By Angela Rajic
Photographer Rohit Lakhani spent time with the Ghana Health and Education Initiative. The Organization seeks to help address the issues of rural development in southwest Ghana. The organization is run by the people of Humjibre and works through international solidarity, and the sharing of ideas and input from around the world. Rohit spoke to Photographers Without Borders about his experience.
What did you learn on your trip to Ghana?
I grew up in Ghana, but in the capital city, Accra. So being in Humjibre, a very small town, for a couple of weeks was a very different experience for me. I loved it. What I loved most was how gentle and kind the people were. I guess what I learned was that it makes a big difference to smile a lot, to listen and to make an effort to understand others.
What was your greatest experience?
Once again, I’d like to emphasize on the people. That for me, was the best part of it all, spending time with the people in Humjibre. It flowed naturally and easily because they were so kind and welcoming.
What impact do GHEI’S education and health programs have on the communities who participate in them?
Quite a significant one. Before joining GHEI for this project I had read up on them and their programs and I had some sort of idea that they were doing some good work. But being there, I was quite impressed with how committed they were. They’re quite well known in their community and there have been substantial results from their education and health programs. For e.g. They offer an ECL (Early Childhood Literacy) program to poorly performing primary school students. I think this is wonderful. It gives that extra support to these students who have potential but who may have not otherwise had the chance to tap into it had they not been chosen for this program. In their YEP (Youth Education Program), they offer supplemental classes to top performing junior high school students. These classes help prepare the students for Basic Education Certification Examination (BECE). In both these programs, you notice a lot of girls’ enrollment, which is great. Their Hand Washing with Soap program has also shown results. Students are becoming more aware of the health benefits of washing hands with soap at critical times.
What do you think is an area GHEI can grow in in the future (new initiatives, goals)?
I would like to see GHEI start a program on littering awareness. I noticed a lack of awareness by the local community on the downsides of littering. The area is so naturally beautiful but if littering is not addressed, it could slowly see more and more street pollution from plastic bags, plastic bottles, etc.
What do you hope people will learn about GHEI and Ghana from your photos?
That really there’s no difference between all of us. As a global community, we need to work together for a peaceful world. We are all interconnected.
How has this trip impacted your outlook?
This trip was such a beautiful and special experience for me. It has only further reinforced my desire to do more community work in my life, to spend time listening to people. I will also devote more time to slowing down, appreciating nature and helping preserving the environment.
What will you miss the most about your time in Ghana?
The people. I made some friends there, and I hope to go back and visit them. I’ll also miss the beautiful surroundings. I’m a nature buff and I love trees, so I’ll definitely miss that. Also, I love the sounds of nature, especially early morning, when I can hear the frogs and birds.