DUNK – Developing Unity Nurturing Knowledge

I would like to talk about DUNK. Many don´t know this – but I volunteer. Moving to Ghana was a real eye opener for me. I was prepared for it to be different– without really knowing what to expect. Being here, seeing poverty and need up close, changes you. First of all it makes you appreciate what you have so much more. Secondly, it makes you want to take action. I know I can´t save the world. But if I am able to help a few, my hope is that they again can help a few – and hopefully in the end we have all helped many.

When we first arrived in Ghana I became a member of NAWA, a woman´s humaitarian organisation where I now sit on the board as head of volunteer engagements. NAWA was a great help navigating me through the sea of NGO´s in Accra. And after less than a month here I had found my organisation with their help. Today I volunteer at DUNK based on their cause and shared passion for sports, education and empowerment of young individuals and women.

fullsizeoutput_141c

DUNK stands for Developing Unity, Nurturing Knowledge. It’s a youth-led, community-based, Non-Governmental Organisation. DUNK was founded in 2011 with operations in Nima (an urban slum in Ghana). Since it has grown, and we are now currently operating in the two most deprived communities in Accra, Ghana – Nima and Jamestown. In September 2016 we opened our facility in Jamestown with the first community library and a free kindergarten for the moms attending our Sew Your Future program.

DUNK´s mission is to create safe spaces for at-risk children and women aged 0-19 years old living in the most deprived communities in Accra. We provide a healthy environment for our members to Play, Learn & Grow through sports (basketball), after-school support, life-skills –and vocational training. We empower and nurture our members so they may become agents of change in their own communities.

DUNK´s objectives are:

  • Provide a safe and healthy environment in which the right of children is put forward
  • Develop physical, social and emotional competences and cognitive development of children and youth through sports and leadership skills
  • Encourage children to excel in and out of the classroom as well retaining their school enrolment
  • Empowering and provide teenage mothers and at-risk girls with economic stability
  • Provide Sexual Health education for teenage mothers and at-risk youth with partners
  • Promote early-child literacy and development for the babies of teenage mothers
  • Promote respect, self-esteem, leadership, commitment and teamwork

In their work DUNK uses a triangle method based on three pillars:

  1. Athletic Development – Through the establishment of basketball teams, DUNK appeals and reach out to children living in deprived communities. Central to the quality of life of young people, as a key source to friendship, social and self‐identity, and as a deterrent and diversion from crime – is participation in sports activities. Participation in sport is proven to positively impact cognitive and social skills and health. It can also reduce impulsiveness, risk‐taking and positively impact behaviour by raising self‐esteem and confidence.
  2. Academic Development – Through tutorial sessions, after school programs and our educational centre (library), members are assisted in their studies and encouraged to further their education. DUNK also provides scholarships to those most needy.
  3. Personal Development – Through mentoring sessions and life-skills training, our members are given the tools to impact and influence positively their peers and own community.

DUNK is able to reach over hundreds of kids, from primary to Junior High School level. In Ghana education is supposed to be free (up to high school level). Unfortunately there are many hidden costs preventing students, especially those from urban communities, from attending and finishing their education. These hidden costs add up to roughly $200 dollars per year. Our goal is therefore to have a scholarship for each of our members helping them staying in and finishing school.

In classes of sometimes 60+ pupils, children get “lost” in the system and have little support should they need it. The DUNK team therefore works hard at linking families with sponsors, as well as monitor the student’s attendance and progress with their education. Since parents and legal guardians are seldom home after school, DUNK provides a space where young people can practice Basketball and leadership skills, learn and play indoor games, have access to books, attend education and skills classes, and socialize with each other and their mentors.

DUNK’s members participate in an afterschool program with professional teachers that volunteer with us during the week. We mainly focus on English and Math, but we also enrol kids in other educational activities such as science workshops, writing workshops, reading classes, arts class and much more. By monitoring the kids through their academic year by collecting their report cards we are able to make sure every kid is getting the help and assistance they might need. We also catch those who drop out and help and motivate them to get back into school.

