Empowering Girls in Ghana
In Ghana, girls are often provided with fewer opportunities than their male counterparts. With little economic opportunities, women are often caught in the cycle of poverty, and unable to find jobs. For the past 20 years, CCS has worked to fight for girls education and combat rural poverty.
Fostering economic opportunities for women creates financial independence and the leadership skills to build stronger communities. Ghanaian women are eager to receive support and are determined to transform themselves, their families, and ultimately the community at large. At a Community Vocational Training Center, women are given the opportunity to become entrepreneurs, have an income of their own, and feel proud of the work they are doing. The program is three years long, and they have 140 students ages 15-35 currently.
Hayden Kemp, Program Specialist for Guatemala and Ghana took the opportunity to learn more about the work CCS is doing to empower girls in Ghana, and volunteered at the Vocational Training Center.
What opportunities does the Vocational Training Center create?
In a world where those who do have an education still can't find jobs, they need people creating jobs in Ghana. The Vocational Center trains individuals to become entrepreneurs and make their own income. This creates hope for girls, and services for the community. There is a daily schedule of activities that all students do, but then they focus in on a specific practical skill that they will be tested on (either orally or in a more academic type form, depending on the skill and the woman). They do everything from English teaching and math to beadwork, wreath making, cooking and catering, to fashion design and hairstyling, and more. A growing skill they are teaching is ICT, or communications and technology, which is becoming more necessary as technology is increasing in society. Learning these skills gives women the technical skills they need to run businesses.
What makes the Vocational Training Center unique?
At the center, they do not only teach vocational trades. They study English, math, sciences, and technology and communications. Book academics are not for everyone, and at the center, they really want to empower women to not be discouraged by that, but to take up these vocational trades, which also require lots of hard work and critical thinking, and be able to support themselves. This institution wants to change the stigma that comes with attending a trade school.
What kind of volunteers is the center looking for?
They love having volunteers who can come for ideally longer term -- more than 2 weeks! They are seeking individuals who can help teach any skills: cooking, baking, needlework, beadwork, communications/ technology/ computers, English language (for business), crafts, fashion, anything that fits. They also want women who can come and inspire other women to be self-starters, share their stories from their country and give them hope, again, and encourage them against the negative stigma and perception that is there.There is a heavy importance and value of the cultural exchange and are eager to learn from, as well as teach, the volunteers.
How does volunteering at the center change the perspective of the world for volunteers?
Volunteers can learn so much from working at the center. From learning how valuable skills and trades are, to building incredible relationships with girls in the community, the entire experience is so rewarding. Volunteers are exposed to an entirely different environment than they are used to and they get to see a different way of life. All the stories that the girls share are so inspiring, it is incredible to see how much they can accomplish with some support and guidance.
Were there any moments that stood out to you at the center?
When I was volunteering, I saw one girl stand up in English class. The assignment was to say what they did over their holiday, in English. She shared a story about her internship at a small tailoring shop. She was taught how to make a dress that was unlike any she'd seen before. With much effort, she made the dress and gave it to her grandmother. Her grandmother was so happy with her work, that she wanted to give her 5 Ghanaian cedis. It was the first dress she's 'sold.' She was so proud to share her achievement, it was amazing to see. When she finished that story, the whole class clapped for her and celebrated her exciting achievement!
Join CCS to volunteer in Ghana to fight for girls education and combat rural poverty. Together as a movement, we can help break the cycle of poverty by creating new opportunities for women and empowering local communities.