NEW TEAM BLOG!

As part of the International Citizen Service communications updates, they have assigned us a new blog, so please come and visit us to be kept updated with the latest comings and goings of Team 3 at RAINS.

Don’t worry all the wonderful content has been exported across so you will still be seeing all the best from the first two teams!

Please follow this link to the new Blogger site :)

http://rains.internationalservice.org/

SEE YOU SSSSOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNN

Keeping mum

baby in the office Ghana

“What do you mean I’m a distraction?”

If there’s one thing that you can’t avoid in Ghana, it’s contact with babies. Mothers think nothing of putting their baby on your lap on the bus if they have a bag or box on their own, and on venturing out for breakfast or lunch it is not at all unusual to find that you are expected to hold the child of the person that you have asked to make it. Even the average person walking down the street may find that they are unexpectedly handed a baby out of the window of a trotro (local bus).

baby in the office Ghana

“I’m just minding my own business while mum works…”

But the place in Ghana where I found the presence of babies most surprising was indubitably the office. There are 15 full time employees and 3 full time babies at RAINS. We share our office with 8-month-old Wunnam, who is possibly the closest I have ever come to a Disney character in real life (my trip to EuroDisney excepted). He is a bundle of cuteness – big eyes, big smile, big personality.But for somebody who is used to working in a UK office, it can come as quite a surprise to be given a baby when his mother is going to a meeting, to have to go and pick him up when he wakes up when his mum is not around, or to find him charging up to your desk in his plastic car, which is all the while playing a high-pitched version of ‘Old MacDonald.’

baby in the office Ghana

“It’s not my fault if everyone wants to play with me…”

The phenomenon of babies in the office is an upshot of the fact that in Ghana, the minimum maternity leave to which employees are entitled is only 12 weeks (in addition to annual leave accrued). Given that at this stage of a child’s development, nearly all mothers will still be breastfeeding, it is in most cases necessary for them to bring the baby to the office with them. Nursing mothers are entitled to interrupt their work for an hour during working hours to breastfeed their babies. This time is treated as part of their working hours and paid accordingly.

baby in the office Ghana

“…although it is good fun…”

It would be interesting to assess the impact of Ghana’s maternity leave entitlements with those of the UK, where eligible employees can take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave, and receive statutory maternity pay for up to 39 weeks. Does a shorter period of maternity leave lead to greater productivity in the office because the mother is away from her desk for less time, or lower productivity because she and all the colleagues around her are distracted by the baby? Are mothers more likely to return from a longer period of maternity leave, by which point they may find it harder to readjust to life in the office, or a shorter period, when they may still be adjusting to life as a mother and embarrassed about breastfeeding in front of their colleagues?

Certainly, the evidence suggests that longer paid maternity leave is associated with a wide range of benefits for mothers and their babies. Returning to work within the first 12 weeks of a baby’s life is associated with lower cognitive development scores for the baby and a greater number of depressive symptoms for the mother, while the availability of one year’s paid maternity leave is associated with a 20% decline in post-neo-natal deaths and a 15% decrease in fatalities occuring before the child reaches five years old.

Given that infant mortality rates remain high in Ghana, perhaps there is a need to extend the length of statutory maternity leave in the country.

Monkeying around

- by Zoe

Last week, we went on an awesome day trip.

After possibly the bumpiest journey I’ve ever been on (and that was in a 4×4, so I can’t even imagine how the people in the taxi behind us felt), we arrived at Boabeng-Fiema monkey sanctuary. The monkeys go daily to the villages of Boabeng and Fiema between 7-9am and 3-5pm. Unfortunately, we arrived at about 11am, so we had to search for them in the nearby forest. We also saw the monkey cemetery, where all monkeys are given a proper burial by the villagers.

Afterwards, we went to Kintampo waterfalls, which may now be my favourite place in Ghana…

 

Lights, camera…

Lights, camera...

The team interviewing a past board member of RAINS

Well, it’s week 7 which means that we are now halfway through our International Citizen Service project in Ghana

We’re now in the fieldwork phase of our project, which involves:

  • Filming beneficiaries of past projects implemented by RAINS, our partner organisation, for a documentary to commemorate their 20th anniversary.
  • Holding focus groups on the subject of child labour, child trafficking, and child migration, in a variety of communities, with a view to writing a briefing note on some of the key trends and issues in the Northern and Upper East regions of Ghana.