If you would like to know more about this organisation and it´s cause – maybe even become a donor and sponsor a child – you can visit their website. You can also follow us on facebook or instagram where we post weekly updates. If you have any further inquiries please send an email to marte_eikanger@hotmail.com or info@dunkgrassroots.org.

Akwaaba!

Version 2

Cheers,

M!

Advertisements

Where did the time go?

Oh wow! It´s over two months since my last update on this blog. Where do I begin??

November and December was pretty hectic for us. We had a ton of social functions and events to attend; Melbourne Cup at the Australian High Commissioners house, The Marine Ball, NAWA members night, St. Andrews ball, Maersk Christmas party and many lovely dinner parties with friends. At the same time Andrew was very busy at work starting the process of getting a second rig in to Ghana. While I was busy with my exams and a trip back to Norway. Luckily we managed to end the year on a good note both socially and work wise. So on the 15th we left Accra for a well deserved holiday. First we had four days in Dubai before we headed to Sydney for Christmas with the Bridges family.

Our holiday was magic! Dubai was so much fun (except a bad case of food poisoning for both of us and barfing all over the desert..). We got to see the souks, go up Burj Khalifa, relax on the beach, go on a vintage dessert safari, eat a lot of good food and drink too many expensive drinks (#muslimcountry). Sydney was great! It was my first warm Christmas, and also my first Christmas away from my family. I sure didn´t hate the warm weather, but felt more like a good summer holiday than Christmas. Guess I just should embrace it – it´t won´t be my last! Anyway, days were spent with family and friends enjoying being outdoors. I think that was my favourite part of our holiday. Being able to spend so much time outside going for walks and spend time on the ocean. And don´t forget the beachside brunches and good coffee! Already miss it…

Oh! Can´t forget to mention our pretty magical New Years Eve. We got prime seats on the water overlooking Sydney harbour. Was told multiple times most people (even Australians) never have experienced their famous fireworks from the water like that. It was amazing! Sydney sure do fireworks well.

We have now been back in Accra for a week now, busy trying to get back to normal routines. Andrew is pretty flat-out at work these days, while I volunteer a lot before my school year fully starts. On Friday my dad and little brother is coming to visiting us – so exciting! I have made a list of options for things to do and see, but ultimately they will decide when they get here.

As many do over the holiday, they set them selves some goals for the new year. As have we! First of we want to see more of Ghana while we still live here. We have not seen much outside of Accra up until now, which is a shame. So a list has been made and hopefully we are able to cross of a lot of them this year. Other than that we will work hard towards achieving our professional goals and be better at staying in touch with friends and family at home. 🙂

Here is a little photo spread from the last two months – enjoy!

All the pre-holiday events in Accra

 

Trip to Norway for my exams. But managed to squeez in many long walks in fresh Norwegian air, christmas preperations and time with my friends and family.

 

Dubai moments

 

S Y D N E Y !

 

Back in Accra!

 

If you´d like to read more about DUNK the organisation i volunteer for, go check out their website: DUNK or check out their facebook page: DUNK Facebook

That´s it for now!

M, x

Ghana – the country of beads

Fun fact – did you know that Ghana was known for beads? I sure didn´t!

Yesterday I was invited along by some very nice Americans to go check out this bead factory 30 minutes north of Accra. You all might be thinking “how much fun can that really be?!” I tell you what – it was so interesting and fascinating to see! They took us through the whole process of traditional bead production Ghana style. They are all made out of pure glass (used glass bottles etc.), hand-made one by one.  Many of them have the smallest intricate patterns painted on, also by hand. I was so impressed by their craft, but most importantly by their patience!! I wouldn´t even last a day.

