Here in Kumasi, it is hard to believe that we are already over halfway through the cycle! A cycle referring to the 10 week placement our volunteers have embarked on with Challenges Worldwide, a charity committed to helping Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through consultancy intervention. The purpose of this is to promote growth of the businesses by matching volunteers to prospective enterprises to work closely with them and provide suggestions and solutions to problems that will help promote success. The fundamental goal being to nurture and empower Ghana’s SME’s which are commonplace, particularly in cities such as Kumasi and Accra where many entrepreneurs reside. Therefore SMEs play a substantial role in influencing employment, income and economic growth throughout the country.
The structure of the volunteer programme is roughly one week of in country training, four weeks of enterprise analysis, four weeks of implementation, and finally one week of reflection and debrief. This is no small feat and reaching the halfway point in the programme provides an opportunity for reflection, identifying areas for improvement and preparing for the most challenging stage yet, implementation of recommendations! What better way to spend this important time together than heading to Cape Coast, for the official mid-placement review (MPR) for team Kumasi.
FRIDAY 4TH AUGUST
We left Kumasi by coach to begin our journey, many were in high spirits playing music and singing! We arrived at the scenic location of Hans Cottage Botel where we would reside for the next two nights. The perks of which included a lake with crocodiles, fishes and tadpoles, which would sometimes make an appearance! After settling at the botel we continued to Cape Coast castle. We were given a tour of the castle and its dungeons, thus the cramped, dark, dank, unsanitary conditions in which people were unmercifully stored as ‘human cargo’ awaiting an uncertain future to the ‘new world’ as slaves. The conditions were not at the best, unfathomable and it is hard to believe such atrocities were capable of human beings. In contrary to the unimaginable suffering and profound cruelty, the surrounding scenery of the castle was utterly breathtaking. Cape Coast most certainly is not lacking in beauty, with the salty sea air, golden sand and palm tree rich beach, the scenery was a feast for the eyes and a dream come true for the keen photographer!
After an educational afternoon we went for a lovely dinner. The volunteers had organised games and a BBQ for later in the evening. We played ‘Mr & Mrs’ in counterpart pairs, where each would be asked a series of questions testing their knowledge on how well they had gotten to know each other for the past five weeks. Let’s just say some succeeded more than others which was very entertaining. Accompanied with charades, music and dancing it was a fun evening spent chatting into the early hours of the morning.
SATURDAY 5TH AUGUST
The following day we woke for breakfast before we began our team activity. For MPR it is important to reflect on the successes and achievements experienced so far, what could be improved and what is left to achieve during the volunteers’ remaining time on the placement.
Firstly we all shared common issues, came up with feedback and possible solutions to these. This raised interesting discussions between the group and an open platform where everyone could express their thoughts. Secondly we discussed host home issues, challenges people faced, how they overcame these or what solutions could be adopted. This activity allowed the volunteers to see the parallels between them and how others approached situations to resolve them. Finally we focused on individual development. What had people learnt on the programme so far? What do they want to work and focus on during their remaining time? It was a constructive session which provided the opportunity to identify what there is left to achieve whilst also reminding volunteers why they chose to be a part of Challenges Worldwide.
After our productive session in the morning we set off for Kakum National Park. The park allows you to walk amongst the trees on a canopy walkway suspended at 30 metres and it did not disappoint. After a steep trek towards the walkway, we were greeted by views that were absolutely sensational, everyone was in awe of the natural beauty. Kakum provides plenty of opportunity for model photo shoots, taking selfies and scenic shots. Some were more willing than others to walk at such a height, it’s certainly not for the faint hearted if you prefer to keep your feet firmly on the ground! After taking what must have been hundreds of pictures we left for dinner, followed by an evening winding down back at the botel. We enjoyed a cultural combination of dancing to African music accompanied with a BBQ once again, British style! Everyone was able to relax and enjoy the last evening of MPR together, playing games and engaging in conversation once again late into the night.
SUNDAY 6TH AUGUST
We set off around noon and headed back to Kumasi. After a jam packed, enjoyable and reflective weekend, everyone is refreshed and elated for the rest of the placement. We have volunteers looking forward to the future, putting into practice the implementations their enterprise analysis has drawn them to.
Team Kumasi Summer 2017 is ready to smash it!