Archive for March, 2010

Light for Children January 2010 Report

March 20, 2010

20th March 2010

Written by Rhianydd Griffith, Ex-LIFOC volunteer (rhi@hotmail.com)

Light for Children January 2010 Report

Ghana in Vancouver!

In March 2009 Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong made Ghanaian history when he became the first Ghanaian ever to qualify for the Winter Olympics. On 27 February he competed in the men’s slalom event coming an impressive 47th out of a total of 102 starters.

Although every Olympian has a story, for Nkrumah-Acheampong, it’s been an amazing journey. He taught himself to ski only 7 years ago on artificial snow at an indoor dome in Britain. He then pursued his Olympic goal, defying all the odds (as you can probably guess, there is no snow in Ghana!) and inviting comparisons with the Jamaica bobsled team, whose tale was told in the movie “Cool Runnings.”

Kwame says “Since qualifying, the last 11 months have been very hard work. Not only have I been trying to keep up with my physical training, I have had to do all the paperwork required for the registration of the Ghana Olympic Committee,” he says. His Uzbekistani coach, Denis Gregorev, encountered visa problems and couldn’t join him for any structured training until late last December. He has therefore spent much of his preparation time training himself.

In addition to this, up to a few weeks ago, the Ghanaian ski team could only afford to send him alone to the Olympics. That only changed when the Irish bookmakers Paddy Power heard of his plight and supplied the financial support necessary to take his manager, physiotherapist and trainer to the Games as well.  “It’s fantastic that they came on board when they did,” says Kwame, “because it meant that I could concentrate on my one goal and that is to ski as fast as I possibly can.”

However, with the goal in hand and the Olympics behind him, Nkrumah-Acheampong made a big announcement: He’s ending his career on a high note. “I’m going to find some other Ghanaian youngsters to do what I do,” the 35-year-old said. “I’m finished. No more.” He already has his eyes set on building a ski slope in Ghana. “That’s what I have to do next. A slope with grass,” he said. “You’ll hear about us skiing in Ghana soon. … Grow the grass and bingo — we’re there.”

Watch this space!!

Local news

The Ghanaian Government has proposed a new 20% tax on packaged water. The tax was suggested in response to the need for more funding in the water sector in order to provide efficient water and sanitation services to all people. It has been suggested that the tax should not only be on bottled water, but also on sachet water since the latter was produced in higher volumes and caused more environmental problems.

Various NGO’s in Ghana have supported the tax, and suggested that the majority of the funds collected be used to improve sustainable tap water supplies in Ghana.  The NGO’s have argued that bottled and sachet water have become the biggest threat to the  basic human right to water, as they have successfully diverted people’s attention away from affordable sources (i.e. tap water) to more expensive and unsustainable bottled and sachet water which cost 1,600 times and 500 times respectively, higher than tap water.

However, the tax is unlikely to be popular within the local community, where residents have already seen living costs rise last year as the Government aims to reduce its financial deficit. Bagged drinking water producers are proposing GHp7 as the new price for a sachet of water, which was previously sold at GHp5.

Light for Children Activities

New Arrivals

On 3 January, 11 new volunteers arrived from Hong Kong and straight away made a visit to the local Nsuta community, where the local children were out in force! The next day, 4 further volunteers arrived from Sweden and took part in an orientation session at the Light for Children office.

Sexual Assault Campaign

On 6 January, Light for Children’s much anticipated Sexual Assault Campaign was launched. Volunteers embarked on their first sexual assault session in St Lizbert International School in Kumasi.

With the much-appreciated financial backing of LIFOC supporters around the world, volunteers have been trained to use a ‘no feeling’ and ‘yes feeling’ strategy in order to encourage children to take ownership of their bodies and speak out against unwanted contact.

The students are educated on what to do, and who to approach, in various situations surrounding sexual assault by using interactive games and question and answer cards. The scheme has received significant support from respected local figures, particularly from the Headmasters of participating schools.

The work continued on 7 January when the volunteers visited the Supreme Saviour International School in Kumasi for the continuation and roll out of the Sexual Assault Campaign.

Monthly Socialization Meeting

On 16 January, LIFOC’s monthly socialization meeting took place at the usual location of the National Cultural Centre in Kumasi. Volunteers attend the socialization meetings, accompanied by LIFOC’s core support group of HIV positive children, their caregivers (generally parents or grandparents, and LIFOC staff who administer monthly supplies of Anti Retroviral medication, a cash allowance for school fees and lunch!

The volunteers will measure the children’s height and weight to monitor their progress, then entertain the children with a variety of games while their caregivers liaise with LIFOC director Yaw, and the LIFOC staff.

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