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  • Intern training - MEDA
    I was especially interested to hear how presenters had ended up interested in international development and how MEDA fits into their values both personal and professional While the goal of this training week was preparation for our upcoming deployments some sooner than others it ended up becoming much more When I apply for jobs I prefer to physically go to the office rather than meet over Skype whenever reasonably possible which gives me the opportunity to check out the vibe or energy of the office it sounds kind of hippie ish but is more of an overall feeling and first impression I could not have been more impressed by MEDA Our first morning Melissa human capital generalist training organizer and all around great person gave us an office tour and introduced us to any staffers who were in their offices Everyone was more than willing to tear themselves away from their computer screens actually got out of their chairs to shake our hands ask us where we were travelling and find out more about what drew us to MEDA If we weren t MEDA converts after having our lunches provided as well as hotel and transport for those from out of town we willingly accepted the Kool Aid after meeting the staff and being introduced to the candy drawer I could go on about facts and figures or provide an outline of the organization based on what I have learned but I m sure you like me are more interested in the people who passionately carry out MEDA s economic development work all over the world However I will mention our sessions on Thursday and Friday safety security and first aid training geared at a Third World context Over these two days we learned how to work safely in volatile circumstances and how to react in crisis situations don t worry Mom I m going to Ghana and am unlikely to encounter anything volatile However MEDA does work in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan or in other contexts where events such as Westgate Mall or a kidnapping situation could potentially happen thankfully it never has This is a training regimen required by all MEDA staff and our core four of interns were joined by a few full timers We worked through topics such as kidnapping emergency situations such as shootings and walked through what to do during an event such as a robbery While other staffers may have referred to this training as Did Scott scare the crap out of you yet I found it very informative and feel very prepared for any event I may encounter in the field whether likely or not FYI MEDA does not pay ransoms and this is actually a good thing In sum I feel more prepared for my deployment to Ghana than on any other trip I have undertaken in the First and Third Worlds I look forward to sharing this journey with you as I chronicle my preparations packing deployment and immersing

    Original URL path: http://meda.org/connect/meda-blog-stories-from-the-field/entry/intern-training (2016-02-17)
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  • Security
    underway Be very excited because these are top notch individuals As I mentioned earlier we all met in Waterloo for an intensive training program October 26 30 where we were introduced to MEDA connected with our in country program managers and underwent security and first aid training Every day was jam packed with sessions from a combination of MEDA vets newcomers who had been hired out of the intern program and many others who will be instrumental in helping us make the most of our internships both for MEDA and for our careers Specifically we were introduced to MEDA as a whole by the current President Allan Sauder and the organization s key operating divisions such as Private Sector Development Cross Cutting Services Economic Opportunities and Engagement among others it can be a bit difficult to keep everything straight I was very impressed with this dedicated intelligent and passionate group of people who are responsible for ensuring the programs are running effectively and objectives are being met Our first few presentations were complete with PowerPoints but we were able to convince a few to forego the formality and take on a more conversational tone Apparently a rumour was going around that we were asking all of the presenters to tell us about their trajectory into economic development work As someone interested in the potential of stories to illustrate organization effectiveness and educate others I was especially interested to hear how presenters had ended up interested in international development and how MEDA fits into their values both personal and professional While the goal of this training week was preparation for our upcoming deployments some sooner than others it ended up becoming much more When I apply for jobs I prefer to physically go to the office rather than meet over Skype whenever reasonably possible which gives me the opportunity to check out the vibe or energy of the office it sounds kind of hippie ish but is more of an overall feeling and first impression I could not have been more impressed by MEDA Our first morning Melissa human capital generalist training organizer and all around great person gave us an office tour and introduced us to any staffers who were in their offices Everyone was more than willing to tear themselves away from their computer screens actually got out of their chairs to shake our hands ask us where we were travelling and find out more about what drew us to MEDA If we weren t MEDA converts after having our lunches provided as well as hotel and transport for those from out of town we willingly accepted the Kool Aid after meeting the staff and being introduced to the candy drawer I could go on about facts and figures or provide an outline of the organization based on what I have learned but I m sure you like me are more interested in the people who passionately carry out MEDA s economic development work all over the world However

    Original URL path: http://meda.org/intern-blogs-yc/tags/security (2016-02-17)
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  • The national picture of soy in Ghana - MEDA
    Mohammed Fatawu our value chain people in the project myself and the project manager Ariane Ryan We started in Accra meeting with equipment suppliers and an industrial user of soybean oil the Azar paint company We then traveled to Ghana s second city of Kumasi and spoke with processing companies the state seed distributor financial institutions and poultry operators All throughout these interviews one consistent theme arose There is not nearly enough soy being produced in Ghana to meet the demand The huge unmet demand for soybeans and its associated products in Ghana has meant this gap is being filled by imports of raw beans soy oil and especially soy cake used in animal feeds This reliance on imports for a large portion of the country s demand for soybeans is a double negative for Ghana for two reasons First of all the country has great potential and many natural advantages to be able to grow substantially more soy This is a missed opportunity not only for the country s agricultural sector which could be growing a high value crop but also for many potential downstream commercial activities from milling and processing to end product creation that create more value Secondly importing soy adds to the trade deficit one of the many large macro economic difficulties facing the country However there are positive developments Farmers and other market actors are slowly beginning to realize the great potential in this previously relatively unknown crop The pace of change is not as fast as we would like Service providers seed growers and other key actors are still not able to meet the demands of producers Although the market forces and price signals are slowly starting to turn increasing numbers of agriculture value chain actors towards the soybean This along with help from

    Original URL path: http://meda.org/stories-from-the-field-ghana/entry/the-national-picture-of-soy-in-ghana (2016-02-17)
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  • MEDA
    the Canadian embassy in Accra and DFATD as well as a representatives from the Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture This was my first PAC meeting What I was able to take away is that things seem to be on the up and up There was a great deal of optimism for year three of the project and I feel like things have improved in that regard since the last PAC meeting in June This optimism will surely be necessary The project has ambitious targets and the rate of uptake by the clients i e the number of women planting soybeans within the GROW project must increase drastically for next year s planting season and in subsequent years for these targets to be met I have two thoughts on this Initially I fear that the low hanging fruit has already been targeted so to speak that it will be difficult to convince the remaining women who are enrolled in GROW but aren t yet planting to plant next season These remaining women are perhaps more risk averse and will be very hesitant to try something new making achieving the targets set for the number of women planting a tall order Countering this is that the initial work put in with the other value chain actors will hopefully yield more reliable service and more stronger linkages after a longer duration relationship has developed enabling more women to access these crucial services and inputs when they need them and allow more to plant This will work in the project s favour going forward and be a positive factor in the following years that was not present at the outset I think it will come down to whether or not women who have planted in the past were successful In groups where women have been successful and have earned a decent income from their crop it will encourage more women from those groups to plant next year However in groups where women encountered problems and were unable to earn an income or a high enough income to justify their efforts it will be very hard to convince additional women from those groups to try planting and indeed it may be hard to retain the numbers we do have The abilities and strengths of our field officers will affect this to a degree but I have learned that it is very hard to change people s perceptions and change ideas that have been long held and are entrenched Some of the shortfalls from last season were due to bad luck such as poor weather In some of these communities successes will beget more success but in communities that experienced difficulties we will certainly have our work cut out for us Tags MEDA Projects Enterprise Development Intern MEDA Interns 2014 Women Economic Opportunities Continue reading Ghana 3621 Hits Friday 07 November 2014 I believe in what we are doing here Kevin Linklater Program Support Enterprise Development Intern I have now started getting into the meat and potatoes of the work I am meeting regularly with Mr Baaro the gentlemen who I am supporting with his soymilk business I am helping him track his costs prepare marketing materials and determine production levels and the selling price This is as much a learning experience for me as I am not an expert in business Figuring out when the business will make its return on investment ROI is going to be fun to calculate as there are lots of moving parts that go into it and measuring it is not always precise in the best circumstances let s not forget that pesky Ghanaian inflation However I have received good support from the other MEDA staff here and I have a clear goal which is to see Baaro Enterprise turn a profit from producing and selling soymilk and to therefore become a sustainable and reliable buyer of soybeans from local farmers I have also been tasked by Catherine the country manager to work with the other staff to compile a manual for the field officers I have now attended 5 meetings with our key facilitating partners KFPs local NGOs that MEDA has partnered with to carry out the GROW project at the community level From those meetings I have learned all of the challenges and opportunities that the field officers face in implementing the GROW project in the communities A myriad of obstacles must be overcome logistics social group formation and navigating the web of community relationships ownership the availability of financial services even the weather But this manual will hopefully smooth out some of these hurdles and support these field officers by providing them with a template for action including who will be supporting them at each stage of implementation It also helps that I believe in what we are doing here I have met many other expats and a few have shrugged their shoulders when I ask what sort of work they are engaged in saying something to the effect of well I just do whatever This was one of my biggest fears in heading overseas to do development work that I would simply be a voluntourist involved in a project with a fuzzy but lofty sounding goal but with no concrete outcomes that would change anything If our project is successful it will create meaningful and more importantly long term and permanent change in the lives poor rural Ghanaians Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Enterprise Development Intern Women Economic Opportunities Internship Experience Continue reading Ghana 3885 Hits Tuesday 21 October 2014 A Canadian Thanksgiving in Ghana Kevin Linklater Program Support Enterprise Development Intern This past weekend was thanksgiving back home in Canada One might think that this would make a wayward Canuck passing the holiday thousands of miles away in Northern Ghana a little homesick missing a nice home cooked meal enjoying the company of family and friends fall leaves crunching under foot But nothing could be further from the truth This past

