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Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Glamorous Side Of Development

One of the biggest and most important things I have learnt since starting to work in international development is that this job is not even half as ‘glamorous’ as everyone back home seems to think it is.

Take the following story for example……

Alix getting stuck into interviewing
the horde of farmers who want
to be a part of our project
As part of our work here (and reader, if you’ve been paying attention you should really know this by now) we are working on setting up and developing an agricultural co-operative in Nayorku, West Mamprusi. This is, I don’t think I am going too far in saying, one of the most beautiful and touching developing communities I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. The reception the team and I (aka ‘Brother Matchew’) receive every single time we visit is genuinely heart-warming.  So when we arranged for the next field visit, everyone, including myself, was very excited and eager to see all our new friends in Nayorku again. The purpose of the trip was to further develop our understanding of local agricultural capacities so we can pinpoint intervention areas for the ‘Farming 4 Futures’ project (inspirational title, I know).

The team of four UK Volunteers were matched with local translators and our wonderful National Volunteer Justice took on the role of facilitator. They then began to interview a massive 134 farmers whilst interacting with innumerable children and having countless touching personal encounters…….......


‘BUT WAIT!’ – I hear you shout – ‘Where were you!?’

Muggins over here, was in a HOT (35 degrees plus) office; alone (apart from a few choice insects); in the community school; reading through 11 school registers with 705 pupils; trying to decipher how many children enrolled for each year and how many of these dropped out of school, both permanently and temporarily (two weeks or more) during the 2012 - 2013 academic year. Aaaand breathe.

THIS was my world for 3 hours

‘Awwww poor Matthew’ – You cry – ‘I thought you were enjoying yourself, all the pictures I see are of you playing with children and laughing with the locals! You seem like you are having so much fun!’

BUT HANG ON A MINUTE…… Before you hear this heart wrenching tale and start jumping to throw me a pity party, think about it…. 90% of the work I do is office based, am I really going to put up pictures on facebook every week of this!?

A view into our second home

All joking aside though, this doesn’t make what I do out here any less touching or make me lose any of the passion for the project that I am leading. If anything, it enhances both of these things. The ICS program is a great opportunity for young people to develop not only themselves but develop meaningful and sustainable change in their target communities. And yes…. that sometimes involves being bored out of your mind, whilst sweating profusely in a dark office, but you know what, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

I am proud of the work that I carried out that day because we now know that there was a huge decrease in school enrolments between the Primary 2 (7-8 years old) and Primary 3 (8-9 years old) age groups. This gives us both a target age range for sensitisation campaigns on the importance of education and some very important data that can be used as part of future Monitoring and Evaluation, in order to assess the effectiveness of our work. It might not make for a good facebook update, or make everyone back home jealous, but it every small piece is SO important to the success of the project.

We are all really excited for the future of ‘Farming 4 Futures’ at RAINS. I for one believe it has limitless potential and that it WILL make a huge difference to Nayorku. At the end of the day though, it’s not hard to stay motivated when you remember all of the young boys and girls who will ultimately receive a better education and greater prospects as result of our undeniably glamorous work.







So until the next time, as the young ones in Nayorku say........... "Saliminga... BYE BYE!"





Matthew