Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Light for Children August Activity Report

September 11, 2012

The month of August saw the departure of two volunteers, Cecilia Skoglund, a Swedish volunteer and Marie Lorans, Danish volunteer who came to have their internship with Light for Children.

The month of August also saw the monthly socialization meeting which was organized on the 25th of August, 2012 at the Cultural Centre. The socialization brought together our caregivers and HIV kids where we interacted with each other and even shared food together and had a nice time.

Also, donations were made to some of the children and the caregivers. Abigail Owusu, received donation from Inner Wheel, from Australia through Catherine Charles, a former volunteer. She was so happy and showed her appreciation by thanking Light for Children for the kind gesture.

Also, Gideon Asamoah and Isaac Boahen received donations from Rhianydd Griffith from the United Kingdom who is also a former volunteer.

Donations were also made to Maria Amoakohene who lost her daughter last year as a start-up capital for her business.

Abigail Owusu receiving her donation from the Executive Director of LIFOC- Yaw Otchere Baffour.

Gideon Asamoah and Isaac Boahen, the two orphans receiving their donation from the Director as their grandmother looks on.

Maria Amoakohene receiving her donation from the Executive Director of LIFOC.

 

 

 

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Open Space with…

June 21, 2010

Whilst in Wa, the Hong Kong University students along with Sebastian, Philippa, and Tina were fortunate enough to sit and talk with Emmanuel Volsuuri, who has been working with NGOs in Ghana for a number of years. This was a great example of information sharing between Light for Children and Emmanuel, who is a wonderful source of local information, offering great insight to the role, impact, struggles, and successes of NGOs in Ghana, and more specifically the Northern Region.

The issue of microfinance was first on the agenda. Emmanuel took us through the trials and tribulations of working in this field: how initial loans directly given to people in rural Upper West were perceived as gifts, with repayments almost non-existent, after years of aid and charity work forming a handout mentality amongst the people. They were able to break the cycle with a system tried and tested in Senegal. Here is a brief rundown of how the Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) works.

With emergency capital available from the NGO, the community itself pooled its money and loaned it to each other.  Gender specific groups formed within each village, meeting weekly to air ideas, issues and find group-led solutions. (Grouping by gender tended to prevent male domination in meetings, and avoid tensions between husband and wife when the time came to go home!). With an NGO representative present, each member of the group contributed money, literally placing it into a box with three different compartments. Each compartment had its own key, and the three keys were given to three different people, while one person took charge of the box each week.

When someone wished to take a loan, he or she would present a plan, and the group would decide whether or not loan the group’s money, and how much interest would be added. A loan of 10 Ghana cedi may be repaid with interest of 1 Ghana cedi after three months, for example.  At the year’s end, all interest would be divided amongst the group members. Any money borrowed from the NGO would be repaid at this point without interest.

This microfinance method empowered and involved the community, and rate of repayment was far higher because the responsibility was divided equally amongst group members.

This was a practice that had been passed from Plan International’s Senegal branch, through Plan Ghana branch and to RAAP (Rural Aid Action Programme).  Unfortunately, one of the issues Emmanuel also brought forth was the often unwillingness of organizations to share successful practices out of fear that other NGOs would ‘steal their funding’ – or unhealthy competition that was too common among some NGOs. When asked how many people working for local NGOs chose their work because of their passion to help others versus the financial gain, he said he thought maybe 3% worked because of their passion.  When asked about foreign NGOs, he ventured 0.5%.

While these figures may be a bit extreme his point was that way the funds an NGO raise are distributed is often far from ideal. He cited a local NGO director who used his NGO’s money to fund his own political campaign and a foreign NGO who held an overly lavish holiday party that included copious amounts of food, Champagne, wine, and many invited guests.

Overall the image is positive, with empowerment and organic growth being the standout factors that are causing passion to win over profit. Keep up the good work and we hope to hear much more from you soon!

Light for Children is hoping to host Emmanuel in Kumasi soon for a knowledge sharing forum and further collaboration between our NGOs and regions of Ghana. Many thanks to him for sharing his time and valuable experience in our Open Space discussion.

To Accra and beyond!

June 21, 2010

The Light for Children interns ended their week at Lake Bosomtwi for a rest and play – and a march back to the main road in the midday sun. All good exercise!

