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

musings on our life of travel and volunteering

Our Hero – Shirley Somono

with 2 comments

Shirley (centre) at the opening of a community project

One of the great things about volunteering with an organisation like VSO is the opportunity to get to know other volunteers.  We consider ourselves very lucky indeed to have found such a wonderful friend, and inspiring volunteer here in Tamale.

Shirley hails from the Philippines and has been volunteering here for more than three years.  Like us, she is in the “Secure Livelihoods” part of the VSO programme in Ghana.  But whilst our work is strategic in nature, and contemplates development issues on a national scale – through policy and advocacy – Shirley is making a difference right at “the coal face”.

What this means in practise is that at least four days a week, Shirley is working at the community level – helping the rural poor to improve their lives.  She does this in a number of ways – teaching the women how to value-add to their shea nuts by learning soap making skills, or helping with malnutrition by teaching skills on the use of foodstuffs like the soya bean and Meringa leaves.  This is in addition to her more formalised roles in “Agriculture Extension”, helping farmers secure micro-finance to purchase their necessary seeds for planting, providing assistance to farmers with their small ruminants (goats and sheep) and finding low cost but effective ways to keep rodents and insects away from crops (like growing basil to use as a natural insecticide in silo storage bins).

Shirley stole the show at a recent volunteer conference with her motorbike riding prowess!

Shirley is incredibly dedicated to helping the disadvantages, and can often by found in the communities also on her weekends – trying to help women and farmers improve their subsistence living in small but tangible ways.

On a personal level, we enjoy our time with Shirley doing things like playing Scrabble, cooking together and discussing development al issues.  Shirley is a fantastic cook and has taught us many things, like how ot make tofu from scratch.  She is a voracious reader and has a strong sense of social justice.

Shirley is indeed an inspiration to use and really does live up to the VSO ideal of “sharing skills, changing lives”.

Shirley, we are privileged to be able to call you a friend!


Written by Mar(k)

October 2, 2010 at 4:46 am

2 Responses

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  1. Very True, We admire Shirley ! In fact we see her as one of our very reliable source of information. Unfortunately, soon she will leave us.

    Raj Kumar Prasad

    October 4, 2010 at 11:56 am

  2. […] our photo, taken by our amazing friend Shirley Somono, there is a little story that goes with […]

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