Archives - ‘Ghana’

It feels like longer but it also feels shorter…

June 10, 2019 | Joyce, International Development and Globalization(Co-op)(French Immersion)and Minor in Political Science, AFS Canada, Ghana, Human Rights Advocacy Centre

It’s been 6 weeks since I arrived in Ghana! Though it doesn’t feel like six weeks, it feels like longer but it also feels shorter.

Ghana is a place where to truly get to know and navigate the area, there needs to be interaction with the people here. They are all fairly kind and willing to answer any questions. The transport system in Ghana isn’t organized (but then it is in its own way) like it is in Canada where Google can tell you how and where to take the bus and there is a clear cord to pull and the bus will stop for you. In Ghana, there’s no actual bus stops, you can just stand on the side of a street and a tro-tro will come by and you need to make sure you’re getting into the right one. A worker (called “mate”) is yelling the destination of the tro-tro through the window and you need to tell them distinctive landmarks/the stop you want to get off at when you enter. There’s no signs, no cord to pull, no bus stop awnings to wait at; as well, certain tro-tros only stop at certain places so you need to know how to walk there/where to wait – and again, these places are established by landmarks and known by locals, not something researchable through Google.

I have an incredibly kind host family. I use to live in my own room but they just recently took in another cousin-nephew (somehow related) into the home so now I have a roommate. This roommate is living at the house because she recently started a new job in Accra and is looking for housing – my host parents haven’t even met her before and agreed to let her stay in the house – just because she’s their son’s friend. In total… there is only one son living with them, while me, my roommate, and three other boys (who are related somehow to my host mom) are being hosted by the family. The house complex is incredibly spacious and they are so kind with what they have.

My host mom ensures that I am safe everywhere I go, that I am never hungry and even buys me dresses and insisted on getting some custom made for me. I’ve been really included within the family and taken in as one of their own.

The work at Human Rights Advocacy Centre offers me a direct first-hand experience with grassroots work. A lot of their work really is ADVOCACY. They present workshops and training seminars on the legislation of human rights issues of key populations (i.e. persons with mental health disabilities, HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ+). I am asked to attend meetings, conferences and training seminars (which have included travelling to other parts of Ghana!) and to write reports on them. As well, I have been tasked with two research projects and to interview clients for the Legal Aid Centre. It has been a good experience learning and working with representatives from different Ghanaian Civil Society Organisations firsthand.

Last weekend, I was able to travel to Cape Coast with a fellow cohort from the University of Ottawa. It was also an educative experience as it allowed me to see the conditions that victims of the slave trade endured and to learn about this section of history on a deeper level.

I am looking forward to the rest of my time here and getting to know the people and the country more.

Ghana is an amazing country !

May 28, 2019 | Alexandra, Honours Bachelor of Social Sciences in International Development and Globalization, AFS Ghana, Legal Resource Center, Project Support Officer

It has been nearly one month in Ghana and there is so much to say! As a fourth year International Development and Globalization student, I am living a dream. I never thought that I would have the chance to participate in a program like this, let alone travel to Africa for my first experience outside of North America. Ghana is beautiful and everyday I fall more in love with the landscape, the climate, the people and the culture. My host family truly cares for me and their genuine nature makes me feel like I am a part of the family. I never question it. Each day after work, it really feels like I am coming home and I can’t thank them enough for this. It’s hard to believe that the time is racing as fast as it is but I know there is still so much more for me to experience in my last two months.

Life in Ghana is so different from back home. The level of collective culture is something I have not been exposed to before. People are so welcoming and kind – always willing to lend a hand. Not to say that people in Canada are rude, but the culture in Ghana is unparalleled. No matter where you go, everyone makes sure you are comfortable and having a good time. For example, this past weekend, I attended a wedding with a fellow student and her host mother. Neither of us knew the bride to be, yet we were more than welcome to tag along. For the most part, we spent the day discovering the way in which Ghanaian weddings compare to Canadian weddings while soaking in the music and other festivities. I’m trying to have as many new experiences as I can and the wedding was one I will never forget!