On Monday, Sebastian and Philippa left the CSAP interns behind to travel to Accra for a Global Giving www.globalgiving.org meeting Tuesday morning. A great example of a workshop reaching out to partners in the developing world who are struggling to raise funds in remote areas of Ghana. Everyone came away with something useful from the social media networking introduction, whether they were a permanent member of the fund raising platform like Light for Children, or just stepping into the online community like many others.

In order to become a permanent member of Global Giving, one project must raise US$4000 in four weeks. Light for Children achieved this with its Child Sexual Abuse Prevention programme, currently in effect thanks to the generous donations. However, many NGOs in the developing world struggle to raise funds online as their networks may not be large enough to mobilise such funds quickly. We heard from NGOs requesting that conditions be relaxed, time extended and the money-limit lessened. Global Giving is active in 85 countries and made it clear that no exceptions could be made.

Cooperation was also an issue of contention. Some NGOs voiced their fears concerning collaboration and how other NGOs might steal their volunteers, grants or funds. The competitive element is difficult to overcome. Global Giving simply pointed out that even in the banking world, where profit is king, if one company does well it pulls the others up with it. This is truer still in the development world, where the final aim is to help the communities you do work in. Counter intuitive as it may sound sharing resources brings even more to the table. It is a Buddhist idea that the more you give, the more you will receive, and this is especially true with funding from foundations. Cooperation breeds transparency, accountability, shared resources and growth – no wonder people are more likely to grant you funding if you are open to collaboration.

Look out for our next Global Giving project, coming soon to a computer screen near you!

Connected with partner organisation JICA, who have recently become New JICA, merging the aid and cooperation sections (like Peace Corps and US AID combined) to make them the largest aid organisation in the world with 97 overseas offices working in 150 countries. Sebastian, Philippa and Eric (freshly arrived from Sweden to volunteer) met with Mr Fukoi, Yuko Enomoto and Seiko Tomizawa (from the Japanese embassy) for a dynamic session, with more meetings to follow! JICA’s new office is looking great – as is the shop with all its covetable Ghanaian handicrafts.

extended family in Accra

A million thanks to John and Holli who looked after everyone in Accra. Holli contributed writing to Light for Children’s Obroni Wo Ko He ? book and continues to write her excellent blog about Ghana and life in Africa at http://hollisramblings.blogspot.com/. We all thoroughly enjoyed sharing past experiences and future plans with experts on Africa 😉 Hoping to see you again very soon!!!

Out on their own, the HKU interns did sterling work on the CSAP programme, reaching out to hundreds more students over the week. Now in Wa over the weekend, the interns are seeing a new region of Ghana, and visiting partner NGOs doing similar work in rural condition. This weekend is all about sharing, best practice and cooperation. We Go Do in WA.

Keeping it real with BUV and CSA

June 15, 2010

Week started with a BOOM. Six interns, all eager to learn the Child Sexual Abuse Prevention programme and push it out to more and more schools in the Kumasi area. Initiation into Ghanaian culture for the Hong Kong students with a Saturday funeral (always a party occasion in Ghana) and a four-and-a-half hour church session – even more singing, dancing and Twi (local language).

Light for Children met with BUV (Basic Utility Vehicle) Ghana http://www.buvghana.com/ a great new initiative for social business in Ghana. Fredrik, Chris and David joined some of the team to discuss how they could move forward with their project:

The Basic Utility Vehicle, BUV is a vehicle for change. This affordable, low-maintenance vehicle meets the challenging rural transport requirements of developing nations, creates economically sustainable transportation, lowers transport costs, stimulates economic activity, and increases rural access to social services.

This week we found a great blog on NGO work and life in general in Africa. Check it out! http://www.ngonewsafrica.org/

Jachie Disabled Craft Centre http://jachiedisabledcentre.org/ hosted us once again as guests for the inauguration of the Federation of the Disabled and Gender Committee. This brought together representatives from blind, deaf, physically disabled and gender rights associations in an effort to combine forces and grow in strength. In typical Ghanaian fashion there was lots of dancing, laughter and adherence to GMT (Ghana Maybe Time)!  Unity brings strength.

