February 10, 2009

Child Support

Child Support - Ghana is one of NGOs I've met that really touched me. I'll write more about it, but here are some photos of their projects. I had the chance to spend 2 days with Eric Coomans and the other volunteers in Wa, Northern Ghana.

A children's home where 10 children live with one house-mother when their parents are not able to take care of them.

A hospice center. Hospice here does not mean the final stages, and while many are no longer here, some leave once recovered. Rashida is 24 years-old.

A rehabilitation center for malnourished babies and children. Being one of the poorest regions in Ghana, the malnutrition stems from not being able to afford food.

A home and training program for young women. These women would have otherwise been sent to Accra for a life of carrying water and goods on their heads to make a living, which often results in becoming a commercial sex worker to get by. Instead they are being trained to sew and in hairdressing, and have their own business which they run.

February 9, 2009

I want a hippopotomus for Christmas

Seeking Shade

Still not used to it


RAAP, or the Rural Aid Action Programme, is an NGO based in Hain, Ghana. Their mission is to develop the region, and much of their work revolves around giving independence to women.

As one of the programs, women are given goats as livestock to help earn a sustainable income. In return for the goat given by RAAP, each woman must give a goat born back to the organization, who in turn passes it on to another woman.

Some women also have the chance to get a donkey and cart, which can in turn provide an income by being rented or used. It is also better for the woman's health, decreasing the need to carry heavy loads on her head.

The Village Savings & Loan program gives women in a village the chance to save and borrow money on their own. The men have a separate group.

Working with this organization for a couple of days was very interesting and really showed the amount of good that a small action and mission can do. The women were given independence and confidence. I was not given the opportunity to photograph as freely on my own as I would have liked, but enjoyed meeting these women.


Woman and wife of the chief trained in making batik cloth.

Yes, it's a kid picture, but I like the face... and the bunny.


CID Ghana

CID Ghana, or Cooperation for Integrated Development, is a development organization in Tamale. It supports communities through schools and resources and development through educational skill-training programs.

Wish I could have spent more time with them, but I was able to get some material about their projects in the day I was there.

One of the projects is to build a toilet next to one of the schools that CID-Ghana supports by providing a teacher, fixing up the school and working with the ministry of health to give the students one meal per day. This is to encourage parents to let the children attend school.

Along with sponsoring the school in Kotingli, a small village, there is also work being done to make things more sanitary by building a toilet for the school and to provide cleaner drinking water. Until the filtering system works, there are chemicals put into the water to make it clean so it is usable.


The water also dries up every year, forcing women to walk up to 22km to fetch water each day, carrying the large loads on their heads with their children helping as well. The filtering system is almost completed as well.

There is also a goal to train women in skills so they can help support their families. As someone told me in the North, if there was a Nobel prize for anything in Ghana, it should go to the mothers. Women do the cooking, cleaning and caring for the children, as well as often farm work to try to support the family financially. Not all of the money earned by men is returned to the family, but what is earned by the women is. They trained the women to make batik cloth to sell.



One of the things I really noticed in the villages was the teamwork environment. When a house needs to be built, all of the men gather to help build it in return for dinner. It's about helping each other to support the greater community. When food needs to be made, two women may team together to make it. I think much of the world could learn from that.

Heading North

I decided to head with a group of volunteers up North to do some work for other NGOs. They were kind of touring the different projects, and I was able to do small amounts of day-work to give them something.

I usually prefer to travel a little more low-profile and by my own schedule, but we made it up and back safe and sound in the decorated trotro.

After a box of toys went flying off the top.

Home Visit

Later in the day we went on a home visit to two of the children sponsored by Light for Children. The home visits are meant to update the profiles of the children and check-in on how they are doing.

It's a tricky situations sometimes as well. AIDS comes with a big stigma here, and just because a child is sponsored by Light for Children doesn't mean he or she has it. It is not discussed during the visits as sometimes even the children or the rest of their family do not know for fear of being stigmatized and cast out of their living situation. As a journalist, I tread lightly in the situation.

In all, though, the home visits are a good chance to check-in on how school and life and family are going and for the volunteers to meet the kids, who are welcoming but can be shy just like any kids, whether they are used to meeting obronis or not.


Journey of Hope

Finally access to internet again! It's amazing the bit of withdrawal you go through...

The following day after the Malaria talk, a group of volunteers went to a school to deliver the Journey of Hope talk (a program to educate about the prevention of HIV transmission. Faithfulness, Abstinence or Condom, and pick the best for the time in your life.)

One of the projects I'll be doing is a short piece about the Journey of Hope.

It's been interesting doing work for some different NGOs here. It's a mix of cultural differences and balancing controls and communication. I'll admit, there were times of frustration, but hopefully in the end each will get some work that will help their cause, either showing what they are doing or showing the issues.

I really do believe in the work of grassroots NGOs. They struggle to stay up, but small things go a long way.

Take Journey of Hope. There are questions of the volunteers of how to take it to the next level in delivery, and there is a push to focus on abstinence for the teens. But the students have a chance to bring up questions about HIV transmission, such as can you get it from deep kissing or sharing food?