My time volunteering
I was a team leader with VSO ICS, working on a livelihoods project specifically aimed at increasing income generation for women in the community. As a team leader I was mainly there to provide logistical and pastoral support to a group of 22 volunteers. My co-TL Enock and I looked after 11 UK and 11 Ghanaian volunteers.
The impact of my placement
Many of the women in the community we worked learnt new skills, including tie-dye, soap making, and book keeping skills. I was so amazed at how easily they then used these new skills to create their own mini business venture, these women were so entrepreneurial. We were only the second cycle of volunteers to be working in Asamankese, and I met one lady who had learnt bead and jewellery making skills before we arrived, through the first set of volunteers placed there. In those couple of months her business was thriving and I think she was testament to the impact ICS can really have.
My unforgettable moments
My best memory was at the end of our Durbar in the village I lived in. We had held this whole day promoting the importance of education to our community. Afterwards there was a hive of activity to clear away all of the chairs and tents, but whilst we did this the sound system kept playing on and the local children took this as a chance to have an impromptu disco. They were all such great dancers and they were all having so much fun, it was evident from the smiled plastered across their faces. I have a great video of them all just dancing, dancing, dancing without a care in the world.
The impact my placement has had on me
I didn’t expect to see the skills that developed during my time on ICS to do so. My pastoral support skills flourished, which made me a much better manager when I returned home to my job – something I will always be grateful for. I also think that my perception of “development” changed. I saw that it isn’t linear, and it can’t always be measured, but that by mixing different people from different cultures and communities, everyone learns new things - including how to embrace our differences.