Monday, December 5, 2016

Who Says You Don't Deserve Opportunities?

Hey blog readers. It’s my turn to write the Income Project blog this week. If you don’t know who I am, here’s a little bit about me. My name’s Abbie, I’m the team leader here at the Income Project. I’ve been here for nearly 6 months and Bolgatanga really does feel like home now. I won’t bore you too much about my personal life but instead I’ll tell you about one of the parts of this project that I have been completely passionate about from the offset; our apprenticeship scheme.

INCOME Project team at this years annual crafts fair BICAF
    With Northern Ghana being the poorest region of Ghana we see the figures leading to substantially disparity in the amount of young people being given educational opportunities. UNICEF show that in 2015, 623,500 children of primary school age are still not enrolled in primary school, girls from northern Ghana average only four years of education and 20% of children with physical disabilities are not attending school. So what does this mean? It means that in the Northern Region there are many young people without opportunities, without a source of livelihood and without prospects. Doesn’t this just make your heart sink? What this says is that if you’re poor, a woman or disabled it’s more than likely that you will have no opportunity to do anything with your life. For this reason, we decided to put together an apprenticeship scheme that can provide opportunities to those who have been denied them for some reason or another.
There's always  Bolga Baskets around our office

For anyone who doesn't know, an apprenticeship programme is a work based training scheme that provides people with the skills that you need for future employment. It uses an ‘on the job’ technique to provide the apprentice with practical working skills rather than academic. I know this all sounds like workforce jargon so I’ll put it into context for you. While we at the Income Project work with craft groups, this was our main option. What happens with our apprenticeship is that young people take part in a three month scheme with a craft worker in which they get to learn directly from the mentor how to create certain crafts.
The moto of any ICS volunteer

  Right now our focus is on basket weavers, they have been identified as the craft sector with the most vulnerable young people within their communities. For now we have two apprentices on the scheme. Our budget is very small so unfortunately we could only afford to run the scheme for two apprentices; for now. The two communities we have used are Zaare Basket weavers and the Sumbrungu Basket weaving group. The apprentices have come straight out of the communities of the basket groups. One, a young man named Abdulla who has a passion for basket weaving and sees it as a tradition that should be celebrated. The other apprentice is a young woman named Portia who fell pregnant which meant that she dropped out of school. While speaking to both apprentices they have expressed great gratitude for the programme. After the three month programme finishes they will be able to make and sell their own baskets in order to create a livelihood for themselves and their families. Abdullah has even told us how much he would love to mentor an apprentice himself in the future. 
Mentor and Apprentice, Fusini and Abdulla

Making baskets is a long standing tradition in Bolgatanga

So where do we go from here? By the time I leave we will have two fully trained apprentices in basket weaving. But there’s so much more we can do with this programme. There are so many more people this programme can provide opportunities for. I and the team have been working hard to get sustainable funding to secure the future running of this programme. While we haven’t had that much luck, we have had a breakthrough with Roteract Club Portugal. On the 18th of December they are holding a fundraiser in which all of the proceeds go directly to our apprenticeship scheme. They hope to provide the scheme with €50 a month for up to a year. This is equivalent to, GHC 220, this could fund another two apprentices every 3 months, meaning that another 6 apprentices can be trained within a year. Small figures yes, but hey I’m an optimist, if this proves successful more people would want to sponsor the scheme. This could be big, in the long run this could provide opportunities for so many people who wouldn’t naturally have such opportunities.
Bringing opportunities to those who need them

 Sorry for the wordy blog, but like I said, I’m really passionate about this scheme. The thought of giving young people the opportunity to make something out of themselves gives me so much joy. Let’s help each other, let’s spread the love.

Abbie :)

Click here to apply today and start your ICS journey in April 2017.

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