Monday, January 30, 2012

Providing a hand up, rather than a hand-out

Even in Ghana, it’s the real thing!
It normally takes a bit of effort to get me motivated on a Monday morning. Not today!

After battling the local traffic jams, we ended up at Mount Zion Co-operative Credit Union in Bechem.  The credit union, formerly called Bechem School for the Deaf CCU,  was also being visited by Anthony and Fintan, two CCA coaches who were about to begin two days of coaching and mentoring the manager and board.  I had a few moments to observe them in action as they initially met with Ernest, the manager. Their style was easy going and laid back.  It will be interesting to see what suggestions and tips their final report to the manager and board will contain.

From Bechem, we drove to Dormaa, to spend some time at Dormaa Teacher’s CCU, a thriving, five-branch operation.  I met with Patricia, the acting CEO, and learned of their success with the Youth Savings Program, a way to encourage savings in Ghana’s young people, while also grooming new members for the credit union.

Me and Youth Savings Club members at Dormaa SHS.

One of their managers took me to Dormaa Senior High School, which has more than 500 students enrolled in the YSP.  I spent some time with some of the students, and like my earlier visit to Sege, I found the students polite and interested, but offered little information about their involvement in the Youth Savings Program unless I pointedly asked one person a specific question.

Again, like in Sege, once I got the students outside, their personalities exploded.  I got them to pose for a number of photographs; my favourite is the one with their hands in the air in what we have called our ‘bonsai’ pose.  [a long story, suffice to say that it began with the coaches at CCA in Ottawa having fun during their own photo session].  I also got the Headmistress of the school to bonsai.  [And some other school children who were waiting for their bus outside my hotel earlier in the morning!!] Fun all around.

Headmistress of Dormaa Senior High School Margaret Otchere Pomaah
Teacher and Youth Savings Program Co-ordinator Emmanuel Obeng Asare,
and CUA staff member, Clara Nyarkoah.

CCA coaches Fintan & Anthony  and staff at Mount Zion Co-operative Credit Union.

The original bonsai pose.

I ended up staying at the same hotel as Anthony and Fintan, so we all met for dinner.  I had the most Ghanaian of dishes:  Pineapple chicken, essentially Chinese food.  But it was sooooo good!

Things are starting to wind down for this coaching mission and there are so many other stories to tell – and many more to experience.  What doesn’t get blogged will get reported by CCA, myself, the coaches and others.  This is a country rich with heritage, pride and determination.  I feel so blessed to be a part of this mission and to be able to provide a hand up to these wonderful people, rather than a hand-out.

Thanks for being part of this!

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