Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Partners Worldwide Canada

As many of you know, I was born and raised in Canada.  Most of my family is still in Canada.  And now, Partners Worldwide is also in Canada!  In the past couple of years, there has been a growing interest in Canadians of the work of Partners Worldwide, and last summer John Denbok stepped forward to lead the charge and serve as the Partners Worldwide Canada president.

Since then, our participation from Canadians has grown.  In fact, this week's blog has been delayed as I have been spending time with a group of seven Canadian business women who have come to spend a week with us in Ghana.  The week before that I had a visit from another Canadian businessman;  in a couple of weeks, after the conference in Liberia, John Denbok will be coming to Ghana to visit; and shortly after that, a group from my parent's city of Georgetown will be coming.

Since I have been busy from sun up to sun down with this group that is still here, let me just put some images up of our trip and tell you some of the stories next week.
This is the group at the Elmina Slave Castle. 
On our first day together, at Hopeline Institute's office, we spent time sharing our stories.

We then went out to visit some of the Village Savings and Loan groups.  This group processes palm nut kernels together for oil - more about that next week.
This VSL group recently started their second nine-month savings and loan journey together and shared with us what each of them do in business.
On Saturday, we spent the day visiting our small and medium size entrepreneurs.  This is Georgina, who runs a tailoring and decorations business.  Here she is finishing the dresses for a wedding the next day.

Ravena was next, who runs two businesses - one making beautiful jewelry and one training teachers in Early Childhood Education.  We spent the longest time here - too much shopping for the women to do!
On Sunday, we went to Fanny's church, Lighthouse Chapel in Adenta.  The pastor took time to meet with us after their service.

One of the women, Lynn, is blind - born to a blind mother and an alcoholic, abusive father.  When she was a young girl, she stopped talking and it was determined that she was uneducatably mentally disabled and was placed in a mental institution.  She is a mother, grandmother, wife of 40 years, and a successful business owner.  She gave an inspirational talk to about 70 people, including a number of people from the blind school.  She then gave radio and television interviews - one of the journalists who interviewed her was also blind.  Being blind can be seen as a curse in West Africa and it was truly inspirational for them to see someone who is blind be successful and determined. 

After Lynn's workshop, all the women then went with a business person in their own field and spent the rest of the day with them.  Elma, a nurse and medical adjudicator from Ontario, went with one of our SME clients who is a hospital administrator struggling to keep her business profitable despite the number of people who can't pay.  She had the opportunity to witness a Cesearean section while at the hospital!