Working in Africa
I am a Canadian who grew up in Zimbabwe
and its influences, colours and smells are seared into my soul!
A few years ago I decided to give back to Africa in a tangible way, I volunteered to set up a women’s cooperative in Kpando, Ghana. “Dzidefo” meaning “there is hope” was established in 2008. The nine-member strong textile cooperative is self sustaining attracting orders from US and Canadian designers. The income earned by these women goes to educating their children, medical supplies and raising their standard of living, they all have cell phones now, and all their children are in school! They have learned how to operate a cooperative; operate a bank account; pay bills; market their work; make, invoice and ship overseas orders; ensure quality control and customer service! Their work is available in Ghana, Canada and the U.S.
www.ghanacoop4women.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
I was asked by Village Volunteers, www.villagevolunteers.org to come to Atorkor to assist their artisans with marketing and design. When I got here I realised there was a far greater issue of unemployment here. The local fishing industry the mainstay of the economy for decades has disintegrated, there are no fish due to overfishing of the off shore trawlers. The poverty level is high so many parents were unable to educate their children past elementary school, the youth unemployment level is about 90%, and they have no way of learning any skills training.
So I started to fundraise to build a vocational training centre.
My community of Prince Edward County are extraordinary, and by February 2011 we broke ground for Phase 1, funded entirely by some very remarkable people in my community. Our plans were drawn up by Canadian architect Brian Clark, blending Canadian and Ghanaian influences into a stunning building.
Phase 2 is now complete and will serve to train the youth in welding, plumbing, masonry, carpentry and electrical installation. Once again the architect is Brian Clark, but this time the funding is coming from the Ghanaian government, a true recognition of how badly this skills training centre is needed!
My work is still available at:
Frantic Farms Clay & Glass & Gallery
2 Mill St., Warkworth, K0K 3K0