Unfortunately I do not have anything exciting to report from the weekend, as it was spent primarily working on my strategy document. But my work-filled weekend was more than made up for by my week! In an effort to implement some of my marketing and communication strategy before leaving Ghana, I tagged along for a work trip to Koforidua with my boss. Koforidua is in the Eastern Region and is the first place I’ve travelled in Ghana that is not along the coast. We are embarking on a Ghanaian road trip with stops along the way to Koforidua and around the area.
My goal of this trip is to go out in the field and start training members and other stakeholders on how to use the marketing tools that have been developed. The first stop on the road trip was a town called Mampong, where we have a YMCA branch. The Mampong branch has been supporting the Mampong School for Deaf and Blind for a little while now. It is quite an inspiring school and really cool that the YMCA is involved with it. There are about 12 students at the school and they are all deaf, and some blind to various degrees. There is one teacher to every 2 students. These teachers are so incredible and have unbelievable amounts of patience and love. If not for this school, I’m not sure what these kids would be doing. But every day they come to school and the teachers walk them through activities, teach them braille and sign language (depending on what is appropriate) and try to teach them skills that they can use to sustain themselves.
One student at Mampong is really an unbelievable and amazing story. This boy is deaf, blind and dumb and I would guess in his mid teens. One day, the Principle tried to teach him how to bead a necklace by guiding his hands. The boy struggled a bit and but quickly gave up. After a second, he put a bead to his tongue and could somehow distinguish the bead by using his tongue. He then thread the bead and continued on to make a pattern for a necklace (all the while distinguishing the different beads with his tongue). I watched him work while I was there and it is truly amazing. And he’s producing beautiful jewellery too! They now sell the jewellery and the proceeds go back into the school.
The school had indicated to the YMCA that some kids eyesight was worsening. Samuel arranged for a team of eye doctors from Save the Nation’s Sight (a local NGO) to come to Mampong with us to test everyone’s (children and teachers alike) vision and diagnose appropriate remedies. The kids all patiently went through the eye testing. Luckily I was there to distract them. The ones that still have functioning vision (and I suspect even the ones that don’t) went camera crazy!! They kept posing for pictures and then would run up and immediately want to see themselves. The excitement they had in seeing their image on the tiny camera screen was adorable. Then we brought out the Ghana YMCA calendar, which has a picture of the students for the month of March – again the kids just LOVED it!! All of the kids vision was diagnosed and the YMCA was able to provide medicine to some kids and are arranging and financing surgery for those who need it.
After the school visit, Samuel and I went to the Aburi Botanical Gardens – which had the incredible beauty of towering trees that you would expect of Africa. Alex if you are reading this, you have to go you will love it.
The visit to Mampong has been one of my favourite experiences so far. It was so great to be on the ground and see the impact that the Ghana YMCA is having in the country. Seeing what we were able to do for those children made me an even stronger believer in the necessity of telling our story to keep the Ghana YMCA relevant. The marketing tools I developed will be given to the appropriate people and hopefully an article about the excursion will be up on the website soon!