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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Embrace the Challenge


“I am very elated to volunteer on this ICS scheme, not a single moment of fun will escape me”, this was the exact line of the sentence I kept singing in my mind upon applying for this program. Little did it occur to me that just maybe the challenge I was yet to face might prove more daunting than envisioned. New environment, culture, personalities, foreign ideas and research have been some of the areas that have demanded an extra stretch of persistence from my part to adjust into this wonderful team.


 
Over here at TradeAID, one of the projects run is the INCOME project. On this project do we as volunteers keep challenging ourselves each day to enable the local craft makers to improve upon their skills and business so as to create a sustainable livelihood. As a curious mind, my main worry was where and how these local vulnerable weavers got the raw materials needed for their trade. This question, as I kept asking around ushered me into perhaps my most challenging area till date on this programme. Where do these local folks get the ‘elephant grass’ which serves as the main raw material for weaving basket. Can you guess the response I got from the locals? Your guess is good as mine, well perhaps before I got to know the realities on the ground. Oh!! You know, due to the climatic conditions here it will be impossible to grow the grass here, so we travel all the way to the southern part of the country to purchase them at high cost coupled with the transportation cost hence after production and sales we earn very little. How heartbreaking to hear that after all the hard work these people have just enough to feed themselves. What about other daily expenses and their children’s education?
 

The above questions drove me to make an effort to see how these problems could be curbed and fortunately for the team, TradeAID has already completed a research on this issue which we got a chance to read through. Though the research was extensive and yielded positive feedback, from my personal point of view I believe there is a lot more we could read around and successfully begin to grow this particular ‘elephant’ grass in this region to help reduce production cost and rather increase revenue thereby greatly tackling the bigger issue of poverty in this area.

To be honest, this has been extremely challenging and not easy at all but yet very educative. Currently I have a couple of friends who have access to some laboratories in the southern part of the country running a study to see how this grass can successfully survive the conditions in this region and should this study prove any viable result, be sure to see Bolgatanga begin to produce its own elephant grass for craft production.
Though the main focus of the team may not totally be in sync with this very issue, it is a stumbling block for the success of all the huge effort successive cohorts has put in place to help these locals to create a sustainable livelihood and eradicate poverty. I chose to challenge myself to make a change, I am still being challenged if you care to know and I have enjoyed the ride so far, so I tell you who is reading this very first blog of mine to choose to challenge yourself and enjoy the difference you make……good bye
Obed :)



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