I’ll begin from Monday when the team went into Accra together. We went into town to have a look around. Upon leaving home around 11am, we arrived back home at 1am. One thing you’re guaranteed in Ghana is uncertainty of the road traffics and car breakdowns. However, we were not in fear nor panic, mainly because we had a wonderful day exploring Accra, seeing the East Legon area and the around the mall. This was the beginning of our bonding as a team.
We woke up at 4am on Tuesday morning to make our journey to Kumasi. You could imagine how tired we were on our arrival to Kumasi which was a 5/6 hour journey. By time of arrival, 12pm, I was so low on energy and enthusiasm that I was so fearful I wouldn’t be able to have a normal functioning day. One minute I was excited by the fact that we were finally about to meet the kids. I began thinking of how best to introduce myself to them – it suddenly dawned on me that I was part of something extraordinary.
Kumasi was amazing. We worked with the Street Children Project. We went around and did community surveys on the topics Economy, Education and Agriculture – three main important topics in Ghanaian politics. Doing that activity, it was as though the kids had forgotten any form of poverty and had become really important community personnel’s. Their confidence was amazing to see as they asked members of the public about certain policy interventions. We got to experience the Ashanti culture of communicative flamboyancy at the bus station of which I saw the type of environment these kids belonged to. It made me have more respect for them. By the time we had arrived back to Accra all of us had the weird feeling of being hungry and tired all at the same time. We had the best Fried rice and chicken ever!!!
Working in Accra was also amazing. Accra was definitely the day that brought us all together as team. We were all wide awake and energised by the children too who seemed interested in all the tasks we did. During the day we went to a very dirty area where we cleaned and collected rubbish from the streets. The kids we worked with were students from Accra’s second poorest slum area, a place called Chorkor. Therefore, seeing them collect rubbish without complaining and with pride was such a humbling experience. Another remarkable thing of the day was those who volunteered to be leaders of their groups (we called them presidents) were all females. It made me think that gender inequality in politics perhaps wasn’t as a problem in Ghana as it is in the West. It gave me hope for those females.
Three key things I learnt on Project L.E.A.D:
- I have no excuse
Being from inner-city London at times I fear that the feeling of complacency could creep in especially after completing University. However, in both Accra and Kumasi I realised that I had no excuse whatsoever to stop myself from dreaming and working diligently towards these dreams and goals.
2. You either work hard or don’t work at all.
In Ghana we saw so many hawkers and also realised that the normal waking up time over there ranges from 5am to 7am. By that time, you are awake and the heat makes you aware that you have no reason to be in bed. I was so astonished by the street hawkers who sold their ice creams, water and other goods on the roads. Often seeing them run after cars and trucks to take their money or sell was another astonishing thing. It was very different from the laid back approach we have in the U.K. This made me think if someone can stand in the sun selling their products then I could definitely sit in a library and read books to crack my brain. That is the depth of the impact Ghana had on me. It challenged me mentally.
3. In the midst of chaos if you know your purpose you will go far.
Whilst Ghana is a deeply religious nation I was surprised to realise how often the kids referred to God quite often, along with the many churches we saw at almost every corner we curbed at. This made me realise that whilst This was particularly seen with Accra’s young pioneer, Benjamin Dadzie. Whilst everyone laughed at his short height and funny character he said proudly “I am the smallest boy here, but I have the biggest future.” Here I learnt that the kids had disallowed their current situations to be their defining motto’s in life. That for me was remarkable.
I didn’t have many apprehensions before arriving in Ghana but I did when arriving and realising how reckless the driving over there was. I mean people changed lanes like they were drinking water. Their life was at stake. Thankfully we had a wonderful driver, who drove us into town daily which was amazing. The funniest thing I can recollect was the assumption we had on both places we went to. We were told that the young people in Kumasi were well-versed in English whilst those in Accra would require translators. You can imagine our confused faces when we had to attempt to speak Twi with those in Kumasi and be replied back in English when we spoke in the vernacular with the kids in Accra. There we learnt to never assume from information. This meant that in both Kumasi and Accra we had the chance to learn.
Overall, when I think of my time the song Pain Killer by Sarkodie & Runtown comes to mind. Whilst I haven’t digested the lyrics of the words create a sense of nostalgia and vibe. Its beat and tempo reminds me of all the faces of the kids that were smiling during an activity. The loud crescendo that gave me goosebumps after the children shouted “I WILL CHANGE THE WORLD!” which shook the room.