Global Service Scholar: Dania Felix
My biggest take away from this experience is that the government plays a huge role in the ability of a nation to develop to its full capacity. Ghana is extremely fertile and has abundant resources that are desirable for any nation. Therefore, western nations come to Ghana and benefit from the trust that the people have in them while taking what is rightfully Ghana’s.
There is such an abundance of resources in this nation that, for me, it would be difficult to understand the high levels of poverty if it weren’t for the many illegal activities that keep Ghana and its people down. Small-scale illegal gold mining – called galamsey by Ghanaians – destroys the farmland and water supplies of the local villages. Ghana’s main occupation is farming, so destroying the land results in a greater loss in revenue than is gained from illegal mining. However, for many years the government has not put a stop to galamsey. The current president only recently called for the police to go to illegal mining sites and attempt to put a stop to it.
Even as I saw how the government can keep people down, I also learned about the power of individuals. During my time in Ghana, I was able to meet some amazing people who stand up for what they believe and take action. One person was the Assembly Man for Saaman. He has been fighting for years at the risk of his own life for his people to take action against the galamsey that has been destroying the rivers. He has faced violence for his actions, but that hasn’t stopped him from doing what he believes. He bravely confronts those in government who are corrupt, and he has gained the support and respect of his village.
Another brave individual was Madame Comfort, our SYTO coordinator. This woman is a warrior for change and is able to do anything. After being assigned to the Juaso area, she noticed that many of the young women were becoming pregnant and that the young girls had nothing to do so they would wander around the village. Before she came, there was a girl’s club that fizzled out. Madame Comfort decided to create a new girl’s club and show the girls how talented they are. The girl’s club allows the ladies of Juaso to explore their creativity in dance, acting, singing, and poetry. I was lucky enough to witness their debut performance and it was overwhelming to see how talented these young girls are! Madame Comfort was also at the forefront of helping women in the community generate income through soap making.
Madame Comfort also made it possible for me to spend my time in the Osino Health Clinic. At the clinic, I met amazing nurses who are able to serve over 29,000 patients despite minimal supplies. The clinic didn’t even have running water when we got there and the nurses had to buy water from their own pocket for the patients. These amazing people showed me that anything is possible no matter the outside circumstance and that you should always strive to do what is right.
This experience has inspired me to work even harder to reach my goals. I want to be able to go back to Ghana as soon as possible and continue supporting the people of Juaso. My time in Ghana has been so rewarding to me and I hope that I will have more opportunities like this in the future.