During this last summer, between June and September of 2007, I worked for the non-profit volunteer organization, Women in Progress. Based in Cape Coast, Ghana, the position came with the most amazing cultural experience I have ever had.
While I could talk for pages about the incredible people, food, music, sights and traditions I had the pleasure of discovering, for this blog entry, I will limit myself to the explanation of the business, what it did for Ghanaians, and how I was able to contribute what little public relations experience I had.
Global Mamas, the business associated with the volunteer organization, Women in Progress, was developed by co-founders Renae Adam and Kristen Johnson. As a non-profit, it works to alleviate poverty in Ghana by organizing, training, and aiding in the sale of batik clothing items made in Ghana and sold abroad.
During my stay in Ghana, Global Mamas was expanding into the bead industry. For that reason, some of my volunteer tasks were to pick out the beads for the catalog, hire women from the bead-making area of Ghana to create the beads, and organize the catalog.
In addition, I worked on fundraising coordination for future interns, creating a new catalog for the expanding products, hiring new women in another village, and doing market research for the co-op.
While I honestly believe that the most important experience I received in Ghana was that of personal discovery and cultural understanding, what I learned through the business side of Global Mamas was invaluable.
I would highly encourage anyone who has considered volunteering abroad (or even those who haven’t) to look into ways that the skills they have learned for their career may be applied to organizations like Global Mamas.