Monday, November 28, 2016

Learning and Developing in Ghana

Hello, I’m Ben. I am a volunteer for TradeAID, I am 18 years old and I’m from Newcastle in the UK. During my time in Ghana I have learned many things and developed in a number of ways. I have learnt about Ghanaian culture and how to adapt/cope with. I have witnessed many new mannerisms, attitudes and views which have lead me to adapt my own approaches to things

For example, in the UK I use a washing machine to clean my clothes, so I have had to get used to cleaning my clothes by hand. Also, religion is very important in Ghana and I am not religious, so the fact that Ghanaians are so passionate about religion was a real eye-opener for me and gave me an idea about the Ghanaian way of life. Religion has even been a part of the work I have done on my project. For instance, when a training session or a steering committee takes place there is an opening and closing prayer. Plus I went to the assemblies of god church to raise awareness of BICAF, and took part in the whole service. In both cases, I have had to adapt to Ghanaian culture by respecting and even joining in with religious practices. Although I am not religious, they are experiences that I have enjoyed as they have given me a greater knowledge of Ghanaian culture. Also, they are experiences I will probably never experience again so it is important I appreciate them.   

Something else I have learnt is how to cope with living in a developing country without comforts I would usually have, such as certain foods, hobbies such as playing and watching sport regularly, and obviously not being able to see family and friends. I would have to say that this is probably the toughest challenge I have faced. Being only 18, I have never lived away from my home and my family for longer than 2 weeks. So as you can imagine, being away for 9 weeks (so far) has been tough, however it is an experience that has strengthened me and allowed me to grow up. 

Living in Ghana has not only given me a better idea of different ways of life around the globe, but it has also given me a better idea about development and what it takes for a country to develop. For example, the work I do on my project with the craft groups of Bolgatanga involves trying to give them an international platform on which they can sell their products and display their skills to the world. Another goal is to ensure these crafts people can make a fair and decent living out of their work and can support themselves. A lot of the work I do on my project involves encouraging and promoting fair trade, which is essential to the development of a country as it promotes things like fair working conditions and equal opportunities. Prior to my placement in Ghana I didn’t have much knowledge about development, so I have certainly learned a lot!   
Radio Session on Fair Trade

While in Ghana, I have also developed my confidence – I used to struggle with basic tasks such as ringing someone over the phone. Talking on the phone used to make me very nervous; I remember that when I first applied to ICS I was shaking as I made the phone call to the ICS office in London! In contrast, I now have no problems making phone calls – I have had to ring possible registrants for the Bolgatanga International Craft and Arts fair (aka BICAF) and get in contact with pastors of churches to ask about using their church to raise awareness of BICAF. As well as my confidence, I have also developed a host of other skills such as communication skills, teamwork skills, and taking on responsibility for work.
We have worked to support and train Sambrungu Basket Weavers

    If I had to sum up my time so far in Ghana I would say that it has been a great learning curve for me. It has helped me develop skills that are important in any job, and has helped me develop as a person. As my project draws closer to an end, the work is getting tougher. But as they say; when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. I aim to make the most of the time I have left, and to work as hard as I can to ensure that my project is a success!

When your team becomes family
Click here to apply today and start your ICS journey in April 2017. 

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