York's gift to Ghanaian community organisations

Edem and Nuhu hold a session with teenagers

Ghanaian volunteers on RAINS’ ‘Safe Choices’ project lead a discussion on teenage pregnancy and sexual health with teenage boys in Nayorku, Ghana. (Photo credit: Charlotte Love.)

Ghanaian community organisations fighting for the rights of women, young people and people with disabilities have received a boost from York Vikings Rotary Club.

The donation of nearly £2000 to York-based global rights charity International Service will equip its ten Ghanaian partner organisations with vital skills and knowledge, from safeguarding vulnerable people through to more effective project management.

International Service, which works with local organisations to create change for people denied access to their basic rights, will run the training session on October 25 and 26 in Tamale, northern Ghana.

Women, children and young people, and people with disabilities are discriminated against in many parts of Ghana. They are denied access to the basic rights which would allow them to earn a living, gain economic independence and play a full and active part in our communities.

International Service works in two of the poorest areas of the country, the Upper East and Northern Regions.

ICS volunteers run a sexual health session with womenLocal Ghanaian women meet to discuss sex education in Nayorku; these large trees provide a typical meeting place for community events in Ghanaian villages. (Photo credit: Charlotte Love)


Jo Baker, Chief Executive Officer of International Service, explains their approach to improving this situation:
“International Service works with local partners who have the drive, passion and ideas to change their communities. We add our 60 years of development experience to strengthen their skills and knowledge, increase their impact and ability to advocate for positive, sustainable change."

“The Rotary Vikings Club understand how to create sustainable businesses and organisations, so we’re delighted and thank them for seeing the value in this training.”

Past president of York Vikings Rotary club John Hampshire used to work in Education in Ghana and heartily endorses this initiative to help the Northern Ghana province.
John said: “Training leaders is much better than making direct grants to communities, which may not get to the root of the problems.”

Wedadu Sayibu, Programme Manager of RAINS, said:
“I am excited to attend. It will definitely be of real value to RAINS. It is rare that we are able to undertake this training; it is very relevant but we are unable to do so because of resource constraints.”
International Service also works in Bolivia, Burkina Faso, the occupied Palestinian territory, Rwanda and Mali. To learn more about International Service’s work and how to support their projects go to: www.internationalservice.org.uk

Focus on Ghanaian partner - Regional Advisory Information and Network Systems (RAINS)
International Service’s partnership with RAINS is a perfect illustration of how the global rights charity supports local organisation to innovate and increase its impact.

Their first project together in 2012 was the first assessment of the impact of RAINS’ 20 years supporting marginalised people in the Northern region of Ghana. The project helped RAINS to create its strategy or the next five years. This direction includes two projects piloted by International Service volunteers. The first helped farming families form cooperative associations so they were less reliant on their sons for labour, which had been stopping many from finishing their education. The second secured the flow of resources and equipment form better of private school students to counterparts in rural Ghana. On top of the practical improvement to thousands of children’s education, this had a cultural impact.

As Wedadu Sayibu says:
“Students of Ghana often look to the west for donor support, so this marked a new relationship instilling in Ghanaians the habit of sharing what they have to those who don’t have.”

Our volunteers provide unique education to inform young people – boys and girls – about their Sexual Health Rights.

“The reality is that adults do not want to discuss these issues with their children, so they make decisions based on ignorance...leading to pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, and girls falling victim to abuse” says Wedadu.“Imagine a girl at school who begins menstruating…and it is a surprise to her! Eventually she stops wanting to be around people, so stays at home instead of going to school. Here she can fall prey to adults abusing her vulnerability. We are changing that reality.”

The project also connects rural areas to established services only usually available in urban areas. By training local community members as peer educators and non-formal condom distributors, we are also making sure that the knowledge to promote and defend sexual rights – and keep young people in school – stays in the community.