We also bought with us a lot of beads before we headed home. Being the typical Scandinavian that I am, I was the most conservative. Went for practicality and “boring” colours. My excuse was that if I´m ever going to make something any of my friends or family would even dare to use, it has to match our very boring colour choice; black, white and grey. So watch out – some of you might get something made by M in Ghana (if I ever get around to it…).

 

Other than that life the last couple of weeks has mainly consisted of work for Andrew and studying for me. My exams are coming up shortly! I´ll actually be leaving for Stavanger in just ten days! Regardless of that being a “work trip” I am really looking forward to it. Finally get to cool down a bit, because here it´s only getting hotter and hotter. I am also looking forward to see some friends and family, eat some typical Norwegian food (KAVIAR!!!!! Or fish tooth paste like you Aussie calls it) and of course overdose on candy king! oh yum…..

Last weekend we went to the roof to have a swim in the pool whilst watching the storm role in. It was so fascinating to see! The cloud formations were so cool and changing quickly. Best of all, the rain never hit us and we could snap some nice photos.

IMG_3492IMG_3488

Btw. apparently there is another dude here in Accra with the same tattoo as Andrew…. HAHA!!! It is very important to know what year you are established apparently….! 😉

I have some exciting news as well! I finally found a great project for me to get involved in locally. But I will write an own post about that later this week. Stay tuned!

Cheers,

M.

Making Memories.

I don´t know where to start. Like I have mentioned so many times before we try to say yes to as much as we can. Therefor last week ended up very hectic – but so fun!

In Accra you can pretty much get anything you want, you just need to know who to talk with and where to go. Nobody is using any real form for advertising or marketing, and still we discover something new every week. The word sure spread fast in the expat community! Last week I finally found a guy who can do my hair just the way they do it at home. That alone made my week. No more yellow hair! Additionally we learned about this South African place that imports SA meat and Spanish wine for a decent price. Meat here tastes very different then what we are used to from home and the quality is not as good. The wine selection is minimal unless you are willing to pay an insanely high amount for the good imported wine. So discovering this place with good (and reasonably priced) wine was heaven for wine lovers like us!

Other than that we have tried two new restaurants this week. One was a very good Italian restaurant where you get served whatever the chef has that day. SO MUCH GOOD SEAFOOD! The owner was a fun character though. We have heard some interesting stories about him that sums up to him being on the run from the mafia or something. haha! We also tried a local restaurant that served the best tilapia we´ve had in a long time. An it was so cheap! We got a full meal with drinks for 8 people for under 30 euro.

After getting our shipment we truly have enjoyed a bigger selection in clothing (!!) and activities. Didn´t know how much we missed all of our stuff until it got here. So on Wednesday we got to test our non-existing tennis skills. Let´s just say we need a lot more practise… One thing we didn´t taken into consideration was the bats. Every day the sun sets around 6pm, and during sunset all the bats comes out..! The sky is filled with several thousands flying from the beach area towards the botanical garden for the night. Andrew doesn´t get home from work until closer to six, which meant we had to play tennis during/after sunset. It didn´t take long until we figured out that the lights around the tennis court attracts some of the bats. It freaked me out a bit to have bats come flying down to us and say hello during our game. But we still had lots of fun!

We woke up to beautiful weather on Saturday, so we start the day relaxing by the pool (and watching a whole indian family get swimming lessons). Or I relaxed while Andrew was sporting his speedo doing laps in the pool. Then in the afternoon we took our bikes out for the first time here in Accra. It was a great way to explore our neighbourhood but also a bit scary at times. As mentioned in the previous post, traffic here is horrible. Luckily it is not too bad during weekends in some of the back roads, so we managed just fine!

 

Yesterday we had the alarm set for 4:45am (on a sunday!!!). We were going hiking with the Ghana Mountaineers to Mount Osuwangyo, and the pickup time was 5:20am. The early start was so worth it though! We drove for roughly an hour and a half, then climbed the mountain and reached the top before 9am. In hindsight the climb up was the easy (and shortest) part of the whole hike. It was a good trail all the way up with a nice steady pace. But the decent was another story. We went straight down the steep side of the mountain, with no trail. So we had to slide and fall all the way down, fighting spiky bushes, high grass and big trees as we went. Afterwards our bodies ended up all scratched up and extremely dirty! It was exhausting but so much fun! In total we were out hiking for five hours, putting over 12k behind us. A well spent sunday morning followed by a long nap when we got home.

