In the month of Ramadan, where Muslims observe fasting from daylight to sunset, the EWB volunteers in Tamale, Ghana decided why not try and hold our own Stand Up event, right here in Tamale.
It was a challenge to organize and recruit people in Ghana to come to the event. Imagine handing out flyers and explaining to your friends, family and colleagues in Tamale about the event and why they should come. It was not an easy task, but definitely great for raising awareness and it forced me to answer some very difficult questions about the MDGs, my perspective on development, my beliefs about poverty and most importantly how will this event change anything.
On Sunday October 15th, I started to get nervous as we set up the chairs, DJ and hung the banner. As time passed we drew in a small crowd of dancing children, which eventually grew in size, until the Stand Up moment to over 300 GHANIANS.
The entire event went awesome! It began with a local drumming performance with dancers. The dancers move in such a way as to throw their heavy smocks around their bodies, gliding along in a circle, and periodically
chiming metal wands to the beat of the drums.
The performance continues with a local youth dance troop, who performed two dances. One female group and one male group as it is Ramadan where females and males are not supposed to dance together. The traditional dancing is amazing. My favourite was the male performance in which they shake beads strung across their waists, ankles and wrists. The sound created by the shaking beads is just as loud as the drumming, and the talent and strength of these youth is astonishing. The crowd went wild.
Local youth read out the MDGs and the Regional Gender Desk Officer gave an aspiring speech in Dagbani (the dominant language in Tamale). She spoke about how the MDGs related to the people right here in Tamale, how they could change their lives to help to meet these goals and how important the goals were to ending their struggles. She emphasized the role of woman in development, gender equality, and how important girl child education was to their future. I felt she really touched the crowd with her speech, and that her personal stories helped to drive the message home.
the end, I was still thinking about those difficult questions I was asked on the street “how would this event change anything?” and the answer today is still difficult. I believe that the event raised awareness that these goals exist, that everyone everywhere is responsible to help achieve them, and that it raised awareness about behaviour changes that are necessary right here, right now in order to reach these goals and bring about a better life for those directly targeted by the MDGs.
The question now is “How much closer are we to achieving the MDGs?” From what I see here we ALL have a long way to go.
So a big thank you to the people of Tamale, the EWB National Office for supporting us and to the other EWB Volunteers, Luke Brown, Gwen Henderson and Christian Beaudrie for pulling off a great event.
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