Field Notes from Ghana
By Makeba Clay, the ACDI/VOCA-SHRM Foundation International Volunteer Partnership’s first volunteer
Volunteering has been a way of life since my early childhood. I grew up watching my parents volunteer within the community and I share their passion for giving back. For over 20 years, I have continued to honor my parent’s legacy of outstanding service by sharing my time and talents, specifically by providing stellar business and diversity strategies both locally and internationally.
When I learned about the opportunity to work with the Techiman Maize Traders Association (TEMTA) in Ghana with ACDI/VOCA from the SHRM Foundation, I was immediately excited. I could not wait to apply. I love delving into my work at a grassroots level and getting hands-on to really understand differences in the lives of the people with whom I interact.
For the next two weeks, I will be working with about 250 TEMTA members who buy maize from farmers and sell to processors and poultry farmers across Ghana. My role will be to help these members more effectively engage buyers, negotiate for better prices, and create good working relationships with the buyers, ultimately increasing revenue.
I arrived in Ghana on an evening flight just a few days ago. I couldn’t help but notice the laughter, merry-making, and excitement from the many people eagerly waiting for their family members and friends outside of the airport. Upon arriving in the capital city of Accra, it is quite evident that the infrastructure, terrain, and climate are vastly different.
Now as I travel to the work site in the Brong-Ahafo region, the intense traffic of the capital subsides and you begin to see a transition from an urban and congested atmosphere to that of a more laid back and rural setting. During this season, the weather is dry and dusty—it’s called “hamattan.” Though I am far from home, the people, the food, and the culture make me feel comfortable, just like home.
Ghanaians are known for their warmth, hospitality, and eagerness to form new friendships, especially with people from different cultures. They are typically very open and friendly—and they absolutely LOVE soccer! Since the official language is English, there is not often a language barrier, except in very rural communities.
I look forward to learning more about the work of the TEMTA and its member farmers as well as the other experiences I will have here.
About the ACDI/VOCA-SHRM Foundation International Volunteer Partnership
This partnership was designed to engage high-potential HR professionals and their colleagues in impactful, skills-based international volunteer assignments in the developing world. The assignments represent unique professional development and corporate social responsibility opportunities and are developed and managed by ACDI/VOCA, a leading Washington, DC-based international development organization. Volunteers are selected based on their skillsets and assignment needs. All assignment costs are covered by ACDI/VOCA.