Monday, 25 July 2016

Episode Two: A Lesson Learned

Created by a pupil from Kanvili R/C School
We got straight to work on Monday morning when Hannah and Mary ventured into town and visited Marie Stopes to ask if they would attend our WOSAG’s Walk-In Workshop. This is a festival-style celebration of women’s rights where we will be providing information on domestic violence, and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights. However, we want it to be an event that all the family can enjoy so there will be face-painting, henna, and craft stalls. Initially, Hannah and Mary accidentally walked into the medical reception of Marie Stopes rather than the main reception. Despite the slight embarrassment that came with being stopped mid-speech and being told they were in the wrong place, it gave them the idea to invite the medical department to the workshop to give consultations. The discussion with Marie Stopes was a success and they have shown interest in our project, we just need to give them our proposal letter.

After this, Ellie gave the group a tutorial on how to use social media effectively in the hope that we will all contribute to WOSAG’s online expansion. We would also like to share WOSAG’s successes with the public and to inspire other people to become active citizens.

The next day, our team leader Sheila brought her son into the office. Despite being a single mother to her one-year-old Manuel, Sheila has challenged herself to change our world. We all fell in love with him when he visited our office this week. Most notable was Al Hassan who took a shine to Manuel with a smile we had never seen on him before. This made us better appreciate the compassionate nature of the men in our office and highlighted how men are not the enemy when it comes to women’s rights.  Each one of them conveys their passion for equality in different ways; Al Hassan is bursting with love and peace and he will share it with everyone, Ben voices his opinions and ideas with a realistic perspective, Mark is full of knowledge about Tamale and useful insights that we otherwise would not have, and Mohammed is focused and keeps us productive.

Our office work this week primarily consisted of preparing for our action research at Kanvili R/C School Complex. We did this by editing the last cohorts questionnaires for the women’s groups and school children in an attempt to ascertain their knowledge on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights, and domestic violence. Friday morning was full of excitement as we met at the taxi rank and began our first action research. This was certainly the most rewarding part of our work as a group so far as we were able to integrate with a new community who WOSAG will be helping in the near future.
Ellie helping the pupils understand the questionnaires.

WOSAG volunteers participating in an energiser with the pupils
The girls and boys cooperated with us extremely well considering the excitement of finished exams. Immediately it became apparent that we hadn’t edited the questionnaires appropriately as  certain questions we had asked them in the questionnaires were much more relevant to the women’s groups rather than the school pupils. From our experience, we learnt that we needed more desks particularly with the girls who had to share a tiny desk between two people. Not only did this take away the confidentiality of the questionnaire but it altered the reliability and honesty of our results. After the group had completed the questionnaires, Sheila took everyone outside to relive a game from her childhood. This helped the UK volunteers to immerse themselves into Ghanaian school culture and allowed us to break down the professional barriers. It was such a success, particularly when everyone broke out into dancing and singing and we truly felt welcome.
Playing childhood games with the children from Kanvili School.

Once we reflected on our experience at the office, we quickly realised how drastically we needed to change our method and alter our questionnaires. We spent time as a group rigorously editing the questionnaires and we now feel they are appropriate.

Having learned our lessons the hard way this week, we are now a stronger, better-informed group. Bring on the next challenge!

Written and edited by Shahema Miah and Mary O'Driscoll

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