On Sunday we traveled to Bolgatanga to visit the Project GROW (Ghana Rural Opportunities for Women)village for a celebration day. Our van pulled up to about 200 women gathered around us all singing so beautifully, dancing and clapping as we arrived. It was a surreal and wonderful moment. Project Grow was started by Vida, a nurse from Ghana who did her masters thesis at UBCO.
Although some parts of Ghana are doing well, rural northeast Ghana remains far behind, with an infant mortality rate that is among the highest in the world. The leading cause continues to be poverty. The people have skills and knowledge to be self-sufficient, but in their developing world, they lack the resources. Project GROW taps into local knowledge and provides these resources. All of the initiatives have been determined by the participants. Self-determination, local knowledge and abilities, and community goal setting are the key elements of Project GROW.
It offers women micro loans to buy livestock so they have a source of income for themselves. When women have control over income it empowers them in the village. The project has taken off and it has been amazing to see how much their hard work has accomplished. Of each goat bought, it's first baby goat is given to the next woman in the village so that she also has a chance to make a change and sustain the project. From this, the women have been able to get together and purchase a grain mill to make food, and were able to build a store house to cover the mill and stock the grain they are producing. The ability to store and produce so much more food has helped their village in incredible ways. Now the women have been able to raise enough money to build a new building. This building will house a maternal health center, a community meeting room, and an adult literacy program. As well, they were able to send a woman to a larger center to learn how to make baskets, sew, and other trades, which she could then teach other women in the village. There is a group in Salmon Arm who donated money and the women were able to buy two donkeys and a cart which will help them take their supplies to town. Our nursing grad class also had four girls who worked with the project in their third year, and for Jackie, who was on the trip with us, I think this was especially wonderful to see what they are doing. The adult literacy program will teach the women basic reading and writing skills, such as how to write their names, and basic math skills for working in town and going to the bank. It was an amazing day, and seeing these empowered women who are working so hard and have been able to do so much for their village, was heart warming and inspirational. There is a famous quote that they use here in Ghana: "If you help a man you are only helping a man, if you help a woman you are helping the village". This is what Project GROW has done.
You can read more about it on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/191469730895043/#!/pages/Project-GROW/169593749760275?sk=info