It was a very positive experience when UCSOND and two members of the Shama District Assembly visited the community of Fawomanye. The whole community was united and eager to make an effort for the development of the community.
Most of the community members of Fawomanye were gathered under the small shed trying to avoid the harsh mid day sun. They had been sitting like this for over an hour. Men and women were equally represented out of the hundred people present there. They were all anticipating the visitors from UCSOND with great expectations, because they wanted to learn more about how UCSOND could help them as a community.
The community of Fawomanye is one of the five new communities in Shama district that UCSOND have recently added to, they were therefore very surprised and happy to see so many members of the community gathered at the same place waiting for them.
» I am usually late to all my appointments, and that is why I am very overwhelmed by your attitude today. I promise that I will never come late again,« said Member of the Assembly, Timothy Ayensu, as he addressed the community.
Not ignorant villagers
Dinah Armo, the Project Officer, told the community members about UCSOND and their focus primarily on the issues with oil and gas. UCSOND would like to provide the community members with training and educating on the effects that the big oil and gas companies could have on the area, and how the community should improve their capacity in order to speak up for themselves. The whole community listened carefully while the Chief expressed his gratitude for the meeting.
» We have been waiting for such an opportunity and we feel very lucky to be part of such a programme as this one. But at the same time it is important that you are very transparent when dealing with us. You should not treat us as ignorant villagers, but you should treat us with respect,« he said.
Dinah Armo answered that UCSOND was all about transparency and that the whole basis of UCSOND was its members and the importance of being an active part of the communities that they operate in. UCSOND is not the kind of organisation that had the funding to solve problems directly, but they could help the community to address those in power and help the community to solve the issues by themselves.
The two Assembly Members were present at the meeting to give the community the possibility of telling the Assembly about some of the issues and problems that they were facing.
It was clear that the community members of Fawomanye were very dedicated to get as much support as possible from the Assembly. They eagerly told the two members of the Assembly about some of the problems that they were facing. One of them being the construction of a school that had stopped before it was complete, because of problems caused by financial constraint.
» Nothing is working in that school, so how can that place be suitable for educating our children? Because of the unfinished buildings snakes and lizards are now thriving at the school where our children are going everyday.« said a concerned community member.
Since it is one of the only schools in the community, the teachers are forced to use the unfinished classrooms to conduct their lessons, even though there are no shutters on the windows and no light. Another issue was the state of the local clinic that was not functioning well. The lack of a borehole nearby meant that the nurses didn’t even have water to drink.
Building a Stronger Community
The two Assembly members, Joseph Isaiah Mensah and Timothy Ayensu, promised that they would do their best to communicate the issues of the community through the Assembly to the responsible institutions. They further stressed the importance of the community’s own involvement in the development of the community.
» You cannot depend the development of this community on the government alone, so you should do whatever you can do to help yourself. You should accept the projects, as they were your own, and do all you can to help each other, so that you all do something that your community will benefit from, « said Timothy Ayensu.
Both Assembly Members were confident that the community members of Fawomanye were serious with their concerns and the future development of the community. After what they had seen and heard at the community meeting today, they were certain that the whole community would benefit from the education that UCSOND were offering them. The community was showing a lot of willingness to make an effort for the development by themselves, and that is an important factor for the success of the development.
UCSOND would teach them on the issues connected with oil and gas, building their capacity, and making them able to advocate for their own problems and issues to the responsible stakeholders.