Monday, 17 October 2016

"WOSAG are nothing if not industrious..."

Week 3 was one of those weeks we were warned about before we arrived in Ghana. It has been a slow week, tainted with sickness. Although, the end of the previous week gave us no signs of the week to come... On Friday, the WOSAG team had a great time at Zongo leather factory, learning about how they make their leather from start to finish, and even getting stuck in ourselves!

Mariam, Alice, Juliana and Dave getting to grips with leather production!

After this, we rushed over to Tamale Stadium, where Ghana were playing in a World Cup Qualifier against Uganda, where we met up with other ICS members from ABC Create Change. Even though some of us weren't particularly avid football fans, we all could not help but be drawn into the amazing atmosphere of the Ghanaian crowd, with drumming from the home crowd carrying on for the full 90 minutes. The match ended in 0-0, but without bias, Ghana definitely should have won! Afterwards, the UK volunteers all experienced a bit of a Kim K moment, and were mobbed after the match for photos. It's safe to say that it took us a good while to get out of the stadium, and we all have newfound sympathies for celebrities now!

Alice and Helen outide Tamale sports stadium!
Alice and Helen outside Tamale sports stadium!

On Sunday, some of the team got our glad rags on and went to our first Ghanaian wedding, which was great! Again, we were surrounded by masses of children bemused at the foreign visitors, but we soon settled in after having something to eat and a dance with the other guests.

All in all, a great weekend for WOSAG! Helen and Latif even worked over the weekend to organise an interesting guided learning session on sexual consent for Monday, inspired by some interesting discussion and cultural differences about consent had last week. We really feel as though we are settling in now and getting into the swing of things in Tamale.

However, on Monday morning, we came back down to earth with a thud. Liz and Helen had fallen sick and ended up going to hospital, escorted by Juliana. The hospital really isn't the place you want to be on a Monday morning, with waiting times of five hours. However, the girls were sorted out by brilliant doctors and were sent home with medicine to rest. Despite having three team members missing, WOSAG are nothing if not industrious, and so instead of Helen and Latif's guided learning session, the team pulled together to work on a session on electioneering and freedom of speech, that we worked on with RAINS, that went really well and was a lot of fun to do!

Tuesday brought more illness for Dave, and a visit from Bismark, the ICS Programme Officer for the Tamale teams, to check in with us and to see how the programme is going and what we plan to do. With Liz and Helen still ill, the team decided to work through the previous cohort's report to get more of an understanding about what they got up to and their recommendations for us so we could properly plan our time over the following weeks and discuss the teams aims.

And another one bites the dust... Latif fell sick on Wednesday with suspected malaria (although, in typical Ghanaian style, brushed it off as if it were a common cold and was back in work the following day!) With only a few in the office, everyone just worked on their individual projects, and attempted to organise trips to visit our communities that we will be working with. Unfortunately, the communities are hard to get hold of and were unresponsive - our efforts to meet with them so far delayed.

Thursday! The first time we are all back together in the office, cured of all our ailments and ready to get to work. We combined with RAINS for sexual health training with madam Agnes, a maternity nurse from the Central Hospital in Tamale here. We discussed a number of interesting topics such as family planning, contraceptives and sexual transmitted infections (STIs). There were lots of question and answer sessions, and it was great to be able to consolidate all our knowledge and to feel confident in these topics before we go out into our communities and spread the word about good sexual health.

To end the week, Helen and Latif were (finally!) able to do the guided learning session on sexual consent. It was a great opportunity to discuss cultural ideas and assumptions about sexuality, gender and consent, and how they are similar/different in the UK and Ghana, and to come together with activities to understand more about consent in practice.

Helen and Latif doing their guided learning session
So, with us all back on the horse and feeling ourselves again, we hope that next week we will be able to put our plans together and visit the communities.

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