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Monday, October 31, 2016

You Won't Believe This...

This is actually happening. The adventure has begun. In Tamale. Before I tell you what is happening in Tamale, kindly allow me to introduce myself. I am Samuel Hiawo Gyau; 24 and a graduate with a first degree in Business Administration (Accounting Option). I volunteered on this project to help create change and improve my leadership and public speaking skills. YES, I said Leadership. The International Citizenship Service (ICS) has three ultimate aims; Positive Development Impact, Local/Global Citizenship and Personal Development. I am on placement with International Service, working in partnership with Regional Advisory Information & Network Systems (RAINS) on the ICS project. These two work together on SAFE Choices. I aim educating communities in the Northern Region on the importance of Personal Hygiene, the adverse effects of Teenage Pregnancy and STIs by the end of this placement. I can boldly say I have already achieved 80% of my target in the past five (5) weeks with the hope of setting a new target and even doing better in the next seven (7) weeks up ahead.

As with all adventures, there is a lot to take on; the good, the bad; the ugly and all. I will begin by talking about my lovely team, the journey so far and then talk about my expectations for the remaining weeks on placement.

THE RAINS-ICS TEAM

We are #TeamRAINS (social media and hash-tagging progress is our game) and we have the loveliest team amongst all in this cohort (ICS 2 Cohort 5). I have in my team Portia, 24, Keta, Ghana [Team Leader]; Sian, 25, Watford, UK [Team Leader]; Dominic, 20, Sirigu, Ghana; Bailey, 18, Peterborough, UK; Tony, 22, Upper East, Ghana; Aimee, 18, Coulsdon, UK; Sheila, 18, Sandema, Ghana; Roshni, 21, Bolton, UK; Fiona, 22, Scottish Borders; and Adjoa, 25, Harrow-Middlesex, UK.

Despite almost every member of my team falling ill in the first couple of weeks, my team stood its grounds and kept pushing through. We are actively working on our projects making positive impacts in communities we work in. 


                                                              Team RAINS action shot!
                                                         
THE JOURNEY IN PERSPECTIVE



Marvellous has been my ICS journey which started on 25th August, 2016 with an assessment where I travelled to Tamale for the first time since I have always been in the South. It was an opportunity for me to showcase my qualities and make new friends. I was fortunate to have been shortlisted and returned to Tamale on the 7th of September for a 3-day Pre-Placement Training. I had the chance to mingle with my new friends the more and get to know them better as I learnt more about International Service and ICS.

The program kicked start on 28th September, 2016 with a 3-day In-Country Orientation for all volunteers from UK and Ghana. That was another opportunity to build my global networking skills as I made so many friends. We started working on our respective projects the week after. I got to meet Jim McAlpine, Country Director, Department for International Development UK/Ghana on 3rd October, 2016. Jim helped broadened my knowledge on the activities the DFID undertakes in developing countries and how they select their projects and the impacts they have made in these countries, especially Ghana.


                                               Our meeting with DFID was fascinating and fun!

Workflow is usually not easy in a cross-cultural environment but my team is exceptional. We blend so perfectly and learn from each other. Personally, I have learnt to be on time. Members from my team had to wait on me for the first few days but I’ve learnt to meet their expectations. One thing I’ve noticed is Ghanians are more people-conscious but our UK Volunteers are more time/task-conscious. But together we are all learning to adopt a compromised, cross-cultural approach!

As part of RAINS-ICS project activities, the team has visited Kalpohin SDA Junior High School to give a talk on Puberty, Personal Hygiene and ABC. We have also been to Nanton-Kurugu, Langa and Zokuga in the Northern Region to run a Childrens’ Community Clubs (CCC) and conduct a research on Teenage Pregnancy and School attendance. These communities have positive attitudes towards learning. They were all setup upon my team’s arrival in the communities. They received us warmly and asked us to return with more lessons for them. My team recently conducted training for Peer Educators at the RAINS office in Tamale. These activities have been successful and I actively played a major role in all; from planning, execution to evaluation. This is really helping me build more on my leadership and team working skills and I so love it. I get to plan events, prepare and deliver presentations and write reports.


Sam and his team (Sheila, Bailey) speaking with Tamale based students about sexual health

MY OBSERVATIONS

I have only been in Tamale for five weeks and I have observed few things which I would like to share with you. To begin with my experiences, there are close to a billion motorbikes in Tamale; in fact, the ratio is more like a household to 5 motorbikes… It makes road crossing an exhilarating experience!
I love Tamale. In my five weeks’ experience of always being in town, there has never been an issue of pick-pocketing which is very common and happens on daily bases in the South. Another reason for my loving Tamale is their local dishes. My favourite is Tuo-Zaafi (TZ, as it is normally referred) with dried okro soup; if you haven’t tried TZ, you should!

MY EXPECTATIONS

We are already half way through placement. Feels to me that time is running too fast. I am getting along and I really feel that I am making impacts in the communities but there isn’t much time to do so. This is why I am going to do more and more after placements in my very own community. I expect to visit more schools, com
+munities and children clubs to educate them more on sexual health.

TO END WITH...

“It’s about time we make the well-being of our young people more important than ideology and politics. As a country, we benefit from investing in teen pregnancy prevention” – Jane Fonda.

I am very privileged to be on the RAINS-ICS team. You should consider volunteering on the ICS Project. Join hands, let’s change the World!!


Written by: Samuel GYAU
Edited by: Sian Johnston