    Original URL path: http://meda.org/intern-blogs-yc/blogger/kevin-linklater-program-support-enterprise-development-intern (2016-02-17)
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  • Enterprise Development Intern
    a great deal of optimism for year three of the project and I feel like things have improved in that regard since the last PAC meeting in June This optimism will surely be necessary The project has ambitious targets and the rate of uptake by the clients i e the number of women planting soybeans within the GROW project must increase drastically for next year s planting season and in subsequent years for these targets to be met I have two thoughts on this Initially I fear that the low hanging fruit has already been targeted so to speak that it will be difficult to convince the remaining women who are enrolled in GROW but aren t yet planting to plant next season These remaining women are perhaps more risk averse and will be very hesitant to try something new making achieving the targets set for the number of women planting a tall order Countering this is that the initial work put in with the other value chain actors will hopefully yield more reliable service and more stronger linkages after a longer duration relationship has developed enabling more women to access these crucial services and inputs when they need them and allow more to plant This will work in the project s favour going forward and be a positive factor in the following years that was not present at the outset I think it will come down to whether or not women who have planted in the past were successful In groups where women have been successful and have earned a decent income from their crop it will encourage more women from those groups to plant next year However in groups where women encountered problems and were unable to earn an income or a high enough income to justify their efforts it will be very hard to convince additional women from those groups to try planting and indeed it may be hard to retain the numbers we do have The abilities and strengths of our field officers will affect this to a degree but I have learned that it is very hard to change people s perceptions and change ideas that have been long held and are entrenched Some of the shortfalls from last season were due to bad luck such as poor weather In some of these communities successes will beget more success but in communities that experienced difficulties we will certainly have our work cut out for us Tags MEDA Projects Enterprise Development Intern MEDA Interns 2014 Women Economic Opportunities Continue reading Ghana 3621 Hits Friday 07 November 2014 I believe in what we are doing here Kevin Linklater Program Support Enterprise Development Intern I have now started getting into the meat and potatoes of the work I am meeting regularly with Mr Baaro the gentlemen who I am supporting with his soymilk business I am helping him track his costs prepare marketing materials and determine production levels and the selling price This is as much a learning experience for me as I am not an expert in business Figuring out when the business will make its return on investment ROI is going to be fun to calculate as there are lots of moving parts that go into it and measuring it is not always precise in the best circumstances let s not forget that pesky Ghanaian inflation However I have received good support from the other MEDA staff here and I have a clear goal which is to see Baaro Enterprise turn a profit from producing and selling soymilk and to therefore become a sustainable and reliable buyer of soybeans from local farmers I have also been tasked by Catherine the country manager to work with the other staff to compile a manual for the field officers I have now attended 5 meetings with our key facilitating partners KFPs local NGOs that MEDA has partnered with to carry out the GROW project at the community level From those meetings I have learned all of the challenges and opportunities that the field officers face in implementing the GROW project in the communities A myriad of obstacles must be overcome logistics social group formation and navigating the web of community relationships ownership the availability of financial services even the weather But this manual will hopefully smooth out some of these hurdles and support these field officers by providing them with a template for action including who will be supporting them at each stage of implementation It also helps that I believe in what we are doing here I have met many other expats and a few have shrugged their shoulders when I ask what sort of work they are engaged in saying something to the effect of well I just do whatever This was one of my biggest fears in heading overseas to do development work that I would simply be a voluntourist involved in a project with a fuzzy but lofty sounding goal but with no concrete outcomes that would change anything If our project is successful it will create meaningful and more importantly long term and permanent change in the lives poor rural Ghanaians Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Enterprise Development Intern Women Economic Opportunities Internship Experience Continue reading Ghana 3885 Hits Tuesday 21 October 2014 A Canadian Thanksgiving in Ghana Kevin Linklater Program Support Enterprise Development Intern This past weekend was thanksgiving back home in Canada One might think that this would make a wayward Canuck passing the holiday thousands of miles away in Northern Ghana a little homesick missing a nice home cooked meal enjoying the company of family and friends fall leaves crunching under foot But nothing could be further from the truth This past weekend was filled with all of those things minus the crunchy fall leaves part The expat community here in Tamale rolled up their sleeves and cooked baked and basted their way to faithfully recreating a North American holiday tradition in the heart of West Africa There was squash mashed potatoes

    Original URL path: http://meda.org/intern-blogs-yc/tags/enterprise-development-intern (2016-02-17)
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  • Economic Opportunities
    very hesitant to try something new making achieving the targets set for the number of women planting a tall order Countering this is that the initial work put in with the other value chain actors will hopefully yield more reliable service and more stronger linkages after a longer duration relationship has developed enabling more women to access these crucial services and inputs when they need them and allow more to plant This will work in the project s favour going forward and be a positive factor in the following years that was not present at the outset I think it will come down to whether or not women who have planted in the past were successful In groups where women have been successful and have earned a decent income from their crop it will encourage more women from those groups to plant next year However in groups where women encountered problems and were unable to earn an income or a high enough income to justify their efforts it will be very hard to convince additional women from those groups to try planting and indeed it may be hard to retain the numbers we do have The abilities and strengths of our field officers will affect this to a degree but I have learned that it is very hard to change people s perceptions and change ideas that have been long held and are entrenched Some of the shortfalls from last season were due to bad luck such as poor weather In some of these communities successes will beget more success but in communities that experienced difficulties we will certainly have our work cut out for us Tags MEDA Projects Enterprise Development Intern MEDA Interns 2014 Women Economic Opportunities Continue reading Ghana 3621 Hits Wednesday 19 November 2014 Exploring the North Bahir Dar and Lalibela Clara Yoon Communication and Program Support Intern Two weeks ago I went on a weekend trip to Bahir Dar and Lalibela located in northern Ethiopia Since I went to the south for work about a month ago I was excited to see different parts of the country again While I do like Addis it does get tiring with lots of people traffic and pollution It was refreshing to be in more remote parts of the country especially with beautiful landscapes and sunsets that you just don t get in the city I met up with Steph in Bahir Dar first since she was there for work We had dinner along Lake Tana that was lit up by the moonlight The following day we went to see the Blue Nile Falls Saturdays are market days so as we drove one hour to the falls there were lots of people walking with their cattle or goats We met up with our tour guide who led us on a 1 5 hour hike Many times we were face to face with cows walking on the path on their way to the market We saw the Portuguese Bridge and the Blue Nile Falls and then walked back to finish our tour There were many kids selling scarves and hand made crafts along our hike telling us Madam I ll give you a good price I eventually caved and bought one even though I ve already accumulated so many in Addis We relaxed for a few hours and then went for dinner along the lake and watched the sunset In Bahir Dar we took these 3 wheeled scooter type taxis called Bajaj s or Touk touk s they were super cheap and really easy to use After dinner we checked out Kuriftu for dessert along with good talks under a full moon The next part of our trip was to Lalibela a town renowned for its rock hewn churches that were built in the 12th century The story goes that King Lalibela sought to create a New Jerusalem for those who could not make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land The churches were not constructed in a traditional method rather they were excavated and carved from the living rock of monolithic blocks The churches are still used to this day by Orthodox Christians And now that it is a UNESCO heritage site tourism has really taken off over the past few years The landscape in Lalibela reminded me of the Grand Canyon although I ve never been It s very desert like with canyons and plateaus all around After resting up we went to see the churches It was really amazing to see the churches inside and out My favourite was St George the church shaped in a cross We had a really good guide who showed us all 11 churches within 3 5 hours It was an exhausting tour as we walked through passages trenches and in and out of most of the churches While it was overall a really good trip I m glad to be back in Addis After a few days of traveling all you want is the familiarity of your own home and the variety of food options that are available in the city With about four months left of this internship I m hoping to squeeze in a few more trips to see more of Ethiopia It really is a beautiful country I had a few moments throughout this past trip that reminded me that I am very blessed to be here with MEDA and working on a great project that is changing lives Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Communication and Program Support Intern Agriculture Economic Opportunities Sightseeing Continue reading Ethiopia 3463 Hits Friday 07 November 2014 I believe in what we are doing here Kevin Linklater Program Support Enterprise Development Intern I have now started getting into the meat and potatoes of the work I am meeting regularly with Mr Baaro the gentlemen who I am supporting with his soymilk business I am helping him track his costs prepare marketing materials and determine production levels and the selling price This is as much a learning experience for me as I am not an expert in business Figuring out when the business will make its return on investment ROI is going to be fun to calculate as there are lots of moving parts that go into it and measuring it is not always precise in the best circumstances let s not forget that pesky Ghanaian inflation However I have received good support from the other MEDA staff here and I have a clear goal which is to see Baaro Enterprise turn a profit from producing and selling soymilk and to therefore become a sustainable and reliable buyer of soybeans from local farmers I have also been tasked by Catherine the country manager to work with the other staff to compile a manual for the field