My daily life in Accra…

As with daily life back home in Canada, each day here in Accra is slightly different and yet the same. I will however try to give you a taste of my life here.

Hello, my name is Linden and I am the Gender Advisor for the YMCA of Ghana, a position I obtained through YCI’s CIDA International Youth Internship Program (IYIP) program. My mandate here is to help the YMCA of Ghana create a Gender Policy, which will impact the administrative structure, and their programming. To do this I have begun gender trainings for staff and volunteers to build up their knowledge of gender issues in Ghana and how a Gender Policy will help them move towards gender equality within the YMCA and in its programming.

Linden

So what is my day like?

First it is important to acknowledge that Accra, while it is the capital of a developing country, it is an international city that offers many things that are not found in other parts of Ghana.

At 6:45am my alarm goes off, but I am often awake long before this. Why? Well, I wake up with the sunrise and not because of the light as many of you would imagine, I wake up because the sun brings with it an upswing in temperature.

I live in a flat with 5 other expats, two of which are also CIDA IYIP interns with other organizations. Most of us get up around the same time, which means lovely breakfast company and espresso made by my German flat mate.

Around 7:45am I leave my flat and walk to the bus stop near my house. While it is called a bus stop, buses as we known them are not found in Ghana (accept school buses and long-haul passenger buses). The transit system here is made up of private taxies called ‘dropping’ taxies, shared taxies that run a set route, and mini-buses called ‘trotros’ which are mostly crowded, beaten up, and the cheapest form of transit. I am very lucky my commute to work is along a shared-taxi route that is inexpensive and direct, many people commute for more than two hours, and the traffic coming into the city can be terrible.

Kaneshie Market and trotro transfer point (I am very fortunate that my daily commute does not involve transferring at a commuting hub like this, or transferring anywhere actually)

I arrive at the YMCA between 8 and 8:30 am. As the YMCA is a faith-based Christian organization, devotions are held every morning at 8:30am. Devotions are faith meetings for the YMCA staff and are intended to give inspiration for the day, while also functioning as a morning staff meeting. Devotions normally last 20-30mins and then the day’s work begins.

YMCA compound

My office is on the west side of the building and the best time to work is in the mornings as the afternoon sun turns it into a sauna. My work is primarily independent and consists of research, policy analysis, developing workshop activities, and facilitating workshops and focus groups. Office work is similar all over the world, the main differences here are that people work slowly because of the heat, and the YMCA office environment is less informal than I am used to.  My work plan is full and I have to make sure that I stay focused and not relax too much with the other staff as 7 months is hardly enough time to complete everything on my plate.

Currently there are many international visitors from the African Alliance and the World Alliance of YMCAs, including a delegation from the YMCA of Greater Toronto, so the office is very busy preparing for them and arranging meetings. In addition, the National Youth Conference is being planned and I have been asked to help out in the organization and facilitation of workshops. My workload grows…

So my work day is a like any other, a mix of meetings and independent work from 8am-5pm,  with1 hour for lunch – always Ghanaian food from the canteen attached to the Y.

After work…well this is when things changed daily. For example – last night I went out for Thai food, then to the Alliance Francaise compound to watch a Spanish movie that was a part their EU film festival. Tonight I will go to the gym (yes I have a gym membership) and then go to the Coconut Grove Hotel for their salsa night. A few days ago some friends made dinner for all of us – a large salad festival of sorts which was amazing. We cook for each other at least once a week.

Fishing boats on a beach just outside of Accra

This Saturday I will go with my YMCA colleagues to meet the Chief of Accra, and later in the day the YMCA is hosting a banquet dinner in honour of our colleagues visiting from abroad. In the evening we (my expat friends) will go dancing with some of my YMCA colleagues.

My days are full. Work is busy and rewarding most days. My social life is full and exciting thanks to all Accra has to offer.

I wish I had some funny stories to share with you or some examples of culture shock. I have transitioned really easily to life here, it has in fact been much easier than I expected…except for the heat, which is oppressive. Dancing in the rain is reality here! And besides a weekend trip up to Mole National Park that included: two 16hr bus rides, a 6hr trotro ride that included 2 breakdowns, two safaris, no elephant and fabulous company the whole way… life here is as normal for me as it can be while living in West Africa.

The first time our trotro broke down on the way to Mole. Shortly after the President's motorcade passed by. (photo curtesy of my friend Mel)

- Linden Deathe, IYIP Intern, Ghana 2011

Linden is currently featured on the YMCA-Ghana website for her work Facilitating Gender Mainstreaming at the Ghana YMCA. 

To read more blogs from YCI’s programs in Ghana, check our our Ghana section. We have recently released one more 6-week project to volunteer with the YMCA in Ghana this summer!

For more International Youth Internship Program (IYIP) blogs, check out our IYIP section.

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