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Greetings from Ghana!

Ada Foah - a beautiful beach in Ghana!

Ada Foah – a beautiful beach in Ghana!

I’m sure ‘Greetings from Ghana’ is the title almost everyone who is traveling/working in Ghana starts their blog with… so I figure why re-invent the wheel! I have been in Ghana for three weeks now – seems crazy how fast time has gone. I would say my first few weeks have had many ups and downs. Although it seems so obvious to an outside observer, the fact that I was going to be in Africa completely by myself for one and a half months only truly hit me when I got off the plane in Accra. Although I have travelled quite a bit, I have always had the comfort of at least one other person with me. Waiting in the immigration line when I first arrived in Ghana, it hit me that I was by myself this time. Luckily, I have a really great organization (Youth Challenge International (YCI)) here that provides a lot of support and within two weeks I was able to form a network of friends and colleagues in Accra. Almost half way into my time here, I am feeling very comfortable and adjusted – and realized I hadn’t blogged at all! So here is my first post that I am going to try and keep short!

WORK:

I am working with the Ghana YMCA at the national head office on developing and implementing a national marketing and communications strategy. After orientation and getting adjusted to Ghana, I have been focusing on understanding what kind of marketing and communication tools and processes are already in place at the YMCA.  This has proved to be no easy task – the YMCA is organized in three different levels: National, Regional and Local Branches. The local branches are where all the action happens (ie members join, programs take place, events occur) and they communicate primarily with the Regional level. The Regional level then communicates with the National level. Each level has a high degree of autonomy so the scale and success of marketing efforts truly varies across the country. Fortunately, the Regional Secretaries (the guys running the show across Ghana) were in Accra for a two-day meeting last week. Unfortunately, I was only able to speak to two of them in depth about their Regional marketing practices as they had a pretty packed itinerary. Nonetheless, I have been able to gather some pretty valuable information that gives an idea of the obstacles we’re up against: lack of funds to print materials, lack of internet, electricity blackouts, members’ inactivity because of work and family obligations, and so on.

I have also been undertaking industry research to get a sense of best practices and conducting market research through surveys and interviews to understand YMCA target markets. Ghana is an exciting country that is quickly developing. They truly believe in their youth and want to create the infrastructure and opportunities for their youth to be successful. Young people are for the most part very engaged and excited about the future of Ghana. There are a lot of opportunities to connect with the youth through Facebook and social media and I think that movement will only continue to develop in Ghana.

With the remainder of my time here, my goal is to create a simple strategy for creating marketing content at the local level and then implementing a process for getting that content to the necessary stakeholders at the Local, Regional and National level. Easy to write… we’ll see how easy it is to actually do.

LIFE:

Life in Accra is exciting and overwhelming all at once. Having been in Kenya before, some sights are not new – like an assortment of livestock crossing the road, people shouting at you to buy everything from fruit to phones on the street, and the attention you get for being a visible minority – but Ghana is definitely a new and exciting experience.

First off, the heat is something that has taken getting used to. Not that I’ve gotten used to the heat – I’ve just gotten used to constantly being sweaty.

Ghanaian people are incredibly friendly and helpful. Twice now, a Ghanaian has paid for my taxi fare home (they have a shared taxi system here… much like the bus but you’re in a taxi with other people) just to welcome me to their country. People are always trying to help you find your way and don’t seem to expect anything in return. Everyone I’ve met so far has the most amazing hearty laugh and loves to say things on repeat. My name is not just Emily… its ‘Emily Emily Emily Emily Emily Emily’.

I’m still working on trying all the local dishes but what I’ve had so far is delicious – very spicy, lots of rice, chicken and peanut flavoring. Some guilty finds include Bo fruit which is the equivalent of a donut (but always made fresh on the street corner) and Fan Ice, their ice cream which is perfectly creamy and refreshing on a hot day.

There are a lot of beaches around Accra and within driving or tro tro (the local bus) distance so I’ve been able to spend some time on the weekends at the beach!

That’s all for now… new goal: BLOG MORE!!

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Discussion

4 thoughts on “Greetings from Ghana!

  1. Sounds amazing and like you’re headed in the write direction with your efforts! Can’t wait to see your pictures!!

    Posted by Sabrina | March 4, 2013, 6:21 pm
  2. Sounds amazing Em! Keep up the good work. We definitely miss you around here. Can’t wait until you’re back 🙂

    Posted by Michelle. | March 11, 2013, 1:28 pm
  3. Thanks for sharing. The people sound lovely!

    Posted by wynne | March 16, 2013, 7:29 pm
  4. Such a wonderful blog!!!! 🙂 Emily Emily Emily Emily Emily Emily Emily! was my favourite part

    Posted by Amanda | March 22, 2013, 5:39 pm

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