One thing to note is that there is so much diversity amongst the Ghanaian people. When hearing about Africa, people tend to generalize the continent and the people living in it. Ghana, just one country, is home to numerous languages and dialects as well as ethnicities and religions. There is no way to box the Ghanaian people into one category. It simply cannot be done. As a development student, I was taught to understand that developing countries are each unique in so many different ways. Travelling and working in Ghana has definitely shown me the intricacies within the country and it has become quite apparent that this is the reality in each country around the world. I challenge you, the reader, to adopt this understanding of the world and to refrain from grouping all developing countries into one single box.

I’ll be in Ghana for a total of three months working as a project support officer at the Legal Resources Centre. In my few weeks of work, I have done so many things that keep me on my toes. My fellow intern and our project manager travelled to the Supreme Courts where we sat in on Circuit Court proceedings plus I’ve drafted project proposals and presidential pardons, among others. The hours spent at the LRC are some of my favourite each day. I get to complete meaningful work with a great group of coworkers whom I adore and often spend my free time with. It is one thing to learn about legal practice in class but it is another thing to experience it first hand in a developing country. There have been so many unexpected joys in this work and I cannot wait to see what the future holds.

I have just two months left until I fly home and I am already dreading it. Ghana is an amazing country and working at the LRC has only heightened my experience. Each day I am working towards a greater purpose of helping those in need and those who cannot afford legal representation on their own. I know that when I return home, my goal will be to find a career in a similar practice. This is what I want to do and I have the international internship program to thank for it. I recommend this program to anyone who is interested as it will be an experience you will never forget

Week 10

March 25, 2019 | Lee, Honours-International Development and Globalization, Uniterra, Farm Radio International (FRI), Communication Officer

Currently, I’m halfway through my tenth week in Ghana. My last post mentioned how fast time has passed but that was an understatement. February disappeared in a flash and March seems to be following the same mentality. As my time winds down in Ghana I am torn with how to feel. On one hand, I am excited to get back to Canada and see all my family and friends. On the other hand, I know I will miss the people, lifestyle, and the constant need to see and understand as much of the country as possible.

Since my last post, I’ve been exposed to much more of the expat community here in Ghana. A community which is so tight nit that if you’re just meeting someone then there is a high chance that the two of you have several mutual friends. What’s funny is I’m no longer the “new kid” instead I have been the person showing a couple of new people around the city and recommending what sights to see around the Accra area.

I feel as though I’ve been able to get into the rhythm of things in Accra. From bargaining in markets to taking the tro-tro’s everywhere to greeting the locals in twi while passing to and from work, I’ve been able to feel comfortable and build a certain daily habit that I’m enjoying. I no longer feel like I’m being stared at but instead see myself to have integrated into the local community around my house. There are always six people that I will see daily who greet me and engage in simple conversation and that’s all.

These feelings are constant through work as well. I feel as though I’ve made friends within my work environment where I’m able to relax and speak to everyone. This has translated in my work as I’m more confident on who to ask for what information and how the organization operates.

The next couple of weeks will fly by with how busy I am at work and all the things I still want to do/see again. Before I know it, I’ll be packing my bags and heading back to Canada. Ghana has allowed me to meet such a diverse number of people in a very personal way that I didn’t think I would have prior to departure. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how I will feel about leaving until I’ve sat down in the airplane and the captain says ready for take-off. But until then, I’ll continue my internship and make the most out of the next three weeks.

My first month

February 11, 2019 | Lee, Honours-International Development and Globalization, Uniterra, Farm Radio International (FRI), Communication Officer

As my first month in Ghana comes to an end, I realize just how quickly time goes by. Within Ghana there are so many people from around the world which are very accessible through the WUSC and Farm Radio social networks. Just working at WUSC there are two people from Canada and two people that went to school in Canada. They’ve shown me the way of life within Accra from the food scene to how to work my way around the numerous markets.

The cultural diversity within Ghana is really intriguing. For the most part, everyone eats the same foods which consist of a lot of rice, chicken, fish, and beans. There has been a growth in international food available within the city but food prodominantly has remained local. When it comes to language, every area is different. With over 250 languages in Ghana, you can see the diversity and the deep cultural roots which have been implanted within not only the country but local communities. The people are very friendly and love it when foreigners speak their language. In Accra, (the capital) we speak Twi which I’ve managed to learn a minimal amount of. Despite knowing so little those couple of words will bring a smile to the face of locals and help in getting a better price within the market.

