So I made it through my first week of work here in Accra. Many of you have asked about the organization that I’ve been placed with – below is a brief recap:
The organization I’m working with is called Child’s Rights International and their work is far reaching into many communities across the country. Accra is where their central office is located and that is where I go each day. The large majority of their work is ‘field work’, working to establish children’s programming in smaller communities, and in the secondary schools.
I’ve shared some aspects of their work below and further detail can be found at cri-ghana.org
One particularly far-reaching activity is the establishment of Child Rights Clubs in secondary schools across the country. The idea is to recruit and train teachers and community leaders to facilitate the clubs, and ingrain a sense of responsibility in the children to advocate for children’s rights, particularly as they get older and find themselves in positions of influence. Some of the activities might include: scholarships for underprivileged children in the communities, providing children with educational materials, construction of facilities for schools and communities.
One young man that I’ve gotten to know a bit (Kenneth) here at the office is a former Child Rights Club executive member (sort of similar to a student government model) – he was a very active leader in his school and community as a young student, and now is involved with CRI as a field worker, helping to train the teacher and community leaders selected to initiate a new club, as well as working with the students on community projects. He feels that he benefited from being involved as a young person, and wants to ensure that others have similar opportunities.
Easter School for Children is another project – it is an annual event organized by Child’s Rights International (CRI) in cooperation with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), providing forum for children to actively participate in an open discussion about critical issues that affect their welfare and their enjoyment of their rights. During the Easter School, children from across Ghana and from diverse backgrounds come together to share a common platform and affect positive change through constructive dialogue with each other and with policy makers and government officials in Ghana. They typically gather in a school facility (during a holiday break), and the event rotates from one region to another on an annual basis.
Service learning is another key element of the work of CRI and it involves teaching and training children about their rights and responsibilities and then providing them with opportunities to translate this learning into action through their involvement in community service activities. In most community programs, child rights club members act as peer educators in their communities on issues such as HIV/AIDS, orphans and vulnerable children and child labor in the cocoa sector.
So that is a quick summary of some of the work of CRI – my role is more about growing capacity in their administrative office. It is unlikely that I will get out to a field location, as my time is pretty short – next time!
I work closely with their administration manager (Jennifer) and have been helping with grant proposal documentation and will do some work around setting procedures for improved internal communications, hiring/training. The mandates for volunteers are general in scope and set several months in advance. The hope is that we will fine tune our work-plan once we get here, and determine what the greatest needs are, in conjunction with the volunteer’s skill set.
There are only a handful of people in the Admin office and they are a dedicated bunch, wearing many hats each day, and stretched across a long ‘to do’ list – not unlike the staff in most of the local non-profits in Niagara!