Tuesday, 14 November 2017

SUCCESS IS NOT A DESTINATION; IT'S A JOURNEY

Pagsung ICS with the "Boagnayili" women group

Volunteers with Peer Educators

It is already week six into placement and we have embarked on an interesting learning journey which we wish to share with you today.  This blog post summarizes all our community sensitizations and future events as well.





Richard Daana doing database collection
Sensitization at Boagnayili
Needs assessments and Community sensitizations
One part of the work that we have been doing and all look forward to are the times that we get to enter the communities. The first time was to do our needs assessments in Bognayili, Cheshegu, and Kochim. All three communities were very open with us about what they need, the most common request being for better training on making Shea butter. The needs assessments gave us all a much clearer understanding for the women that we would be working to help, and it also helped us to narrow down the specific training that each community needed.  The second entry that we had into the community was for a sensitization based on gender and business. We asked them a range of questions from what they believed their rights as women are, to whether they thought that having children limited their opportunities in business.  The latter question proved to be the most controversial between the women and initiated a lot of debate. It was provoking to hear about the day to day lives of these women. They get their families ready in the morning, head to work often with their youngest children, then after finishing work head home to cook and clean the house. It was particularly inspiring to hear when asked if they had the potential to be business women, the majority saw themselves as having that opportunity, and a few saw that through their work with PAGSUNG they had already achieved that goal.

 Peer education
 After our needs assessment in the three communities we saw the need for the communities to have peer educators. Peer education refers to education of people of identical or similar qualities. These peer educators are members of the groups we work with. Peer education training is to ensure that our work does not die out after we have left but continues to live with the people.  Again the women groups are likely to understand and appreciate knowledge passed down through the peer educators better because they live with them and they know and understand themselves best. It is also an effective way of learning. During the training, the peer educators were very interactive and asked a lot of questions to make sure that they understood what was discussed. They also partook in the energizers we had during the training which was very interesting. Copies of the presentations were printed to each of them upon request for future reference.   It was one of the best days we had on placement as we actually felt we were making the difference we set out to make.

The Shop
Nanna Salamatu helping in the making of shea butter soap

Whilst waiting on certification, one of our biggest aims is giving the PAGSUNG shop a makeover. As the only avenue to sell their products so far, it’s our priority to get the shop looking appealing for customers to increase revenue for PAGSUNG. After some initial plans, we decided to re-paint the shop and re-design the layout, in hope of using mostly the same objects due to a small and restricted budget. The new design included things such as signs for each product and making the shop for customers interactive by introducing concepts such as a customer feedback suggestion box, for future cohorts to improve on. The most exciting thing however is the ‘sample table’ we have proposed for the shop, where customers can try, smell and see how each soap and product feels on their skin, hopefully this will ensure an enjoyable shopping experience, and a one hundred percent customer satisfaction rate. As PAGSUNG is all about the women who own it, we hope to have pictures of the women all throughout the shop, so people buying PAGSUNG’S products are reminded of the positive impact they are having upon these individual women.  So far, we are currently waiting on the painting of the shop, after which we can start to arrange it and prepare for the grand shop opening on the 9th December, where we hope many entrepreneurs and businesswomen alike will come to see PAGSUNG’S products, and hopefully reach a wider market as well. The shop as a whole is a very exciting project, where especially for this cohort of PAGSUNG ICS volunteers, we will be able to see the physical and immediate difference we have had upon PAGSUNG, and hopefully one that is both sustainable and very beneficial for the women of PAGSUNG.

Challenges
Just like every good venture, we have faced some challenges but we refuse to allow them to deter us. Being in a community where the common language is Daganli, we have only two people in the team who are fluent in this language, hence verbal communication with the locals during community events are sometimes difficult.  For the community needs assessment event, one of the communities we planned to visit was not ready so we had to switch to a different community which was not part of our original plan. This meant we had to spend extra time waiting for the women to organize themselves together. Again, we had to reschedule our peer educators training on the day of the training because of circumstances beyond our control.
Knowing nothing good comes easily, in all it has been a successful 6 weeks and we are very optimistic of sustainable positive change.

Written By
Volunteers of Pagsung ICS 2017 Cohort 2

Photo credit: Chloe Ross-Brown

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