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By the fall, nothing had changed, so when I first heard a discussion about crowdfunding on the Social (whose Floor Director incidentally has likely roots in Ghana, which I am guessing by his name being Kwame, or Saturday-born boy), I thought it would be practical in the future when we would be ready for me to start something in Ghana. As a bit of an insecure person, I continued to search for an opportunity that would refine my skills, giving me the confidence to start my project. This method of raising funds came back to me a few weeks later when I fell upon a crowdfunding website catered to volunteers, so I knew this was meant for me. Since then, I have been researching and planning. I researched crowdfunding, going through many websites, as well as different aspects of the project as it continued to form in my mind.
Having volunteered in Ghana in 2009, then returned every year since, every aspect of my life is influenced by my love for the Ghana I have come to know; this includes the work I have wanted to do in Ghana since I first went. Basing myself at Mamfe Young Souls Academy (Mayosa), this will nevertheless be an independent program. Over the coming years this program will bring together students, teachers and greater communities.
Vision: Ghanaian youth initiating the good life
Mission: Encouraging and empowering Ghanaian youth
Philosophy: To emphasize freedom, peace, love and a respect for others and the earth, in the present moment and in the future; our descendants’ future (inspired by the Hippyland philosophical approach, which I first read when I was 14 and has since played a role in my life)
My whole life has been leading up to this, particularly the years following my first time in Ghana. Concerned with the way development work in Ghana is affecting Ghanaian youth — especially the clear emphasis on voluntourism — it did not take me long to become motivated to make a change. Rather than going in and choosing something I think should change, I am giving youth — Ghana’s future leaders — the support they need to envision a future they can live with and to make that future a reality. These change-makers will have vast, far-reaching effects, which I could never have if I focused on my own idea of what a problem is. Further, time, energy and other resources will not be wasted on a needless project.
While development work is common in Ghana, much of this is focused on western ideals. Yes, this work can have amazing benefits, but I have noticed that it is not uncommon for people to assume that development work must be done by &/or with Westerners. That is not to say that all Ghanaians think this way; there are numerous Ghanaian nonprofits, including Evergreen Club of Ghana, whose founder I met and befriended in 2011 as part of WaPreG networking. Instead, my fear is that with the growing trend in voluntourism, youth may begin to depend on Westerners to solve the problems they themselves imagined.
Piloting Post-development will be realized by starting a conversation among/with youth and helping them to figure out what changes they want; only providing assistance when asked. When funding allows, field trips will bring students to Ghanaian change-makers, especially those who will let them see their work, answer questions and allow students to volunteer. Youth are the future leaders and are at a point in their lives in which many are still figuring out what they want to do with their lives. Therefore, I will encourage and empower them to bring their passions, interests and skills together to make Ghana the place they want it to be. This will be done through small discussion groups, in which youth will have a space to exchange ideas, concerns, knowledge, anything. Through these discussions, many issues will come up, both problems to be fixed, as well as issues relating to the solutions. Together we will discuss the issues and find solutions.
Beginning as a pilot project, I will base myself at Mayosa, donating extra funding for their re-building. As soon as I arrive in Ghana, I will collaborate with Agya Alex and Mayosa employees to find ways to make this work for everyone. Discussion groups will commence soon after, as well as meeting with other schools and with organizations. While I will reach out, I will always make time for those who also reach out to me. Over time, I see this project expanding throughout the country, welcoming anyone who is interested in this program.