officers I have now attended 5 meetings with our key facilitating partners KFPs local NGOs that MEDA has partnered with to carry out the GROW project at the community level From those meetings I have learned all of the challenges and opportunities that the field officers face in implementing the GROW project in the communities A myriad of obstacles must be overcome logistics social group formation and navigating the web of community relationships ownership the availability of financial services even the weather But this manual will hopefully smooth out some of these hurdles and support these field officers by providing them with a template for action including who will be supporting them at each stage of implementation It also helps that I believe in what we are doing here I have met many other expats and a few have shrugged their shoulders when I ask what sort of work they are engaged in saying something to the effect of well I just do whatever This was one of my biggest fears in heading overseas to do development work that I would simply be a voluntourist involved in a project with a fuzzy but lofty sounding goal but with no concrete outcomes that would change anything If our project is successful it will create meaningful and more importantly long term and permanent change in the lives poor rural Ghanaians Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Enterprise Development Intern Women Economic Opportunities Internship Experience Continue reading Ghana 3885 Hits Friday 31 October 2014 Beyond the Rough Bumpy Roads Clarissa Heger Former Communications Intern I love being a communications intern because it allows me to learn about all different aspects of the GROW project agriculture gender nutrition monitoring and evaluation and much much more I m always buzzing around partner NGO meetings community visits donor tours staff trainings etc taking tons of pictures and notes to share But I have to say my favorite part of the job is doing field work As part of my responsibilities I have the honor of reporting on the significant changes that are taking part in women farmer s lives due to the GROW project Together with our MEDA team and partner NGOs we identify several women that have become empowered through being part of the GROW project After our field staff preliminarily interviews them I have the great pleasure of doing in depth follow up interviews taking pictures and sharing their stories with people from around the world as well as getting them back to the women and their communities Travel to these rural villages usually requires a start in the early morning hours and what seems like endless driving along rough bumpy and often unpaved roads I can t even tell you how impressed and grateful I am for our drivers they are incredible When we finally make it to the communities I have the privilege of meeting these amazing women Then we find a shady spot under a tree or around their house and with translation assistance of the field staff they share their stories about their soybean fields their families their ambitions and their concerns As is common when you have foreign visitors generally a crowd of curious neighborhood children accumulates within minutes of starting the interview and it has usually tripled in size by the time we finish Then after many thanks and smiles we all pile into the car or walk to the women s soybean fields Here I photograph the women proudly showing their crops and ask a few last questions that come up Then after many more thank you s we pile everyone back in the car and drop them back at home On the ride back I generally find myself reflecting on the women s stories I m always blown away at the strength determination and selflessness of the women I meet Farming is very difficult work but beyond that many of these women lack formal education and to see them decide to switch to growing soybeans so they can for feed and educate their children is inspiring humbling and beyond impressive And that pretty much concludes a typical field visit as you can see there s really nothing typical about them which is why I enjoy them so much Keep an eye out for our newest client stories they ll be coming your way soon Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Communications intern Internship Experience Women Economic Opportunities Continue reading Ghana 3726 Hits Thursday 30 October 2014 Arba Minch A humbling visit with VSLA groups in Chano Dorga Clara Yoon Communication and Program Support Intern I recently traveled to Arba Minch for my first field visit in southern Ethiopia The main purpose of the trip was to visit clients and collect information to write up briefs for an donor tour that s taking place here in a few weeks Spending a few days out of the city was refreshing I especially appreciated meeting various clients hearing from them personally how they have been positively impacted by the project I also gained a new appreciation for our field staff in Arba Minch who are vital to the project They hosted me very well in the midst of their busy schedules The highlight of the trip was our first site visit We went to a village called Chano Dorga to meet with 2 Village Savings and Loans Association VSLA groups I m thankful to have been there for the first 1 5 days with Doris our country manager She has a wealth of knowledge and experience in micro finance and international development Doris asked the questions and then the clients responses were translated I wrote down everything as fast as I could The members of both VSLA groups were eager to speak and share their successes with us They were also very thankful to the project as I often heard ameseginalehu which means thank you While Ethiopians living in rural parts of the country have awareness of traditional saving methods it s still difficult to save Generally saving habits are poor due to low levels of income or lack of financial literacy However through the project clients training and education on financial literacy how to save budget and access credit Through this training they can take steps to start improving their household income When target households experience livelihood improvements their vulnerability to resorting to child labor decreases This is huge When I first read about E FACE I didn t quite understand the connection of why our project was working in the South Yet I learned that traditional weaving is originally from the South and there is a growing demand for hand woven textile products This is why child labor and child trafficking are such big issues in Ethiopia The diligence of these savings groups really amazed me They initially started out saving 5 ETB 25 cents USD a week and now they save 10 ETB 50 cents USD Some members even save two fold in which they receive more in dividends It was humbling to sit with them in their village and hear their stories Saving a small amount of money each week has opened up opportunities that they otherwise would not have had This is why the successes and life changes of our E FACE clients are very inspiring They save each week for the sake of their families and communities They also took the knowledge and skills offered through the project and put them into practice to bring positive change to their families and communities I don t think the issue of financial illiteracy is isolated to developing countries In North America debt is a really big problem It may be a different strand of financial issues but perhaps reveals learning about finance and money is needed back at home as well I personally would like to learn more about personal finances how to budget and how to save These are skills and habits that require training awareness and self discipline It s really exciting to hear about our clients future plans and aspirations as they have set goals to save more and expand their business endeavours I hope to have another opportunity to visit the field meet more clients and capture more of their success stories to demonstrate the amazing work being done through E FACE Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Economic Opportunities Youth MEDA Projects Communication and Program Support Intern Continue reading Ethiopia 4012 Hits Tuesday 21 October 2014 A Canadian Thanksgiving in Ghana Kevin Linklater Program Support Enterprise Development Intern This past weekend was thanksgiving back home in Canada One might think that this would make a wayward Canuck passing the holiday thousands of miles away in Northern Ghana a little homesick missing a nice home cooked meal enjoying the company of family and friends fall leaves crunching under foot But nothing could be further from the truth This past weekend was filled with all of those things minus the crunchy fall leaves part The expat community here in Tamale rolled up their sleeves and cooked baked and basted their way to faithfully recreating a North American holiday tradition in the heart of West Africa There was squash mashed potatoes carrot rice and eggplant dishes tilapia salad couscous green beans and of course turkey and stuffing Dessert included 4 pumpkin pies made with local squash I am told although surprisingly indistinguishable from the pumpkin version apple crisp chocolate cake and lots of ice cream The celebration wasn t confined to Canadians but included Ghanaians Danes French British Americans Nigerians Dutch Swedes and others around 50 or 60 people in total For some probably a majority there this was their first experience with this holiday and I am sure it left an indelible and positive impression Sitting along two long tables in the still hot and humid evening people from all over the world sat and talked shared their backgrounds their aspirations their stories I met people from everywhere but was able to connect quickly and meaningfully to all of them Indeed Tamale seems to attract similarly outward looking engaged and thoughtful people For me the most beautiful aspect of this is that we Canadians were able to share a part of our culture with people from across the globe and that everyone took part with enthusiasm and zeal and came out with stronger ties to one another It is my hope that I will be able to take part in many things that are uniquely Ghanaian during my stay and similarly strengthen my ties with people in the communities I will be working with here Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Women National Holiday Experience Enterprise Development Intern Economic Opportunities Continue reading Ghana 3647 Hits Wednesday 15 October 2014 Morning Runs Red Red and Lovely People Clarissa Heger Former Communications Intern These are some of my favorite things I m happy to report that these past couple of weeks I ve finally been settling in After almost a month of searching I finally found an awesome roommate and a safe apartment A little two bedroom off a main road with electricity running water and even has AC pretty fancy I ve been taking full advantage of having a kitchen again Traditional

    Original URL path: http://meda.org/intern-blogs-yc/tags/economic-opportunities (2016-02-17)
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  • Women
