Debbi Winsten was one of three Literacy Bridge team members in Western Ghana this past May to help launch our Talking Book Program with Empowering Cocoa Households through Opportunities and Education Solutions (ECHOES). The following is a one of her stories from the field.
There are many villages on unpaved roads in the district of Sefwi-Wiawso, where people work hard during the short cocoa bean harvest. After traveling to the district, our team joined our ECHOES partners to plan specifically how Talking Books will be used in four villages. Our job was then to make sure the audio instructions on every Talking Book would speak to the villagers, not just to our dedicated colleagues in the field.
The main languages, Sefwi and Twi, don’t have words for some of the Talking Book’s instructions. For example, “Talking Book” is translated to “small machine”. After working with advisors from the region, we met a lovely local college student to help transcribe and record both languages.
Then we needed to test this with the real experts. It was early in the day, and we didn’t want to ask for too much time from the villagers. Our guide to the village of Futa was named Adus. He’s helped his community by being an ECHOES “shadow teacher,” learning that profession.
Adus introduced us to several people who don’t speak (much) English but one woman was very clear and stood out from the others. She’s worked very hard throughout her life, and lived longer than many people in Ghana. She’s earned the knowledge she has, not from going to school. Like many females in traditional cultures, her ability to ask questions or get information has been limited and she rarely speaks to someone she doesn’t know.
Although she’d never seen a Talking Book before, she quickly understood how it operates. It spoke to her in her language, and she soon spoke back. What she said in Sefwi, was translated by others as, “information on health is most important because without health, you cannot work.”
She gave us information that we needed. That is, that she can adopt the Talking Book, and seamlessly adapt it, and others can, too. Some new Talking Book users may be more reluctant or eager, but they can use this tool to build their bridges and share relevant knowledge.