Girls in Bedaabour Mobilize to Build a Community Canoe

By Grace Marfo – Teen Girls Club Program Officer

The canoe!

The small community of Bedaabour, Ghana has one of the most active Teen Girls Clubs working with Self-Help International. The community is committed to helping all young girls and boys who are motivated and dedicated to go to school. Education is the right of every Ghanaian child; however, there are some educational challenges in the community, especially in regards to ensuring adequate facilities and appropriate materials for teaching.

One of the most pressing issues students in Bedaabour face is traveling from smaller nearby communities to study at the school in Bedaabour. Bedaabour is surrounded by the Offin River, which makes traveling between the smaller surrounding communities very difficult. The only sure way to cross the river is by using a canoe.

The community doesn’t own a canoe, so some local farmers made an effort to provide two of their personal canoes to help students cross the river to get to school. While the community was grateful for the farmers’ offer, it was hard for students to ensure regular access to the canoes for crossing.

The mission and goal of Self-Help has always been to help people to help themselves. As part of the organization’s aim to help teen girls in rural communities, Self-Help introduced community service projects in 2020 for club members in their final year of school. The goal of the service projects was to help young girls develop leadership skills and to be problem solvers. The club coordinators in Bedaabour encouraged the girls to identify a challenge in their community and guided the girls through the process of developing a solution. Through school graduation and the community service projects, girls celebrated completing Junior High School.

Graduation day!

Final year students in Bedaabour couldn’t overlook how Offin River had hindered their movement, especially for girls living beyond the river trying to attend school. The club members identified this problem to Self-Help staff and club coordinators, and the staff worked with the girls through the processes involved in problem solving: consulting community stakeholders; mobilizing resources; and working together to complete their project.

Through the immense effort of the girls at every stage of the project, and in collaboration with the community coordinators and Self-Help staff, the dreams of the girls became a reality – they were able to build a canoe.

On September 29, 2020, graduates and club members in Bedaabour celebrated graduation and officially commissioned the canoe. Community coordinators, parents, village elders and other community members were present to acknowledge the effort of the final year students and other Teen Girls Club members, celebrate their achievement of graduating from Junior High School, and recognize their commitment to their community service project. With this community canoe, students that live across the river will no longer have to worry about getting to school, leaving them more time and space for their studies.