Monday, April 11, 2016

The Power of Giving - Project GROW

The Women of Project GROW
Give a man a fish he'll eat for a day, 
teach a man to fish he'll eat for life.

Empowerment is a word we have used often throughout this trip. While teaching our Ghanaian colleagues about relational practice we touch on empowerment as being an important aspect of nursing.
We had an opportunity to see empowerment in it's purest form.  Our final day in practice was spent in the community of Nyoboko celebrating Project GROW (Ghanaian Rural Opportunities for Women). This is a powerful event because we witness how the money raised by our Canadian community is used to empower Ghanaian women.  Project GROW uses the funds to directly purchase what is required by the women of the community, based on their needs.  This simple model places the trust and faith in the women to identify who is most in need and what the priorities are.  There is no overhead and every dollar donated in Canada goes directly into the community.  The MC for the day captured it beautifully:  "when you give a man power he chooses what to do with that power and sometimes it's not always the right thing. But when you give a women power she empowers her husband, her family and her community." Thus, giving women the ability to earn a wage by selling her goat's milk, using the donkey and cart to get her goods to the market or her crops from the field, and learning to sew in the vocational centre, not only improves her well-being and the well-being of her family, it builds community capacity.

The Goats!
Women in dresses of all colours sang and danced, greeting the chief and then us. This year's ceremony was the biggest one yet, 4 donkeys with carts were donated to communities, there were 52 goats donated, and the vocational centre was officially opened. Women who receive goats are required to donate the first female offspring of the goat back to project GROW to be passed on to another women, and this year there were 16 returning goats, bringing the total to 68 goats.  This year, Project GROW expanded into several new communities and it was wonderful to see the donkeys and goats headed down the gravel road to their new homes.  Some of them had a long walk home but everyone had a smile on their face.
Jeanette's dad's donkey "ED"

Project GROW would not exist without the amazing Dr. Vida Yakong. Vida was born and raised in Nyoboko. Her graduate studies focused on the health disparities in the northern region of Ghana. She found that when women in communities were empowered they were healthier and  overall the community had better health. We want to extend a huge thank you to Vida, Philomena, Josbert, and Jonas for making this day possible and graciously welcoming us during our time in Ghana. 

- Nicole Elliott 


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