Monday, 1 August 2016

Episode Three: BamVilli

Group photo with Banvim Women's Group

The morning was bright with the sun beaming down. Monday was another important and busy day as we had to prepare for the school and women’s group in Bamvim. The questionnaires that we edited last week needed another revision as we found that we had to make it more accessible to everyone. Mohammed wanted to role play the situation for Tuesday’s trip to acclimatise to the new questionnaire. As he presented, the rest of the group acted as the students who would ask potential questions that may come up during the questionnaire. We felt we were prepared for the challenge to come.

The following morning we all met at the taxi rank in town as we were  going to the community via minibus. We gathered into a shelter attached to their meeting place which had a wheelbarrow, sand, cement and two benches with the women in the next room. We already knew from the previous cohort that English was not widely spoken amongst the group so the previous day Alhassan was appointed as “Mr Translator” from English into Dagbani, he ran the show, keeping the women entertained and enthusiastic about our project whilst they awaited their turn to answer the questionnaire. We also had Mark and Hannah on hand as the translators who would conduct one-to-ones with the women and go through the questionnaires privately. From Sheila’s translations, it became clear that the women had strong reservations about our approach to tackling domestic violence and that we were not addressing the underlying root of the problem. However, we later discussed measures to rectify this and to redesign our strategy.

Al Hassan, Ben and Mary explaining questionnaires to women

After speaking to the women, we headed to meet the chief who was sat at the centre of a large three walled space. We greeted him customarily by clapping in sync once we sat down. Sheila informed the chief of WOSAG’s mission and asked permission if we could continue to operate in the community. The chief spoke softly with a chewing stick in his mouth, and welcomed us into his community, offering any help should we need it; provided we leave one of the girls behind. We took this last part as a joke, though not without uncertainty. 

Next was the children’s group, who we were all excited to meet us. We split the group of girls into two class rooms so that each girl had a desk of her own; this was to reduce copying of answers on the questionnaires.  We split up the volunteers into each classroom. In one of the classrooms Ellie introduced them to the interactive game of “head, shoulders, knees and toes” and all seemed to respond enthusiastically. Our introduction and presentation of the questionnaire to the students went well, however in practice, many of the girls found the questionnaires difficult to understand. We then maximised our time in helping the students to first help them understand the questionnaires. After some time and efficient teamwork all the questionnaires had been done and we all felt better inside as we were very productive throughout the day. It was time to say goodbye to the school for now until our next visit for sensitization

Mark explaining questionnaires to pupils

The next day Manuel was brought into work which kept us occupied, especially Al Hassan. We received a call from the women’s group in Kanvilli informing us that they were ready for the questionnaires. Half the team then patrolled out to conduct the questionnaires which proved more emotional than anticipated. The others stayed in the office to organise and collate the existing results, for which Mohammed and Ellie created a template on excel. 

Mark speaking Dagbani to woman and filling in questionnaire

The following day the team had a long discussion on the aim of WOSAG and how best to go about tackling domestic violence within the communities. This prompted us to draw up a list of priorities to target the issues that were becoming most prevalent. Mark and Mary went to Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit, DOVVSU and Marie Stopes to ask if they would be willing to educate us on domestic violence and sexual health which will be beneficial when we train the peer educators in days to come. There was hope in partnering with another charity organisation called ‘Mama to Angel’ as Perpetua, the Executive Director, came to meet Mary, who had met her on a previous occasion. The discussion was positive as we suggested ways in which to help each other. 

Finally Friday was a bit more relaxing as we had worked very hard and well as a team throughout the week. The day consisted of finalising collation of results, presenting the results in the afternoon and planning for the busy forthcoming week. 

This week was the most productive and challenging week so far and the challenge now was to keep it up for next week.

Written by Mohammed Daniyaal Khan
Edited by Ellie Gibbs

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