In visiting communities in the Upper East region of Ghana to perform my evaluation of the Talking Book technology that CARE has been piloting, I have learned a lot from various community members on the efforts they have initiated for development inspired by the work of CARE and other NGOs in the area.
One of the most inspiring community self-development efforts I was able to learn about was the creation of the Bulpielisi Women’s Association. This association was inspired by the women’s experiences in their Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) groups, initially organized by CARE.
From their participation in the VSLA’s women have seen that coming together leads to development, and that individual support between women is beneficial for everyone. However, VSLA groups have limited membership numbers and the women of Bulpielisi wanted to expand the unity they found in the VSLA groups to the entire community. Thus the idea for a community-wide women’s association was born. The name of the association is “Noryiini Mor Songur”, or “Unity Has Support”. The women of the community observed the importance of sharing ideas and experiences with each other as a way to better their own lives and the community and the central themes of the association are of support and togetherness.
The timing of my visits to Bulpielisi was fortunate in that I was able to attend the inauguration of the association. The entire community was invited and guests from the Garu-Tempane government and other notable figures from the area attended as honored guests. As of the day of its inauguration, 135 women had registered as members of the group. The women had local artists make them matching shirts with their logo and name in order to demonstrate their unity and the legitimacy of the association. During the inaugural address, leaders of the association outlined four objectives of the group. First, to foster unity among women in the community, second to encourage the sharing of ideas and problems as conversation will lead to development. Third, they will focus on educating the girls of their community by ensuring they stay in school as long as possible, and fourth they will take it upon themselves to solicit support from NGOs, government, and other groups to empower women economically so that they can perform their roles effectively.
The large crowd and support received from various members of the community and the region demonstrate the commitment and determination of the women of Bulpielisi to make their association successful. I was honored to be able to witness their inauguration and know that the group will surely lead to greater success for them and their community as a whole.
Contributed by: Sarah Turkaly