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

Friday, May 2, 2014

A Pretty Partnership in Progress

Blending in

Since arriving in Tamale I've begun adapting to the Northern Ghanaian way of life; adjusting to the heat, making fufu, buying way too much fabric! I love how the city is a blend of mainly Muslims and Christians all getting on together in harmony, seemingly causing no divide at all. And at the RAINS office, we're a mixed bunch, but the diversity seems to breed a level of happiness, I'm sure helped by the Executive Director's (Mr Hardi) amiable personality. Last week we had the monthly RAINS clean up of the grounds, and it was great to see how EVERYONE got involved, sporting a fetching latex glove to aid the operation (thanks Hannah!).

Monthly clean up of the RAINS grounds, ICS-requested selfie style
As a girl who rejected Christianity in her teenage years, I've even ventured to church twice over the Easter weekend with Jill (in country volunteer at RAINS). She attends a Methodist Church, and as my late Grandfather, a Methodist Minister visited Ghana in his youth to preach, it seemed apt that I should experience church life here, in his memory. At the RAINS office, it's great how the Muslim volunteer has been welcomed into joining them for prayers during the day and is invited each time. 

Religion is a major part of identity here, and I've had countless conversations already trying to explain my belief system to people who are curious about why I am no longer Christian.  And I'm pleased to say everyone has been accepting of my responses, no problem.

Good Friday at Bethel Methodist Church
NGO's in Tamale

Tamale seems to be the NGO capital of Ghana - everywhere you look there's various cars emblazened with NGO logo's, signs advertising hundreds of organisations along the roads. To be honest it was not what I was expecting at all when I arrived, but it makes sense. The North-South divide of the level of development in this country is visibly apparent, and with Northern Ghana having only 1 growing season compared to the South's 2, the opportunities available to survive and progress in agriculture, the main employment base of the North, are much smaller. We talk of the the English North-South, but it Ghana it doesn't compare.

So the big city of Tamale in the North, with it's airport and pretty reliable infrastructure, is where the NGO's flock. So many people, our GHanaian volunteers included, have been to the Univeristy of Development Studies, based in the north at various campuses, so the capacity of the population to make development work really WORK, is huge.

I've met so many people from different NGO's already - and the value of ideas sharing and networking is so important. I do wonder how many NGO's are trying to do the same thing here though, and with a background in partnership working, I'm glad to see how RAINS works alongside loads of other organisations. Similarly, the ICS projects are working with the Ghana Education Service, Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG) to name a few.

This week

The team is now 3 weeks into the programme, with 2 volunteers working together on Students for Schooling (which now has a dedicated Facebook page - please follow and like!), the Boys Project using a new Farmers co-operative as a way of influencing the drop out rate of school boys in Nayorku, and a Girls Project, looking at increasing awareness levels of contraception and safe sex to minimise school dropout due to teen pregnancy.

Following a major storm this week, this led to the challenge of working without power, which meant, horror - no internet! Without technology, the team was still able to conduct meetings both in-house (sharing ideas) and a very successful one at the PPAG too, but unfortunately a field visit needed to be cancelled. So, this has served as a very clear reminder that the key to successful working is COMMUNICATION, and the team has shown that, whatever life throws at us, we can change our way of working and let life at RAINS continue!


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