While Biyoom e.V. was founded in January 2019, our cooperation with the Saboba Youth Centre goes back to 2017. In September of that year, we visisted Saboba for the first time.
the partnership between Biyoom e.V. and the Saboba Youth Center arose from my friendship with Amadu, one of the founders of SYC. An important step in our cooperation was my first trip to Saboba in the fall of 2017, along with Simon, who now is also a member of the Biyoom team. Since then, many things have changed and our links to Saboba have become much closer. However, the first impressions which Simon and I had on our journey still give a worthwhile insight to Ghana and especially Saboba. Let me therefore recount some of the most interesting parts of our travelogue!
Have fun reading them!
Impressions from Ghana
In contrast to our second trip in the spring of 2019, there was enough time for us to travel and discover Ghana as a country, as we did not spend our whole time in Saboba. I still remember vividly my first impressions in Accra, the capital, which I wrote down later for our report:
“We landed in Accra and, in the first few days, were hopelessly overwhelmed. After all, for both of us this was the first time in sub-Saharan Africa, and even with a population of only four million, rather few compared to other African cities, Accra can be intimidating for newbies. However, our feelings changed quite fast due to the great kindness of the Ghanaians, who were always most helpful and welcoming. Often, passersby would greet us with a kind smile and a joyous “Welcome to Ghana!”, or with “Akwaaba!”, a greeting in Twi, the country’s most common tribal language. Even though there are many things we haven’t seen yet – the way of life, mentality and manners are very different from what we knew before and strikingly diverse, after all – we now feel very comfortable and at home in this country.”
Travelling was an adventure for sure, since there are almost no tourists in Ghana. It was thus also a little cumbersome, as we couldn’t rely on the infrastructure tourists are used to. Typical sightseeing trips don’t get you very far. Instead, we turned to the locals, discovering Ghana’s stunning diversity.
“We were welcomed with an incredible hospitatlity by the Saboba Youth Centre. We stayed with Amadu’s family – as Saboba’s imam, his father is a respected person in town. The old man was very friendly and welcoming to us, and like so many other Ghanaians, he impressed me with his humanity, hospitality and open-mindedness. He asked about our life and religion in Germany and emphasized the similarities between Muslims’ and Christians’ beliefs. This agrees with the general view on religion in Ghana, a country in which 96% of its inhabitants claim to be religious (the highest percentage in the whole world). Muslims and Christians of many different denominations live together in harmony, with many traditional religions still practiced. Religious tolerance seems to be out of question. In Saboba, as in Ghana in general, there are more Christians than Muslims, yet it doesn’t matter if one goes to a mosque five times a day or visits a church on Sunday. At the SYC, Muslims and Christians work alongside each other, too.”
The SYC started its work several years before our contact to them was established. Some projects which Biyoom supports with your donations already existed back then, for example the community savings groups. For more details about this project, you should visit the project page! We too were very impressed:
“All groups assembled in once location to meet us and told us about their experiences, all of them very positive. Some savers even teamed up together to give us presents, thanking us for our support. Frankly, at first we didn’t know exactly what to do with three chickens and buckets of yams, pepper and millet, but it still touched us deeply. The meals afterwards, in which these ingredients were used, were a very special experience for us.”
We took part in nearly all the activities the SYC is organizing, including a football game and a discussion with a youth group which fights for better garbage disposal:
“We also met lots of young people from the region, including a youth group which was inspired by the SYC; now, they organize clean-up campaigns and group activities on their own, with some people from the youth centre helping them. Another time, there was a football game between kids from Saboba and a neighboring village. We couldn’t imagine playing football in this heat, however, they were all completely into this.”
As already said, this trip was extraordinarily important for us. Naturally, I am very pleased to be able to look back so fondly on it:
“In my opinion, our journey to Ghana was an all-around success. Only now can we really understand what the SYC does and how it operates. This will allow us to support them in the most effective manner possible. The personal contact between us and the SYC team grew stronger, too. Now we can plan the next steps – first, we want to found an association, and following this we will try to help the SYC slowly implement new projects. Also, it was great to see just how much your donations already changed. For sure, it is difficult to understand both problems and possible solutions if one has never been on the spot oneself. I firmly believe that supporting local organizations like the SYC is the right way to strengthen positive change in developing countries, and as of now, this view has been confirmed completely.”
But after all, this journey was just the start! One and a half years later, we were back in Saboba, this time with a newly-created association called Biyoom. You can find more information about us on this website. If you believe the SYC’s projects to be worthy of support, we would be very glad about a donation or a sponsoring membership! Just 5€ every three months will help us a great deal already.