For my three months, I am working with a Canadian organization called Farm Radio International (FRI). The organization focuses on how to use local radio stations for development projects. My position is a communication and documentation officer. I am involved in many projects and help where I can. The benefit of being a part of a diverse range is a diverse range of work. I’ve worked on project briefs, event planning, and transcribing. Currently, I am planning my first, of two, training session. The work has been interesting as I’ve learned a lot about the specific barriers which projects face when working with local small-scale farmers which I wouldn’t have thought about while learning in class.

The diverse relationships I have built between international workers and locals alike have helped me in deciding how I want to spend my three months. There is so much to see and understand that the weeks have slowly started passing by faster and faster. Within these relations, I’ve made friends which I know I will see again somewhere around the world after my month’s come to an end in Ghana.

Émerveillée et essoufflée

November 29, 2018 | Émilie, Honours Bachelor of Social Sciences in Conflict Studies and Human Rights, AFS Ghana, HRAC, Advocacy/Research Assistant

Wow, tout s’est déroulé si vite. J’ai peine à croire que cela fait déjà 3 mois que je suis partie à Accra, au Ghana. J’ai eu la chance de travailler pour une organisation nommée «Human Rights Advocacy Center». Mon rôle au sein cet organisme était dans le département de la recherche et du développement de projets. Mes tâches étaient donc très diversifiées, mais toutes liées aux droits humains.

Grâce à la fluidité de mon rôle, j’ai eu la chance d’assister à des conférences de presse, participer à des ateliers pour faire avancer les droits des homosexuels, travailler dans les écoles secondaires au sujet de la santé mentale, etc. J’ai donc pu expérimenter grandement le terrain en voyageant et participant à des projets à l’extérieur d’Accra. Lorsque je suis au bureau, je dois faire diverses recherches pour avancer nos futurs projets ainsi qu’écrire des rapports sur les projets ou activités que nous avons fait. Étant donné que je suis grandement intéressée par le sujet des droits humains, je suis extrêmement satisfaite des tâches que j’ai eu à faire ici ainsi que des connaissances que j’ai pu acquérir.

Dans mon dernier blog, j’avais mentionné le fait que je m’étais bien accoutumée à la région d’Accra et que je sentais qu’il était temps pour moi de partir explorer le pays. Et bien c’est ce que j’ai fait. Chacune de mes petites escapades sont des expériences incroyables et je suis contente d’avoir pu voyager au travers du Ghana. Cependant, je me sens fatiguée car je travaille toute la semaine et je vais explorer durant la fin de semaine. Par contre, étant donné que le temps presse je sens qu’il faut que je profite de chaque moment et chaque occasion de découvrir quelque chose de nouveau. Lors de mes voyages, j’ai pu constater que le Ghana est sans l’ombre d’un doute un pays magnifique avec une extrême diversité des paysages, dépendamment des régions. Il y a de tout au Ghana; la plage, les lacs, les montagnes, les étendues, la jungle, la forêt, la ville, etc. Malgré tout, je me sens un peu essoufflée et j’ai hâte de me reposer et de revenir à un rythme de vie plus stable

Ce qu’il va me manquer le plus du Ghana est les incroyables personnes que j’ai rencontré. J’ai tissé des liens d’amitié très rapide et solide avec des Ghanéens que je vois quelque fois par semaine. Ce sera un grand changement de ne plus les voir du tout. Aussi, lors de mon stage, j’ai eu la chance d’habiter avec une famille ghanéenne. Vivre avec une famille d’accueil est une expérience qui comporte des défis mais qui est enrichissante. D’un côté, il faut vite s’adapter à côtoyer de très près de nouvelles personnes et devoir s’intégrer rapidement dans un nouvel univers. De l’autre côté, être dans une famille d’accueil est un avantage immense pour se retrouver immerger dans la nouvelle culture et créer des liens avec le pays d’accueil.

Bref, lorsque je réfléchis sur tous les points positifs de mon stage, au travers des personnes rencontrées, du pays, de ma famille d’accueil et de mon organisme de travail, je constate que cette expérience en valait totalement la peine. Je suis face à des émotions contradictoires car je suis triste de partir, mais contente de rentrer à la maison. J’aimerais rester plus longtemps, mais maintenant que le temps approche, j’ai hâte de revenir au Canada.

Il ne reste que 6 semaines!!!

