The project I was working on with GHEI was their Girls Empowerment Camp. I’m sure that many of you can think of reasons why this form of project is important yet it is a controversial one. For those who know the culture of Ghana will know that it is a stable democracy that believes heavily in a patricharal system through their traditional tribal system. Therefore, the idea of a Girls Empowerment can be one that threatens the traditional structural system within Ghana. Yet, as I’ve stated within my previous post GHEI work closely with the village and carry out projects that the villagers want. This meant that whilst some might criticise this type of project it was one that the people of Humjibre wanted and has been running for a few years before my trip out there.
The Girls Empowerment Camp that GHEI is designed for the girls who have just finished JHS (Junior High School) and have taken their Basic Education Exams. These girls can be of different ages from 16 – 18 depending on whether they have had to take time out for family reasons during their school years. In Ghana all children are expected to go to school and gain their Basic Education Qualification until the age of 16 – yet if there are family issues it is expected that the older daughters in a family take the time out of their education instead of the sons. The education that the children receive until the legal leaving age is free and run by the state. Families that can afford to paid for the education can do so if they wish. Yet, if the child wants to go to SHS (Senior High School) or university they have to pay. The education system in Ghana is based on the UK system. Therefore, the girls who take part in the Girls Empowerment Camp are ready to enter the ‘real’ world. Yet, many of them have not been taught the life skills that they need to be able to have the chooses that they want. Thus, this camp was designed to teach the girls these skills and to give them the knowledge so they are able to choose their life. Along, with this the empowerment program set out time for the girls to teach us (6 Western Women) about their culture and how they live. This meant that we could be pushed to understand our meaning of being an empowered women along with our comfort zone.
The set sessions:
1. Money Management
2. Family Planning
3. Safe Sex
5. Confidence/ self-motivation
6. Open session – A night for the girls to choose what we did. This turned out to be me teaching them touch rugby and watching a film
7. Home visits to meet the girls families
8. Cooking with the girls
9. An award night
Along with these sessions we also had a welcome presentation by the girls that was done the night we arrived in the village where everyone was welcome and a drum and dance night. This gave us a chance to see what the culture was like for the villagers as during these nights the girls were able to teach us about their traditional music and dances as well as us being able to see the whole village taking part in it. With the welcome presentation the girls were able to show the village why they were looking forward to the camp and how important it was to them too. For myself, and my co-workers, it meant that we were able to experience things that you would not normally see in the UK and US. I also found this experience rewarding because it told me that I had made the right choice with the NGO I had chosen; yet, I will tell you more about that next time.
That’s all for this week’s more next week.