Six interns from Hong Kong University reached out to 188 pupils in their first Child Sexual Abuse Prevention (CSA) workshops. Excellent work all of you – especially David, wielding his faux penis to the great amusement of all!

Thanks also to JICA volunteer Misake for her four hours of dedicated Twi teaching. We are all now well equipped to deal with marriage proposals (Meho kunu), to tell Sebastian he is talking too much (Wope kasa dodo) and too loudly (Oyeh dede) and finally, to answer the eternal question OBRONI Wo Ko HE? (Foreigner, where are you going? …….Me ko fiya (I’m going home). Big thanks to Ian Kwaku Utley who wrote our Twi Book and guide to Ghanaian culture: http://www.randomhouse.ca/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781857334746

MEDASE PA PA PA PA!

Light for Children Fun Day

October 20, 2007

Written by: Carly Moran, Co-Ordinator / Volunteer and Jacqui Lowe, Kumasi District Volunteer

Light for Children volunteers and staff were keen to meet all the children in a group, and give the children an exciting day out at the same time, so it was decided what a better place to do it than the zoo! Twenty children under Light for Children’s care who are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS, attended with their family members for a memorable day out.

After meeting all the children and families the day began with fun and games in the cultural centre grounds, Kumasi. The children were taught playground games by the volunteers, such as ‘stuck in the mud’ and ‘ladders’ amongst others. After the children had worn the volunteers out, more relaxing games were played!

Whilst the volunteers and children were busy getting stuck in the mud, parents and Light for Children directors, Mike and Yaw, held a meeting to discuss the provision of medication for all the children, and advice and support was given.

A quick snack break to refuel was followed by a gift presentation for all the children attending the day. Packs were given with token gifts of sweets, bands and pencils etc. and were appreciated by all.

Next stop for the group was Kumasi Zoo, where the excited children were given a guided tour, and all listened intently to the in depth descriptions given by the experienced guide. The highlight for the children was undoubtedly seeing the mighty lions up close, but other highlights included the Gorillas, spinning Chimpanzees, and the Crocodiles.

Once the fascinating tour was finished, the group still had energy left for balloon fights!

Lunch was provided for all by Light for Children of fried rice, chicken and sweets for the children, which was much appreciated after the busy day. The day ended with many young smiling faces and fond farewells.

 

Volunteer Gordon Pearce’s good-bye party

July 22, 2007

Written by: Gordon Pearce, Kumasi District Co-Ordinator / Volunteer

On Sunday 22nd July Light for Children staff organised a party for a group of nine vulnerable children from around the Atonsu-Agogo area of Kumasi. Accompanied by LIFOC field staff, volunteers and carers the children played games, sang songs and enjoyed a range of special party food and drink provided by Light for Children’s director Yaw Otchere Baffour and his wife Maria. The young people who were invited to join the fun all came from households where money is very tight and so the chance to go to an event of this kind was a special treat which they would not normally have experienced. As well as being an enjoyable afternoon’s entertainment, the party provided a chance for the children to meet other youngsters affected by HIV/AIDS and so reduce the feelings of isolation which can arise from the kinds of difficulties which they have experienced.

Sunday’s party also served as a chance for LIFOC volunteer Gordon Pearce to say goodbye after four very enjoyable months working with the NGO. Gordon returned to England at the end of July along with his girlfriend Lucy Birchenough who came to Ghana for three weeks to see some of the work that Light for Children does in the Ashanti region. Although he will be starting a job in London in September, Gordon hopes to be able to continue supporting Light for Children through fundraising and sponsorship activities.

 

HIV Education Outreach – ICCES Vocational Training Centres

May 30, 2007

Written by: Gordon Pearce, Kumasi District Co-Ordinator / Volunteer

A further step towards the goal of expanding Light for Children’s educational outreach work across the whole Ashanti region was taken on Tuesday 29th May, when LIFOC staff and volunteers paid a visit to the Integrated Community Centre for Employable Skills at Offinso, 20km north of Kumasi. ICCES centres exist to provide vocational training in areas such as carpentry, masonry, catering and fashion to school-leavers aged between fifteen and twenty-four; statistically this group has a higher than average risk of contracting HIV, which makes the work that our organisation undertakes with them all the more important. Light for Children plans to visit twelve ICCES centres in total, of which Offinso was the first.

