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Developing a just society based on equity and equal opportunities for all with respect for diversity.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Development through the eyes of a national volunteer

I had absolutely no idea as to what to expect or will be expected of me as a national volunteer. I was quite surprised when I was informed that I am expected to “have fun!” Oh and what fun I’m having! Even through the fun I have been able to actually apply the knowledge I acquired in school (about Integrated Community Development) alongside learning a treasure trove of new skills from my team.
A group of volunteers relaxing after a training session in the first week.

My ICS team working alongside RAINS (an NGO based in Tamale) has been working around promoting education (for both girls and boys) our approaches which to me initially, seemed too simple and unlikely to yield much results has been very effective. In fact  I have come to realize that  our work structure is very much goal oriented and time conscious since it directs us towards achieving target aims on a weekly basis in line with our ultimate project goal. This acts as a means of alerting us as to how far we are with respect to our main goal.

What we thought might be a small undertaking with the hopes of obtaining funds for our girl child schooling project, by organizing a movie fundraiser became a roaring success. This success had me (and my team as well) geared to give out more to our work since our efforts are yielding results. From this experience I have learned what careful planning, co-ordination and teamwork can do in any endeavor. Our second cinema fundraiser though did not work out as we wanted but that has not stopped us from doing our work wholeheartedly because we're absolutely not giving up after a failure! We're going to keep trying until we achieve our goal.

The popcorn we served at the cinema fundraiser. Everybody just LOVED it!

Similarly our uniform project has been eagerly welcomed and supported by the various donor schools we've contacted. They have shown not only genuine interest but also the zest and zeal to partner with us as we try to bring hope and smiles in the hearts and on the faces of the under privileged beneficiary children who continually skip school and ultimately drop out of school because they do not have adequate uniforms to wear to school (the quality of their clothes stops them from going to school consistently).

A group photo with some students of Royal Unique (a donor school) whiles dropping off a donation box.

With the help of our donor schools we have collected uniforms from kids in these better off schools we identified, who do not need them any longer. Some of these schools have gone above and beyond providing by us with bags, shoes and even books which we can give to the beneficiary schools. Abe Halprin (a donor school) went above and beyond expectations by giving us a stack load of books (old books they no longer need). From this experience I am more confident about approaching and talking to strangers without rambling on unnecessarily or being too boring.

A stack of the books donated by Abe Halprin
We're also gradually working towards building and maintaining an interactive media network for RAINS by using the social media as a platform for involving people from both far and near to learn about what is being done and interact with the organization in order to air their own opinions and contributions towards the success of work being done. We now have more people liking our Facebook page and posts as well as more views on our YouTube account. I have learned more about how to use the internet than I actually started out with and my typing skills are getting better too. This Blog serves as a testament of all that.
Ollie, Adams, Jack and Festus (in the background) at a dance rehearsal for our Girls Project.

Though the boys’ project is turning out to be more of a challenge than we anticipated we are pressing on still, to see it become a reality. We have already established contact with organizations such as Farm Radio and MoFA (Ministry of Food and Agriculture) which can help us with the training of the farmers, helping build their capacity so they would not need to take their boys out of school to help with the farm work. Funding though for our farmers’ co-operative is not forthcoming thereby making progress very slow. I am learning to be very patient for the big things to happen whiles appreciating the smaller ones too as victories.
Ollie and Justice out on the field.

Hopefully with all the skills I am currently acquiring, after this whole experience I shall be able to obtain the ability to touch the lives of people around me as well as use practicality, simplicity, cooperation and teamwork at whatever task I’m involved in (since these skills are proving to be very effective). All in all I really love the experience and I would love to take this opportunity to thank ICS and RAINS for all the lovely work they are doing here, Mpagya (Thank you)