So what does my week look like? As mentioned, I’m at the International Needs Vocational Training Centre (INVTC) on the outskirts of Adidome, primarily working with their Women’s Empowerment Project (WEP). The placement involves varying social work-y tasks, like: counselling, community development, crafts. . . and a healthy dose of creativity.
Counselling is my main focus. I do a single session with every woman who speaks enough English (alas, my Ewe isn’t quite up to counselling standards). So far, there’s 39 (of 77 women) on my list. The idea is getting their whole story, assessing their vulnerabilities, and doing what’s basically career counselling: talking about any strengths, barriers, etc. that might help or hinder their new vocation.
Then I’m out in the community too. We follow-up with previous INVTC students and see how their new businesses are going. And there’s outreach to whole communities, usually on weekends. This is mainly education on women’s and children’s rights and the laws that protect them (with topics like succession laws, domestic violence, reproductive health, and HIV/AIDS) – the Ghanaian Criminal Code seems quite similar to Canada’s, though not always as broadly known by the public. We sometimes have big Ghanaian partners along too, like the Commission for Human Rights, Department of Social Welfare, and the Domestic Violence unit of the police.
Then. . .crafts! The vocational training that the WEP teaches is a choice of: beading, soap-making, batik/textiles, or catering. Two other campus programs teach dressmaking and hairdressing. I have free reign on joining, buying from, or teaching to the classes that appeal. I’ve already taught hemp-like knotwork to the beading class and I will likely teach tote bags to the dressmaking class next week, plus I’m brainstorming other ideas.
After my work days are done, I retire to my home on campus – one of the guesthouses. I read, write, relax, etc. I get my lunch brought over from the main kitchen, but I make my own breakfast and dinners (with as much “Western” food as I can find for dinner).
Getting beyond campus isn’t that easy. I can take a moto (ride on the back of a motorcycle) into the small town of Adidome for market day or at other times. . . but not after dark (which is 6pm), and not into the larger town of Sogakope 20 minutes away, since the motos can’t always be trusted – from both a road safety and potential threat perspective. I don’t have a helmet, after all. I have explored a bit beyond, with the transportation assistance of my supervisor or others. And I do hope to do some further weekend exploration around the region in the coming months, after some thoughtful planning on how to get there.
And I do enjoy the campus itself. I like wandering the grounds; hanging out by the Volta River; sitting under shady trees and practicing Ewe with the women; spotting birds, lizards, butterflies, and small furry creatures; watching the goats (and failing at trying to touch them); and hoping the mangoes will ripen soon.