Pamoja Ghana: A Day at the Office

With this Leave for Change volunteer assignment I am so very fortunate to have the chance to work at Pamoja Ghana, also known as Ghana REFLECT Practitioners Network. 

The Ghana Reflect practitioners’ Network, popularly known as Pamoja Ghana, is a Network of youth and adult education practitioners who use REFLECT and other participatory methods for literacy and development work. REFLECT is an acronym, which stands for Regenerated Freirian Literacy Empowerment and Community Techniques. It is a right-based approach to development and a participatory tool to literacy, poverty alleviation and community development. Pamoja Ghana is affiliated to Pamoja West Africa, Pamoja Africa and the global network of REFLECT practitioners, known as the Circle for International REFLECT Action and Communication (CIRAC). The Ghana Network currently has a membership of thirty-two organizations in all the ten (10) administrative regions of Ghana.

Pamoja Ghana network has as its main aim, promoting empowerment and sustainable development particularly in rural communities with special attention to promoting, protecting and fulfillment of human rights of citizens and achieving the Education for All (EFA) goals by 2015.  Pamoja Ghana works with the poor, the marginalized, and the voiceless; most of whom are non literate and live in hard to reach areas. 

Pamoja is doing very important work. Approximately 40% of the population of Ghana cannot read and write, and the majority of these are women and girls!  The literacy of this segment of the population is critical to sustainable national development in Ghana. 

My assignment is with the Secretariate Office in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana.  Pamoja is located in a quiet neighborhood in Adenta Municipality, across from the MTN office, just turn down the road with the Turquoise building at the end…and yes, that is the ‘official’ address since there are no street names…which is disconcerting at first because we are used to following street names in Canada, however using landmarks for direction has become easier with practice. 

…the view down the lane from the office,

…and looking back towards the Adenta to Accra Road,

Look for the two story green building  with the brick-red-coloured gate, and there is a sign.  The second story is visible from the Adenta to Accra Road.  In this picture, mewo ha.

Millicent Akoto is the National Director and was the first person from Pamoja Ghana whom I met while taking part in the in-country orientation offered by WUSC.  At lunch that day, we both enjoyed Banku; Millicent enjoyed the traditional Ghanaian sauce while I enjoyed the ‘very light spicy version for Canadians.”  It was the first meal I ate with my fingers, and not the last. 

With a network of over 30 NGOs across Ghana, Millicent and her team are very busy doing great work.  Here is a picture of Millicent and I in her office,

At Pamoja, I share an office with the financial officer for Pamoja, Alfred Hammond.  He is a very nice man and has made me feel very welcome.  He has helped me learn some Twi! 🙂

Here is a picture of Alfred and I,

Janet Amewu is the Deputy and Program Coordinator, and she kindly accompanied me on my first Tro Tro ride home from the office to ensure I found my way,

Carol Greene is the Administration Officer and the friendly face that will greet you as you arrive.  She is my newest facebook friend,

Robert Gbley works part time at the office as the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer.  He also works on IT and related matters. He picked me up at the hotel on my second day at work and travelled with me to the office so that I could learn the transportation system.  Ghanaians treat their guests and friends, and everyone, with much kindness.

There is a school near by and so often times you can hear the children playing.  One of my most memorable moments occurred last Friday as I sat working beside the open window. Friday is physical education day at the school and so all of the children went to the field to play in the morning.  As they returned to the school at about 10:30 or 11:00, the children all joined together, singing, and the joy of their music filled the office.  It was truly beautiful.

REFLECT in action

Hi,

REFLECT practitioners worldwide are doing great work on sustainable development through various initiatives.  For example, Pamoja Ghana recently completed a project that educated women in Ghana about their right to vote.

The following link will take you to other examples of initiatives related to women’s rights and the first story involved the organization I am currently volunteering with through Leave for Change, Pamoja Ghana, …very interesting,

http://www.reflect-action.org/womensrights

Knowledge and education can change the world.

Maureen

Her Challenge, Your Challenge

Her Challenge, Your Challenge

Women in African countries continue the struggle to aspire to equality.  With the reading I am doing to prepare for my adventure, I am learning more and more about the plight of girls in schools and women in general in African society.  How is it that some of us in this world get to live is affluent luxury while others live in such abject poverty.  While those of us born as women in North America have equal access and rights to safety and education, women in Africa struggle to support their families and it appears that even attending school is not safe for African girls.  And yet, in North America we take the safety of our girls in schools for granted.  When we send our girls off to school on the bus we do not worry about sexual assaults in a washroom that all in the school share (and by all I mean boys, girls and school staff) nor do we worry about the teachers picking out a girl to take home, nor do we worry about our daughters being suspended from school because of pregnancy.  We are indeed lucky to live such worry free lives.  Truth be told, no mother on this planet should have such worries, and yet they do.

A research paper I was reading yesterday speaks to how mothers will keep their girls at home to keep them safe.  Perhaps we might do the same in similar circumstances.  Unfortunately, as we know, avoidance of a problem is not an effective solution.   Education is the most powerful weapon in effecting change.  And so, I wanted to share this information with you and introduce you to the Her Challenge, Your Challenge program  underway with Uniterra, WUSC and CECI, for those who would like to help

By making a donation to “Her Challenge, Your Challenge,” you will help to carry out projects that give women access to education and quality health services, and ensure that women are economically self-sufficient and their rights are recognized and respected.
www.herchallengeyourchallenge.ca/about.php?lg=en

As we educate girls and women, we change families and futures.  Help with this cause to help change the world one girl, one family, one community at a time.

God Bless,

Maureen

p.s. I am interested in knowing how many people this post encourages to take up this challenge.  If you do, and you are willing to share, please add a comment to this post indicating your support for Her Challenge, Your Challenge.

From Sarah on June 5, 2011:

Maureen and others-
Your assessment of the plight of women and girls in West Africa is accurate. I volunteer with an NGO in Sierra Leone called cdpeace (www.cdpeace.org). We have launched a program of microbusiness support for women making traditional African textiles. In Canada, Fleming College where I work has senior International Trade and Marketing students working on the business, KOMBRA, for a whole semester each year to move the business and marketing of their products along and create a sustainable income for the women. The money goes back into the business, into the women’s immediate communities and helps support scholarships particularly for girl’s education – the daughters of the women in the business. It’s a win-win. We’re just beginning. Our website will be up this month but take a look at the website of cdpeace to see what other initiatives they are doing in the rural communities of Sierra Leone.