Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Looking back...

GHEI staff had their annual staff retreat in late August, this time at the lovely Aburi Gardens.  Though we had some time to walk around and savor the beauty, much of our time was spent in heated discussion, and thoughtful reflection.  It was exhausting, but invigorating.

Local staff came up with three volunteers that they felt should be specially singled out for enormous dedication and spirit during this years summer serve and learn session.  Those four will be announced shortly but we have to let them know first! Check back with us next month...

The nostalgia extended to last year, and everyone who was a part of Serve and Learn 2010 fondly remembered it, and went off on tangent stories about various fond memories with volunteers from last year. Those of us who weren't in 2010 felt left out and pouted.  Here are the four winners of the 2010 Outstanding Service Award.

Tamara Mason 

"I participated in the 2010 Girls’ Empowerment Camp.  The Girls’ Empowerment Camp focused on the empowerment and development of adolescent girls in the village.  With a group of six other volunteers, we developed and led educational sessions to encourage the girls to pursue a high-school education, be more assertive, and have more self-confidence. The Girls’ Empowerment Camp helped the adolescents learn how to make decisions to give them more control over how they choose to live their lives, promoting healthy and happy relationships and families."
"My volunteer experience with GHEI in Humjibre has impacted me tremendously.  The experience humbled me and made me realize that as American citizens we are fortunate to have consistent access to seemingly simple things such as electricity and water.  Since returning from Humjibre, I try to be more mindful of the amount of water and electricity that I use on a daily basis!  On a professional level, volunteering with GHEI enabled me to participate in development work in an international setting and to also participate in community and consensus building in a grassroots fashion."

Monique Mounce

"I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Humjibre, Ghana in June 2010 with GHEI as a member of the Prevention of Childhood Disease through Handwashing Serve and Learn session. With the help of the Community Health Workers, we planned and implemented effective outreach events to mothers with children under 5 years old as well as all of the schools within the village." 

"One of my most treasured memories was when I went on a run down the main road in Humjibre, and as I was running, a little girl in a dress and sandals ran with me while singing the “Soap and Water” song. At that instant, I realized the power of my presence in the village and the impact on these kids’ lives. Although my time in Ghana was short, I believe I made an impact on their lives, but I had no idea that they would make a bigger impact on mine."

Tianying Zhang

"I feel that GHEI has helped me gain a fresh perspective on charity work in developing countries as well as shape my own character and priorities in life. This Serve and Learn Session with GHEI was my first exposure to grassroots community project and it has strengthened my view that truly lasting development work requires the empowerment of the community."
"Despite poverty and despite difficult living conditions, the people I’ve met Humjibre were some of the most welcoming and lovely being I’ve ever met. They smiled through their hardships, laughed in the face of their misfortunes and toiled against all odds. Their infectious smiles and optimism, made me feel so humble, and made my problems feel insignificant. This experience has made me want to be far more involved in charity work in the developing worlds, where I can try and make just a small difference for such truly deserving people."

Ramona Mendoza

"My most memorable moment in Humjibre was discovering and connecting with Eunice in the library during the read-a-thon - a beautiful, bright and engaging young lady with tremendous potential."

"Humjibre is a very special village for any volunteer to experience. The Ghanians make it memorable; the time with them truly precious. I’m honored to have participated in filling the community center to capacity with screaming kids, their proud parents and village tribal elders. I hope future GHEI volunteers can engage the wonderful hard-working women of Humjibre through the fabulous library resource to improve their literacy skills and capacity to improve family/community health and welfare."
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