Friday, November 7, 2014

Meeting the Vea and Zaare communities

Walaasi” (Fra-fra word used for expressing ones astonishment), the Vea women were filled with joy at our arrival. The meeting at Vea began with a welcoming dance performed by the women, they then formed a circle and pulled one volunteer in at a time. We felt heated and embarrassed, but still attempted to twist and turn calling it dancing. It was shocking to see a large group of elder women, moving so fast and doing things with their bodies that our young bodies struggled to imitate.

The meeting then properly began after a prayer performed by one of the Vea workers. The change in atmosphere during the prayer was inspiring; as we all stood still, with our hands together and the slight breeze blowing over our faces, it was clear that these women are hopeful regardless of all they might have faced in life.

The women expressed their gratitude towards TradeAID and all that the organisation has done for them, then they continued by asking us to help them increase their sales further. The Vea women articulated their great interest in product diversification. It was understood by them that product diversification would enable them to attain new skills and open up brand new market opportunities. In order for this to take place, the women required specific training, this training would mean they can make new baskets such as, pot, oval and soe baskets.

Additionally, our visit at the Zaare basket weaving community was alike as they welcomed us with a similar dance and contentment in their faces. After the meeting we realised that both groups are interested in product diversification and the Zaare weavers confessed the same reasons for wanting to diversify their products.

The Zaare basket weavers are interested in learning how to weave a type of basket known as the U-shopper, it was later established that the Vea weavers can weave the U-shopper basket whilst the Zaare weavers can weave the oval baskets. Thus, it has been decided that the TradeAID INCOME project will arrange for the two weaving communities to train each other and swap ideas on how to weave a variety of baskets. This training will be commencing soon and the weavers are waiting impatiently for the day. Moreover, the two weaving communities were pleased to discover that TradeAID Integrated has acquired a truck that will go to the villages to pick up their baskets and drive them to Accra for shipping.

At the end of the meeting we promised to continuously work closely with them and apply effort towards increasing product diversification. Before we said our goodbyes there was a loud cry from a woman, this was also an expression of happiness and celebration. The cry was followed by more dancing and singing. As a Bolgatanga national volunteer it was very moving to see Louise, Kamaria, Munaza and Samantha (the UK volunteers) dancing to our local music and embracing our culture without hesitation. This was a beautiful ending to the meeting…

Edward Apokerah (National volunteer)

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