Akwaaba! Welcome, to the GH11-12A blog. This is Viviane checking in on behalf of everyone in Koforidua. We are now completing our third week here in Ghana.
We all arrived to Accra on Monday September 19th, where we had an orientation session before we came to Koforidua. The orientation session was great and extremely helpful. We met with all the YCI staff and they had activities planned for us. Some interesting icebreaker games, some group planning and group dynamic activities. We also had a presentation from a CIDA intern who is working with YMCA Ghana on Gender Issues. Lastly, we had a great dinner with a Canadian woman who has been living in Ghana for 20 years or so. She had LOTS of interesting and helpful things to say about her experience here and also about what we can expect culturally from Ghanaians and some tips to adjust to some of their customs here.
We left Accra and made our way to Koforidua. It is only a two-hour ‘tro-tro’ ride (a small van/bus) from Accra. Koforidua is the capital of the Eastern Region of Ghana, so it is a fairly big city with a population of 87 000.
YCI is working in partnership with the YMCA here to implement their programs. This means we are working closely with the YMCA’s Youth Mentors. For the duration of our project, we will be staying at the YMCA. Disa and I are sharing a room within the YMCA compound and the 3 others are staying in a newly built ‘villa’ for YCI volunteers just beside the compound. So far, we are all adjusting really well to our new home for the next 3 months.
The second week in Ghana, but first week in Koforidua we spent exploring the city and getting our bearings a little bit. We also met lots of the Youth Mentors we will be working with and we had a chance to get to know them a little bit. We also had the opportunity to start doing some planning and research for our first set of workshops. Another highlight of the week was that we had the opportunity to meet a CIDA representative. She was coming to find out about the YCI programs and get a feel for the impact they are having. We had a lovely lunch with all the YCI volunteers, YCI staff and three of the YMCA Youth Mentors. Lunch was followed with a great discussion about our experience so far, why we decided to join YCI, why the Youth Mentors got involved and their feedback on the partnership. Overall, it was extremely insightful, and it was wonderful to hear how the partnership has been impacting some of the local youth.
We are now at the end of our third week, and have successfully completed two workshops. These workshops were for the Youth Mentors. There are a few new Mentors, so it was an introduction for them to the kinds of programs YCI and YMCA do, and it served as a refresher for some of the old Mentors. Our first workshop was on Sexual Reproductive Health. The workshop went well and we got some great feedback from the Mentors. Our second workshop was on Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). It was interesting to have a workshop that focused solely on STIs, as there is a lot of focus on HIV/AIDS, but not enough on other STIs. We were able to make the workshop really interactive and everyone had a great time, while learning the importance of getting regular testing for STIs and to always use protection! Some of the old Mentors did the Condoms demonstrations, and it is clear that they are extremely knowledgeable in these areas! We have all been learning from each other, which has been great! Our next workshop will be on HIV/AIDS followed by a Global Hand Washing Day event! More on that coming up next week!
-Viviane Cole, Youth Ambassador, Ghana 2011
For more volunteer blogs, check out our Travel Diary category.