    t ever go hungry when others are eating 5 When the good times roll jump in with both feet because there s no guarantee tomorrow will offer you the same opportunity that you have now It really was a life changing experience It changed me by showing me a different way of living with new rules new social norms new burdens and new rewards I gained broader perspective on what life is for a large part of humanity and will carry those lessons and experiences with me I loved it all Tags Economic Opportunities Enterprise Development Intern MEDA Interns 2014 National Holiday Experience Women Continue reading Ghana 3644 Hits Monday 05 January 2015 Sunny Holidays in Togo and Ghana Clarissa Heger Former Communications Intern This year I spent my holidays at a beautiful beach surrounded by good friends in Lome Togo Although of course I missed celebrating Christmas with my family the alternative wasn t too shabby Four friends and I flew from Tamale to Accra on the early morning flight then took a car for about three hours to reach the boarder and then ended up at our bungalow on the beach by late afternoon We spent our time on an almost empty beach swimming playing Frisbee listening to music eating delicious food and playing lots of card games in the evenings It was the perfect antidote to the busy pre holiday stress we had left behind On Christmas we played and relaxed on the beach all day and then met Kevin the other GROW MEDA intern who was also traveling in Lome for dinner at a little Bavarian and French restaurant Taking me back to my Bavarian roots I was beyond excited to have discovered a German restaurant in Lome The six of us shared a delightful Christmas feast that reminded me of celebrating the holidays as a child in Germany We had a truly wonderful time and it was great alternative way to celebrate the holidays One of the perks of returning to Tamale was that everyone else was traveling so I had been asked to house and dog sit for two adorable puppies at a friend s nice house with a pool In a way my vacation continued with lots of dog walking and pool time And I also looked after a friend s horses so I got to go horseback riding a few times which made my break even better It was a really great holiday break and I was happy to ring in the New Year s in Tamale celebrating here with friends and fireworks The last year brought many new firsts and special memories for me Moving to Ghana and being part of the GROW team has been such an incredible experience so far I feel very privileged to be able to travel to the villages to meet our women farmers continue learning from our skillful staff here and be part of this meaningful work to help make a difference for these women and their families in Ghana The GROW team is really a family and after three short months it feels like home here I m truly grateful for an amazing 2014 and I can t wait to see what 2015 has in store Tags National Holiday Experience Economic Opportunities MEDA Interns 2014 Women Communications intern Continue reading Ghana 4015 Hits Monday 24 November 2014 Leadership and Inspiration in Everyday Life Clarissa Heger Former Communications Intern I m nearing the end of my third month in Ghana and am still learning and doing something new every day Overall I absolutely love my life and work here Whether I m learning how to build keyhole gardens in the villages for the dry season or documenting our semi annual Project Advisory Committee meeting to get insights into the GROW strategies I m constantly growing professionally and personally as well as getting my daily dose of inspiration Recently I had one of these moments of absolute admiration and inspiration in Maase village Jalal my GROW team member and I had an early morning and a bumpy ride to this village in Upper West District I was taking pictures videos and interviewing Mary the proud new owner of a keyhole garden Her GROW group of women farmers had come to help with the construction and to learn how to build the gardens for themselves from Jalal s demonstration Several layers into the construction the garden was starting to come together but needed more top soil The women had to gather additional soil from outside of Mary s fenced in property So the women and some men formed an assembly line to pass bucket of top soil to the construction site of the keyhole garden A true testament to teamwork and support but more than that despite the fact they had been working in the heat all morning to build this garden for their group member they started singing songs laughing and smiling as they were passing buckets of soil along the assembly line I was so touched and impressed by this beautiful display of community The women showed so much strength unity and joy with access to opportunities their potential to change their communities Ghana and the world is endless My time here in Ghana hasn t been without its challenges but getting to work in this area of my passion women s empowerment is really all I need to relight my motivation I m truly inspired every day being surrounded by strong women Whether it s through these incredible moments with the women in the villages or by the strong female leaders on our MEDA team it serves as a constant reminder as to why this work is so important Tags Communications intern Women MEDA Interns 2014 MEDA Projects Economic Opportunities Continue reading Ghana 3562 Hits Friday 21 November 2014 Hard work and a bit of luck Kevin Linklater Program Support Enterprise Development Intern This week we had a Project Advisory Committee or PAC meeting in Wa The meeting was attended by a majority of MEDA Ghana country staff MEDA staff from HQ in Canada representatives from our five key facilitating partners KFPs folks from the Canadian embassy in Accra and DFATD as well as a representatives from the Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture This was my first PAC meeting What I was able to take away is that things seem to be on the up and up There was a great deal of optimism for year three of the project and I feel like things have improved in that regard since the last PAC meeting in June This optimism will surely be necessary The project has ambitious targets and the rate of uptake by the clients i e the number of women planting soybeans within the GROW project must increase drastically for next year s planting season and in subsequent years for these targets to be met I have two thoughts on this Initially I fear that the low hanging fruit has already been targeted so to speak that it will be difficult to convince the remaining women who are enrolled in GROW but aren t yet planting to plant next season These remaining women are perhaps more risk averse and will be very hesitant to try something new making achieving the targets set for the number of women planting a tall order Countering this is that the initial work put in with the other value chain actors will hopefully yield more reliable service and more stronger linkages after a longer duration relationship has developed enabling more women to access these crucial services and inputs when they need them and allow more to plant This will work in the project s favour going forward and be a positive factor in the following years that was not present at the outset I think it will come down to whether or not women who have planted in the past were successful In groups where women have been successful and have earned a decent income from their crop it will encourage more women from those groups to plant next year However in groups where women encountered problems and were unable to earn an income or a high enough income to justify their efforts it will be very hard to convince additional women from those groups to try planting and indeed it may be hard to retain the numbers we do have The abilities and strengths of our field officers will affect this to a degree but I have learned that it is very hard to change people s perceptions and change ideas that have been long held and are entrenched Some of the shortfalls from last season were due to bad luck such as poor weather In some of these communities successes will beget more success but in communities that experienced difficulties we will certainly have our work cut out for us Tags MEDA Projects Enterprise Development Intern MEDA Interns 2014 Women Economic Opportunities Continue reading Ghana 3621 Hits Friday 07 November 2014 I believe in what we are doing here Kevin Linklater Program Support Enterprise Development Intern I have now started getting into the meat and potatoes of the work I am meeting regularly with Mr Baaro the gentlemen who I am supporting with his soymilk business I am helping him track his costs prepare marketing materials and determine production levels and the selling price This is as much a learning experience for me as I am not an expert in business Figuring out when the business will make its return on investment ROI is going to be fun to calculate as there are lots of moving parts that go into it and measuring it is not always precise in the best circumstances let s not forget that pesky Ghanaian inflation However I have received good support from the other MEDA staff here and I have a clear goal which is to see Baaro Enterprise turn a profit from producing and selling soymilk and to therefore become a sustainable and reliable buyer of soybeans from local farmers I have also been tasked by Catherine the country manager to work with the other staff to compile a manual for the field officers I have now attended 5 meetings with our key facilitating partners KFPs local NGOs that MEDA has partnered with to carry out the GROW project at the community level From those meetings I have learned all of the challenges and opportunities that the field officers face in implementing the GROW project in the communities A myriad of obstacles must be overcome logistics social group formation and navigating the web of community relationships ownership the availability of financial services even the weather But this manual will hopefully smooth out some of these hurdles and support these field officers by providing them with a template for action including who will be supporting them at each stage of implementation It also helps that I believe in what we are doing here I have met many other expats and a few have shrugged their shoulders when I ask what sort of work they are engaged in saying something to the effect of well I just do whatever This was one of my biggest fears in heading overseas to do development work that I would simply be a voluntourist involved in a project with a fuzzy but lofty sounding goal but with no concrete outcomes that would change anything If our project is successful it will create meaningful and more importantly long term and permanent change in the lives poor rural Ghanaians Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Enterprise Development Intern Women Economic Opportunities Internship Experience Continue reading Ghana 3885 Hits Friday 31 October 2014 Beyond the Rough Bumpy Roads Clarissa Heger Former Communications Intern I love being a communications intern because it allows me to learn about all different aspects of the GROW project agriculture gender nutrition monitoring and evaluation and much much more I m always buzzing around partner NGO meetings community visits donor tours staff trainings etc taking tons of pictures and notes to share But I have to say my favorite part of the job is doing field work As part of my responsibilities I have the honor of reporting on the significant changes that are taking part in women farmer s lives due to the GROW project Together with our MEDA team and partner NGOs we identify several women that have become empowered through being part of the GROW project After our field staff preliminarily interviews them I have the great pleasure of doing in depth follow up interviews taking pictures and sharing their stories with people from around the world as well as getting them back to the women and their communities Travel to these rural villages usually requires a start in the early morning hours and what seems like endless driving along rough bumpy and often unpaved roads I can t even tell you how impressed and grateful I am for our drivers they are incredible When we finally make it to the communities I have the privilege of meeting these amazing women Then we find a shady spot under a tree or around their house and with translation assistance of the field staff they share their stories about their soybean fields their families their ambitions and their concerns As is common when you have foreign visitors generally a crowd of curious neighborhood children accumulates within minutes of starting the interview and it has usually tripled in size by the time we finish Then after many thanks and smiles we all pile into the car or walk to the women s soybean fields Here I photograph the women proudly showing their crops and ask a few last questions that come up Then after many more thank you s we pile everyone back in the car and drop them back at home On the ride back I generally find myself reflecting on the women s stories I m always blown away at the strength determination and selflessness of the women I meet Farming is very difficult work but beyond that many of these women lack formal education and to see them decide to switch to growing soybeans so they can for feed and educate their children is inspiring humbling and beyond impressive And that pretty much concludes a typical field visit as you can see there s really nothing typical about them which is why I enjoy them so much Keep an eye out for our newest client stories they ll be coming your way soon Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Communications intern Internship Experience Women Economic Opportunities Continue reading Ghana 3726 Hits Tuesday 21 October 2014 A Canadian Thanksgiving in Ghana Kevin Linklater Program Support Enterprise Development Intern This past weekend was thanksgiving back home in Canada One might think that this would make a wayward Canuck passing the holiday thousands of miles away in Northern Ghana a little homesick missing a nice home cooked meal enjoying the company of family and friends fall leaves crunching under foot But nothing could be further from the truth This past weekend was filled with all of those things minus the crunchy fall leaves part The expat community here in Tamale rolled up their sleeves and cooked baked and basted their way to faithfully recreating a North American holiday tradition in the heart of West Africa There was squash mashed potatoes carrot rice and eggplant dishes tilapia salad couscous green beans and of course turkey and stuffing Dessert included 4 pumpkin pies made with local squash I am told although surprisingly indistinguishable from the pumpkin version apple crisp chocolate cake and lots of ice cream The celebration wasn t confined to Canadians but included Ghanaians Danes French British Americans Nigerians Dutch Swedes and others around 50 or 60 people in total For some