Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Communities and Credit Unions....

During our visit to the Wli Waterfalls we met Alfred.  He was our tour guide to the falls - he is also a farmer in the village at Wli.  Alfred was extremely knowledgeable and spoke very well.  During the trip up to the falls he spoke with our two Ghanaian CUA (Credit Union Association) drivers, George and Raymond.  Both George and Raymond are VERY passionate about the credit union and how it can help Ghanaians save for their futures and build their businesses.

As we quickly walked back down from the waterfalls (on our way to take Fintan to emergency), Alfred asked me several time to Please come back and share the credit union message with his village.  Alfred could have arranged to learn how the credit union could just help him, but he understands the power of working together as a community.  That was a reality check for me.  So many times in our society we take an opportunity to maximize it for our own gains.  I did not see that in Ghana.

This next video shares a small portion of the time Fintan and I spent speaking with the village (actually Raymond and Alfred spoke the most, but Fintan and I tried!).  When we arrived on Monday, somewhat unannounced - they rang the community meeting bell, swept the floor, arranged the benches and set us up at a head table.  We were Welcome!

Maybe turn your volume up for this video and close the door so you can hear Alfred speaking.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Crazy Couple of Days

It's been a couple of days since I have posted a video.  I can honestly say it has been CRAZY - crazy good, crazy bad, crazy scarey, crazy emotional.  We went to the Wli waterfalls,which were awe inspiring. Unfortunately Fintan, my fellow coach from Ireland fell on the rocks and cut his hand really bad.  We had to take him to emergency....hmmmm.
That was pretty much all of yesterday - though the cool thing was our waterfalls guide, Alfred, was very interested in learning more about the credit union.  He is a farmer and a tour guide.  He wants to save for his daughter's education and borrow to help finish building his house out of the cement blocks he had made. His current house was made of clay.  We said we would come back and speak to his village about the credit union in the hopes they would build a savings group.  I will post tomorrow the pics and videos we have from our visit to Alfred's village today.  While we were there we met with some of the village people and spoke to them and took questions about the credit union.  Then Alfred took us on a tour of his palm nut, rice, pineapple and casova farm - WOW.
Until then here is the video from the past two days!

Saturday, 26 January 2013

True Hard Work

Not too much time to blog, just wanted to say things are going very well.  Redeember Credit Union was wonderful to work with and they were very welcoming.  "You are Welcome" as the Ghanains say when they greet us.  We are just getting ready to meet with the Board to share our report with them.

Here's my next short video from January 25, 2013True Hard Work

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Videos/Images from January 24, 2013

We are blessed....

I hope that's not a surprise.  Today was incredible.  We were up early to finish our report for the credit union.  Ultimate Credit Union was formed in 2000 by 200 teachers who wanted to save together so they could afford to further their education.  They also knew they wanted to save so they could build homes for themselves.  The Chairperson, who is a retired school teacher, has just told me that without the credit union he would not have been able to build his house.  It took 4 years (2003 to 2007) and 4 loans to finish building his home.  Ultimate CU in Akatski has 5 chair persons including a female treasurer.  They were amazing to work with and very advanced in their business.  They have 677 members and operate on a computer system with a small network and printer receipts for member transactions.  Their board is younger and very committed to educating their community on membership benefits.

After presenting to the board and manager, they took us to Keta and to the place where slavery was born.  The Danes built a castle on the shore of the Atlantic.  Here they kept the slaves prisoners and sold them to the people who came over by boat.  The castle is called Fort Prizentien - look it up, well worth the education. 

The slave castle brought back many of the same emotions I felt when I first learned about slavery and about the holocaust.  Disgust in the narrow minded people who were filled with hate for those they viewed as different and less than equals.  Admiration for those who were brave and stood up, in the face of death, for change.  Those people who died fighting for freedom - freedom.  It is those people who have made this world a better place.  I shed tears today for those who were lost and for those left to remember and share their stories.

Take time tonight to remember how blessed we are. It cannot be said enough, Canada is a wonderful place to call home and something we should never take for granted.

I will post some pictures soon.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Off to Ultimate Credit Union in Akatsi (A-kat-chi)

January 23, 2013
Having a hard time accessing wifi - which is OK, just makes those few moments I can spend online that much more enjoyable.  The trip to Akatsi was pretty interesting.  There are really no signs that tell you which villages are which way and there were quite a few roundabouts heading out of town. The traffic was insane, many times we rushed ahead to just line up in the next traffic jam.  We may have required a few U-Turns along the way.
Akatsi is wonderful and our hotel √íVolta Paradise Hotel√ď is great, even with all the little lizards running around (including the one in my room I slept with last night). 
We were able to visit Ultimate Credit Union yesterday and meet Jeffrey the Manager. The credit union owns their building and rents a portion of the space to a flower shop.  They are in the process of building the second floor and will rent that space out too. Today we will spend the day with Jeffrey and meet the board this afternoon.
Ultimate is close to a public school; a group of girls stopped as they were leaving school to dance and sing - amazing.
Gotta run, just finishing my coffee, omelette and bread, then heading out with Raymond to see Jeffrey and his team.
The pics I have attached include a shot of the lizard and of the Akatsi market - which was larger than you can imagine, selling EVERYTHING - toothpaste and toothbrushes from a moving wheelbarrel, dried fish, clothes, material, cell phones, spices, eggs, chickens, goats, nuts, fruits, vegetables, jewelery, shoes, purses, belts, rice, seeds.....

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

January 21,2013 Training in CUA Training Centre

Here is a quick video of our first day in Accra.  We spent the day training with Credit Union Association of Ghana field staff.  It was Jan 21 not Jan 20 like the video says - I lost a day:)