Because Community Centre students are older than the JSS pupils who have previously constituted the main focus of Light for Children’s educational work, a slightly different perspective was adopted for the HIV/AIDS presentation. The Journey of Hope metaphor was still employed as the central theme but whereas with younger children abstinence was promoted as the main method of protection against HIV transmission, here equal weighting was also given to faithfulness and condom use in recognition of the fact that many if not most of the students who took part are already sexually active. The importance of seeking Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) services to find out one’s HIV status before engaging in unprotected sex within a faithful relationship was particularly emphasised; students were told about the low cost (5000 Cedis – roughly US$0.50) of such services and the benefits which knowing for sure if you have HIV can bring, whether in terms of steering clear of infection or in seeking early treatment.

In addition to the Journey of Hope tool, students were also asked to participate in another activity which involved crossing a pair of metaphorical bridges. First, a number of people were asked to try and walk along a thin pole representing faithfulness and abstinence as methods of protection against HIV. Each student was assigned a different character role to show that this is a challenge faced by people in every area of society, from school children to vicars to truck drivers. Those who were unable to pass along the pole and fell into the ‘water’ (representing unprotected sex and the risk of acquiring STIs) were then asked to repeat the challenge with a second bridge – condom use – for support. With condoms as back-up in case the other two methods failed, all were able to pass over the water successfully. The exercise served the dual purpose of illustrating the role that using protection plays in reducing the spread of HIV through sexual intercourse, and also of highlighting the fact that any type of person can put themselves at risk of contracting HIV irrespective of age, wealth or social status. Making the latter point shows not only that everyone should be careful about HIV but also that it is wrong to stigmatise or discriminate against people because they have been unlucky enough to get infected.

Demonstrations showing correct usage of both male and female condoms were carried out, with accompanying discussion about the pros and cons of each. Although more expensive and cumbersome the female variety has the advantage that it can be inserted several hours before sex, giving the woman more control with regard to enforcing the use of protection. The importance of using condoms consistently when they are chosen as the main method of protection against HIV transmission was also reiterated, since using condoms only occasionally or even most but not all of the time greatly increases the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection when compared with correct condom use every time.

The director of Offinso ICCES centre, Alex Addei, complemented the Light for Children representatives (Yaw Otchere Baffour, Saskia Tas and Gordon Pearce) on the quality of their presentation and the usefulness of the information it contained. Given this endorsement, along with the consent of Nana Boateng (ICCES co-ordinator for the Ashanti region), it is anticipated that LIFOC will proceed to visit a different one of the area’s twelve Community Centres each week over the course of the next three months.

HIV Education Outreach Programme for Schools in Kumasi

May 16, 2007

Written by: Gordon Pearce, Kumasi District Co-Ordinator / Volunteer

The recent May 1st celebrations marked the last day of the Easter vacation for schools in the Ashanti region, and the beginning of the new term enabled the continuation of Light for Children’s programme of HIV-related educational outreach activities. Over the past week LIFOC staff have visited three different schools in the Atonsu-Agogo area of Southern Kumasi, engaging in a combination of HIV/AIDS behaviour change presentations and associated follow-up sessions.

On Tuesday May 15th, Junior Secondary aged pupils (11 to 15 years) at Atonsu Metropolitan Authority School A participated in an interactive exercise using the Journey of Hope learning approach, which employs an imaginary fleet of ‘survival boats’ crossing a treacherous stretch of water to reach a distant tropical island as a metaphor for the methods which young people can use to help them avoid HIV and achieve their life goals. The boats represent abstinence, faithfulness and condom use, the three most effective ways to prevent transmission of the AIDS virus through sexual intercourse (the most common mode of transmission), while the risks posed by HIV, STIs and teenage pregnancy to those who fall into the water are illustrated with crocodiles lurking beneath the surface.

The idea is to help children to think about what will make them happy in the long term so that they are less likely to jeopardise their future chances in life by engaging in high-risk behaviour at a young age. It is hoped that the encouragement of pupils to take an active role in choosing the right path for them, rather than just being passive recipients of a lecture, will result in them adopting safer behaviour patterns on a more permanent basis.

