Thursday, 17 November 2016

Expect the Unexpected: week 8 on placement

We are in the eighth week of placement and at this point we are very familiar with the environment and the communities we are working in. We always look forward to seeing the students on our weekly Friday visits to the schools, and are really making progress with the girls and the women, as we all grow in confidence.

Last week the two peer educators from Kanvili women’s group travelled to the WOSAG office, where we tested their knowledge and gave them refresher training on contraception and domestic abuse. We also gave them a questionnaire about how they are finding their role so far, so we can see how effective the training is. Peer education is essentially a way of educating communities in a manner deemed more sustainable; as we will not always be around, it is necessary for there to be knowledgeable people who can educate their own community and be available should anyone have any questions. We educate them on the issues the organisation works on (safe choices – abortion, STIs, contraception, menstrual and genital hygiene; and domestic abuse) and they pass this information on to their own community. I believe we’ve been garnering a lot of success with our peer education, both with the women’s groups and in the schools.

Kanvili School peer educators demonstrating how to use a condom

The team had a jam-packed day on Friday, visiting Kanvili School in the morning for peer education with the two teachers and six girl peer educators. They were already so knowledgeable on the topics and confident in speaking about them, which made our work a little easier! It was fantastic seeing how enthusiastic and eager to learn the girls were. We left feeling inspired by these young women, and energised for the afternoon’s activities.

The team with Kanvili girls and one of the teacher peer educators

After a quick break in town to grab lunch, we met up with a previous WOSAG volunteer (Mark) and a representative from Days for Girls (Rhoda). We all then made our way to Banvim for our ‘Awareness Raising’ session with the school. We split the boys and girls into separate classrooms. Rhoda kicked off the girls’ session speaking about the menstrual cycle and good hygiene practices. She also demonstrated the reusable pads and we were able to distribute them to some of the girls. We expected there to be less than 50 girls, when in fact there turned out to be 93! We were stunned to see so many faces looking back at us when we entered the classroom, but thrilled there were so many able to hear what we had to say. Latif, Dave and Mark had an energetic time with the 76-strong boy’s classroom, educating them on genital hygiene, condom use, STIs and domestic abuse. Safe to say we were very pleased with how the awareness raising went.

Madam Rhoda from Days for Girls teaching the girls about menstrual hygiene

Some of the team with the school at the end of the session

Around our community work we managed to fit in a guided learning session on the bead culture in Ghana. I’d heard about beads from my host mother, who had explained some of the reasons women in Ghana wear them. I had also seen them a few times, but hadn’t realised the extent of the culture and significance of them, especially those worn around the waist. I was able to find information tracing the history, symbolism, and the reasons why they are so popular; even babies wear them!  My host mum had also shown me where to buy them in the market, and we have spent the past few weekends making them together. So I brought them in for the team to all make together. Fun was had by all, listening to Ghanaian music and making unique jewellery to beautify ourselves with!

Helen, Mariama, Juliana, Latif, and our intern Rashida making beads in the office!

One of the team, Latif, even graduated this weekend from UDS, so Helen and I went along to support him. I’d just graduated this summer so it was interesting to see how a Ghanaian one differed from a Glaswegian one! On arrival we were adorned with a pin in the colours of the Ghanaian flag, and followed the sound of drumming to the outdoor ceremony. There were speeches and gowns and hat-throwing; much the same as anywhere. As so much of our work as WOSAG is focused on education, it was lovely to be able to celebrate the success of one of our members.

Alice, Latif and Helen at the graduation
 Written by: Alice

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