By: Judy Cerovski
Time is going by so fast that it is hard to believe that we have been in Ghana for four weeks now! Almost every day has been spent either facilitating a workshop or planning for future workshops. It’s easy to get lost in all the work. However we could not have done it without the help of our amazing team. So I’d like to spend a bit of time introducing them in detail, as they deserve a lot of recognition.
Firstly, there is William Appiah the YCI Project Coordinator in Koforidua. He has really done an amazing job organizing the workshop locations and dates and compiling the schedule. He may seem a bit overly official at times, but is always on time and pays attention to the details. The last several weeks, some of our workshops have been post-poned and cancelled due to the ongoing teacher strike. William has been trying really hard to ensure the continuation of the workshops throughout this period. Although some schools were unable to participate, he was able to get others on board if we came early enough in the morning or brought refreshments for the students. William really deserves the recognition of being a supportive and caring colleague who is very passionate about youth development in Ghana.
Next, there are the members of the YMCA Mentorship program. This would include Reindolf, Shaibu, Emmanuel, Vera, Theo and Joe. Reindolf and Shaibu are the senior-most volunteers whom help support the programme even though they are busy with their National Service Duties. Every student who finishes university studies must complete a year of National Service Duty where they are placed in different sectors around the country spreading their knowledge to local areas. You could consider it an internship of sorts.
Emmanuel and Vera have been very active from the beginning, showing us around the town from the get-go. Both offer YCI great local expertise and workshop knowledge. Emmanuel is especially talented in motivating the participants. They take heed of what he says, possibly since he is studying to be a pastor; his ability to take lead really shows in workshops. Vera is particularly good at engaging participants in small-group activities. As she is a student herself at the Polytechnic College, she understands the types of questions other students may have and she is able to explain the activities well to them.
The most recent members of the YMCA mentors have been Theo and Joe. Originally it was just Theo but he was slowly able to convince his cousin Joe to join as well. Since they are both local teachers, they make a great addition to the team in their knowledge of students and educational training. They are both very eager to participate and offer their skills which the team is very grateful for.
Lastly, there is Janh. He is a German volunteer with YMCA who has also joined our team. He has been a great asset with his photography skills and added support. In the upcoming weeks, we hope to utilize him more in workshop facilitation so that he can also develop his skills as an instructor.
It has been great working with such an amazing team. There are times when workshops do not go so smoothly and other times when we expect the participants to be rowdy and instead they are the opposite. Regardless of which situation is the result, our team is there to support the workshops and ensure the youth are engaged. On Saturday, we had some unexpected last minute set-backs to our program. We were to host Koforidua’s first Go Girl’s Conference. It is a conference aimed at educating young girls about the Millennium Development Goals and encouraging them to take up a leadership role by designing their own projects that can help achieve the MDGs. Originally there were supposed to be 50 participants, but on the day of the conference there were only 4 whom had arrived. The morning was spent making some last minute changes and the YMCA mentors were busy trying to get in touch with the participants. In the end, the conference was able to be held with a total of 14 volunteers. Although we had expected a greater turn-out, we were very appreciative of the participation given. Hopefully the next conference will be a bit more successful.
That evening the team decided to get together and celebrate Theo’s birthday! It was a great opportunity to relax with the team and really show how much we appreciate their support and guidance. We have only known the team for a short period of time, yet they already feel like family. Nicole and I are very grateful that we could experience such close friendships while away from home. We think our team is super awesome!
Judy Cerovski is a Youth Ambassador with YCI, currently working in Koforidua Ghana. To learn more about YCI’s Ambassador programs in Ghana, Tanzania and Costa Rica, check out our program calendar.