Thursday, 25 July 2013

Introducing the Project & and Project Partners

International Service is an organization that specialises in international development. I've quickly come to learn that this is a step away from traditional aid work, and this difference is important to distinguish as it is the core of IS’s values and mission; helping individuals to help themselves. As such our work out here in Ghana will see us being seconded to a local NGO, in our case the Resource Centre for Persons with Disability in Tamale.

DiD Project team presenting the project plan during in-country training week
During induction week was our first meeting with the Centre Manager Samed, who explained that the organisation is a specialist centre that works to promote the livelihoods and well-being of people with disabilities (PWDs). We also learnt more about some of the great programs they have produced over the years but which had all had to be dropped due to lack of funds. The new Resource Centre building, where we will now be based, was built with a grant from the World Bank. However, they currently have no operating income and now rely on the amazing staff there who are all currently volunteering their time.

During that first meeting with Samed we also learnt that the centre supports local sports teams for PWDs including a wheelchair basketball team. The basketball team coach is currently financed by the district government. Samed explained to us that the National Assembly in Ghana recently passed into law a disability rights bill that compels Districts to spend a minimum of 2% of their budget to support DPOs, as well as various anti-discrimination measures. We were also impressed to hear that two members of the amputee football team which the centre supports compete at a national level. These programmes desperately need more financial support once so, once the data collection stage is completed we will be looking at ways to assist the Resource Centre in becoming more financially sustainable so that they can develop their operations in the future.

Our primary objective looks to be both challenging and purposeful. We are to collate data to build a database on disability issues in Tamale through a series of questionnaires and surveys, which we will be designing ourselves. This will involve lots of direct field work, talking to PWDs, their communities and their families. Upon completion the statistical data will hopefully go on to have a massive impact on the fundraising ability of the Resource Centre. It’s incredible that the last available data is around 20 years old! It is vital that the Resource Centre be able to show the scale of the issues facing PWDs in Tamale when applying for funding grants and when lobbying local government. Sadly, the centre has been hit by a series of setbacks in funding and they have not received a grant in three years.
Volunteers and team leader working on questionnaire construction
We have three months to rapidly bring the vision of this project to fruition, and with the diverse range of backgrounds and skills in our team we feel confident of achieving our objectives and more. Overall we feel that this experience out here in Ghana is likely to challenge us in ways we might not have expected, both in and out of the workplace. But most of all we came here to make a difference, so that’s what we are going to do.

By Tom Bulpit

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