Painting the 'Tree of Life' - Nicola Simmonds
Excerpt from Diary of a Roll-out
Tuesday - March 19, 2013
Today has been a long time coming. We’ve created a pilot Child Protection toolkit – with a special emphasis on counter trafficking/child protection - based on self-empowerment from within the communities. The information has been gathered not only from loads of research but from long and numerous discussions with, not only the Ghana Police Service and District Officers for Health, Social Welfare, and Education, but ultimately, and most importantly, from the communities themselves: the Chiefs and elders, the women, the men, the teachers and the children.
The plan is that today we paint a mural on the school wall of the Tree of Life – the community’s contract with themselves and with us, of their buy-in. We arrive at Agbagorme community at our pre-arranged meeting place and time – under the big tree to the side of the school grounds. We’re excited, ready to go and with a truck full of paint.
No-one’s there but us. We find out that not only are the teacher’s on strike but it’s market day. “Nothing will tear them away from market day,” says Doris, IOM’s Counter Trafficking officer and, for now, our head mobilizer. Yikes. We wait. And wait. A group of mothers arrive and sit near us but not with us. It’s something. Only it’s not – they’re here for another meeting. We wait some more. Finally, in dribs and drabs we get a rather large group of maybe 200, including school kids, parents and elders, the Chief.
Doris asks the community if they know what their responsibilities are as parents, as children and as elders. Our advice that the men should help with the parenting brings uproarious laughter – we’re a comedy act! Clearly, we have quite a journey ahead in the Responsible Parenting department, but the ice has been broken and we have their attention.
Next we ‘break ground’ on the wall: we paint a big white square – the empty canvas. Next the parents, one by one paint some roots – symbolizing that they will provide steady roots for their children in the form of Protection; the Chief and a teacher, plus a couple of elders paint the trunk – their buy-in for keeping an eye on things and taking action where necessary; then some women, chief/elders and a school teacher paint the branches; and then everyone, but particularly the school kids paint the leaves and fruit with their handprints – their signature.
It was a hectic and happy day, which left the team hot and exhausted but pumped. We’d begun…
To keep reading the journal visit click on the link: http://iom.int/cms/en/sites/iom/home/news-and-views/feature-stories/feature-story-listing/diary-of-a-roll-out.html
On behalf of USAIM and IOM Ghana we would like to thank you for your continued support and encourage you to tell others about our work! Stay tuned for more information about the upcoming Bonus Day 12 June – as a Superstar organization any donations made to us on GlobalGiving will be match 50% up to $1,000 per donor.
Little All About Me Booklet - Nicola Simmonds