Mar(k): Travel, Hiking, and "Doing Good"

musings on our life of travel and volunteering

Youth in Journalism Workshops

with 4 comments

One of the main things that has been keeping us busy these past few months has been preparing for a series of workshops entitled “Youth in Journalism”, sponsored by UNICEF.  30 junior high school students were selected by the Department of Children, 10 each from the 3 northern regions of Ghana.  The first 3 day workshop provided these kids with the basics on writing, understanding what is news, some interviewing experience, and a hands on photographic workshop.   The follow up workshops are currently being held, and they are primarily dealing with editing.  The students will each submit a story or two based on their community, and will eventually be published in the Advocate.

This week we conducted the first of the follow up workshops in Bolgatanga, about a two hour drive north of Tamale.

waiting patiently for the students to arrive. Little did we know they had a four hour journey in order to be with us!

The start time of 9 am was clearly communicated, but alas, no one except the two of us were there at that hour!  Time passed, and we shrugged and waited;  “Ghana Time” is a regular occurrence, so a close adherence to a clock does little good.  Anyhow, more than 1.5 hours later, we were thinking it was a bit much.  Only later did we discover that these ten children had a four hour journey to get from their remote area (Garu and Timbane) to Bolga!   They were up before 5 am (one of the students proudly announced he was up at 4:15 am to get to morning prayer).  They left their homes by 6 am and only got to the Bolga venue after 10:30 am.  We asked the teacher / chaperon if we we could “extend” the workshop (given that we had already lost 1.5 hours of time), but we were flatly refused.  We needed to finish at 3 pm simply so that the children could hopefully be home by 7 pm!  amazing.  It certainly put things in perspective for us, that’s for sure!

Anyhow, the workshop itself was fun, interactive and we are hoping the students might have even learnt a thing or two!  The food is always a big hit at these workshops;  rice is the dish of choice, as many of the children often only get to eat banku or fufu (pounded yam, maize or cassava) at home.  Rice is a treat.

Another popular thing that the children love is our energising game of “True or False”.  Hands on your head if you think the answer is true, hands on your bottom if you think it is false!  If you are wrong, you have to sit down.  The winner is given some children’s books that we had bought for the occasion, and these were highly prized, as many of the kids cannot even afford exercise books and pens / pencils for school;  a reading book is simply out of their means.  So this was a great incentive, and they had a great time trying to win the sought after books!

Finally, we showed them the video of the last workshop.  Of course many / most of the children do not live where there is electricity, so to be able to watch a video of themselves was really special.  At the last course, they had the chance to photograph each other.

The students loved seeing themselves on video. For many students there is no electricity at home, so it is even more special...

Mar also took the opportunity to grab a few portraits of the children.  At the end of this workshop, each participant was given a photo of themselves.  It was likely the only photo of themselves that they had ever had.

Small things, but we do hope that it all makes a difference in their lives.

Happy workshop attendees give a wave before they get ready for the four hour journey back to their community


Written by Mar(k)

August 12, 2010 at 4:03 pm

4 Responses

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  1. wow! what an inspiring workshop mar and mark! it’s hard to imagine how long it takes to travel in ghana to places… i was talking to janet the other day about how long it takes to travel on the train to her place from sydney… well this puts it into perspective! keep up the great work you are doing and oh… the photos are wonderful. 🙂


    August 15, 2010 at 3:29 am

    • many thanks Karena! just wait till we’re back!!! have got some great shots….. but indeed – the travel is difficult here, and far more time consuming! it’s not like a tro-tro that “runs on time”!!! you wait until it has suffficiently filled (read: filled to overflowing) before it leaves!!!


      September 5, 2010 at 7:57 am

  2. Hi folks, just to let you know that I’m still following the stories with great pleasure! Great writing style and fantastic experiences. I particularly liked your story on aid. Coming from you two in Ghana gives it a different meaning than reading it in the paper here… Makes me want to find out more. Keep up the great work, I’m proud of you!



    August 19, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    • many thanks for the positive affirmation, Reinoud! kind words indeed. Certainly one of the biggest issues we find here is the incredibly complexity of issues – there are no “quick fixes”!!! all the best – Mar(k)


      September 5, 2010 at 7:54 am

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