There’s an awful lot still to do and only 6 weeks left… wish us luck!

Kukere II

By Iyanu

So far we’ve been enjoying Ghanaian musical delights and testing our dance moves here and there.  Music and dancing is everywhere in Tamale, whether indoors or outdoors, so you can imagine everyone’s curiosity when my Kukere dancing challenge was announced in the office. After hours and hours of channeling my inner Sasha Fierce hard work, sweat, blood and tears I was able to produce a performance of sorts. I pretty much brought the whole office to a standstill because of my surprising lack of talent!. Let’s just agree it was interesting because it was. I enjoyed it nonetheless and I’m glad to have seen my challenge through, the whole office has now been FIZAMED! 

(Note:Definition of  FIZAMED – To be  impressed with, wowed, surprised or baffled by the amazing team of Fatawu, Iyanu, Zoe, Ali and Molly!)

Kukere challenge

Kukere challenge

Challenge week complete

By Molly

So, it seems that surviving in Ghana without the luxury of carbohydrate foods is actually possible. Who would have thought?

To say that it was easy would be a lie – not only because we spent the majority of the week with very little energy but because of the sheer inconvenience it caused to have a no carb diet in a country that is so dependent on the food group.

This was especially difficult at lunch times. Our fellow team mates would stroll around the corner to the rice man and tuck in to their fried rice and chicken while myself and Zoe would be roaming the streets looking for something we were actually allowed to eat. The majority of lunch times would consist of meat on a stick and some fruit (followed by a look of utter confusion by any Ghanaian that happened to walked by).

lunch time delights

lunch time delights

Leftover beans brought to work in a butter pot... Casual

On a more positive note – being unable to eat carbohydrates meant that we became a lot more adventurous with our meals at home. Our weekly market shop actually had some order to it and we even made a meal plan for the week.

home made chicken soup

Every cloud really does have a silver lining…

POVERTY HAS A WOMAN’S FACE

Kayaye

It is estimated that women represent 70 per cent of the world’s poor, a figure that indicates that women bear a disproportionate burden of the world’s poverty. Census figures from 2000 indicated that in Canada women had a poverty rate almost 20 per cent higher than men, earned on average 80% of their salary and experienced higher levels of unemployment.

Statistics consistently show that women are more likely than men to be poor and at risk of hunger because of the systematic discrimination they face in education, health care, employment and control of assets. The implications of poverty for women are wide ranging and millions of women are frequently left without even basic rights such as access to clean drinking water, sanitation, medical care and decent employment.

Being poor also means that women have very little protection from violence and that they have no role in decision-making. Throughout the developing world, rural women engage in multiple economic activities that are critical to the survival of poor households. Rural poor women play an essential role in crop production and livestock care and they provide the food, water and fuel their families need. This is particularly the case in some of the poorest and most marginal areas, which are characterised by extensive and increasing male migration. In these areas, agriculture has become increasingly feminised. In 1997, in fact, almost 70 per cent of women of working age in low-income, food-deficit countries were engaged in agricultural work. At the same time, the proportion of woman-headed households continues to grow, reaching almost one third in some developing countries.

Despite the essential economic and caregiving roles that they perform, women have significantly less access to financial, physical and social assets than men do; fewer opportunities to improve their knowledge and skills; and less voice in public decision-making.

Women own less than 2 per cent of all land, and receive only 5 per cent of extension services worldwide. It is estimated that women in Africa receive less than 10 per cent of all credit going to small farmers and a mere 1 per cent of the total credit going to the agricultural sector. The most extreme manifestation of gender inequality and the disregard of women’s human rights is the fact that at least 60 million girls are ‘missing’, mostly in Asia, due to female infanticide or sex-selective abortions. Added to these are an estimated 5,000 women murdered each year in ‘honour killings’.

According to the World Food Programme, 870 million people do not have enough food to eat, of which 98% live in developing countries. Of these, more than 60% of are women. Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the UN, observed that poverty has a woman’s face. This was further buttressed by a woman who was asked by IBIS Ghana about what she understood by poverty. The only answer she could give was “Poverty means woman; the face of poverty is woman.”

Only 30% of major companies in the EU are chaired by women and a Forbes publication about the most powerful ten people in the world only included one woman. Five of the 50 richest people in the world are women.

In Ghana, there are no women in the list of richest people and out of 275 legislators, fewer than 30% of them are women. Poverty has a woman’s face, in Ghana and across the globe.