probably a majority there this was their first experience with this holiday and I am sure it left an indelible and positive impression Sitting along two long tables in the still hot and humid evening people from all over the world sat and talked shared their backgrounds their aspirations their stories I met people from everywhere but was able to connect quickly and meaningfully to all of them Indeed Tamale seems to attract similarly outward looking engaged and thoughtful people For me the most beautiful aspect of this is that we Canadians were able to share a part of our culture with people from across the globe and that everyone took part with enthusiasm and zeal and came out with stronger ties to one another It is my hope that I will be able to take part in many things that are uniquely Ghanaian during my stay and similarly strengthen my ties with people in the communities I will be working with here Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Women National Holiday Experience Enterprise Development Intern Economic Opportunities Continue reading Ghana 3647 Hits Wednesday 15 October 2014 Morning Runs Red Red and Lovely People Clarissa Heger Former Communications Intern These are some of my favorite things I m happy to report that these past couple of weeks I ve finally been settling in After almost a month of searching I finally found an awesome roommate and a safe apartment A little two bedroom off a main road with electricity running water and even has AC pretty fancy I ve been taking full advantage of having a kitchen again Traditional Ghanaian food is not very vegetarian friendly most dishes have meat so it can be challenging finding something veggie on the menu when you re eating out I must say one of my favorite traditional dishes is red red and luckily vegetarian It s fried plantains with beans and veggies when I make it at home which makes it even better Our neighborhood is nice and quiet with lots of rural roads nearby that are prefect for peaceful trail runs I ve even formed a little running group with my roommate and another girl nearby Morning runs are one of my absolute favorite things here The sun is just rising and it s still cool enough to run plus you I get to watch the whole world wake up Usually we just encounter goats and chickens on the roads with the occasional motorbike or women carrying a load on her head passing by Then on the way back on our loop we are greeted by eager smiling children in their uniforms walking and riding bikes to school They re always enthusiastically waving and yelling hello salaminga foreigner on top of their lungs You can t help but smile wave and repeat hello back to them as many times as they say it to us On days that we don t run my roommate and I have started doing yoga together in our living room I was pretty excited when we found yoga mats at the grocery store With large windows that overlook the main road we get some beautiful views in the morning It s been a great way to get centered before diving into a busy day at the office It s been a few busy weeks for the GROW project and my internship Last week our first press release for the new soy processing plant was published and we also launched our Facebook and Twitter sites Don t forget to like and follow us We ve been moving at a very fast pace but it s been a lot of fun and I m learning constantly and getting to know my amazing coworkers better is just another bonus Speaking of them I d like to give a shout to all of the wonderful people I ve met here that have welcomed me and supported me My boss and coworkers who have helped me get settled in From fixing things in the apartment to taking me on errands getting us a security guard and much more they ve been there for me very step of the way I ve also been fortunate to meet some awesome expats that have provided helpful advice and shown me the magical cheese and yoghurt shop I m truly grateful to be surrounded by some many lovely people thank you Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Communications intern Women Internship Experience Economic Opportunities Continue reading Ghana 3842 Hits Friday 03 October 2014 More than economics Kevin Linklater Program Support Enterprise Development Intern My second day in Tamale and I am slowly getting used to the pace of things here My fellow intern Clarissa Heger has been an invaluable help showing me some good spots in Tamale and introducing me to the rest of the staff at the office here The real work has yet to start but I have been getting good background information from the office team here The week before I arrived some of the office staff attended the opening of a soy processing facility in Wa which is where I will be doing most of my work One of the principal tasks I will be engaged with will be publicizing and explaining the process of producing soy milk so that potential investors will be able to see the opportunities of this particular market There is an entrepreneur who has already invested in this and who will be buying soy from the farmers that MEDA has trained The more buyers and markets that exist for soy the better and developing this market will mean more opportunities and earning potential for the smallholder farmers who are producing soy However numerous challenges exist Soy milk is a very foreign product here in Northern Ghana and creating demand for it will be a challenge Also competing with cheap imported soy will be a challenge for producers here I have just come off of a 3 month contract working in the Department of Agriculture at the provincial legislature in my hometown of Winnipeg Part of my duties there entailed putting together a daily news briefing for the minister and other staff I am fairly well versed now in the movement of key commodity prices and trends in agriculture The world will see a very large soy crop this year as several key countries including the United States the world s largest producer and Brazil are harvesting record crops The downward pressure this will put on soy prices will be problematic as the soy processors that exist here may look to cheap imports Conversely though the Ghanaian cidi has been depreciating and this makes importing more expensive which will make domestically produced soy more attractive to processors here All of this highlights the risks of the marketplace and doing business in a globally traded commodity However the diversification of Ghana s agricultural sector will help mitigate these downside risks For too long Ghana s agriculture sector relied on the export of cocoa With the development of other crops and products the price swings of one commodity will be mitigated Furthermore any displacement of imports with domestically production will improve the country s balance of payments and put the country on a sounder economic footing This in and of itself is laudable However this is only one small aspect of the GROW project The main goal of GROW is to improve the incomes of rural women and the nutritional outcomes of their families The benefits this would have are too numerous to mention here and would far outweigh the narrow benefits identified above and I will leave that for a later blog post Needless to say this is a very exciting project to be involved with Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Enterprise Development Intern Women MEDA Projects Economic Opportunities Continue reading Ghana 3243 Hits Thursday 02 October 2014 Fadila s Story Soybeans for School Fees Clarissa Heger Former Communications Intern This past week I had the pleasure of joining a wonderful passionate and committed group of MEDA supporters visiting us from Canada for a MEDA field experience It was a jam packed schedule with lots of meetings village visits cultural excursions and new adventures We had so many inspiring highlights fun experiences and moments of growth but today I want to tell you about one encounter that stood out to me above all others About half way into the field experience we visited a little village called Tampala where with the help of our NGO partner PRONET MEDA started the GROW project We were so warmly welcomed by the women farmers their families and the village chiefs which even included one female chief It was moving to see so many women successfully growing soybeans hear about how they re able to make more household decisions and better support their children While intently listening to the achievements and challenges of the women GROW groups I was circling the group to document our visit with lots of pictures I found myself standing next to a young woman in a pink shirt She had shared her perspective to a few of the group s questions and her natural leadership charismatic personality and vibrancy came across clearly despite the language barrier I asked her if I could take her picture and we got to talking To my surprise my new friend Fadila spoke very good English So with her permission I d like to tell you her story Fadila is eighteen years old and was born and raised in Tampala She lives with her mother father her father s second wife his third wife has passed away four brothers and four sisters Unfortunately Fadila was just six months shy of finishing senior high school when due to family s inability to pay for school fees she was forced to drop out As is sadly often the case her brothers education was prioritized all four are still in school but none of the girls in her family are That s not going to stop Fadila though she s growing an acre of soybeans and plans to use her proceeds from selling the crop to go back to school Fadila wants to be a nurse It s not easy to grow soybeans she mentioned harvesting the crop destroys your hands but she s determined and I have no doubt that she ll achieve her goals Plus she s already experimented with soybeans by incorporating them into local dishes such as paola by making a boiled soybean dumpling and tambra adding soybeans to a maize beans and rice dish I didn t get a chance to try these but as soy loving vegetarian they sound delicious Fadila and I got along so well that she suggested I marry one of her brothers so I could come live in Tampala with her which made us both laugh I am so impressed by Fadila s strength resolve and positivity and will definitely visit her again during my time here so we can catch up about this year s harvest and how she s progressing in school Tags MEDA Interns 2014 MEDA Projects Economic Opportunities Women Communications intern Continue reading Ghana 3428 Hits Wednesday 17 September 2014 What brings me to Ghana Kevin Linklater Program Support Enterprise Development Intern I will start soon start my 6 month internship with MEDA as an Enterprise Development intern with the GROW project in Northern Ghana when I fly from my hometown of Winnipeg to Toronto to Amsterdam to Accra and finally to Tamale Like many recent young grads I came out of university without a definite career path I studied different subjects and my smattering of volunteer and work experience during and after school has been in a number of different fields And since entering the job market it became clear to me that I will likely put in time with many different organizations over the course of my working life My favorite subjects in university were history and economics and I am a huge news junky and consumer of all things political What does someone with these interests do What sort of career should I be looking for Well one option is to go to northern Ghana for a 6 month internship doing rural development work in agriculture I have known for a long time that I am interested in the world in the people and history of different places To gain some understanding and appreciation of how different places work or don t work how people make a living raise their families and relate to others As I enter my late twenties the devil may care adventurism of youth is beginning to fade and some more practical thoughts are creeping into my head What kind of job security will be there for me Will I be able to earn a living to support a family Will I be able to find work where I can make a difference work that is fulfilling and enjoyable But the drive to learn and experience new things is as strong as ever and I know that by fully immersing myself in new situations and taking advantage of the unique opportunities that come my way I will be better positioned to handle the ever changing labour market and much more likely to find something that brings me genuine satisfaction in addition to a paycheck Will development work be a good fit for me Probably Will there be a job that is satisfying and perhaps more crucially available to me after this internship Maybe One thing seems to be clear for the generations growing up now the prospect of a career or lifelong job with one company is a thing of the past Young people today myself included will likely work in a few different fields with different companies or organizations in the private and public sectors The question that the new generation faces is not only will I be able to find a job or career but will I be able to find a