This week has been a hectic one, as we analyse and conclude the results of our community survey from the weekend and we begin to plan our very first Awareness Day. Monday begins with a trip to Mafi and Ho to see how their markets operate in comparison with the local market in Waya that we visited. Everyone is really excited to see another part of Ghana, and despite an early morning, spirits are high. That is until, shock horror, the bus blows a tyre on the dusty roads just outside of Waya. The wait to get it fixed, means an excuse for a few selfies as a team and then we are back on the road.
We arrive at a VERY busy Mafi market, a vast contrast to Waya, with stalls, cars and people everywhere, selling everything from groundnuts to maize to jewellery to pastries. Lots of volunteers get very excited by all the fruit on offer and stock up – we like to make sure we get our 5 a day! But our objectives always come first and before buying ourselves anything, we spend our time observing and interacting with the traders, finding out how easy it is to obtain a stall, the prices they sell at and how good business is. We find out a lot of interesting information and it will be good to use in our future training surrounding marketing and branding.
Afterwards we head to Ho, where we spend some more time with the traders – there are more clothes stalls available in Ho and a lot of our team pick up authentic clothing, getting away from the dark colours most of the UK volunteers are used to. With our heads full of new knowledge from the markets and stomachs full of the delights the market had to offer, we head back to Anfoe for dinner and our first volunteer-led Active Citizen Day presentation.
The group have chosen Nuclear Weapons as a topic and they deliver information on the ‘for’ and ‘against’ side for nuclear disarmament before getting the whole group to join the debate. The group is very split on the topic and it makes for a good discussion, with everyone giving their opinion and making interesting arguments from the cost of having the weapons to the potential problems countries may face if they are unarmed. I believe we could have a few activists in our group!
Tuesday starts with the exciting news that the pig some of our volunteers purchased has arrived! Although, the plan to call the pig Herbert, is ruined with the news the pig is actually a girl! We’ve had lots of other suggestions from Babe to Jolene to just keeping Herbert; finally we decide on Roxie, who seems very happy in her specially built pig pen and all the food the volunteers are bringing her. Once the excitement dies down, it’s time for work and all of the groups meet at the Blue House to set their agendas for the week. The monitoring and evaluation team are analysing the results of the survey, safety and security are filling in risk assessments, planning and logistics are coming up with ideas for our first Awareness Event and the media team are posting last week’s blog and coming up with the new idea of ‘a day in the life of’ where they will film the farmers to demonstrate what their daily life is like. We end the day with an all Team Meeting, where star counterparts of the week are awarded and everyone updates on their work.
Our first Awareness Day is the topic of Wednesday, with the planning team explaining their idea to the team for feedback and any other ideas. They’ve come up with a Family Fun Day, complete with fun activities for the children, such as a sack race and apple bobbing, and a football match, but with the main focus being on group formation and registration, including stalls on record keeping, creating a bank account and the benefits of registration. We are hoping to also have the District Assembly and the Bank present to talk to the community. It sounds like a fun day for all involved and we hope it will be a big success.
Wednesday night is social night and it’s four of our volunteers turn to host us – they start the night with a fun game where everyone must pick a dare from the hat – meaning we have some brilliant impressions of pigs, descriptions of volunteer’s perfect partners and some singing! Then it’s film time and we are given orange slices and toffees as snacks – it’s better than an actual cinema!
Our Thursday is a very busy one, with back to back meetings and events happening. We start with an all team meeting to organise what needs to happen around the Awareness Day within each individual teams and come up with questions to ask when we have our bank meeting in the afternoon. Luckily our day is broken up with the local children performing traditional displays of dancing and music, portraying their Voltarian culture. It’s all really exciting and colourful and some of our volunteers are pulled up to dance with the children – much to their embarrassment!
From there, it was back to work, to have a meeting with GN Bank, who gave us lots of information about creating group bank accounts and who very kindly agreed to help us at our Awareness Day next Sunday. The man from the bank was so passionate about his work, we think he managed to convince some of us to create accounts with them! Afterwards, our planning team headed to Waya to visit the football pitch and speak to the Chief and Elders for their approval of our event. Thankfully, they agreed and the space at the pitch will really work to show off everything we want to do.
Our night ended with ‘my culture day’ where four of our volunteers taught us about their culture in the Volta region of Ghana, including details about traditional dress, dancing and festivals. We all learnt a lot and are hoping we will get to experience one of the festivals during our time here.
We started Friday with a general meeting to write up our experiences at the Mafi and Ho markets and what we learnt from the bank. The media and planning team meet to discuss how to promote our Awareness Event and are getting ready to create lots of colourful posters and flyers to catch the community’s attention. We will also be doing announcements in the local church services on Sunday and continue to do announcements on the big speakers across Waya.
Lots of our groups met with their individual farmer groups during the day too, and every group has managed to elect an executive team and are starting on constitutions – it’s all going really well and we’re very proud of the progress everyone is making.
Friday night is our ‘Know What I Know’ night and two of our volunteers, who turn out to be counterparts who’ve read the same book, teach us about how to be an effective person and move from a state of dependency to independence to interdependency. It’s really interesting and everyone is impressed – putting a lot of pressure on next week’s group!
Although it’s a Saturday and technically the weekend, there is no rest for the wicked as our teams meet early morning to prepare for next week and finish the results from the survey, which is looking really interesting and will give us lots to work on. We then spend the afternoon making football nets from water sachets, a little project we’ve created on the side as most of the goal posts in the community don’t include nets. It’s recycling at its finest! Once the sun had gone down, half of our team went to play football to prepare for next Sunday’s Awareness Day match against Waya football team. Our proud team leader managed to score a goal but the celebrations didn’t last for long, as she scored an own goal shortly after! Oh well, you win some, you lose some! She’s insisting that technically, she scored two goals and therefore, should be even more proud of herself. The other half of our team did a short exercise class of cardio, yoga and stretching, which causes some sore muscles the next day.
The evening was open mic and we all came together to tell jokes, riddles and finish with a boys vs girls sing off – to which we still don’t know the winner of, with the boys insisting they were better and the girls determined they had nailed it. Either way, Roxie the pig, who was present, seemed to enjoy it all.
Sunday morning we all headed to the churches across Anfoe and Waya to spread the news of our Awareness Day and invite all of the community along. We also stayed for the full services and fully enjoyed the singing and sermons. Once back home, it was counterpart day and most spent their time washing and catching up on odd jobs before spending the night relaxing before it starts all over again in the morning! We know it’s going to be a busy one preparing for our first Awareness Event and making sure everyone has lots of family fun (while forming and registering groups, of course)!