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!


by Zoe

Walk through any residential street in Tamale (or indeed any other settlement in Ghana) and you are bound to hear a clap-clap! clap-clap! sound, from girls playing what must be the most popular playground game in Ghana…

It’s always played by two girls; as far as we can understand, one girl wins if you both kick out the same foot as each other, while the other one wins if you kick out opposite feet.

The game is exceptional training in co-ordination and timing. Forget patting your head and rubbing your belly; try clapping, jumping and kicking in time with these girls…. it’s nigh-on impossible.

Killer Kenkey

By Ali

Challenge 3

Kenkey is a staple dish of West Africa served with a soup, stew, or sauce. Two days ago, brave souls of the RAINS office were given the challenge to be the first to finish two servings of Kenkey. Although I was no match to the Champion who ate it all in less than three minutes, I still managed to finish one serving in 10 minutes, and that was the second Kenkey I ever had!


What were the chances I’d live to tell the tale?

So long, farewell… and now there’s plenty of work to do…

With the end of March came the end of Phase 1 of International Service‘s project with RAINS, and the end of Tolu, Ben and Rhogan’s time in Ghana.

The three of them have been amazing volunteers and they’ll be missed by everyone in the office.

The placement ended with a validation meeting at which we presented the results of our Impact Assessment of RAINS’s Next Generation Project, which set out to tackle child trafficking and child labour, and to address the downsides relating to kayaye (headportering) and fostering, in the Northern Region of Ghana.

IMG_5729Our report included suggestions for how projects like the Next Generation Project could be improved. It also highlighted a number of opportunities for further work in the Northern Region of Ghana. The next groups of volunteers coming to RAINS will use this analysis to build on some of the opportunities identified.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Being a woman is not easy, International Womens Day Ghana

It’s true… but what happens if you phone the number?

by Zoe

Happy International Women’s Day from Ghana.

We’ve met a lot of amazing women since we’ve been in Ghana, and we’ve been privileged to be working with RAINS, an organisation that strives to make improvements in the lives of the inhabitants of Northern Ghana, particularly for women and girls.

But the fact remains that here in the Northern Region, only 25% of women are literate, and 60% of women have never attended school at all (2010 population and housing census, Ghana Statistical Service) – that’s a long way off achieving the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education.

In addition, women in the Northern Region of Ghana work longer hours than men, and earn significantly less than men.

International Women’s Day is a reminder of what a privilege it is to have grown up in a country where education is often taken for granted. Check out the USAID infographic in our previous post, to see just how important girl child education really is.

Always Coca-Kola?

by Rhogan

Our National Volunteer, Fatawu, is from the District of Savelugu just north of Tamale. It is one of twenty districts in the Northern Region of Ghana and comprises of various rural communities each with their own traditional Chiefs.

I was fascinated when Fatawu told me that to acquire some land in one of these communities it would cost peanuts. Not peanuts literally, but an offering of a certain number of kola nuts which should to be presented to the Chief as a gift. The gift of kola nuts does not give you complete lawful ownership of the land; land ownership has many grey areas in traditional Ghanaian communities and it seems the land is merely ‘borrowed’ for however long a period a person needs it.

I was not disappointed by this news as I now had a new fascination to harass Fatawu about – kola nuts. I’d never heard of them. What did they look like? Why are they so valued and where do you find them? After propelling many questions at Fatawu and the other national volunteers, plus a brief Google session, I had quenched my thirst for knowledge on the treasured kola nut.

Kola nuts Ghana

Kola nuts

Quenched may be the right word as, I imagine many already know or have assumed, the kola nut at some point in time contributed to the flavouring of Coca-Cola and other cola flavoured beverages. It appears that it is no longer an ingredient included in the recipe for Coca-Cola yet its use is still prevalent throughout Western Africa.

The kola nut seems to be less popular with younger generations but is still very popular with elders, particularly those from traditional communities. Chewed in many West African cultures, either individually or in a group setting, the nut is said to have an initial bitter taste that sweetens after chewing. It contains caffeine and is generally used to restore vitality and ease hunger pangs. It is also offered during significant life events such as naming ceremonies, weddings and funerals. However, frequent chewing of the kola nut can lead to stained teeth.

I still have not sampled the kola nut myself, but I have been assured that it can be purchased at Tamale’s market. Therefore, I think it may be helpful to acquire some as a friendly gesture for when we start to visit communities of the Northern Region in the near future.