something that is right for me I am not sure what the next half year will hold nor what I will do afterwards But I do know that this will be an incredible learning experience and will give me a good taste of what development work at the ground level entails And this is exactly what I am looking for Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Economic Opportunities Women Internship Experience Enterprise Development Intern Continue reading Ghana 3511 Hits Tuesday 16 September 2014 GROWing Women s Empowerment in Northern Ghana Clarissa Heger Former Communications Intern Hello MEDA Family My name is Clarissa I m the new communications intern for the MEDA GROW Project Greater Rural Opportunities for Women in Tamale Ghana I arrived in here about two weeks ago and it s been a busy exciting and fun ride so far I had my first field visit to Wa last week where our other MEDA office is just about 4 hours from Tamale I truly enjoyed meeting the MEDA field staff and our partner NGOs there Although I have to admit that my favorite part was getting to visit two of the GROW communities in upper west region Tanziri and Penetobo In true Ghanaian fashion we were so kindly welcomed with much singing and dancing which was such a blast We got to see the women s soybean fields listen the groups challenges and successes and thank them abundantly for having us which was of course followed by more dancing I am so impressed by these incredible women And here s why Part of GROW is that our partner NGOs implement gender trainings in these communities For one activity they have each the men and the women list their daily tasks Here s what they found The men on average had 2 tasks one of which is riding their bicycle to sit under a tree and play a board game with their friends The women on the other hand had 18 tasks including cooking cleaning farming getting water caring for the children just to name a few Although I have known about the unequal work distribution of women and seen it in similar communities in other parts of the world it still blows my mind every time I inquired if there was any progress as a result of these gender trainings Here are some of these results they shared Listing the tasks out helped some of the men see that the work distributions was unfair so they consented to help the women who usually walk to carry water to bring the water on their bicycle on their way home Other men now understand that the women have been working all day and sometimes it takes longer to finish their tasks Finally some men decided to take their dishes to the women after they finished eating so that these can be washed Clearly we have a long way to go toward gender equality but change in these rural communities happens slowly and at least these little steps are progress in the right direction Plus because of the GROW project women have been growing and selling soybeans and now are able to contribute financially to the household which helps to raise their status and financial decision making power Mostly women use their earnings to purchase food and send their children to school I will never be able to understand what it is like to be born here in Tanziri or Penetobo but I am so inspired by the incredible strength selflessness perseverance warmth and work ethic these women have I am grateful and excited to have the opportunity to contribute to the GROW project to learn from MEDA and these women to share their stories and see how the spark of empowerment will slowly but surely spread through their communities Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Communications intern Economic Opportunities MEDA Projects Women Continue reading Ghana 3925 Hits Thursday 15 May 2014 My MEDA Internship Reflection I really felt fulfilled Jessica Adach Gender Intern Women s Economic Opportunities I was looking for an internship in a developing country and knew that DFATD partnered with various international organizations in order to provide opportunities for young people After focusing on human rights and gender issues I was looking for something in that field MEDA s listing caught my eye as the position and project really spoke to me Not only was the role exactly what I was looking for a gender position in Ghana but what I read about MEDA s work inspired me to apply The idea of finding business solutions to poverty empowering those most vulnerable to create their own change and working on sustainable projects made me excited to be a part of the team Working in international development has really opened my eyes to the process of implementing an intervention Although I had prior experience traveling and volunteering abroad nothing can compare to living and working somewhere for an extended period of time Visiting local communities meeting clients and their families and seeing the positive results of the project were so rewarding Something I didn t expect was the extent to which cultural differences played a role in the project This required an awareness of who I was working with at different times and an understanding that practices I might consider normal may come across as inappropriate to others I learned a lot about working in different contexts that has been extremely valuable Tags Economic Opportunities Gender Intern Internship Experience MEDA Interns 2013 Women Continue reading Ghana 3660 Hits Wednesday 30 April 2014 A Sense of Empowerment Jessica Adach Gender Intern Women s Economic Opportunities One of the main objectives of the GROW project is to build the capacities of our Lead Farmers female farmers who are chosen to represent their women s groups so that they will have the skills to maintain their practices as entrepreneurs even after the project is completed in their communities This process can also be very empowering for the women teaching agricultural practices to ensure

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    appreciate these moments this is when you just need to chill out and be centered in yourself It builds trust in those around you I really had to learn how to just be and hang out with your friends doing nothing You have to lose that nagging flighty ness not think about what others are doing or thinking not think about what you should be doing and not worry about the future These were contrasted by periods of fast action and intense stimulation of the senses Fast nights jumping from place to place all on the back of motorcycles weaving in and out of traffic Walking through jam packed markets where every sight sound and smell is new The constant bartering over prices and everyday tasks that require so much more than this North American could ever have thought All this reinforced a few things 1 You have to take life it as it comes planning and the future are luxuries Live in the present Eat when there is food in front of you drink when you have drink and sleep when you have a bed 2 You have to be capable For example fetching water from the well for the first time I felt so helpless I couldn t get the technique to fill the bucket and could only retrieve a small amount each time If you can t do something learn fast because as a grown person you don t want to be a burden on others 3 Saving doesn t happen If you have money spend it If you have food or water you consume it now because if you wait there is a good chance it won t be there in the future just due to the uncertainties and precariousness of life 4 Reciprocation and sharing are hugely important and reinforce bonds in a powerful way Because the typical Togolese or African for that matter won t always have money or food you have to rely on others Sometimes you pay other times your friends pay That way you won t ever go hungry when others are eating 5 When the good times roll jump in with both feet because there s no guarantee tomorrow will offer you the same opportunity that you have now It really was a life changing experience It changed me by showing me a different way of living with new rules new social norms new burdens and new rewards I gained broader perspective on what life is for a large part of humanity and will carry those lessons and experiences with me I loved it all Tags Economic Opportunities Enterprise Development Intern MEDA Interns 2014 National Holiday Experience Women Continue reading Ghana 3644 Hits Monday 05 January 2015 Sunny Holidays in Togo and Ghana Clarissa Heger Former Communications Intern This year I spent my holidays at a beautiful beach surrounded by good friends in Lome Togo Although of course I missed celebrating Christmas with my family the alternative wasn t too shabby Four friends and I flew from Tamale to Accra on the early morning flight then took a car for about three hours to reach the boarder and then ended up at our bungalow on the beach by late afternoon We spent our time on an almost empty beach swimming playing Frisbee listening to music eating delicious food and playing lots of card games in the evenings It was the perfect antidote to the busy pre holiday stress we had left behind On Christmas we played and relaxed on the beach all day and then met Kevin the other GROW MEDA intern who was also traveling in Lome for dinner at a little Bavarian and French restaurant Taking me back to my Bavarian roots I was beyond excited to have discovered a German restaurant in Lome The six of us shared a delightful Christmas feast that reminded me of celebrating the holidays as a child in Germany We had a truly wonderful time and it was great alternative way to celebrate the holidays One of the perks of returning to Tamale was that everyone else was traveling so I had been asked to house and dog sit for two adorable puppies at a friend s nice house with a pool In a way my vacation continued with lots of dog walking and pool time And I also looked after a friend s horses so I got to go horseback riding a few times which made my break even better It was a really great holiday break and I was happy to ring in the New Year s in Tamale celebrating here with friends and fireworks The last year brought many new firsts and special memories for me Moving to Ghana and being part of the GROW team has been such an incredible experience so far I feel very privileged to be able to travel to the villages to meet our women farmers continue learning from our skillful staff here and be part of this meaningful work to help make a difference for these women and their families in Ghana The GROW team is really a family and after three short months it feels like home here I m truly grateful for an amazing 2014 and I can t wait to see what 2015 has in store Tags National Holiday Experience Economic Opportunities MEDA Interns 2014 Women Communications intern Continue reading Ghana 4015 Hits Friday 26 December 2014 Christmas in Ethiopia Clara Yoon Communication and Program Support Intern Merry Christmas from Ethiopia Without the snow and festivities it was definitely a different kind of Christmas for me this year But I m thankful to have had a new experience celebrating Christmas in a different country I learned how to make the best of my circumstances and enjoyed the two days off to rest and celebrate I m thankful for the Christmas season because I m always reminded and humbled by the birth of Jesus and all the blessings I have in my life Back at home the month of December is usually filled with reflection travel and celebration I usually travel to the US to visit family and friends or attend a church retreat to conclude the year My family usually doesn t have extravagant Christmas traditions we just enjoy each other s presence Over the month of December Steph and I decorated our house with lights paper trees and ornaments And this past Tuesday I had some friends over for a Christmas dinner party I made pork chops sausages mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables It was nice having company over for the first time Some of my friends said that they felt like they weren t in Ethiopia with the food decorations and Christmas music The next day Christmas Eve Steph and I were off work We got two days off to celebrate our holiday but technically Christmas in Ethiopia is in January We had a nice Christmas Eve dinner and watched the Hobbit at home Waking up on Christmas morning I had a nice post it note stuck on my door from Steph reading Merry Christmas with a cute reindeer doodled on it We had pancakes and fruit for brunch exchanged gifts and watched Home Alone a classic In the afternoon we went to the office for a nice Christmas coffee ceremony our staff had put together for us We had coffee cake and received a nice gift from our staff I really appreciate their thoughtfulness and for celebrating Christmas with us even though they celebrate in January Our evening was spent calling home to say Merry Christmas We also watched the Hobbit at the movie theatre and had a nice Christmas dinner in Bole I m really thankful to be in country with Steph we made Christmas the best we could even though we re both far from our families There s just a few months left of this internship and I don t think I would have made it this far without