October 22, 2018 | Émilie, Honours Bachelor of Social Sciences in Conflict Studies and Human Rights, AFS Ghana, HRAC, Advocacy/Research Assistant

Cela fait 6 semaines que je suis à Accra, au Ghana et je m’y plais énormément. Le plus dur était au début, car je me sentais très différente et un peu perdue dans ce nouveau pays. L’arrivée est le moment où il faut apprendre beaucoup de choses en même temps de devoir s’intégrer. Par exemple, il faut apprendre comment interagir socialement, comment se déplacer dans la ville, quelles sont les règles de politesse, etc. Jusqu’à présent, la première semaine d’arrivée est le moment de mon expérience qui était le plus gros défi.

Maintenant que je suis à Accra depuis 1 mois et demi je me sens bien adaptée et je réalise qu’il est temps pour moi de sortir un peu plus de la ville et de faire des excursions de fin de semaine. J’ai fait des journées d’excursion, mais je veux maintenant partir pour des voyages de fin de semaine, afin de sortir encore de ma zone de confort. Même si au début du voyage j’étai un peu déstabilisé, je réalise que j’ai aimé cela et je veux donc retourner à ce sentiment, en explorant plus le pays. Je dirais que c’est ce que j’apprécie le plus de mon expérience jusqu’à présent : le fait de changer d’environnement et de toujours devoir apprendre de nouveau. En seulement 6 semaines, je considère cette expérience extrêmement enrichissante.

De plus, j’ai tissé des liens avec des Ghanéens vraiment extraordinaire qui me font visiter et découvrir la culture plus en profondeur. Pour moi, cela est vraiment ce qui rend mon séjour ici incroyable. Je pense qu’il est important de nouer des relations avec des gens du pays d’accueil afin d’avoir une plus grande immersion dans le pays. Accra est une ville à découvrir. Il y a beaucoup d’activités à faire et d’endroits à aller. Cependant, si je ne m’étais pas fait des amis ghanéens, je n’aurais jamais été mise au courant de ces coins agréables. Certains endroits que j’ai visités n’ont pas de site internet. Aussi, la ville est située sur le bord de la mer ce qui est vraiment agréable. Le climat est chaud, mais il y a toujours un vent qui rafraichit légèrement. La mer est accessible et gratuite pour tous, sauf qu’elle est polluée. Pour aller se baigner à une plage qui est propre, il faut soit sortir d’Accra ou bien payer pour accéder à une plage nettoyée. Cela reste qu’il est agréable de se promener au bord de la plage et de s’installer dans un des petits restaurants, les pieds dans le sable.

La culture ghanéenne est très forte et, en général, les Ghanéens s’attendent à ce que les gens de l’extérieur soient ouverts d’esprit et essayent les plats traditionnels (comme le fufu – en préparation sur la photo). Ils apprécient énormément quand les gens s’intéressent à leur culture et apprennent quelques mots des langues locales, comme le Twi ou le Gan.

Il ne me reste que 6 semaines ici et j’ai l’impression que je vais manquer de temps pour faire tout ce que je désire. Je réalise que c’est une expérience précieuse, qu’il faut en profiter au maximum et simplement apprécier chaque moment. Bref, je crois que le plus important est vraiment de ne pas hésiter à essayer des nouvelles choses, aller à la rencontre des gens et à sortir de sa zone de confort pour vivre une expérience complète et enrichissante.

Amaraba!

July 5, 2018 | Maria, International Development and Globalization, Tamale, Ghana, Uniterrra, RAINS (Regional Advisory Information & Network Systems), Youth Engagement Officer

Hello from Ghana! Or, Amaraba as they would welcome you in the local language of Dagbani. Throughout these past couple of months, I’ve come to appreciate the value of greetings and realize the integral role they play in Ghanaian culture. You’re expected to greet everyone you encounter throughout the day, even strangers, making it easy to start up a conversation. There’s a specific greeting in Dagbani for every situation imaginable; from greeting someone who has returned from the market to someone who has fetched water. This friendly nature has made me feel extremely comfortable living in Tamale and able to adapt. It’ll be difficult to say goodbye.

