Education and Empowering Women in Ghana
Mondo’s development cooperation activities are concentrated on one of the poorest areas of northern Ghana – the Kongo village in the Nabdam district of Upper East Region. Estonians are well-known in the village, since Mondo has already been active there for six years. Several experts from Estonia have contributed to the development of the village: designers Triin Kordemets and Anne-Liis Leht worked on developing women’s entrepreneurship; teachers Karolin Mäe and Mai Mikkelsaar observed the state of the children taking part in Mondo’s grant program and offered additional training for the local teachers; nurses Rita Vartiainen and Maarja Kuslapuu, and midwives Minni-Triin Kasemets and Evelyn Põldsaar offered their support in the daily work of the local clinics, and conducted lectures on hygiene and sexual health at schools.
2015 is the year that can be considered a breakthrough in Mondo’s activities in the Kongo village. For the second year in a row, we received financial aid from the development cooperation funds of Estonia, and this helped us to improve the effects and sustainability of our activities. We achieved our goal in establishing a shea butter production center and obtaining a certificate for producing shea butter in order to sell it in the international market.
After natural resources, baskets are the biggest export article of northern Ghana; there are approximately 5,000 basket weavers in the area, who weave world-famous baskets under the name of Bolga baskets. A few years back, there were only a couple of good weavers in the Kongo village. Today, thanks to the help of Mondo, the women of the Kongo village have gotten the chance to learn to weave new models and patterns, and to better the quality of their work. This led to the association named Yen Pang Basket Weavers, which, in addition to Monica, has 20 members. Great weaving skills enable women to earn an additional income to their main occupation, which is usually related to agriculture. This is especially important during the dry season from November to May, when there is no land cultivation, and food is scarce. Working in an association is equally important to the women as the income received from weaving, since it teaches the local women to be responsible and self-sufficient. The Yen Pang Basket Weavers association have their own renovated facility, where they keep their reserves and completed baskets, and where they go to get work done.
During 2014 and 2015, we offered financial support to 14 schools in the Nabdam district of northern Ghana, so that the schools could improve the quality of both teaching and learning. For 2015, we mapped the needs of the schools in cooperation with the education office of thr Nabdam district. The schools submitted their needs to Mondo, and these varied from installing electricity, solar panels, and computers, to school furniture, textbooks, and offering school lunch. During the last years, the need for junior high school classes 7-9 has raised. Since 2013, the communities have opened up four new schools in addition to the previously existing schools that offer primary education. Although the schools have been submitted to be registered in the state education office, which would allow them to apply for state grants, the applications have not yet been reviewed. For example, the Zua Junior High School has been open for three years, and before help from Mondo, the students were learning without textbooks. In the schools that have already been registered, the amount of students has increased, but the statistics has not reached the education office, and the schools receive the same amount of textbooks as in the year 2012. The deficit of mathematics and English textbooks is the biggest – over 900 copies were handed out to eight local schools with the help of Mondo.