Thursday, 15 February 2018

Let's Create Change Through Education

“If we do not plant knowledge when young, it will give us no shade when we are old.” (Lord Chesterfield).

 For this reason, International Service Ghana is in partnership with Youth Alive to assist in alleviating vulnerable children in Northern Ghana. We, the fourth cohort, will be working alongside Youth Alive in the Navrongo Municipality of the Upper East Region to continue with the work carried out by the previous volunteers.

By the time we had finished our pre-placement training and completed our team plan, the third week was upon us. In the third week, we decided to start our entry into the communities by visiting the five main municipalities we will be working within (Vunania, Janania, Gaani, Tampola and Kapania.)

On our arrival into the communities, we felt our first job was to try and gain an understanding of how well communities had grasped the information that had been delivered by the previous cohort. We found the areas they had focused on included problems with child marriage and teenage pregnancies. The responses we received to the child marriage questions were impressive across all of the communities showing they had really taken on board the information that had previously been delivered.

Next, we queried the members of each of the community about alcoholism in their municipalities and to our surprise we were greeted with laughter. We found this response was due to the major social issues that alcohol had caused over the years and the intake levels were very high. On conducting our own research we found there has been a study carried out by ‘Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Health’ which had stated that the Upper East Region in which we are working has the highest levels of alcohol consumption in the whole of Ghana with the youth being the most affected group. From there we decided it was vital that the risks of alcohol had to form a major part of our sensitisation and overall work.

At Gaani, the community members were able to tell us detailed information on what the previous cohort had taught them about child marriage and how implementing what they had learned had really helped their children to focus on their education.  
Volunteers with community members of Gaani

The team then moved to a twin community, Tampola and Kapania, where community members’ responses to the questions on child marriage were very impressive due to the sensitisation of the previous cohort. However, when moving on to the problems with alcohol they stated that this had been a problem in the past but they had managed to seriously reduce the problem within the last five years.

The Chief of the community Mathew .A.A. Kaligri, expressed joy for the work done in his community so far and made it clear that he hopes our cohort continues with the good work.
Volunteers with community members of Tampola and Kapania

We then proceeded onward to Vunania. Here we found that once again the pattern continued of a great understanding of issues with child marriage and teenage pregnancies.

The community members once again empathised that alcoholism kills a lot of people in the community and even thought the mortality threat was more than HIV and AIDS. Therefore, alcoholism is a major problem in the community and they are thought it was a great idea to work with us to educate the youth on the negative effects and health implications on excessive intake.
Volunteers with community members of Vunania

Finally, we visited Janania to carry out the same activities. Again, the community members’ reply to the questions on child marriage was good. And with regards to alcoholism, they unanimously agreed that alcoholism is a big challenge to the community and they will be very happy if we help them do something about it.

Volunteers with community members of Janania
After our visit to all the communities, the leadership agreed that the youth are the most affected group. Therefore, educating the youth on the negative effects and health implications of alcoholism will help minimise this threat and we were told the only way to attract the youth for the awareness raising sessions is to use football. 

Even though the interventions of International Service in partnership with Youth Alive on child marriage is yielding positive results, we shall use the occasion to throw more light on the effects of child marriage to further curb the situation. Child marriage has been a threat for some time in these communities.  

As a result, the sessions have shown the team that it is clearly the youth that we need to target to try and change attitudes and this will be done through sensitisation and raising of awareness. We will be organising a football gala competition for these communities in our subsequent weeks to capture the youth for the sensitisation.

Written by Osman Issah

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