After 3 months working alongside TradeAID our placement is coming to an end this week. To celebrate our achievements we were all invited to a farewell meal with all of the TradeAID team. We had a lovely time and we wore our finest Ghanaian fabrics and smocks. Sean was presented with a lovely handcrafted flared smock for his hard work at TradeAID and it was made by some of the crafts people in the smock market.
During our time in Bolga we have bought many Ghanaian clothes varying from shirts, trousers and smocks to dresses and tunics. Bolgatanga is known as the crafts centre of the Upper East region, with a large central market and crafts village. The crafts village is a fantastic experience where we have all bought real Ghanaian products. Here are a few snaps of our outfits.
To sum up our time in Bolga, here’s a short summary of what we have achieved!
We unpicked the last teams report which explored some of the issues that the crafts workers in Bolga face and we’ve added a supplementary report to run along side this. This includes a detailed analysis which investigates the supply chains for the disabled crafts women, basket makers, smock makers, fabric weavers and the leather workers. This report will form part of solid research which can then be used and referenced back to when applying for funding in the near future.
– This research sent us into the field and we worked alongside the crafts workers. We interviewed them and questioned them about their work in order to gain an insight for the report. This work allowed us to work closely with the national volunteers, Winnie and Conrad. They helped us to translate amongst the communities and were a great support in the field.
We then started to test the waters involving fundraising strategies. This involved us filming and editing a short fundraising clip in order to post online and see the response on a crowd funding website – ‘We The Trees’. It is live and on the web and has 45 days left to raise the funds for an experimental farming project. – Please help to share and donate.
When we had completed the film we were lucky enough to have the chance to go on live radio. This is URA radio station in Bolgatanga and we were able to talk about all of our work and activities in Ghana with IS.
To finish up our work here we presented a workshop style meeting to the representatives from each of the crafts groups. The workshop was to show some of the people working in Bolga new product designs and ideas. We completed market research of global products that are received well around the world and presented these to the crafts workers with a Ghanaian market in mind. We wanted the crafts workers to ask lots of questions and have lots of discussions with different members in other crafts groups. The meeting was successful and provoked lots of discussions and responses.
Since our last post featuring our radio appearance we were invited to go back to the radio station again and yesterday we attended the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation. We joined Conrad this week and we took the afternoon slot discussion which focuses on trade within the region.
We were excited to discuss our project progression and our ‘We The Trees’ fundraising campaign. We also talked about the success of our end of project workshop with the stakeholders. The hot topics were about our meeting and we enjoyed sharing our stories about the day. We liked talking about the crafts workers and their interest in our ideas on product diversification.
Our interviewer was Sophia Ackumey and she kept us on our toes about our current activities in Bolga. She was very interested in our purpose out here and our continuing work with International Service and Trade AID. She asked us about the next phase of the INCOME project and about the next team coming out and our recommendations towards their placement.
We all thought that it was lovely of them to ask us back to round up our time in Bolga. We thoroughly enjoyed our hours slot on the radio and were excited about being live on air again.
Whilst we have been out in Ghana we have been invited by our colleagues at work and by the national volunteers to Azonto!! Azonto is an original Ghanaian expressive dance and music form that is very popular. The dance involves a set of hand and coordinated foots twists, which are very tricky to master. But after lots of practice we seem to have got the hang of it. Azonto originated from the South of Ghana and is an essential part of Accra’s bustling fishing communities.
Like many of the African local dances which we have seen during our field trips to the basket weaving groups, the Azonto involves lots of knee bending and hip movements.
The dance has effectively evolved from certain moves that embrace depictions of washing, driving, boxing, grooming, praying and swimming. Generally, Azonto expresses the creativity and rich sense of humour of the Ghanaian people.
Here’s a clip of one of the most played songs in Ghana.
Yesterday, we had our stakeholders meeting with the local crafts people living in Bolgatanga. We’d decided to do an informal meeting where we could educate the crafts workers in global products and product diversification. We invited spokes people from the smock makers group, the basket weaving groups, the fabric weavers, disabled craftswomen and the leather workers.
We kept the meeting flexible and open where we could talk with the crafts workers and have a workshop style feel. Although these crafts workers are highly skilled in making products we wanted to show them new product ideas which would boost their sales and hopefully increase their income. We had created various mood boards (featured below) and we walked the people from the crafts sector around the displays showing them new shapes and ideas.
We had open discussions and a question and answer style approach. The crafts workers seemed very involved and interested in the open discussions and they had many questions. The meeting was a success and all the people who were invited attended – even the press! We purposely separated the crafts workers away from their groups and mixed them up with other crafts workers. This approach worked and encouraged discussion and it was lovely to see because the crafts workers were interested in our ideas and they had lots to say to each other.
This weekend we drove up to a town called Paga, which is on the Burkina Faso border. This small town is famous for its sacred crocodile ponds and the locals believe that the crocodiles hold the souls of the village’s deceased. The crocodiles inhabiting the sacred pond are protected and the locals living in Paga regularly interact with the 110 crocodiles who live in the crocodile sanctuary. Ghanaians go swimming in the pond and they even wash their clothes and go fishing in there. Remarkably, no one has ever been eaten!
We decided to take on the croc challenge and get up close with them. We bought a chicken and threw this towards a large crocodile with 3 legs. We dared to go closer and had our snaps taken next to these friendly beasts. Beatrix decided to keep a safe distance away from the crocs and she had her picture taken with a statue instead.
As mentioned in one of our earlier posts we had set out to film and edit a short fundraising video to benefit some of the crafts people living in Bolgatanga. This video has been created to raise funds for an experimental farming idea that our team leader Sean had wanted to test. Sean has 2 Permaculture projects already running in Portugal and France and he wanted to share his farming ideas with the people of Bolgatanga by creating a 1 year project which will hopefully help the local people grow Vetiver grass and Dye plants for their crafts items with a Bolga climate in mind.
We have successfully finished the film and it has been approved to appear on a Crowd Funding Website called ‘We The Tees.’ It is now live on the site and we have 6o days to raise the funds. Check out the vid!>>> At ; We The Trees
Please have a look and get sharing, thanks.