Tamale is the capital of the Northern region of Ghana. I’m volunteering at an organization called RAINS (Regional Advisory Information & Network Systems) which works to improve the quality of life for vulnerable groups in the northern region, primarily focusing on the promotion of child rights and tackling the issue of child labour. My job as the Youth Engagement Officer is to review previous and current programs and see how they can be improved to further engage youth, a group that has often been excluded. To complete this research, I’ve been reviewing documents, consulting with staff, facilitating focus groups, and meeting with program beneficiaries. I’ve also been doing miscellaneous tasks within the office separate from my mandate which allow me to join my coworkers in the field and attend various workshops and events.

As an international development and globalization student, I’ve always been eager to see development happen at the grassroots level to further understand the process and intricacies of project implementation. So far, this placement has given me the opportunity to witness community led development directly. It’s one thing to sit in my coworker’s office and be briefed on the current projects being facilitated by RAINS, and another to go into these communities and see the projects in progress: the school buildings that have been funded by RAINS, the fruits and vegetables being grown in the community gardens that have been built to facilitate participatory learning in primary schools, the bicycles that have been donated used by children to get to and from school, and the women that have been taught how to bee-keep receiving money for the honey they have produced.

Despite its small size of 14 staff members, RAINS is extremely well-known by residents of Tamale. Whenever I tell someone that I’m doing an internship at RAINS, it’s always followed by an eager response of praise. Almost everyone has either been a beneficiary themselves or have heard of the work that they do. It’s great to be working with such an engaging and active organization and alongside some very passionate coworkers. I’m excited to see what’s to come in the next month of my internship!

Cycles of change

February 27, 2018 | Chido, DVM, AFS Internculture Canada, AFS Ghana - Legal Ressource Center, Intern

I have now been in Ghana for the past 6 weeks and I have experienced so much change in various ways. When I first landed, I immediately entered the honey-moon stage. I felt so very happy to be in a warm tropical place, in Africa; filled with people who look like me and I felt eager to discover and explore as much as I possibly could.

Throughout our journey here, I was so nervous, but the moment I stepped out of the airport and onto the streets of Accra the warm air and city sounds reassured me, and I knew then that everything would be alright. I no longer had a worry in the world, I was here, and I would accomplish what I was sent here to do.

When we were driving through the airport area at night I was in awe. Accra is most beautiful at night, there is something about the dim lighting, deserted streets and mixture of modest store fronts with innovative modern high-rises and buildings that is extremely aesthetically pleasing. When we left the airport, we passed the presidential palace (Jubilee House), and many beautiful houses and so my first thought was that I could see myself based here in the future.

Our AFS coordinator informed us that the airport area is mostly occupied by foreigners, and that is when I realized that it was mostly an area for the wealthy and privileged in Ghana. Thus, when I arrived at my host family’s modest dwelling I was not at all disappointed. Accra is very expensive and most of the accommodation is rented and sold in US dollars. Therefore, I was very grateful to my host family, for having me under their roof and agreeing to simply host me free of charge, out of kindness and genuine interest in having a fruitful cultural exchange.

During the next few weeks, I got along with my host family. I fit well within the deeply Christian household and enjoyed learning and exchanging knowledge with my new family. We event took trip down to Cape Coast to visit their youngest daughter in Senior High School.

Here is a shot I took next to Cape Coast Castle. However, I think that it is important to note that I observed many children working at these boats and it greatly worried me because, through work I had learnt that child labor and exploitation is rampant in Ghana. I couldn’t just look on without wondering if these children missed school to work on these boats, if they were paid adequately and if they were there of their own free will.

Although many things changed for me during this stay, one thing that remained constant was my passion for the work I do at the Legal Resources Centre. I truly feel as through their work impacts many marginalized and vulnerable people in Ghana. The environment is friendly, yet my coworkers expect a lot from me and discuss things with me. I always thought that if I were to find employment at such a place, anywhere really, I would move to that place.

Slowly, things began to shift, I became more adventurous and made friends. However, this was difficult on my home life because my host parents were quite protective, which translated into restrictions that were difficult for me to adapt to. Although, I still explored and planned activities.

