Cycle five’s last week in Cape Coast was finally upon us. The time seems to have flown by, as it only seems like yesterday we welcomed everyone to the in-country orientation at Suma Court Hotel, Accra. As you read this, the De-Brief weekend is over, and the volunteers are on their way home. Ten weeks of hard work, laughs, stress, smiles, some lows, but overshadowed by many highs, have come to an end.
Week ten has pretty much been a week of tidying a few things up, as well as making sure that everything is in place for the next cycle to pick up come May. On Monday, each member of the team was assigned an area of the project on which they had to compile the necessary facts and statistics for our end of cycle report. They then had to draft up each part of the report, before editing everything together. The whole team remained focused on the task, and we were able to successfully complete our impact report. Throughout the day, the volunteers also applied the finishing touches to their own personal case studies, explaining their own personal journey through the ICS programme. Monday afternoon saw the start of the teams’ last week of homework cub too, something I’m sure would have saddened many of the volunteers.
On Tuesday, the team made a few alterations to reports here and there, before heading back out into the community to speak with more businesses as part of our new Livelihoods venture, the Lattitude ICS Job Centre. The team have been very successful so far in sourcing vacancies and support from businesses around Cape Coast, even in our last week together. So much so, that on Tuesday afternoon, before Homework Club, the team were asked to visit a local seamstress who is a supporter of our project, and who gave her time to speak at our event, where we were over the moon to find that three of the attendees from our workshop the previous Thursday were already three days into a three year apprenticeship, having started the morning after. Twenty one year old Hawa Dramani told us “Thanks to Lattitude ICS for helping me. There is no amount of money in the world which could show my appreciation”. Single parent, Swaba Husseini, twenty years old, added “Thank you Lattitude ICS for your help and support, because people like me normally have no hope in the community, but with this project, we have hope! All that I can say is thank you, because without you, I wouldn’t be here today.” Instant results, and an extremely humbling experience for the volunteers!
Once again, Wednesday and Thursday were days for tidying up loose ends prior to the teams’ departure to Accra. The squad did however have time to lend their hand at the Football for Hope Centre for a clean-up exercise. The team worked alongside the Street League boys and Centre staff all morning, wiping, sweeping, scrubbing and weeding the facility and the surrounding area. Come Thursday evening, it was time for the teams’ last Homework Club. The volunteers ended their stay with fun classes, such as quizzes, spelling bees and hangman, and even brought treats for the kids in attendance. It was then time to say farewell to the kids who had called them ‘Sir’ and ‘Madam’ for the past ten weeks. The Centre held a small ceremony with all of the staff and children in attendance. Speeches were made by our very own Craig and Abanga, as well as by Play Soccer Ghana Country Director, Mr Wahab. There were also awards of thanks given to both Joe and Angelina for their hard work over the ten weeks, on behalf of the Football for Hope Centre. Our farewell was completed with more food, drinks, and the all-important Lattitude versus Football for Hope grudge match. In what was a very tight match, the Centre staff were able to somehow keep wave after wave of Lattitude attacks at bay late on, with the score at 3-2, only for them to grab a very late goal, after a heavy deflection, to take the trophy 4-2. A valiant effort from our boys, but defeat nonetheless.
As Friday was the team’s last full day in the beautiful town of Cape Coast, they were afforded a day off to finish packing, tidy their rooms, do some last minute shopping, and say their farewells in what has been an emotional week. After travelling to Accra Saturday morning, the group were afforded the rest of the day to relax. On Sunday, the De-Brief sessions took place, as both groups rounded off the ten weeks by presenting the work they had done, and what they have learned. A huge well done also goes to John Taff, for winning our volunteer of the cycle award, as well as picking up the counterpart pairing of the cycle award, with his counterpart and brother, Bright Gago. Both awards richly deserved. Monday once more was a day for the volunteers to take in the last few hours in Accra as they pleased, with a number of the group heading to the Accra Crafts Market and the Mall to pick up a few last minute souvenirs before the extremely emotional goodbyes of Monday evening.
We’d like to use this blog as a thank you, as well as to inform people about our work. Thank you and medaase to our magnificent team. We’ve had many unforgettable moments in our time together, and I’m sure that many strong friendships have been forged throughout the ten weeks, some which may even last a lifetime. From day one, our guys and girls gelled, both in terms of working together and socially. There were the odd moments of frustration, which were borne out of passion for the project, but from start to finish, we remained as a team and managed to work toward our goals. It has been a pleasure to share in your frustrations, your disappointments, and far more importantly, your successes. We both feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to watch each team member grow in knowledge, confidence and socially. Some are unrecognisable from the shy and timid young men and women who arrived. Once again, thank you, and good luck in all your endeavours.
Cycle six will arrive at the beginning of May and have a tough task to follow, but we are most certainly looking forward to meeting everyone and moving this project to the next level. We’ll be back with more updates come the beginning of May, in the meantime, spread the good word and stay engaged.