Just the beginning

By Shingai Maphosa

When I found out that I had been selected for the FK Fellowship I was both excited and nervous, mainly because I had never been to any country in West Africa or done much travelling. I was not sure of a lot of things but I was sure I wanted to do it and that I would make this a worthwhile experience come what may. My family asked difficult questions to make sure I knew what I was doing while some were worried and not reluctant to tell me how they felt. In the end I had their blessings and soon advice and information about Ghana was coming from all over. My preparation for Ghana was now underway but first there was a preparatory course in Cape Town.
Cape Town was an opportunity to explore Ethiopia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Tanzania, Uganda and even Norway. It’s a fact when people from different countries meet and get to know each other, it gives rise to knowledge, understanding and empathy… and the world does get smaller. The initial sessions were fun, interesting yet informative. Our facilitator did a good job making sure that everyone participated, got to know one another and was engaged. I felt ready for Ghana until we had a session on mental health. I thought long and hard about going to Ghana and asked myself questions that I had not thought about much. The fascination of exploring was met with the reality of leaving all our support systems and all we knew and held dear. It was going to be difficult so we had to be prepared and know that while we learn, grow and help bring about change in the different places we were going so would there be change in the places and people we were leaving behind, some for the better, some for the worse, and it would be alien to us. The realisation made many sad but thanks to our facilitator we came up with solutions to our fears and ways to maintain and even create new support systems.

The preparation was good, it was fun, it was informative and new friendships were created. The 20th of July came and I got on a plane to Accra. I was welcomed by a wave of hot, heavy and humid air as I got out of the airport. The next day I reported for work and since then it has been a learning curve from work to the social aspects of Ghana. I now know some of my colleagues by name; even have a favourite Ghanaian meal among many I like and know much about CDD as an organisation. I am already working with different groups in the CDD Change Management project, assisting with Project Monitoring and Evaluation as well as helping with different surveys that CDD is currently carrying out – and this is just the beginning. There is so much to learn, experience to gain and impact to make as I exchange ideas, knowledge and views with colleagues and CDD at large. It is just the beginning.

Shingai Maphosa is Idasa’s FK Participant at CDD-Ghana

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