of charity’. They should be motivated to access their rights and break the cycle of poverty and inequality. Building the capacity of young and vulnerable people, strengthening their skills and abilities to achieve objectives, and thrive in their communities is a necessity to achieve sustainable development goals. The ICS programme and its volunteers are not a permanent fixture in the community. However, while there are go-getters and determined young people like Paul striving to succeed, we feel confident that positive changes are coming.

Written by Kate Glover & Madison Blickem

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