On Monday June 6th, 2011, in commemoration of World Environment Day (WED), the team in Ghana organized a community initiative focusing on the environment and waste reduction in the community of Koforidua. The day included two components: a community clean-up and environmental education.
The community initiative took place at 7am at the car park at Kumasi station and included personnel from Zoom Lion, YMCA mentors, YCI volunteers and YCI staff. Together, we walked around the area with sanitary gloves and bags picking up garbage on the streets. We had many people approach us to ask what we were doing; we let them know that we are keeping Ghana clean and gave helpful tips to reduce waste. In addition, various people went to talk to shop keepers and customers about reusing and also reducing plastic bags. Overall, I felt like we generated a lot of interest and seemed to get through to people. Zoom Lion also mentioned that they would be interested in a possible partnership in the future due to the success of the garbage pick up. It was a great success!
At 9 am we finished the community clean-up and moved onto the next part of the program which took place at a neighboring school and included outreach to students from three schools. My role during the school outreach was to speak to the students about the effects of not disposing their waste properly. For example, I discussed the environmental hazards and health concerns such as cholera and malaria. I also stressed the importance of keeping the community clean and forming groups within the community to accomplish things that the government may not be doing. For instance, community members can come together to manage, organise and fund garbage pick up in their community and place bins throughout their city.
Once I was done I introduced Mr. Daniel Ofosu, the Regional Secretary of the YMCA in Koforidua, to talk to the students about waste disposal in Koforidua. Mr. Ofosu is from Koforidua and actively involved in environmental activities in the community. It was also a plus that he could speak to the students in the local language (Twi) to eliminate any communication barriers. He had a very interactive speech about changing the mind set of Ghanaians when it comes to waste disposal. He talked about diseases that stem from unsanitary conditions and gave helpful tips on how to improve the situation in their community and to take ownership of it. The students were very much engaged in the discussion and quite knowledgeable about the issues. I feel that we got through to the students, which was the aim of the program.
Once the speeches were over, we invited students out into the courtyard where we had set out three painting stations. Two were to paint garbage bins that YCI is donating to the schools in an environmental theme and the other station was to paint a ‘Keep Ghana Clean’ banner that was given to the school for hosting the event. We had music pumped to keep everyone energized and a little bit of dancing in the courtyard as well. The students seemed to truly enjoy this exercise!!
We all enjoyed ourselves during the initiative, demonstrated excellent team work, and had many positive responses from participants and observers. Hopefully, more people will put effort into keeping the community in Koforidua clean!
-Julie Harris, Youth Ambassador, Ghana 2011. Julie is two-thirds of the way done her 6-week project in Ghana. The team has been busy working with local Assembly-members, the YCI-YMCA mentorship program and organizing the World Environment Day community initiative!
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