One day, I went to Bojo beach, pictured below, with a friend. Once again, I observed a lot of children working here, one who looked no more than 10 years old. They man the boats which give access to the beach, lead people to find spots at the beach, clear tables after people finish eating and various other things. They do good work and it really creates a pleasant experience for the customers. However, I couldn’t help but wonder whether they were paid and treated well for all that they do…whether they were being exploited. When I questioned my friend about this, he explained to me that many of the children working at this place, are not actually officially employed but they still work there in an attempt to at least receive some food at the end of the day. Therefore, when I considered whether to report what I had observed I decided not to because I felt that these children probably need this employment. It seemed to me that I would be robbing them of their means of survival…things no longer seemed so black and white in practice. How could I have them removed from working there without providing them with an alternative and support? I was powerless to help them…

As time passed I began to know more and more about Ghanaian culture and I left the honey moon stage. My idealism was replaced by a more critical and skeptical way of thinking. I began to really notice the cultural and ideological differences between me and the average Ghanaian I would meet out and about. Then, I thought to myself that in the future, when I do return to Africa, I might be far happier living in Zimbabwe, where I understand the language and culture, where I am not a stranger.

During this period work remained very interesting, I was drafting presidential pardons and project proposals, but my sunny disposition was replaced by my usual calm lone wolf personality. I did however, learn to use the tro tro system very effectively and I invested in my own portable wifi. By the sixth week I had completely adapted to my environment and became familiar with navigating life in Accra.

Although things are constantly changing, I can say that there were many times when I realized that this is indeed the best place for me at this very moment in my life. I am grateful for the opportunity to work in my field, in a place so full of life, where I can have various experiences and learn to integrate within a society, while still remaining true to myself and to the things I value.

Thank you uOttawa for designing and incorporating this wonderful opportunity into our programs

Adaptation et intégration

February 22, 2018 | Marlyne, DVM, AFS, Ghana, Human Rights Advocacy Centre, stagiaire

J’avais choisi le Ghana sur base des plusieurs raisons notamment la sécurité et la culture. Depuis mon arrivée ici je n’ai pas été déçus, c’est ne pas le pays le plus sécuritaire au monde mais en générale je me sens en sécurité, ce qui m’importe le plus. De plus, j’apprécie davantage la culture ghanéenne, et je continue en apprendre sur cette culture. En termes générale, les ghanéens sont des personnes accueillants, sociales, et hospitaliers. Par exemple, quand j’ai de la difficulté à retrouver un endroit c’est facile de trouver quelqu’un qui va arrêter ce qu’il faisait pour te diriger et s’assurer que tu arriveras à la destination. De fait, j’avoue que je n’ai jamais reçu autant d’attention et des soins auparavant, mon entourage est tout le temps à mes petits soins, ce qui augmente mon amour ou encore appréciation envers eux. De plus, ils sont toujours prêts à répondre à mes nombreuses questions ou inquiétudes sans frustration.

Cependant, ce que je n’apprécie pas vraiment de la culture c’est la nourriture traditionnelle. J’ai vraiment de la difficulté avec la nourriture d’ici, du moins ce que je ne connaissais pas avant d’y arriver, parce qu’il faut souligner qu’étant africaine, il y a des plats qui me sont familiers et que je n’ai pas eu de la misère à apprécier. En effet, c’est manque d’appréciation envers la nourriture d’ici me frustre, à cause de la gentillesse et de la considération des gens envers ma personne. Je peux voir dans leurs regards le regret et la déception quand je mentionne que je n’aime pas un plat quelconque. Ce qui me fait mal compte tenu des efforts qu’ils font à partager leur culture avec moi. Il ne me reste qu’un mois j’espère avoir le courage de goûter d’autres plats que je n’ai pas encore goûter par peur de ne pas aimer.

