by Alex Barnes, Challenges Worldwide Return Volunteer
Challenges Worldwide return volunteers from 2015 met in Accra last Sunday to share their experiences with DFID (Department of International Development) representative Martin Leach. We were delighted to host Martin who, in turn, was keen to hear about experiences from our time as volunteers and also wanted to find out what we were doing now. It was the first visit of its kind to any ICS host-country since the inception of the programme.
We started by sharing how we had initially come to hear about ICS and then moved into more challenging points of discussion; how we felt about certain rules that constituted to the code of conduct of the programme for example. We also discussed the different skill sets we had, what we were doing before the programme and the values we acquired through participating in the ICS: Challenges experience.
We also had some time to reminisce. It was funny, as these moments actually brought about mixed feelings. We were sad because we missed our counterparts, but at the same time recognised how great it was that we had got to meet and spend time with eachother other in the first place! All of us made sure we let Martin know how valuable our time with ICS: Challenges was – as we were all keen to communicate the importance of continuing to support this great programme to DFID.
Quite simply, the success of the programme is evidenced in our lives as having a definitive, positive impact on the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises in Ghana. We were so engaged in the discussion that we didn’t notice how fast time was ticking and before we knew it our meeting was drawing to its close.
Proceedings were wound up with a presentation of ICS certificates to some volunteers ( including me!). It was wonderful to meet up with everyone again and we very much hope to have more meetings for us past volunteers. ICS-Challenges Worldwide made us reach beyond ‘useless’ and discover things, places and people we would not have had the chance to explore without this great programme. We are a family; a great family and very much hope this family will continue to grow, with enterprise development volunteering at the heart of us.