Posts Tagged With: YMCA

Tearful Goodbyes

This morning, I greeted the woman who comes into my compound to sell bread and teared up at the thought that there will be no woman with a basket of bread on top of her head coming to my door in Canada (If you know where I can sign up for such a service, please let me know).  My days in Ghana are numbered and I’m a bit of a mess.  In general I’m in denial about leaving on Friday; I don’t want to think about it, but I kind of have to. For the past few weeks, every time I walk down my street and stop to talk to my neighbours I feel such sadness at having to leave them.  If you know me, you know that whenever I travel, I get attached.  Some people are attached to things, I get attached to places and people with beautiful spirits.

For all the things that drive me nuts about Ghana, Ghanaians are making this goodbye very difficult.  On my way to work, I stopped to buy waakye for breakfast and a man at the street stall recognized me from my morning jogs: “You’re the woman who runs every morning, I see you and I’m the one always here waving you on.  One morning I will come run with you small”. When I told him that I’m leaving on Friday, without hesitation he said that he would host a going away party for me tomorrow.  Then my taxi driver, who is an usher at his church, pulled out two wedding invitations and extended invites to me.

And that has been my experience with Ghanaians, so welcoming.  I don’t know if the impromptu going away party will happen, but the offer really touched me.  The same way that my co-workers’ plans for a big send-off party on Friday before my flight is incredibly touching.  Though I shouldn’t be surprised at either offer – Ghanaians love a good party.

I will write another post about reflections on leaving soon, but in the meantime, I think I have some explaining to do for not posting more often. I can only blame so much on the load shedding and lack of electricity.  Here is what I have been up to while neglecting my blog for the past few weeks (months?):

  • Still blogging! In addition to writing for Verge Magazine, I’ve started a new blogging gig for Girls’ Globe, a website dedicated to advocating for the rights of Women and Girls around the world.  I’m super excited about it and I will continue to write for them when I’m home. If you’re on Twitter, follow us @girlsglobe and like the page on facebook: facebook.com/girlsglobe.  Click here to see my profile on the website, and here to read my first post.
  • I’ve made a couple of videos since I’ve been here. Go to my YouTube channel! One is connected to my post for Girls’ Globe and the other is of two Ghanaian youth talking about what a typical day is like for them.  Quite different from how most North American teens spend their days.
  • Finishing up my work for the YMCA. I’ve accepted that this isn’t going to happen while I’m here. Things have just started really moving forward on my project in the last few weeks.  There is so much I want to get done and not enough time, so I’ve decided that some things (like a gender mainstreaming manual I’m working on) I will finish back in Canada.  Since I don’t have a job lined up, I will have the time to properly tie up loose ends.
  • On that note – I’m looking for a job! Hire me. Please. I’m fabulous; I promise 🙂 Seriously, I have been job hunting, which is a job in and of itself.  I’m hoping that my next project/adventure is just around the corner.
  • Lastly, I’ve been enjoying my time in Ghana. Seeing as much as I can, attending weddings and funerals and getting my fill of trotro rides.  I also had a photographer friend take some pictures for me to remember my time in Ghana by. Check out some of them here.

Though I’m leaving Ghana, my blog isn’t going to die just yet.  I still have a lot to write about my time here and have a few unfinished posts that I started and will post when I’m at home.

With Mexico, the former YMCA Technical School principal, just before heading to the wedding of one of the YMCA members

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What does a Gender Advisor do? (Hint: I don’t advise people of what gender they are)

After moving back to Toronto from Halifax, my goal was to find full time work, save, pay off debt and generally settle down (ie. less gallivanting around the world).  Having a Master’s degree under my belt, surely I would be able to find SOMETHING in my field relatively quickly. Oh how wrong I was!  After a very humbling few months of job hunting, I eventually figured out that if I wanted to pursue a career in international development, I would need international work experience.

After a few interviews, I was offered a seven month internship through Youth Challenge International, funded by CIDA in Accra, Ghana as a Gender Advisor for the YMCA of Ghana.  My position was preceded by another Gender Advisor intern who worked on the creation of a Gender Equality policy for the Ghana YMCA.  I will be continuing her work through three major projects:

The first is to work with the YMCA to implement the Gender Equality Policy.  This will include making sure that all of the staff, volunteers and board members have read, understood and are on board with the policy.  I will also be leading group sessions to decide how best to meet the targets of the policy, and then monitoring and evaluating the progress of the policy implementation throughout my time here.

The second part of my mandate is to work with the regional branches of YMCA Ghana to design, implement and report on specific gender equality programmes.  And lastly, I will be working with YMCA volunteers and members of the community to assess what kinds of programming would be most beneficial to girls and women; then finding ways to provide that programming and recruit more young women to the Y.  I’ve also managed to add coaching a girls’ soccer team to my official work duties.

A lot to get done in 7 months, but I’m so excited about my work and have a wonderful group of coworkers, who I will write about in future posts.

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