her support and friendship As we near the end of 2014 a new year is just around the corner I m always excited for a new year because it s a fresh start and I gather together hopes and dreams for another year The year 2014 has had its ups and downs and at the beginning of the year I never would ve thought I d be in Ethiopia working with MEDA Now that it s the end of the year I can say that despite this year s challenges all of the obstacles and experiences have helped me grow as a person and being on this internship has contributed much to this growth Tags MEDA Interns 2014 National Holiday Experience Private Sector Development Agriculture Communication and Program Support Intern Continue reading Ethiopia 3628 Hits Wednesday 17 December 2014 Travelled Centuries Back In Time Stephanie Puras Communication and Program Support Intern After the week of work visiting clients in Bahir Dar Clara joined me and we did some touristy things First Stop Blue Nile Falls Also known as Tis Isat the Smoke of Fire waterfall is near the Tis Abay town situated about 30 km downstream from the town of Bahir Dar and Lake Tana The Blue Nile Falls are considered one of Ethiopia s greatest natural spectacles and is the second largest waterfall in Africa next to Victoria Falls The town was busy when we arrived late that Saturday morning It was Market Day Once we got through the crowds we trekked 1 5 hours up the mountain to the falls I don t hike not alone with high altitude the scorching sun and sharing the path with dozens of cows Needless to say it was a mission and it would not have been complete without stepping in cow dung and nearly being trampled a few times Haha it was still worth it Even though it was very busy we got to see the falls in its full form sometimes there is little water due to the dam I was so hot I seriously considered jumping in it but I refrained knowing it would not end well Second Stop The Lalibela Churches On the Sunday we boarded a plane for Lalibela to see the UNESCO heritage site of the 11 monotheistic rock hewn churches These churches were attributed to King Lalibela who in the 12th century set out to construct a New Jerusalem after Muslim conquests halted Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land Due to this Lalibela is one of Ethiopia s holiest cities especially for the Ethiopian Orthodox community The churches were not constructed they were excavated Each church was created by carving into the ground to form the churches from the inside and out The largest church is 40 feet high Going from Bahir Dar a lush green paradise to Lalibela a rocky mountainous desert was quite a drastic change but not any less spectacular The churches of Lalibela are unlike anything I have ever seen The most impressive was Bet Giorgis St George church It is cut 40 feet down and its roof forms the shape of a Greek cross It was built after Lalibela s death c 1220 by his widow as a memorial to the saint king It was breathtaking no literally All the walking up and down stone hills through caves and across bridges nearly killed me That weekend was a work out All the churches were so beautiful and it really was a privilege to witness something so sacred to the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians and Orthodox Christians around the world This weekend was the first major touristy trip we did and I am glad we did it Ethiopia is often not given much thought but it truly has a lot to offer you just have to look for it Tags Agriculture Sightseeing MEDA Interns 2014 Private Sector Development Communication and Program Support Intern Continue reading Ethiopia 3998 Hits Tuesday 16 December 2014 Young Entrepreneurs Big Dreams Clara Yoon Communication and Program Support Intern It s the holiday season back in Canada and I m trying my best to be present and thankful in my current circumstances here in Ethiopia While I could compare and wish that I was back at home there are so many things to be thankful for I am part of a really great project E FACE and am loving the work that I get to do Here s a little snippet of what I did a few weeks ago I went on a field visit in the South for a few days with Lauren Good from MEDA s DC office and an E FACE colleague Wondwossen It was a really eye opening trip I learned so much from working and traveling with Lauren Wondwossen and the field staff And of course our wonderful clients always teach me so much After a 7 hour car ride we finally arrived in Wolaita We then drove to Sibaye Korke kebele kebele municipality in Damot Gale woreda woreda district to meet with a potato producer cooperative and a group of youth sales agents We were warmly welcomed by one of our female clients a member of the potato producer cooperative who had prepared tasty potatoes for us Lauren and Wondwossen facilitated a focus group discussion verifying information and data for our project s potato intervention I couldn t help but notice all the kids in the area sneaking up around us to see what was going on After this discussion we met with six youth sales agents who participated in the Building Skills for Life program They each shared about their businesses used clothing sugar cane butter coffee cereals and seed teff and what their future aspirations are It was refreshing to hear about their dreams and how the training they received changed their mindsets I interviewed one client named Aynalem and I was so encouraged by her story Despite a difficult life growing up she has worked hard to provide for herself and support her mother As we were leaving I encouraged her to study hard and chase after her dreams T he next day we visited more youth in Humbo Woreda In this group two youth stood out to me They were on time and one brought his record book to show how he keeps track of his expenses sales and savings I could tell they were very serious about their future dreams one wants to become an engineer and the other wants to become a doctor This really amazed me Through their current businesses they know if they work hard continue to save and maximize their profits they can attain their dreams Another theme I noticed among the youth was a sense of empowerment They felt empowered because they were no longer burdening their families They were earning their own income through their respective businesses and can now pay for their own expenses I have no doubt in my mind that these youth will go on to be successful and influential leaders in Ethiopia I have a few months left of my internship so I m eager to meet more clients hear their stories and document how the project facilitated positive change in their lives Tags Communication and Program Support Intern MEDA Interns 2014 MEDA Projects Agriculture Private Sector Development Continue reading Ethiopia 3920 Hits Saturday 13 December 2014 Increasing Sustainable Economic Growth Improved Livelihoods Stephanie Puras Communication and Program Support Intern In early November I woke bright and early to catch a seven AM flight When I arrived at the airport I traveled 1 5 hours to visit three EDGET clients a Farmers Field Schools Group and 2 rice processors Each had a different story to tell about their progress challenges and success It was amazing to finally be able to connect the information I gathered for reports and see how the project is impacting client s lives first hand Knowledge is Power Farmers Field School Group In a town called Libo I walked through hectares and hectares of farmland for what seemed to be hours I almost stepped on a snake and screamed really loud which provided entertainment for the rest of the staff Eventually I reach a series of huts and the group of farmers This was one of EDGET s Farmer Field School FFS Groups Farmers Field Schools is an EDGET initiative that gives farmers the opportunity to view demonstrations and experiment of improved farming techniques Members then share what they learned and their results with their Farmers Field School group members and neighbouring farmers Even though they were shy at first the men opened up to me about their experiences with FFS and described how they have used the new technologies to improve their rice production increase their businesses and ultimately create a better life for themselves and their families Balay Improved Technologies Increased Success After the farmers group I visited a processor named Balay Balay provides a rice processing service for neighbouring farmers Due to the training sessions and opportunities he has received from MEDA through the EDGET program his business is a huge success He also recently bought a rice processing machine on a cost sharing basis with MEDA it combines a number of steps into one The machine produces higher quality rice which increases the value and ultimately the profit Balay believes this machine will be a great investment for his business and his future This machine will not only benefit me as a processor but because it increases the quality of rice the farmers will benefit as well by receiving a greater income for the rice they produced From Fields to Markets The last person we visited was Momina a rice processor turned parboiler turned business woman Momina has been a rice processor with EDGET for a number of years but in 2013 she decided to parboil rice as well Parboiling is an additional step in processing rice that increases the nutritional value and quality Momina has used EDGET s training on market linkages to sell her rice in local markets and several supermarkets in Addis She has not only put parboiled rice on the market but has also shown the value of women as key players and entrepreneurs in the rice industry Tags Communication and Program Support Intern Agriculture Private Sector Development MEDA Interns 2014 MEDA Projects Continue reading Ethiopia 4387 Hits Monday 24 November 2014 Leadership and Inspiration in Everyday Life Clarissa Heger Former Communications Intern I m nearing the end of my third month in Ghana and am still learning and doing something new every day Overall I absolutely love my life and work here Whether I m learning how to build keyhole gardens in the villages for the dry season or documenting our semi annual Project Advisory Committee meeting to get insights into the GROW strategies I m constantly growing professionally and personally as well as getting my daily dose of inspiration Recently I had one of these moments of absolute admiration and inspiration in Maase village Jalal my GROW team member and I had an early morning and a bumpy ride to this village in Upper West District I was taking pictures videos and interviewing Mary the proud new owner of a keyhole garden Her GROW group of women farmers had come to help with the construction and to learn how to build the gardens for themselves from Jalal s demonstration Several layers into the construction the garden was starting to come together but needed more top soil The women had to gather additional soil from outside of Mary s fenced in property So the women and some men formed an assembly line to pass bucket of top soil to the construction site of the keyhole garden A true testament to teamwork and support but more than that despite the fact they had been working in the heat all morning to build this garden for their group member they started singing songs laughing and smiling as they were passing buckets of soil along the assembly line I was so touched and impressed by this beautiful display of community The women showed so much strength unity and joy with access to opportunities their potential to change their communities Ghana and the world is endless My time here in Ghana hasn t been without its challenges but getting to work in this area of my passion women s empowerment is really all I need to relight my motivation I m truly inspired every day being surrounded by strong women Whether it s through these incredible moments with the women in the villages or by the strong female leaders on our MEDA team it serves as a constant reminder as to why this work is so important Tags Communications intern Women MEDA Interns 2014 MEDA Projects Economic Opportunities Continue reading Ghana 3562 Hits Friday 21 November 2014 Hard work and a bit of luck Kevin Linklater Program Support Enterprise Development Intern This week we had a Project Advisory Committee or PAC meeting in Wa The meeting was attended by a majority of MEDA Ghana country staff MEDA staff from HQ in Canada representatives from our five key facilitating partners KFPs folks from the Canadian embassy in Accra and DFATD as well as a representatives from the Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture This was my first PAC meeting What I was able to take away is that things seem to be on the up and up There was a great deal of optimism for year three of the project and I feel like things have improved in that regard since the last PAC meeting in June This optimism will surely be necessary The project has ambitious targets and the rate of uptake by the clients i e the number of women planting soybeans within the GROW project must increase drastically for next year s planting