Hiking in a big group like this (13 + 2 guides) means you get to meet a lot of new people. And everyone has their own interesting story to tell. It is truly fascinating to learn so much about culture, personal views and life in general. We loved it and will definitely go again! Next weekend we are doing the obstacle race with several from the Mountaineer group instead of hiking. It´s only a 5k run with up to 20 obstacles, so should be lots of fun for big kids like us.

IMG_3402
Someone wasn´t too happy with the super early start on Sunday.

IMG_3404

 

IMG_3414

 

IMG_3418

 

IMG_3415

 

22522337_10154884008209147_551693494_o

DSCF3473

 

22546851_10154884009389147_189469998_o

 

22497032_10154884008144147_541367169_o

 

22556240_10154884008554147_2065811210_o

 

DSCF3479

 

DSCF3520
We found a little Chili farm on the way down.

DSCF3528

 

IMG_3421
Horrible sock tan! We were so swollen, filthy and sunburnt when we got home.

That´s it for today.

M.

 

 

Sun(not fun)day.

It is sunday and my first week alone in Accra is coming to an end. Andrew has been in Copenhagen all week for a leadership course, then spent the weekend in London visiting hairy Harry. Andrew was a bit nervous for how I would take it staying here alone for a whole week. But i´m a big girl and have managed just fine on my own. My week has been pretty much full on from start to finish! Big thanks to Rhonda (my “Ghana mom” from Texas) who did a great job keeping me busy.

On friday I woke up by a big bang! The weather had gone bonkers!! Lightning, thunder and raining like crazy. Most people might think we have sun all day long, but actually it´s fairly cloudy here, and sooo humid. To this day I have definitely not become a tanned child to say the least (which I guess all my friends at home is happy about. No worries getting jealous of my tan lines..). Anyways, traffic is normally horrible in this city. The roads are awful, people drive like monkeys and there is no logic what so ever. It´s basically just a contest of who got more guts and the sharpest “elbows” to push your way forward. But when it rains it becomes even more chaotic! Nothing hardly moves, and you definitely don´t want to be the poor bastard stuck in traffic then.. hah!

IMG_3368

After a full day inside on friday being a good student, I had to get out on Saturday. Luckily Rhonda and Kenneth wanted to try Smoke´n´Barrel where we always watch Rugby on the weekends. But this saturday they also had “October fest” African style. Which actually means you put on an epic bbq, get a local band to perform old classics and drink a wee bit of beer. Smoke´n´Barrel is a typical expat hangout, so you are always guaranteed to meet someone you know. And by the end of the night you know a whole lot more. I ended up staying there from 2pm to midnight. Was so tired when I got home I passed out on the couch.

IMG_3375

After waking up very dusty and with a bad stomach (Salad is not a wise choice in Africa..), I am finally up and alive ready to greet my handsome man. Even though I´ve always managed well on my own, I truly prefer having Andrew around. I always miss him a lot when he´s not home, and adventures are always so much better when we experience them together. Oh yes, so mushy!!

Take care.

M.

Settling into life in Ghana

Hi everyone! Yes – I know i´m not the best at updating this blog. I promise i´ll try to do better from now. Anyways, here is a little update from our last couple of weeks.

Two weekends ago we went on a little day trip out of the City with Mike (Andrew´s colleague). First we went to West Hills Mall, the biggest one in the region. Then we went and had some fun go karting. Yes, we are big kids! It was a lot of fun, and of course I won…! After that we drove further down the coast trying to find a cool beach bar for a cold one. But we only ended up in some odd places and found it better to head back to civilisation for some ice cream.

