Thursday, November 16, 2017

BICAF: Behind the Scenes

6am, Bolgatanga. A warm light crawls through the window, submerging me in the shadow of my mosquito net as the sun rises on a new week. The sixth week of INCOME project’s latest volunteer cohort to be exact. Our attention so far has been consumed by the Bolgatanga International Craft and Arts Fair, or BICAF, for short. This international festival is one of the most important dates on Bolgatanga’s calendar so its organisation and delivery is our cohort’s main objective.
My new brother Simon and I begin the short journey to work as we discuss the abundance of tasks that await us at the office. The once exotic sights of roaming animals and seemingly alien foliage now greet me with a feeling of familiarity. We are passed by Barnabus from our office, and local shouts of ‘Good Morning!’ fill the air as my dreary commute through the streets of Glasgow fades from my memory.

My brother Simon and I 

We are greeted on site by new volunteer team leader: Emma, who promises to rule with an iron fist, and already she has a lengthy to-do list mounted on the wall. This list quickly doubles in size as we review the week ahead following our usual morning chit-chat. The closing date for BICAF registration looms, and with one of our partners out of action for the foreseeable future, everyone is expecting our busiest week yet.

Myself and Derrick on URA Radio talking about BICAF

The task of organising BICAF is both a blessing and a curse; it feels really special being part of such an important event for the community of Bolgatanga, however the tight schedule and weight of expectation can put the team under some serious pressure at times. So why go to all this bother?
BICAF is integral to achieving TradeAID Integrated’s (our project partner) mission statement: ‘To Make Trade Work for the Poor’. The fair provides a platform for local craftspeople to access an international market of buyers, investors and craftspeople, as well as offering business training and the chance to move their trade online.

Talking to the community of Zorkor about why BICAF will benefit their buisnesses 

It’s not just local enterprises that will benefit from BICAF; Bolgatanga is one of only three FairTrade towns in the whole of Africa, and holding an annual international trade fair is one of the requirements to maintain this status. The fair will raise the reputation of the entire community and help to promote the FairTrade movement, which is a very rewarding legacy to be a part of.

The hype for this year’s BICAF is reaching fever pitch, we have already confirmed as part of the event are craftspeople from all over Ghana, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, and Togo, local cultural groups, a food bazaar, and special musical guests. The clock is ticking down to the end of November, and as much as it feels like BICAF is the light at the end of the tunnel there is the impression in the office that we would like our journey to last just a little while longer.

Written by Hugh Cruickshank      
Edited by Finlay O'Fee 

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