season and in subsequent years for these targets to be met I have two thoughts on this Initially I fear that the low hanging fruit has already been targeted so to speak that it will be difficult to convince the remaining women who are enrolled in GROW but aren t yet planting to plant next season These remaining women are perhaps more risk averse and will be very hesitant to try something new making achieving the targets set for the number of women planting a tall order Countering this is that the initial work put in with the other value chain actors will hopefully yield more reliable service and more stronger linkages after a longer duration relationship has developed enabling more women to access these crucial services and inputs when they need them and allow more to plant This will work in the project s favour going forward and be a positive factor in the following years that was not present at the outset I think it will come down to whether or not women who have planted in the past were successful In groups where women have been successful and have earned a decent income from their crop it will encourage more women from those groups to plant next year However in groups where women encountered problems and were unable to earn an income or a high enough income to justify their efforts it will be very hard to convince additional women from those groups to try planting and indeed it may be hard to retain the numbers we do have The abilities and strengths of our field officers will affect this to a degree but I have learned that it is very hard to change people s perceptions and change ideas that have been long held and are entrenched Some of the shortfalls from last season were due to bad luck such as poor weather In some of these communities successes will beget more success but in communities that experienced difficulties we will certainly have our work cut out for us Tags MEDA Projects Enterprise Development Intern MEDA Interns 2014 Women Economic Opportunities Continue reading Ghana 3621 Hits Wednesday 19 November 2014 Exploring the North Bahir Dar and Lalibela Clara Yoon Communication and Program Support Intern Two weeks ago I went on a weekend trip to Bahir Dar and Lalibela located in northern Ethiopia Since I went to the south for work about a month ago I was excited to see different parts of the country again While I do like Addis it does get tiring with lots of people traffic and pollution It was refreshing to be in more remote parts of the country especially with beautiful landscapes and sunsets that you just don t get in the city I met up with Steph in Bahir Dar first since she was there for work We had dinner along Lake Tana that was lit up by the moonlight The following day we went to see the Blue Nile Falls Saturdays are market days so as we drove one hour to the falls there were lots of people walking with their cattle or goats We met up with our tour guide who led us on a 1 5 hour hike Many times we were face to face with cows walking on the path on their way to the market We saw the Portuguese Bridge and the Blue Nile Falls and then walked back to finish our tour There were many kids selling scarves and hand made crafts along our hike telling us Madam I ll give you a good price I eventually caved and bought one even though I ve already accumulated so many in Addis We relaxed for a few hours and then went for dinner along the lake and watched the sunset In Bahir Dar we took these 3 wheeled scooter type taxis called Bajaj s or Touk touk s they were super cheap and really easy to use After dinner we checked out Kuriftu for dessert along with good talks under a full moon The next part of our trip was to Lalibela a town renowned for its rock hewn churches that were built in the 12th century The story goes that King Lalibela sought to create a New Jerusalem for those who could not make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land The churches were not constructed in a traditional method rather they were excavated and carved from the living rock of monolithic blocks The churches are still used to this day by Orthodox Christians And now that it is a UNESCO heritage site tourism has really taken off over the past few years The landscape in Lalibela reminded me of the Grand Canyon although I ve never been It s very desert like with canyons and plateaus all around After resting up we went to see the churches It was really amazing to see the churches inside and out My favourite was St George the church shaped in a cross We had a really good guide who showed us all 11 churches within 3 5 hours It was an exhausting tour as we walked through passages trenches and in and out of most of the churches While it was overall a really good trip I m glad to be back in Addis After a few days of traveling all you want is the familiarity of your own home and the variety of food options that are available in the city With about four months left of this internship I m hoping to squeeze in a few more trips to see more of Ethiopia It really is a beautiful country I had a few moments throughout this past trip that reminded me that I am very blessed to be here with MEDA and working on a great project that is changing lives Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Communication and Program Support Intern Agriculture Economic Opportunities Sightseeing Continue reading Ethiopia 3463 Hits Friday 07 November 2014 I believe in what we are doing here Kevin Linklater Program Support Enterprise Development Intern I have now started getting into the meat and potatoes of the work I am meeting regularly with Mr Baaro the gentlemen who I am supporting with his soymilk business I am helping him track his costs prepare marketing materials and determine production levels and the selling price This is as much a learning experience for me as I am not an expert in business Figuring out when the business will make its return on investment ROI is going to be fun to calculate as there are lots of moving parts that go into it and measuring it is not always precise in the best circumstances let s not forget that pesky Ghanaian inflation However I have received good support from the other MEDA staff here and I have a clear goal which is to see Baaro Enterprise turn a profit from producing and selling soymilk and to therefore become a sustainable and reliable buyer of soybeans from local farmers I have also been tasked by Catherine the country manager to work with the other staff to compile a manual for the field officers I have now attended 5 meetings with our key facilitating partners KFPs local NGOs that MEDA has partnered with to carry out the GROW project at the community level From those meetings I have learned all of the challenges and opportunities that the field officers face in implementing the GROW project in the communities A myriad of obstacles must be overcome logistics social group formation and navigating the web of community relationships ownership the availability of financial services even the weather But this manual will hopefully smooth out some of these hurdles and support these field officers by providing them with a template for action including who will be supporting them at each stage of implementation It also helps that I believe in what we are doing here I have met many other expats and a few have shrugged their shoulders when I ask what sort of work they are engaged in saying something to the effect of well I just do whatever This was one of my biggest fears in heading overseas to do development work that I would simply be a voluntourist involved in a project with a fuzzy but lofty sounding goal but with no concrete outcomes that would change anything If our project is successful it will create meaningful and more importantly long term and permanent change in the lives poor rural Ghanaians Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Enterprise Development Intern Women Economic Opportunities Internship Experience Continue reading Ghana 3885 Hits Tuesday 04 November 2014 Almost 2 months down Stephanie Puras Communication and Program Support Intern I cannot believe I have been in Ethiopia for nearly 2 months already It s crazy The past few weeks have been pretty uneventful going out from time to time and working lots EDGET has been in the middle of report season so the office has been in full swing I am also excited to report that this week I will going out to Bahir Dar a city north of Addis to work with MEDA s office there For those of you who are still a little unsure of what it is exactly I do here I thought that this would be good opportunity to give you a little more background on EDGET the project I am working with as I will be going out to the field and meeting some of our clients in a couple of days Ethiopians Driving Growth through Entrepreneurship and Trade EDGET is a 5 year pro poor value chain development project that is funded by DFATD We aim to increase the income of 10 000 rice farmers and textile artisans by giving improved technologies training on better farming techniques business skills and creating access to local markets and business partnerships Currently we have approximately 8 000 client farmers in the Amhara Region and Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region SNNPR and 2 000 textile clients in Addis Ababa and SNNPR So what am I going to be doing in Bahir Dar I am going to be visiting our MEDA office there which is situated in the Amhara Region and following up on three of our rice farmer clients in the surrounding villages Basically I will visit each site and interview the clients on how their business as rice farmers has been what are the challenges they have faced and how they have benefited from participating in the EDGET project With the information gathered I will then conduct some briefs to explain the situation for some donors visiting MEDA Ethiopia next week On Friday Clara is going to come meet me in Bahir Dar and we are going to take this chance to explore a bit of Bahir Dar and some touristy sites Lake Tana the origin of the Nile and Blue Nile Falls Then we are hopping on a plane to Lalibela home to one of the world s most astounding sacred sites eleven rock hewn churches I have a busy and slightly stressful week ahead including the dreaded 5am airport visit tomorrow but hopefully it will be worth it Tags MEDA Interns 2014 Communication and Program Support Intern Agriculture Private Sector Development Internship Experience Continue reading Ethiopia 3530 Hits Friday 31 October 2014 Beyond the Rough Bumpy Roads Clarissa Heger Former Communications Intern I love being a communications intern because it allows me to learn about all different aspects of the GROW project agriculture gender nutrition monitoring and evaluation and much much more I m always buzzing around partner NGO meetings community visits donor tours staff trainings etc taking tons of pictures and notes to share But I have to say my favorite part of the job is doing field work As part of my responsibilities I have the honor of reporting on the significant changes that are taking part in women farmer s lives due to the GROW project Together with our MEDA team and partner NGOs we identify several women that have become empowered through being part of the GROW project After our field staff preliminarily interviews them I have the great pleasure of doing in depth follow up interviews taking pictures and sharing their stories with people from around the world as well as getting them back to the women and their communities Travel to these rural villages usually requires a start in the early morning hours and what seems like endless driving along rough bumpy and often unpaved roads I can t even tell you how impressed and grateful I am for our drivers they are incredible When we finally make it to the communities I have the privilege of meeting these amazing women Then we find a shady spot under a tree or around their house and with translation assistance of the field staff they share their stories about their soybean fields their families their ambitions and their concerns As is common when you have foreign visitors generally a crowd of curious neighborhood children accumulates within minutes of starting the interview and it has usually tripled in size by the time we finish Then after many thanks and smiles we all pile into the car or walk to the women s soybean fields Here I photograph the women proudly showing their crops and ask a few last questions that come up Then after many more thank you s we pile everyone back in the car and drop them back at home On the ride back I generally find myself reflecting on the women s stories I m always blown away at the strength determination and selflessness of the women I meet Farming is very difficult work but beyond that many of these women lack formal education and to see them decide to switch to growing soybeans so they can for feed and educate their children is inspiring humbling and beyond impressive And that pretty much concludes a typical field visit as you can see there s

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