Barely two weeks after starting work with Comic Relief, I was last week sent on my first overseas assignment – to Ghana! As a Journalist on the Editorial desk, I was asked to go out as part of a small Comic Relief media team to help two You Tube vloggers, Lily Martin and Anna Gardner, make short films about some of our projects for International Women’s Day on 8th March.
With just two days of prep time, I suddenly found myself skidding onto a BA flight to Accra. Within 7 hours, I’d left the cold and rain of London behind and was back in tropical sunshiney Africa.
And so began a whirlwind trip through Ghana. First up, we jumped on a plane to Tamale, about 600kms north of Accra, then took a two-hour drive through arid, flat savannah to Bolgatanga, about an hour from the Burkina Faso border.
There, in a small dusty village, we met a wonderful group of women benefitting from a Widows and Orphans Movement project funded by Comic Relief. They’ve been given the chance to own micro-businesses making and selling shea butter – an opportunity which has taken them out of poverty and enabled them to become self-sufficient so they can support their kids. These women have lived unimaginably hard lives in rural Ghana but their new opportunities have definitely given them something to smile about! It made me smile too.
Then we headed back to Accra and drove (on one of the bumpiest roads I’ve ever travelled on!) to the outer suburbs, a beautiful region of tropical impossibly-green forests – what a contrast to the arid north! There we met women who’d been given small grants by the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) to set up small businesses in dressmaking and hairdressing. In their tiny shops, crammed into the middle of noisy, bustling markets, we heard how these women are “paying forward” their opportunities, training dozens of other women and passing on their skills.
Lily and Anna, our two You Tubers, were great fun to travel with and they’ve produced some cool films about our trip. See my Twitter feed @jeanied1 for the links to their films.
It was a tantalisingly short trip. As you all know, I love to explore under my own steam and I hope I’ll be able go back to Ghana one day, commandeer a set of wheels, and get to know the country a little better. Till then, I count myself lucky that I was able to go and witness the good things happening in the country because of Comic Relief. It’s yet another adventure that will stay in my mind for a long time to come.