Serving disadvantaged communities in West Africa by empowering local leaders who have a positive humanitarian vision for their community.
This blog maps the evolution of the organization's vision through the thoughts, experiences, and collaborative projects of our team. Visit GroundUpGlobal.org for more information and how you can help!
SCHEFO’s intern Carolyn reflects on her experience in the camp.
When I first applied for the internship position with SCHEFO at the Buduburam Refugee Camp, I really had no idea what to expect. I had googled some pictures of the camp and had images swirling around in my head from Blood Diamond, but those images were the extent of my conceptualization of what the camp might look like. In reality, Buduburam camp is a twenty-year-old town of 40,000 residents with its own ramshackle market, restaurants, bars, internet cafes, hair salons, schools, vocational training centers, and religious institutions.
Given all that, Buduburam seems to be, at least socially, a thriving community of refugees. But, Buduburam is stuck incomplete economic stagnation. There are no job positions on camp (most of the restaurants and salons are in a constant state of dilapidation. They were started by the few individuals who managed to get access to micro-finance loans.) and the refugees find it incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to get jobs outside the camp due to travel expenses and the nationalistic discrimination of Ghanaian employers. Several different people at the camp have told me, “Why should they give us jobs when there are Ghanaians who are poor and unemployed too?”
And so the entire economic infrastructure of Buduburam exists in a kind of Twilight Zone with buildings crumbling, electricity failing for weeks at a time, and other struggles. DVD stores with twinkling lights (when there is electricity on the camp,) clothing stores with the doors thrown open, and innumerable food vendors sat by the sides of the camp’s dusty roads are all waiting for customers who don’t exist because the incredibly high unemployment rate on the camp starves the people of cash. Fees are needed to purchase water, send your children to school, receive health care, and even use the public restrooms.
One of the most difficult aspects of camp life to cope with psychologically is the complete absence of opportunity for self-advancement. When there are no jobs to be had, there is no money to be had, and without money there is no higher education and no moving off the camp. Every day is a practice in waiting, and trying, and hoping.
When women are given agency over their own bodies, big change happens.
A new topical gel can be used by women to prevent transmission of HIV through sexual intercourse, The New York Times reported on Monday. The microbicidal gel contains tenofovir, an anti-retroviral. Many in the field have already dubbed it “a game changer.”
This latest benchmark in the fight against AIDS is in synch with the greater movement towards women’s rights and empowerment.