Friday, 2 March 2018

Our quest to curb Alcoholism and adapting to new culture

 As our placement continues and we completely settle into Navrongo we have appeared on Nabiina Radio with Alfred the host where we spoke about the activities that we will be carrying out during our time here.  This has helped us to reach out to the citizens of Navrongo and let them know why we are here and how we are planning to help the communities. In the coming weeks, we as a cohort will continue to visit all the schools within the 6 communities (Within the communities there are 4 schools which are Vunania, Gaani, Biu and Tampola). We work in all of these schools and have visited all of them to coach some of the students to appear on the radio discussing the topic of alcoholism. Our team and our partner organisation, Youth Alive, believes that alcoholism is a big issue in these communities and that these radio sensitisation will help make a positive impact.

Volunteers coaching students of Tampola JHS for Radio sensitisation
The first school that we visited was Tampola. Upon arrival, our team leader went to see the head teacher to inform him about our mission. We requested that the head teacher provide us with the names of students who had represented the school on the radio show last year. Furthermore, the head teacher selected five students for us but we requested that he should add a particular student who was answering fluently during our last sensitisation on child marriage. We ended up coaching 6 students altogether. We discovered that the students were very willing to talk about the issue of alcoholism in their community and we believe it is not only important having our team talk about alcoholism, but to also give the students a chance to speak on what they believe the effect is of alcoholism in the community.

Volunteer Rosie Paine leading a peer education session at Tampola JHS
As a team, we also carried out peer education sessions with students so they are able to pass the information on to their peers. We discussed the causes, effects and prevention of alcoholism and before we began we did an icebreaker known as ‘concentration’. This proved to be very important as it helped the nerves of the students and put them in the right frame of mind to learn. Generally, most of the peer education sessions had around 6 students and several were able to give us a definition of alcoholism however, others either struggled or were just shy. This showed us that they are aware of what alcohol can do gives us the opportunity to help them build their knowledge further. In addition, the students felt confident that they would be able to educate their fellow classmates once we had provided them with the research we had carried out.

Tuo Zaafi (TZ) served with Ayoyo and guinea fowl
 Over the 6 weeks that we have been in Navrongo we have experienced a lot of culture differences with one of the most prominent being the difference in cuisine. Local dishes from Ghana include TZ which is served with Ayoyo soup, Banku with Okro stew, Jollof rice, Fufu and rice balls with ground nut soup. For the UK volunteers the food can be quite challenging but is also a great way to immerse ourselves into the Ghanaian culture and give us new experiences.

Another big cultural difference that we have experienced is the language barrier. Nathaniel, who is from the local area, is able to speak the local language of ‘Kasim’ and has helped us hugely with the sensitisation we have carried out in both the communities and the schools. Continually, we have all been learning the local language of ‘Kasim’ from Nat and have been able to communicate on a basic level with the locals of Navrongo. This is a great new skill that we have learnt on our placement so far and will help with the next half of our placement.

A shrine at Tongo Hills
Recently, we attended our midterm review which was held in Bolgatanga and we visited the cultural site of Tongo hills. This was a very interesting experience as we met up with team Pagsung and learnt about the history of this astonishing and ancient area. For example, we were introduced to the local chief and were shown some shrines that they use to make sacrifices using animals, such as goats and sheep. These practices were shocking for some of the UK volunteers as making sacrifices are not at all common within the British culture yet, it really opened our eyes to the beliefs of others.

Overall, as the halfway mark of our placement in Navrongo has come and gone we have all adjusted to the culture, food and have adapted to a different way of life. Our team has shown great passion when tackling the topics of child marriage, financial literacy and alcoholism. Although a lot has been achieved so far, we believe that we can accomplish an awful lot more by the end of our placement.
Written by Rosie Paine

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