Day 3 is when the real road trip began. Myself, Samuel, Dan and Paul travelled to the town of Osenasi to attend the local YMCA branch meeting. Osenasi is in the mountains and is about a 3-hour drive from Koforidua. It’s actually not too far from Koforidua but the road is really bad and the speed you have to go to dodge potholes the size of the entire road means you’re tacking quite a bit of time onto the trip. I was completely OK with that though because the drive was really beautiful. I was more than content to listen to music and soak in the scenery. I should mention that before leaving for Osenasi we went to the bead market (what Koforidua is renowned for) to peruse some of the gorgeous beads that are manufactured in the area.
The Osenasi branch meeting falls into my list of favourite activities in Ghana. Samuel conducted the meeting in a very interactive fashion and covered topics including: what makes an organization, different leadership styles, how to mobilize resources, how to report progress (and market it!), and future steps. The meeting was conducted in the local language but luckily Samuel was writing notes in English on a flip pad so I was able to piece together what was going on. Although I could not understand what the members were saying, their body language and the enthusiasm they demonstrated painted a very clear picture of their excitement of being involved with the YMCA and the change and impact they want to make.
The Osenasi branch basically has no structure as of right now. As Samuel told me after the meeting, they do not even have a constitution. Nonetheless, about 25 members attended the meeting – all wearing their crisp white polo t-shirts with the Ghana YMCA logo. Ages ranged from about 20 – 75 and there was a fair showing of women at the meeting. As Samuel covered the outlined topics by asking questions and going off member contributions, people became more and more animated. A favourite moment was when one of the eldest men got up to share his idea of a program they can undertake to benefit the youth in the community and the group applauded (it wasn’t actually applause… it was some kind of cheer that everyone knows and does) his idea. Again, there was an obvious language barrier, but from the body language and atmosphere in the room (and later confirmations from Samuel and Dan) – these members were truly excited and passionate about the YMCA and about making a positive impact in their community. They are giving their time and a bit of money (there is an annual registration fee) to be a part of the YMCA and are really excited about it. Being in the head office, I think it is easy to sometimes feel removed from what the organization is doing. Like the Mampong visit, this was a really great reminder of the impact the YMCA has (and can potentially have) in the country.