On our way back in to the city we had to buy some plantain chips. They are our new favourite snack! Don´t know how safe they are to eat though considering we buy them of the street. You can literally buy anything along the streets here! Everything from furniture, keyboards, food and chargers. So many people are even walking around in the streets carrying things on their head so you can buy items through your car window while waiting for the traffic to move. We find this so hilarious and funny to do. Would never seen something similar in either of the countries we are from. We also drove by a “tro tro” (little mini van / bus / their way of public transportation) filled with coconuts. Someone had clearly been a bit greedy at the market…

Other than that we have done a lot of eating, training, working and studying. We try to say yes to everything and get involved as much as we can. We have met so many new and friendly people, gone to several dinners, had way too much alcohol and seen a lot of interesting and fascinating stuff. We have tried a lot of new restaurants, gone to the pub for rugby games, attended functions, over eating at a Mexican food festival, done some grooming and so much more. The weeks here fly by!

Last weekend we got our stuff! It truly was like christmas!! So now we have settled in a lot more. It feels so much more like a home when we have all of our stuff here. And being the inpatient lady that I am, everything was unpacked and put away by monday morning. Hah! Now we have all of our sports equipment so we can finally sign up for the mountain bike club and hiking group. We will also try the golf course, the tennis court, Krav Maga lessons and maybe the boxin gym. Adittionally Andrew is into the squash thing, while I am trying to train my patient doing yoga. Let´s see what we end up doing on a regular basis. But we think it´s good to try a lot of different activities then take it from there and see what we´ll stick with. A bonus is that we meet so many friendly people along the way.

There is so much more I could and should write about, but I am blank. I truly will try and be better at this whole `updating the blog on a regular basis´ thing. Fingers crossed!

For now, take care.

M.

Villaggio Vista

Okay so finally I feel like i´m back on track again. These last two weeks has been a roller coaster. We finally moved in to our new apartment – which we love! It is modern, huge (almost too big) and has lots of natural light coming in. We asked for a furnished apartment which we got, but in Africa that means very sparsely furnished and no kitchen stuff! So we had to do three full days of shopping to get all the necessities we needed to “survive” until our shipment get´s here – which hopefully is next week sometime.

IMG_3109

Villaggio Vista is a compound consisting of three big apartment blocks – in three different colors. We live in the red one. The reason why we chose this place was because of all the facilities included in the compound and location. We have a gym in the basement, three pools (two on the rooftops), tennis court and five bars/restaurants. The yellow building is West Africa´s highest building, so naturally they have a sky bar with an amazing view of the whole city.

IMG_3105

After our three days of shopping and trying to get settled into the apartment – I had a bit of a crack. So exhausted and very overwhelmed. Mostly because I was missing my routines and having some sort of structure in my life. Andrew, being the good guy he is, knew exactly what I needed. A long walk, Ice cream and a glass of wine on the rooftop. That picked my mood up straight away and ready to tackle a new week.

IMG_3137                   img_3125

IMG_3126

img_3130

Other then trying to get settled into our new apartment and get to know this city a bit better – we have also gotten to know a lot of new people. Everyone is so friendly and including, which i guess comes from the fact that we are all in the same situation. Our weeks are filled with fun in-between work, school, gym and daily “chores”. There are lots of good restaurants and bars here. And so many activities and groups you can join. Andrew is of course looking to join various active groups, like biking, boxing, cross fit and rugby. Let´s see what he actually ends up with on a more regular basis. I on the other hand have joined NAWA (North American Woman´s Association) which has over 400 members. Through them you can join different activity or hobby groups, you can volunteer and join social events. So i have join the Wine club (of course), golf club and signed up for volunteer work. I am trying to get a project going for infants – will keep you posted.

IMG_3149

img_3157

IMG_3156

IMG_3152

IMG_3172

Btw. It is now one year since this Turkey med here Donkey. Times fly in great company!

IMG_3171

M.