As part of the interactive element in Light for Children’s education outreach work, pupils are asked at the end of the session to produce a short piece of work in the form of a poem, story, essay or picture which expresses some of their views on HIV and related sexual health issues. On May 10th and May 15th LIFOC visited Atonsu Presbyterian School and the adjacent Metro Authority School B to present prizes for the best entries and carry out a short follow-up activity.

Each winner received a pack of exercise books and stationary to help them in their studies as a token of appreciation for their outstanding compositions. Excerpts from all the pieces had been collated by LIFOC volunteers into colourful posters which were presented to the schools for display in classrooms and communal areas, allowing the children to see a tangible result from their efforts and providing them with a resource to help remember and reinforce the key messages addressed during the outreach sessions. In addition, the prize-winning work was word-processed and mounted to form part of the wall display so that the authors could enjoy recognition for their achievements. Light for Children staff discussed with students the main ideas which emerged from their contributions and explained the thinking behind expressing these themes in poster form.

LIFOC paid a further visit to Yaa Achiaa Girls’ School on Wednesday May 16th, in a continuation of our organisation’s links with this establishment. Previously pupils in JSS years 2 and 3 had taken part in activities with Light for Children staff, so this time it was the turn of a JSS 1 class to get involved with the Journey of Hope presentation.

The girls proved very receptive to the issues touched on therein, and were keen to contribute their ideas and opinions; as in the Presby and Metro schools the pupils were set an assignment to produce a piece of work expressing their viewpoint, which they will complete over the course of the next few days. Light for Children will continue to return to Yaa Achiaa over the coming weeks to present the Journey of Hope activity to more JSS 1 children and award prizes for the best essays, poems and pictures.

School HIV Education Programmes

February 7, 2007

Written by: Femke Hendriks (Light for Children Volunteer, Ghana Project-Co-Ordinator)

As past of light for children Gh’s desire to carry out HIV/AIDS education in a number of schools, a programme of activity has been lined up in it’s project area. The objective is to reach as many schools as possible. Secondary it is to help the pupils use the available information to adopt positive live styles. Thirdly it is to help prevent HIV/STI (Sexually Transmitted Illness) infection and teenage pregnancy. In this regard two schools has so far been visited, namely Yaa Achiaa Girls School and Atonsu M/A junior Secondary School.

Yaa Achiaa Girls School

On the 7th and 14th of February 2007 respectively HIV/AIDS/STI education was carried out at this school located in the middle of the city of Kumasi. Before this, arrangements have been made with the school authorities on the timing and contents of the education. The focus of the programmed was on behavior change. Since awareness level of HIV/AIDS is very high, the biggest challenge is behavior change.

The pupils were therefore taken through communication skills, with the help of the Journey of Hope Kit (a behavior change communication tool). The demonstration of the kit, which is more interactive, allows full participation and also helps them pick on the best practices by themselves. Two classes have so far been covered and the rest will be taken care of on weekly basis till the end of the school term. The director of the organization, Yaw Otchere Baffour, and Femke Hendriks, a volunteer from Holland facilitated the sessions.

 

Atonsu M/A Junior Secondary School

On Friday the 11th of February 2007 the facilitating team of the organization undertook another HIV/AIDS/STI education at the Atonsu M/A Junior Secondary School, at Atonsu a suburb of Kumasi. Earlier, an appointment has been made with the school authorities and arrangement concluded on the day and time.
The pupils who were numbered about 150 were taken through behavior change skills using the Journey of Hope tool. They were taken through the three main modes of prevention of HIV infection. These are abstinence, condom and faithfulness.

They were also made aware of the dangers of HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, teenage pregnancy and its associated problems. After the presentation, pupils resolved to abstain from anything that will put their lives at risk and could spoil their schooling and future. The session was very interactive since it allowed the pupils to participate.

OICI Food Ration

February 3, 2007

Written by: Femke Hendriks (Light for Children Volunteer, Ghana Project-Co-Ordinator)

On Saturday the 3rd of February 2007 the monthly Food Rationing Programme for orphans and vulnerable children as well as people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS took place at chief palace. In all about 100 people turned up for the monthly programme.

Light for children, which has it’s clients enlisted on the program, were there to take their ration. The group’s executives and volunteers were there to give a helping hand.