Thursday, July 17, 2014

First Impressions

Welcome to the 7th Cohort of the INCOME Project at TradeAID. Read this introductory blog to find out about the new members of the team and their first impressions...

It has been 11 days since we - the new UK Volunteers of the INCOME Project - arrived in Ghana which allows for a certain level of reflection as well as a clearer idea of where we intend our place in the project to be. It is difficult to start reflections without exploring your initial reactions to a situation and indeed our inaugural post bears the rather cliché title of “First impressions”.

TradeAID is now in its seventh cohort and the new welcomed members of the team are Euan, Harriet, Holly, Theo, Dave, Prosper, and William.  They are joining the team leader (Emily) and current members of the INCOME Project - Desmond and Conrad. We have decided that to maintain a level of interest from you the reader we would keep the introductions brief and have included some rather charming head shots with accompanying captions that we feel ‘sum us up in a sentence’.  Here we ago...

I'm Emily, the team leader of the INCOME Project. Bolga has become my home and its amazing to see the impact the project is having on the local community. Real change is being created by promoting FairTrade, e-marketing crafts, organising the inaugural Bolgtanga International Craft and Arts Fair and much much more!
I am Theophilus from Bolga and I look forward to contributing my quota to ensure a change in the sub group of Handicraft (fabric weavers) in the municipality (Bolgatanga)

My name is Prosper, a graduate from the University of development studies - Tamale - Ghana. I am a young man of enormous potential and I intend to exploit fully these potentials in an area I have always learnt to associate with. "Improving upon the livelihood of the vulnerable and the underprivileged in society". Thanks to TradeAID my dreams are becoming a reality.

I'm Holly, 22, a Politics graduate and I hope to help TradeAID by bringing the beautiful handicrafts of Bolga to the international Fairtrade market

I’m Euan (U.N.) 20, and I'm from Edinburgh. Currently in my last year at university I hope to be able to share with others the skills I’ve learnt so far- to help make TradeAID a success

My name is Harriet. I have a passion for teaching and hope to make ecotourism possible in Bolga

My name is William from Myariga in the Upper East Region. I love working with likeminded people and believe wholeheartedly in the statement “If you do not stand for something, then you will fall for everything”

I'm Dave, 22, just graduated from my Economics degree at Sheffield. Hopefully my degree will come in useful when it comes to financing Bolga’s international craft fair 

So far...

The in-country training week was held in Tamale which is the capital of the Northern Region of Ghana (the largest of all the regions). Landing in Tamale was a definite change of pace from Accra (where the UK volunteers arrived the first night). Far from being an urban hustle, the gentle breeze that hit us as we strode across the runway to the singular departure hall (that acted as everything from customs to storage for their artificial Christmas tree) cajoled us into a gentle sense of calm; indeed even when we found out half the luggage was missing, Tamale seemed to make it less of an issue.

The week of training for the placement consisted of the usual ice breakers and introductions but also comprised sessions learning the local Bolgatanga language – “Fra-Fra” – and cultural exchange (something central to the International Citizenship Scheme). The training week provided us a platform to build on the relationships between the UK volunteers (from previous training days) and even more crucially to meet the national volunteers who would take on an equal role in the daily running of our projects.

The no worry and in fact no hurry attitude is something that Ghana seems to have at the core of its principles. Someone who is tasked with giving a five minute presentation will appear later than expected and will continue for longer than required. Foreign as it remains to the UK volunteers, we feel this is something we will have embraced fully by the end of the project.

This, our second week, has heralded in the beginning of the official project work. Only in our second day we started as we intend to proceed: forging good bonds and attempting to make good first impressions to others. In what we felt would just be an office based introductory week, by day 3 we have already met the group of craft women with disabilities, the leather workers, the fabric weavers, and the smock makers who all play a large part in the project, and also had a meeting with the Deputy Regional Minister of the Upper East Region who is crucial to the long term success of the Fair Trade Town movement in Bolgatanga.

Projects like the INCOME Project are essential to the creation of understanding between nations and the development of regions. In a region so heavily dependent on agriculture- with only one rainy season a year- we are giving a motivated community an alternative opportunity to craft their own future.

New Team Bolga - Cohort 7 of the INCOME Project

You stay classy Bolgatanga!

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