Sunday, 24 January 2016

The bag, the bananas and the baby.

Community is a word heard often here in Ghana.

Over the last 2 weeks, we
ve become a part of the community living in Tamale. We travelled to the city, began training, settled into a welcoming Ghanaian family AND started working at the Resource Centre for Persons with Disabilities.

The transition into such a new, vibrant and colourful society has been eye opening. Something which struck me was the importance of greeting each other in Ghanaian culture. The empty Hello, how are yous of the UK replaced by the Desibas of the morning, Entres of the afternoon and Aniwulas of the evening. Whether its a fellow passenger in a taxi or a fruit seller in the market - the lesson has been learnt: dont start a conversation meaninglessly without these.

Having purposely been placed with in-country volunteers has been a highlight of the entire experience so far. Whilst International Service works on 4 projects throughout Tamale, its volunteers are interconnected through both their home and working life. In both places, learning about each others cultures, view points and societies has been invaluable to the development of our projects and personal lives.

At the Resource Centre for Disabled Persons, we are a team made happily of 4 in country and 3 UK volunteers. During our first week in training, we learnt that we are composed of several strengths and attributes. From languages and carpentry to numeracy and communication, our incredibly organised team leaders imminently allocated our tasks for the next 10 weeks. It felt great to be able to start working on our roles with such efficiency and knowing that we have so much to learn from each other.

As a project focused on baseline research, our priority is to assess the situation and level of need for work in our following cohorts. So whilst sensitisations to disability rights within the local community continue, the parallel sub teams are working on an audit of disabled access to public buildings in Tamale and an in depth analysis of education, sport, employment & vocational training.

As you walk around Tamale, the strength of the community is undeniably visible. The fruit seller which came into the Resource Centre holding the bag, the baby and the bananas on her head - a physical representation of this. But beyond that, the strength we see in meeting with the chairmen of the Resource Centre and Blind Union, who have successfully built these organisations to support their communities is truly inspiring.

In coming weeks and further meetings, we hope to deepen our understanding of issues, regulations and needs of the disabled groups in Tamale as we implement our research. But until then, well be joining them by pulling up our socks, putting on our trainers and heading out onto the playing field so that they can teach us about their strengths in sports.

Until next timeNpagya for reading!


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