The community meetings are our opportunity to tell a large group of people, including influential members of the village such as the chief and elders, about Lively Minds work and how a reading scheme or play-centre can benefit their community. As well as providing children with access to an education, through play for 3 – 5 year olds or through listening to stories for 6 – 10 year olds, these schemes will empower the local volunteers that will be running these sessions. Our message is communicated through opening discussions and by demonstrating how to play one of our games or how to read a book to a child.
This meeting is an important chance for us to create awareness and interest in the work of Lively Minds and to gain the support of the whole community, as we believe the schemes are beneficial for everyone. The support of the community is vital for the schemes to succeed as our volunteers will need to dedicate four hours a week of their time for six weeks (and therefore be relieved of their family duties) in order for the training to be completed. After our training the volunteers will be running the centres themselves and working a total of two hours each week. These sessions will be monitored at first then our participation will gradually be reduced. Punctuality and attendance at the training sessions is very important and this is emphasised in the community meeting.
Throughout the meeting our teams shared the roles so we each had a part. As the local language is Dagbani, what we said was interpreted by our local staff member. Our presence alone drummed up a lot of attention as the community can see that we have travelled from afar to work with them, bringing with us our own individual experiences. The response was fantastic and many people shared their own experiences and opinions on education with us as well as thanking us for coming from our countries.