Tag Archives: Crossroads

World AIDS Day at Pro-Link

On Dec. 1st, Pro-Link commemorated World AIDS Day by inviting our Peer Educators in the Global Fund/ADRA HIV Prevention and the FHI 360 Linkages HIV Prevention projects. They work in some of the roughest areas of Accra, informing a key population of sex workers about HIV – how it is contracted and encouraging the use of condoms.Audience
Pro-Link field officers and local nurses also go out to these locations to test people for the disease and provide counseling.PeerEducatorTshirts
The front lawn of our Accra office was filled on Dec. 1st. The crowd sat under a tent watching presentations and sharing knowledge about sexually transmitted diseases, condom use, testing for HIV and screening for infections.FemaleCondomDemo Then we danced to great music provided by a local DJ, played musical chairs and had a lovely catered lunch of chicken and rice.

Musical chairs!

Musical chairs!

The star of the day was Gertrude “Trudi” Nunoo, Pro-Link’s Executive Director. Her warm heart and generous spirit touched all present…she is known for her tough love and a determination to make positive change. Everyone got out their cameras and cheered her on when she hit the dance floor.
Lady in red: Pro-Link superstar Trudi Nunoo.

Lady in red: Pro-Link superstar Trudi Nunoo.

A serious subject and a serious good time!

Check out the Pro-Link Facebook page for more pics @ Pro-Link Organization Ghana

Ghana: Love and Not so Much


1) Very friendly people.
2) Sweet pineapple and bananas.
3) Lizards…they are everywhere and eat the bugs.
4) Big fruit bats that come out at night. Very cool.
5) Beautiful ocean…get out of Accra and it’s stunning.
6) “You are welcome,” the way Ghanaians say “hello.”
7) “You are invited,” what Ghanaians say when they sit down with you to eat.
8) Cheap beer…my brand is Club. A pint costs around 5 cedis ($1.75 Cnd)
9) Rock buns…they sell then from bicycle vendors on the streets. Like scones.
10) Beautiful fabrics.
11) Fresh coconuts…vendors sell them everywhere. Chop chop and you have fresh coconut juice!
12) Cocoa powder, great for mocha coffee. Made here. Cocoa is a huge export.

1) Power outages…almost daily.
2) Lack of wi-fi. Cafes advertise they have, but then they don’t.
3) Open sewers – aka open air urinals. No shyness among the men here!
4) Dirty public beaches, especially in Accra. You have to pay for clean. At Bojo beach, outside Accra, the entrance fee is $5 (15 cedis) and is worth every penny.
5) Plastic trash. Everyone drinks water from these little plastic bags. There are no garbage receptacles.
6) Taxis with no set fees. You have to haggle before you get in.
7) Traffic. Makes Toronto gridlock look like a walk in the park.
8) Diesel fumes. Choking.
9) Two distinct standards of life. Mud and stick houses vs. mega mansions.
10) No street lights. It gets dark at 6 pm. Very dark. Impossible to see potholes and sewers.
11) Expensive imported food, especially cheese. I am weaning myself off.
12) Packed trotros when you are sitting at the back and have to get out. Excuse me, excuse me.
Clean Bojo Beach

My podcast about Swaziland and Ethiopia

Michael McCarthy, the Intentional Traveller and a really great guy.

Michael McCarthy, the Intentional Traveller and a really great guy.

Following is a link to a podcast I did with Michael McCarthy, a writer and radio personality who lives in Vancouver. I met Michael on a trip to Louisiana and was really impressed with his travels and his efforts to make changes in the world. Where ever he goes, he contributes to communities through labour, services or goods.

Understanding the Process of Transition: The Crossroads Debriefing Workshop

Maureen and Chelsey Smith (who volunteered with me in Swaziland), feeling a little patriotic at the debrief workshop.

Coming back from an overseas mandate is challenging. Experiencing the abundance of North American society, the waste, the seemingly petty concerns (TTC stalled, grocery store out of my brand of coffee) versus the hard reality of Swaziland (poverty, HIV/AIDS, rampant gender-based violence) I find myself floating. Some days I feel trivial, fluffy and nonessential whereas when I was working with the Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse every day I felt I was doing work that was serious, solid, and helpful in the world.

Fernard, a volunteer who recently returned from Bolivia, posting the Achievements and Challenges graphs.

At a recent debriefing workshop at the Crossroads office in Montreal, I found I wasn’t alone. Twelve volunteers gathered to share their reactions to coming home. The exercises were revealing and cathartic. Many people disclosed how difficult it was to speak with friends about their overseas experiences. Friends got bored and often didn’t understand the roller coaster of emotions many of us faced. We outlined our achievements and challenges in a line graph chart. Mine started high with the excitement of a new position, dipped low as I faced isolation and loneliness, and finally climbed back up high as progress (legislative change, positive media response, the organization’s raised profile) was made in my mandate. Other volunteers faced many peaks and valleys. We drew silhouettes of our personal learning, one half of our stick figures were ‘Before’ and the other was ‘After.’ Mine focused on learning patience and new skills such as radio production.

Laurent, back from Bolivia, checks our personal growth charts.

The most important section of the workshop for me was Understanding the Four Phases of Transition. The four phases are Refusal, Resistance, Exploration and Engagement. When I came home I was extremely busy with freelance work – no time to process the prior year. Some days it felt like I had never been away. My subconscious was talking to me, demanding attention, but I consciously ignored it. Lately, I think I have entered the Exploration phase. I am searching for the next steps, the next chapter of my life. But I realize I must process what I’ve been through before I’ll be able to move forward. I’m meeting with old friends and business acquaintances. I’m setting small goals, such as writing certain freelance stories or keeping up my blog. And I’m relieved at something the workshop taught me: Don’t worry about the march of time…remember goals and real interests, don’t feel panicked into accepting a situation that betrays those interests. Slowly, creativity will bubble inside me. The final phase of Engagement is on the horizon. I’m looking into volunteer opportunities locally, I’m searching for new markets for my writing, I’m getting ready to reposition myself to honour the many lessons I’ve learned on this compelling journey.

It was great to see fellow Swaziland volunteer Camille at the workshop. She was a life saver during those challenging times!

Letting these feelings out, sharing in a safe space, and contemplating next steps with a group of like-minded people has been very helpful for me emotionally and psychologically. Most importantly, the workshop gave me license to be patient and gentle on myself.

Getting ready for the next phase.