Participants from IOGT-Jes Guinea-Bissau, IOGT-Jes Senegal and IOGT Sierra Leone welcomed IOGT-Jes Gambia within the IOGT International family. A fresh breeze with young and dedicated volunteers is ready to build up a strong IOGT work in West Africa. On behalf of IOGT International Priska Hauser-Scherer from IOGT Switzerland moderated the workshop aiming to empower the local volunteers. She introduced a new working method, based on democratic and cooperative with creative and visualising elements, to the participants. The method “world café” provides a process of perception with heart and mind. Although the intellectual work was intensive, every participant could follow and actively influence the outcome. To realise how much you know and how easy you can add new knowledge to your experience is joyful and most inspiring.
Workshop on prevention methods and activities
To use the same word, does not mean, that we are using it the same way. So the participants started to explain to each other, what they mean, when they say PREVENTION. Listing and designing the thoughts and discussion on the paper on the table showed the reflections. Instead of considering the conceptional system they made it really visual. It can mean you stay away from something, or you put a security gap between you and the danger or you protect yourself actively to hinder the danger to attack.
After gathering methods of prevention and best practice of prevention activities they shared their knowledge about alcohol and drugs. The participants were very impressed and worried by the reports, they did not have access to so far, of international institutes about the drug trafficking. Although the internet helps to spread information all over the world, it is not so easy for Africans to have full access to important information. The costs to use the internet are high compared to their income and the connection can be down for several days, as it happend during our workshop. So the assistance of searching the net and send them relevant study results or global observations is highly appreciated.
Organisation building and media work
The exchange about what you need to have a good functioning organisation and where to find funds showed that established IOGT organisations could support the new members with valuable proposals. By this time the journalist of the Gambian newspaper “Observer” had already paid a visit to the workshop and the national television brought a highly regarded report on the main 8 o’clock news on Sunday evening. Gai Haddy Sei has been invited to a well known national talk show on radio on Saturday evening talking about IOGT-Jes The Gambia.
Dr. Lamin Sidibeh, a senior lecturer, psychologist and Head of the Social Science at the University of The Gambia, graced the workshop with his presence and had a review about reasons of alcohol and drug use in West Africa.
Looking into future
Sharing the most important needs of young people and installing a future information and cooperation concept among IOGT in West Africa brought the workshop to an end. Before closing the gathering, the participants decided concordantly on a nomination of an African board member to the IOGT congress 2010.
The euphoric spirit of being able to work with an excellent new method made IOGT-Jes Guinea-Bissau, Gambia and Senegal plan to implement this within short time in their own organisation.This shows the different effect of the workshop. The participants didn't just have the idea that they learned a lot. They are convinced that they can implement their knowledge without hesitation in their organisation. So we will hear about workshops in The Gambia, in Senegal and Guinea-Bissau next year.
Following the workshop a delegation of different IOGT organisations met the Head of the National Drug Enforcement Agency, Mr. Ibrahim Bun Sanneh and his team. Surprisingly he knew exactly what IOGT stands for, as he was a member himself in former times. He assured his support to IOGT-Jes Gambia as a legal organisation and imbedded in an international organisation with a memorandum of understanding.
To top the excellent experience in the Gambia the Minister of The Interior and NGO Affairs, Hon. Ousman Sonko welcomed a delegation of IOGT members from different countries. He asked the heads of departments and the head of department NDEA to share the meeting. With ease and big joy we learned that the minister and the Gambian government is supporting the prevention work of IOGT and the Minister expressed his high appreciation.
A lot of prejustices are around against Africans. Bad experiences with cheating or dishonesty are widely spread. Next to the dedicated, hard working and wonderful members of IOGT-Jes in West Africa we made such an experience, that struke us badly. A new partner from Ghana nobody knew, Dwumfour Kwasi Ohene, Executive Director of NEYOAP, was invited to join the workshop. He communicated very often and sent a proforma-invoice of a travel agency for the flight ticket. He asked to send the money by Western Union. He did not sent any papers in advanced as desired, neither did he inform us about the flight details. Dwumfour Kwasi Ohene did not show up and he did not call to inform us. After the workshop he send a one sentence e-mail claiming he had an accident on his way to the airport. The fact that he did not reply to any further emails, seems to show a nasty way of making money.