En ce qui concerne mon stage, je travaille pour Human Rights Advocacy Centre (HRAC) qui est une organisation indépendante, non partisane, de recherche et de plaidoyer, à but non lucratif, créée pour promouvoir et protéger les droits de l’homme au Ghana. Depuis mon arrivée au sein de cette organisation, je ne cesse d’apprendre sur les inégalités auxquelles font face les démunis au Ghana. L’organisation détient une clinique de plaidoirie qui reçoit les personnes qui viennent avec les plaintes. C’est intéressant que l’organisation donne la chance aux gens de s’exprimer sur les injustices qu’ils subissent, ceci leurs permet d’être partisans aux procédures judiciaires, ainsi ils comprennent mieux leurs droits et libertés. Jusqu’à date je m’occupe de rédiger des rapports sur différents problèmes liés aux droits de l’homme. Ces rapports sont utilisés comme matérielles de connaissance lors des conférences qui traitent les problèmes des droits de l’homme. En effet, j’apprécie beaucoup ma responsabilité au sein de l’organisation, ceci me permet de comprendre en profondeur les inégalités au Ghana et d’apprendre sur les lois du pays. Ainsi, ce stage est pour moi une occasion d’expérimenter ou de vivre en pratique les problèmes liés au développement sur le plan social, politique et économique. Après de nombreuses théories reçu à l’Université d’Ottawa sur le développement et les défis qui y sont rattachés, il était temps de descendre sur le terrain pour essayer de comprendre cette théorie en réalité, et essayer d’élaborer des solutions qui peuvent être efficace pour un changement positif en Afrique dans l’avenir sinon maintenant.

De façon générale, j’apprécie beaucoup cette ville très dynamique. Malgré ses embouteillages interminables et fatigants, c’est difficile de s’ennuyer ici avec autant des variétés d’activités qui existent, mais ce qui est dommage c’est le fait qu’il est presque impossible de faire ses activités en semaine après le travail à cause du trafic, il faut toujours attendre les fins de semaines pour se divertir. Ceci ne nous donne pas toujours la chance de faire tout ce qu’on souhaite faire, surtout que certaines fins de semaines sont prévus pour le voyage en dehors d’Accra.

The value of international internships

August 3, 2017 | Nevena, ECI, Ghana, Unitera, RAINS, Communication Officer

As a student in international development, I was looking forward to fitting an internship into my program of studies from the day I applied for my undergraduate degree. Now, two semesters prior to graduating, I was finally able to participate in one. My geographical interest in development has always been Sub-Saharan Africa - I have always been fascinated with the intricacies shaping the paths to development (or sometimes unfortunately underdevelopment) of the various countries in this region. After participating in a field research course via FSS International in Nairobi, Kenya in May 2016, I decided that I wanted to try get a better understanding of West Africa during this internship. I selected an internship in Tamale, Ghana where I worked as a Communications Officer with a local NGO entitled RAINS. Their work focuses on helping the marginalized in Ghana’s northern region to help themselves. Tamale, where I was placed, is not a large city. Unlike my previous experience in Nairobi, there were no large supermarkets, little western food products, or coffee shops. However, there was a lively market, filled with friendly faces and all the products you could ever need. Living in this environment, where everything I needed was available in town within a 5 minute walking radius, taught me more about development than being in a classroom ever could have.

Everyday I came face to face with major development issues such as food insecurity, climate change, poverty, and gender inequalities. Through my interactions with locals I was able to pick out and better understand these issues and how they directly impact these people, giving the issues a human face. For example, a delayed rainy season due to climate change meant that certain crops were delayed in coming to the market, while others were running out, causing their price to increase since they had to be brought in from far away districts to meet the local demand.

Working with a local NGO allowed me to learn the intricacies of implementing development work. I now better understand what constrains an organization from being as beneficial in their community as they would like. A lack of sustainable funding, local capacity, and logistical problems can delay projects. But I also learned how dedicated people are to their work and how much they truly care about the beneficiaries they are collaborating with. The connections that Ghanaians have with their coworkers is also incredible - I honestly felt as if I was among family at work. There is so much that we can each learn from each other in these placements, which goes beyond the capacity building and skill transferring. I am so grateful for the knowledge that was passed on to me by my coworkers not only about development but also about social practices and values which I hope to at least somewhat bring back to Canada with me.

My highlight of this placement was having the ability to go to the field. I went to assist the project officers with the auditing of women’s microfinance programs all over the northern region. There is no feeling that compares to being in the field - it is exhilarating and eye-opening and for me, confirms that this is the field of study that I love. Development work is not easy, we hear this time and time again. There are challenges faced everyday with regards to the work and simply living as a foreigner in a country so different and far from home however, this is also what draws me into it.

I would recommend an international internship to anyone completing their degree. It is such an incredible way to better understand and explore what you have spent countless hours studying and reading about. It challenges you emotionally in ways you’d never imagine but in the end teaches you important life skills such as adaptability and patience. Many people go into these hoping to grow professionally, but I can guarantee that you will grow immensely personally as well.