So right before I jumped on my plane to Ghana, I found out that my project was going to change. Well when I arrived here, I picked a new project with a new NGO. I have been working with Nii Boye from Rural Women Health and Development Initiative (RuWDHI). We thought that we would jump right into a project, Tell-a-Friend, to educate women from rural villages about different health topics. As its turned out, we have created the project from scratch. I work with two other ProWorld interns on Tell-a-Friend, Emily D. and Emily G.
We went to the Health Clinic in Frami, the village we work in, to observe the nurses and see how maternal and pediatric health is monitored. Then we researched for our five health topics : hygiene, sanitation, first aid, nutrition, and sexual health. These five topics were the most relevant to the needs of the community in Frami. So for Tell-a-Friend, our goal is to educated 10 women leaders in the Frami community about our five topics, so that they can go and “tell a friend” about what they learned to educate their community on these health topics.
What might seem like a straightforward project, has not necessary been that simple. We made our lesson plans, but had to go through many revisions to make the information simple and relevant to the women in Frami. Then we created a picture booklet that illustrates all of our topics so that they women can learn and understand our lessons, even if they can’t read.
And we also had an interesting experience with cultural norms in Ghana when trying to bring snacks for our leaders. We thought it would be nice to bring the Ghanaian equivalent of a doughnut and a water sachet (a 500ml plastic pouch of water that you bite off the corner and suck the water out). Our project partner quickly shot down that idea without giving us a full explanation. We were so confused. We then learn that any snack or refreshment is assumed to be something that a person would not necessarily purchase everyday. And therefore, if you bring not such a nice quality snack, or a random pairing of foods (to Ghanaian standards), it is an insult. So we learned that the appropriate snack to bring would be a meat pie (a flaky pastry with a small ground beef looking bits in the middle – ill research what is actually inside) and a small soda. So by our second lesson, we brought meat pies and a soda for each woman and they seemed thrilled. We also learned that refreshments can make or break your project. People will usually not show up a second time if they don’t receive a refreshment. That will be an interesting challenge for sustainable work that we will encounter in the future.
This week we are almost finished with our fifth topic and will transition into making sure the women are prepared to teach their community about each topic. Then we will follow them as they go into the community and train more women to be leaders in teaching the five health topics.
So far, I have felt most useful in the project planning process of Tell-a-Friend. Everything I have learned from Berkeley through my minor in Global Poverty and Practice has prepared me for this project. I have sat down with my project partner, Nii Boye, and talked about the measurable goals we should have for Tell-a-Friend. Then we have restructured the project to be consistent and manageable at each stage. By helping Nii Boye narrow his focus in Tell-a-Friend, I hope that we can measure its effectiveness in the Frami village. I’m so glad I took IAS 105 (a methods course in preparation for my practice experience in Ghana) before coming to Ghana – I have used so many principles from that class to help Nii Boye to structure Tell-a-Friend.