Marka in Ghana

Sunday, July 16, 2006

An inspiring week

This week, I had the privilege of sitting in on OIC’s quarterly planning and training of the field officers. The officers were trained in various workshops that they were to facilitate to their communities in the next 4 months. Topics included Resource Allocation Maps, Strategies for Marketing Processed Products, Prices and Pricing and the Avian Flu. There was also a session on Monitering and Evaluation where they brainstormed ways to effectively collect data which would illustrate the impact their work was having in the field.
As I sat in the conference room, surrounded by all of the field officers, listening and learning from the sessions, I slowly began to realize what makes OIC the amazing NGO that it is. First of all, the organizational structure of their projects is phenomenal- each area that OIC works in has goals for the quarter, and check lists of things to be done. The workshops are well laid out, presented in a facilitated discussion and contain visual aids to spark conversations. The way in which the workshops are presented to the trainers are also in a well facilitated discussion. People here aren’t afraid to ask questions, especially the hard questions. They love to share success stories, yet they do not back away from their challenges. They share their challenges, brainstorm ways to overcome them and learn from eachother. It’s interesting to sit in a room of so many people who have so much knowledge in different areas, from marketing to agriculture to live stock. What I found really interesting was how after learning about a topic like “strategies for marketing processed goods”, which is fairly theoretical, they began to brainstorm ways to apply what they learned to the field, how to make it relevant to those that they worked with and how to explain a lot of the theories with words and analogies in the local language, when words such as strategy do not translate.
Finally, what I love most about OIC is the passion in each of the workers. There have been many days that Abu, the field worker I have been shadowing, remarks that the visit to the community he works in is much more gratifying than any monetary raise when he sees the improvement in people’s lives. I have also had many of the field workers express to me how important the personal relationship with the communities that they work in is to them, and see this personally when they sit and talk to various members about their day to day lives before and after the workshops. They truly understand the realities of those they are working with, and because of this, they are better positioned to help them.
I have finished this week feeling similar to how I end up leaving an EWB conference- completely inspired.

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