This was such an insightful program that brought together great young change makers for Ghana’s growth and development. The Citizen’s Initiative program, among other things, prepared nine of us to tackle the problems in our communities. Personally, I learnt a lot from the training and I am really glad to share a few of my highlights with you. Kudos to the founders, Kelvin Wiredu and Akwasi Asante, for their consistent (three years) effort to train university students and graduates to start projects that solve problems in their communities. This year’s program saw nine young change makers from various universities: Ghana Institute of Journalism, University of Ghana, and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, taking home these skills and resources as mentioned below:
Throughout the training, emphasis was much laid on monitoring and evaluation. It is important that as a Project manager/ coordinator, one measures the impact made throughout the project duration. No project can make progress without the numbers. You need to know the number of people who have benefited from your work. It is important to also measure impact so as to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. This will help you correct some mistakes as well as help you know which areas that need to be addressed.
What is the world without problem solvers? This trait is widely looked out for in our day to day activities, and that is what the program mostly engaged us in. Problems in the forms of debates, questions, puzzles, riddles, morality tests, and games, were often thrown at us to challenge us as social change makers. The activities on our daily agenda introduced us to experiential learning methods which are mostly absent in our normal learning structure. We also made use of peer-led learning and design thinking techniques with the help of sticky notes, colored pens, and videos.
Our first week’s lesson helped us in discovering ourselves, our passions, and what core values can help us achieve our goals. We learnt the need for empathy, sacrifice, and selflessness as traits of every leader and change maker. Without core values, our solutions to the community cannot be sustained and well managed. We were given take-home assignments and journals which helped us to reflect on our lessons as the weeks went by. Fellows could further ask questions from previous lessons and thankfully, Nathan John and Nana Adwoa Ofori, selflessly helped us to answer them.
Guest Speakers/ Networks
The well of wisdom in which our guest speakers introduced us to cannot be expressed in words. In fact, we were so empowered by their stories of why and how they started out as social innovators. Their lessons on determination, team building, attracting investors and stakeholders, were life changing. For instance, this is one lesson that I cannot forget: ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it’. The importance of the ‘Why’ of your project is something you cannot afford to miss out while selling the idea. Emotional Intelligence is also one thing that I learnt from our only female guest spaeaker, Kimberly Bassit. Thanks to Prince Adu-Appiah, Erwin Asamoah Boateng, Emmanuel Leslie Addae, and Kwadwo A. Sarpong, for coming through to inspire us.
As fellows, if for anything, we were taught not to forego the importance of teamwork. It was important that we looked out for each other in all that we did. There is also the need for partnership and collaborations among us. I enjoyed when we did the ‘Scavengers Hunt’. This was a game that brought us together as a team to unravel mysteries and solve for a common goal. This and many more activities helped us to bond and know each other’s strengths and personalities. This is a lesson that most young people must learn in order to be able to build great initiatives together.
From start to finish, the Citizens Initiative Program stood for one thing which was sharing of ideas. No idea shared was wrong. This opened room for participation and inclusion among all of us as fellows. The facilitators emphasized on the need for sharing the ideas that each person had with others and to be ready for constructive feedback and criticism. This taught us to be bold and confident when sharing our ideas. It also taught us to be consultants of one another. This exercise helped us to identify what goes into our colleagues’ projects in order to share ideas and opportunities with ourselves when the need arose.
The most exciting part of the whole program was that all nine fellows got seed funding for their projects. This was to be used to pilot the first phase of our projects and to possibly apply for future funding. This, to me, was the best part of it all because what is an idea without funds to kick-start it? I believe this opportunity will help us all try out our projects in order to learn from the failures and mistakes which may arise while running them.
For further information about Citizens Initiative and what they are about, follow their fan-page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/citizensinitiativeafrica/ or visit their website on ciafrica.org