Monday, February 22, 2016

Overcoming Challenges

Kat and Anna, UK Volunteer and Ghanaian Team Leader

Over the past six weeks, as a team we have all faced many different challenges both on and off the project. All from different backgrounds, as well as different countries, we have had to come together to support and help each other through this brand new experience. Today, members of the team share their difficulties and challenges during the project, as well as how they've overcome them.

Everyday in a country so far removed from what I've previously known to be reality is a challenge without doubt. From waking up throughout the night to the sound of different animals, to the experience exhaustion from the extreme heat - the 'challenges' are countless. However, none of that compares to the unadulterated euphoria that comes from watching the sun set over a lake in the Savannah, or being greeted with song by a group which we work with. I'm sure before I leave many more challenges will arise, but I know that the cherished experiences only this land can offer will far outweigh any challenges that come my way.

My biggest challenge in ICS so far is talking before a lot of people. I was the very shy type who cannot look into people's face while talking. But now, ICS has helped me to overcome that challenge because I can now talk before people without being shy.

Coming to Ghana has been a huge challenge in itself, from taking on a completely new diet, to adjusting to a completely new way of life. Having to leave friends, family and a boyfriend behind I feel has been one of my toughest challenges, but by realising the amazing friends and support that I've found within Ghana, I've found it easier to immerse myself truly into an enjoyable experience here. Alongside this, I've been reassured of the support that I have back home, and ultimately coming back to my loved ones in England I know will be a very special time for me.

I remember the disappointment and uncertainty that immediately replaced my enthusiasm for the 24 weeks ahead of me when I got my project posting. Anna! Bolgatanga! Income Project! What? I have no skill set in the livelihood sector, how will i go through this? However, I must say for a fact it's been six weeks of co-leading working with a team of passionate individuals from different cultural backgrounds on a project to improve the livelihood of craft groups in Bolgatanga. Though every day presents challenges, it's been rather exciting and a huge learning experience for me.

The greatest challenge I experienced on placement was when I got furious about what a fellow team member said about me and I couldn't react. I was able to overcome it by going out of the office to take fresh air. After doing this, I realised it could be my regular therapy if I got into a dispute with somebody. 

My challenge so far was when I learnt that I was a part of TradeAID, I felt really bad cause that was not really the project I wanted, I wanted something associated with children, teenagers and people with disability. When I came on placement I realised that the project I got was very good as it has helped me challenge myself and taught me new things. Now I can say I'm the happiest person on the Income project.

My diet here in Ghana is extremely different to what I eat in the U.K, and I've particularly found Fufu, TZ and Bankuu difficult to eat as I'm not used to swallowing food without chewing it and the texture is much different to what I'm familiar with. As time goes on though, I'm trying more foods and enjoying more Ghanaian dishes - especially red red and rice!

For me, I face new challenges every day as I'm still getting used to Ghana and how things work here. It is all a learning process and I am taking every day as it comes ... I'm just so glad I love the food and the people are so lovely, plus Ghana is a beautiful country!

This experience has been challenging from day one. To adapt to living in another culture entirely different from your own you have to be willing to accept a new way of thinking and living. By far the biggest challenge I have faced is being treated for and recovering from having severe malaria. But it has taught me how malaria is perceived so differently here, where it is very common and treatable when caught in time, compared to the UK where it is instantly associated with serious illness and fatality.

The biggest question in my mind before committing to six months in Ghana was this: How will I manage half a year without being able to listen to banging techno? I was driven half mad at the lack of pumping bass and was really struggling, before my team rallied around me. With their help, I've managed to overcome my personal battle. For me, they jumped up and down in unison for four hours to simulate a 909 kick drum. They helped me layer sounds on a laptop by recording the sound of banging buckets together and fiddling with spoons in their pockets - now we have something approaching a 3-minute banger. There is light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to the hard work, ingenuity and tenacity of the team. My thanks go out to all of them for making my ICS placement complete.

As you can see, we've all had extremely different problems which were always bound to happen considering we have twelve people who did not know each other put together in completely new surroundings. But together we've identified our skills as well as taught each other new ones, and we have worked together to progress from individuals to a strong team with a common vision to make a lasting difference. We're beginning to feel that we can get over any obstacles: even the lack of beloved techno music.


  1. Interesting to learn of these experiences. The beauty of a diverse world

  2. Interesting to learn of these experiences. The beauty of a diverse world

  3. Don't you mean sick drum? #sick #technoorgettoknow