On 20 November 2020, I engaged on a journey to fulfill my Minor Field Study Bachelor’s thesis in Political Science at Lund University in the developing country Ghana. In reality, I really did not know what I was getting myself into. But that’s the beauty. You never know.
Located in the Ahanta West District in the western region of south Ghana, I stayed 4 months in the fishing village and beach resort Busua, by the sea. I started my day drinking fresh papaya and orange juice from Frank in the morning. Plantain or fufu with tuna for lunch, and banku or gizzard for dinner together with local villagers. In the days you can go surfing, take long walks on the beach or go on excursions and explore neighboring villages such as Butre, the fishing village Dixcove or Cape three points – the southernmost part of Ghana.
Stemming from my passion of football I engaged a lot with the Busua juniors team ”Sankofa”, together with cassava farmer and head coach Francis. Playing football every weekend on the local football park or during late afternoons. When all people came together to play on the beach and practice catching waves in the sea. The village is a vibrant community with music playing on the streets and a lot of kids with happy smiles. It couldn’t come more clear to me, the people living in Busua are what makes this village so unique.
IT For Children & Minor Field Study
I conducted the field work for my MFS in the neighboring fishing village Dixcove. Collaborating together with the non-profit independent NGO IT For Children, founded 2015 by Torsten Kjellgren, inspired by his previous development work in the country. While the NGO is led by a board in Sweden, all daily operation in Ghana is accomplished by employees hired locally. In a community were IT For Children’s facility is the only place to access ICTs, I really came to witness the great impacts that it implies for a young individual.
My study focused on how the young women attending IT For Children’s education programme had developed core elements of empowerment through access to computers and the internet. As previous research suggested, access to ICTs not only entail new forms of learning, livelihood options, health services and jobs that generate personal development. It connects people in a network of information exchange. Unravel social and cultural norms in rural areas in which tend to subordinate and marginalize certain groups and individuals. From the results of the study, it came clear to me that these young women had developed their self-confidence and sense of agency through their gained knowledge in ICTs; in alignment with the sustainable development goals 5.B and 9.C. However its impact is perhaps best articulated by the words of the young female students themselves:
“Yeah, I feel self-confident. Maybe when I am in a crowd when people ask any question about the computer so, I feel confidence when I answer it. Because many don’t know, and I know but I think it is not good to be proud of it, but it makes me confident.” (Interviewee E, Scholarship)
In addition, the female students answers revealed that they carried an emissary role, not only within their family but in their community due to their gained knowledge in ICTs. One student told me how people occasionally approach her in the village. To ask for advice on how to protect oneself from diseases and how to cook traditional food and drinks:
“Most people they ask. One lady ask me how to do Bisab and I told her that as for me I don’t know how to do it so when I come to IT, I will search the ingredients and come and tell. I did that to her and she did it, cooked it. If you are sick and if you go to google it will bring you solution of how you can go about it. Let’s say disease like malaria, how to protect yourself, how to be able know that you have this disease, where to go in order to be cured. So, it can help us searching for this and also how to make food yeah. When we go, we want to bake something like bread, if you search it will give you all those things so that you too can do it, it will also gain you something.” (Interviewee A, Scholarship)
Although Ghana is considered to be one of the most democratically stable countries in Africa. I have come to realize that insufficient insurances for individuals and households, asymmetric information and limited commitment are amongst obstacles in a developing country. For the poor, reality entails a constant exposure to risks. A phenomenon that I – somewhat ironically and suitable – learn more about in the course “Economics of Poverty” in my distance studies at Sciences Po. Observing this reality, while teaching a workshop in Human Rights as a volunteer to adolescents in Dixcove, led me to start my own project.
In early February, I initiated a fundraising for the children in the government school in Dixcove. The target was to solve the issue of schoolchildren left with no option but to sit on the floor due to a lack of desks and benches to support their learning. Not only making it hard to follow the teacher’s instructions but imposes great health risks. As desks were urgently needed by the government school in the village, our plan was to continuously buy wooden material to build new desks and benches while the fundraising progressed. Posting updates on our progress continuously through social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and GoGetFunding’s website to generate funds, and match up to all backer’s contributions. In the end, we managed to build 31 new desks with benches.
In the following post I am going to tell you all about the academics I attend at the university Sciences Po in Paris, as well as about Iddris – professeur de français, bartender and a dear friend – that introduced me to a taste of not only the French language, but the shared affinity that runs through all village life in Busua. From the interesting courses that I have had the privilage to read from a distance at Sciences Po, while taking into account the advanced level of education taught by highly engaged experts in their field. To what I have found as a result of challenging myself and wanting to figure things out.