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Ghana Shoot '05


Date: 20/07/2006


Previous Location: WORLDwrite homepage


Headline: Ghana Shoot


Story: WORLDwrite is planning a unique exchange for volunteers up for a challenge.

We will take up to forty volunteers to Ghana, provide them with a crash course in film making and set them off on a journey to ask Ghanaians what's holding back development.


The first African country to gain independence, Ghana was once the world's leading exporter of cocoa and one of Africa's leading economies. Today it's taken on what's known as Highly Indebted Poor Country Status (HIPC) - a world bank programme providing debt relief but with strings attached. We'll investigate the impact these policies have on everyday life and record our findings to bring home and broadcast wherever we can.


With visits to NGOs, (more numerous in Ghana than elected officials), we'll examine Western funded community projects from bee keeping to batik which are promoted as the best means of empowering the poor but promise little in terms of wealth or development. These schemes are now considered essential components of what's known as a Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS), a HIPC directive.


The jam-packed itinerary will be guided by WORLDwrite's partners, the IYEP Ghana (International Youth Education Programme) and Ghana's first independent film school the ASA (Academy of Screen Arts). Volunteers will spend time visiting subsistence based villages, plantain fields, cocoa plantations and visit the few existing industries such as multi-nationals Valco and Nestle to discover what Ghanaians want for their country.


The visit will be punctuated with discussion on sustainable development, citizenship, globalisation and its relevance today. We'll question the West's emphasis on 'basic needs' and discover what has happened with the introduction of UPE (Universal Primary Education). Filming on route, every opportunity will be taken to record Ghanaians interests and aspirations to form articles, films, videos, websites and education packs as teaching materials for UK schools and colleges.


Key opportunities will include visits to open cast gold mines where debates on environmental conservation versus industrial development loom large while villagers appropriate plastic sheeting from sites to create waterproof shelter from the monsoons. Volunteers will learn the history of Ghana once known as the Gold Coast and a centre of the slave trade with visits to the infamous slave castles of Elmina and Cape coast. A chance to examine afresh discussions on reparations for slavery.


Ghana is a politically stable republic and renowned for its hospitality. Yet it remains off the Western tourist track despite beautiful beaches, where fisherman haul their catch by hand and villagers will cook you crayfish for 30p. Do Ghanaians want it to stay this way? What's happened to the villagers who once made a living on the Mole game reserve by hunting but are now banned while the Elephants roam free? With English as a second language, asking key questions will not be hard for volunteers willing to probe and not just hear what they want to hear.


Rich in a dazzling array of cultural traditions, partners will help us examine the powerful hold religion has, investigate traditional crafts, the pittance paid to Kente weavers, music, dance, and not least African film. Will a more globalised world put pay to traditional songs or Ghanaian drumming? What do young people do without TVs and up to the minute ICT? Are the amenities of modern life shunned or longed for? What do Ghanaians make of atheism, the war in Iraq, child labour or nuclear power? With three weeks on the move there will be much to learn and plenty to take on board.


Exchangees will find they are millionaires in Ghana, carrying plastic bags full of cedis to the pound and may well find the poverty shocking, but this exchange is not about pity. Volunteers will not stay in compounds or mud huts. Poverty is something to be understood and challenged. We believe 'living it' changes nothing.


It's an opportunity of a lifetime for volunteers but not for the faint hearted. It requires rigorous preparation and fundraising. We'll also have to fund a return visit by Ghanaian volunteers to ensure our partners equally benefit. Unlike volunteer placements, its not an opportunity to teach Ghanaians but to learn from Ghanaians. It requires an open mind, a commitment to reporting back and a belief in equality.


Up for the challenge?


For an information and application pack for the August 2005 exchange either:

You will need Adobe Reader to view this document. Click here to download it.


We are also keen to hear from sponsors and hope to ship a container load of film equipment to assist our aspirant partners.