Good morning everyone! Or should I say ma akye! I’ve gotten through my first Twi test and I would say I’m well on my way towards fluency…or at least mild comprehension. Side note, Ghanaians love when oburonis speak twi. I said me daase (thank you) to a woman at the market the other day and she jumped out of her seat and hugged me, to which I said me daase again because I wasn’t sure what else to do. This post, however is not about my proficiency in Twi, it is strictly business. And by business I mean my internship! As part of the CIEE program, every student has the opportunity to apply for an internship. This was one of the aspects that drew me in to the program in the very beginning, so I jumped at the chance to apply. I was placed at an NGO called the Community Directed Development Foundation (CDDF).
A brief history of the organization: CDDF was founded in 2005 by a professor at the University of Ghana named Prof. Kwabena Bosompem. The goal of CDDF is to initiate environmental, health, and educational projects in local communities in such a way that empowers and enables the community to sustain and continue the project for future generations. They are currently working on many different projects including providing improved educational opportunities for students, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, creating water filters from local materials, and anti-malarial campaigns including distribution of insecticide treated bed nets as well as educational seminars about the disease.
As for myself, I will be working at the St. Anthony’s School in the neighborhood of Nii Boi Town, working on a Waste Management and Community Garden project. I have been working with another CIEE intern from George Washington University and together we have been working on ways to get our project off the ground. I say it as such because working at an NGO in a developing nation such as Ghana is not an easy process. I have been with CDDF for almost six weeks and in that time I have been working tirelessly to figure out how best to get involved in projects and find what resources I have access too. There are limited personnel and even more limited resources available which has made my position a bit complicated. I was not able to meet with Prof. Bosompem until almost a month into the semester, so I spent my time doing research on current initiatives and projects that interns have worked on in the past.
When Prof. Bosompem and I were finally able to meet, we discussed my project and agreed upon the waste management and community garden initiative. After this initial meeting, however, the rest of the undertakings for the project including a proposal, collecting resources and funds, and finding other NGOs to pair with, were left completely up to my colleague, Jamie, and I. In my past experience, I have always worked very closely with my superiors so this was definitely a new experience for me. It is also a struggle to derive an effective plan with limited resources for an institution that also has limited resources. After careful deliberation we have decided to install a system of school wide recycling and a composting pit on the grounds accompanied with an interactive garden. I visited the school for the first time this past Tuesday and we met with a few teachers and the assistant headmaster. Everyone was very excited about our project and they invited us back next week to present our project to the entire school and teach the children about the importance of recycling. It has taken a lot of patience and effort to get where we are now and we still have a long way to go. In order for the project to be sustainable it will require both participation from the students and teachers as well as local NGOs to collect recycling and potentially provide an additional water source for the garden.
While it has been a slow moving process to get to this point, I am excited at the progress we have made and I am hopeful for continued advancement in the near future. I hope it makes sense now why I have waited this long to share my internship experiences but I hope to have more updates in the next few weeks!