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

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Remember that saying ‘time flies when you’re having fun…?’

No words seem more fitting when trying to sum up three months of your life in northern Ghana! Throughout the last twelve weeks we have kept you up to date with all the happenings: the highs and the lows, the experiences had, and the friendships made. You have listened as our volunteers recapped project progress and told you stories about what is important to them, be it peace in politics, the importance of consent, or the wonders of cross cultural working. But none of what we have achieved would have been possible without the support of RAINS. Although Safe Choices is just one of many rights based projects they run, this amazing team have always been ready to listen to us, to help us, and with a smiling face!

Last week we spoke with perhaps the most familiar face at RAINS, our wonderful programme manager Madam Wedad. Responsible for overseeing the progress of the Safe Choices project (amongst others), she is truly a wonder woman! She was kind enough to answer our questions about her role at RAINS, and explain the impact the ICS volunteers and Safe Choices project have had on the communities we work in. So what better way to end our blogging reign then with some final words from her #overandout

Name & role of interviewee: 

Madame Wedad, Programme Manager

How long have you been working here? 

8 years

What is your role here and what are your duties?

As programme manager I am responsible for overseeing our numerous projects, staff and volunteers. I’m also responsible for the design and implementation of the projects.               
                                                                           
What do you think are the key issues affecting the community?

There are a lot of challenges within our communities. But the key issues are poverty, and a lack of information and awareness. They do not have enough access to quality information that would improve their welfare. This is particularly true for women and girls and their access to information on sexual health. In this part of the world issues surrounding sexual health are thought of as private and are not to be discussed in public. We have to strive to move it from the private to the public.

Secondly people in rural communities have a lack of information about human rights. They are not even aware that they have them, let alone who is responsible for upholding these rights!

What is the project [Safe Choices] doing to address these?

Safe Choices is providing the opportunity to empower communities with sexual health information and access to services such as contraceptive providers. It bridges that information gap!
What is the role of ICS volunteers here?
They become part of RAINS and work on the Safe Choices project. They provide information and a means for communities to have the right kind of services, ultimately to empower their rights
What have you achieved with ICS volunteers?
Over the years, the volunteers have helped RAINS to reach out to five of our rural communities. They have incorporated creativity and innovation into their strategies and thinking. This has made a significant contribution! One of the key stand outs from this cohort is the idea of developing a referral system between our peer educators/NTCDs and their local health facilities. This would be fantastic if implemented; it would help connect community members with the right health services

Can you tell it’s making a difference long term?

It’s making a big difference because they are giving out lots of information on sexual health, which is a powerful thing for people to use to help themselves [against pregnancies and STIs]. But their approach is sustainable because they are also making links between communities and service providers. Once that relationship is created then the difference made becomes much more sustainable
What do you think volunteers learn from working with you?
They learn a lot because most of them have never been to a rural community before; it is one important experience that they might not have otherwise got. Also, working with people from different backgrounds means they become exposed to multiculturalism and all its lessons and benefits
What do you think volunteers learn from working with each other?
Volunteers learn about each other’s cultures and traditions and learn to appreciate them. It also helps them to adapt to new work cultures; they can now work and integrate themselves anywhere in the world!
How do you see the next team of volunteers developing the work volunteers are currently doing?
Education and empowerment is a slow, long term process. So each cohort comes to continue the work of the previous cohort and contribute to the long term project plan. So for the next cohort it is important they read the debrief reports and handover notes from the cohort just gone; this will help them continue the good work done

What does the future look like now for the community?

It looks bright! You [ICS] have given communities relevant information for improving their welfare, and ensured that the progress made is sustainable

Interview conducted by: Sian Johnston, Fiona Cormie
Post written by: Sian Johnston