Thursday, 19 January 2017


A week and a half ago, seven strangers began separate journeys to get to Tamale, Ghana to work for the local NGO WOSAG (Women Support and Activist Group). Three members of our team flew half way around planet earth and landed on Mars. The climate was hot, the land was dusty and we felt like foreigners eager to explore a land we had never experienced before. We brought with us all our hopes and expectations (and a couple of bottles of suncream) and set off to make our mark on the communities of Tamale, Ghana. At the same time, four volunteers native to the country were also making their journey to the meeting point and in the middle, we met.
Unsure of what to expect from each other, meeting the team was like striking a match and hoping for a spark. The more we asked, the more we learned and it became apparent that our differences were our strengths. We all came to WOSAG from different backgrounds; cultural, religious, educational, but our common goal that united us all was our love of chicken. And our drive and ambition to make a positive impact in someone's life, that was important too. Working cross culturally was going to be a new experience for most of us and within the first few days we arrived at the following conclusions. 
Firstly, Ghanaians are way more obsessed with their phones than the Brits. Trying to pry their phones from their hands is like trying to unstick a super-glued hand from a sticky table. You can see the pain in their eyes as they release contact from the phone which is placed an immeasurably tiny distance from their other hand, ready to snatch it back up should you blink. A word of advice: always be ready for a selfie, they are almost guaranteed to take round the clock surveillance selfies at the most inopportune moments, take a look for yourself.

Secondly, the Brits are terrible at navigating a road crossing. We walk like idle drunk babies ushered by quick hands to push us to the safety of the pavement on the other side, before a yellow-yellow takes the skin off your back or a motorbike turns your people feet into duck feet. 

Thirdly, we are a lot more alike than we would dare to admit. Our downfalls are their strengths and where they struggle, we shine. We share the same interests, we love food, socializing and music. One evening we all went to impress each other with our dance moves and we danced until we were silhouettes against the night (oohh, I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about it). 

To bond as a team and to learn more about the other cultures, the volunteers from the UK decided to treat the Ghanaians to a traditional pub quiz (minus the alcohol, rowdy atmosphere and the broken bar stools). We made two camps and quizzed each other to explore our knowledge of each others' culture which resulted in some interesting findings. We all knew less than we thought! Nuggets of information we felt sure the other would know were completely new concepts and the quiz was a fascinating exposure to a world we knew so little about. Being British, however, the UK Team won hands down at the pub quiz through wild guesses and a little imagination. UK-1 Ghana -0. I guess it would be unfair not to mention at this stage that the Ghanaians are suspiciously good at Uno (card game), so I guess this chalks us up to make us even. 

United as a team, we will put our best foot forward and make ourselves known, as a brain, an athlete, a basketcase, a princess and a criminal. Oh no, wait, that's the Breakfast Club. We are Dernica, Mariam, Dominique, Auggy, Lindsay, Sala and Mercy, led by team leaders Roz and Ella and our small cross-cultural team is here to make a difference. We will help each other to grow as we navigate the highs and lows of International Development, focusing on Sexual Reproductive Health Rights and Education. We are excited for our community entry next week and to introduce ourselves to the communities that we will be working in. Watch this space. 

From left to right: Ella, Mercy, Dominique, Auggy, Lindsay, Dernica, Mariam, Sala and Roz


Written by Lindsay with no help from Auggy

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