Towards Positive Outcomes for Rural Ghanaians: Working with CARE and MEDA

August 4th, 2015

Literacy Bridge’s Talking Book Program has expanded its work with the Mennonite Economic Development Association (MEDA) and forged a new partnership with the Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE).

Both CARE and MEDA work with women’s groups organized by local VSLAs (Village Savings and Loan Associations) that help women come together to discuss issues surrounding agriculture, marketing, and gender roles. The Talking Book is a way for these women to reinforce their VLSA discussions as well as to share information with the local communities and with their families. It also provides a way for a majority illiterate population to remember and re-hear vital information, when jotting down information on a post-it note for later is not a viable option. The information is not only informative and educational, but entertaining as well, with message formats ranging from expert interviews to dramas and songs performed by local groups.

MEDA is an international development organization that works to develop business solutions to poverty and hopes to help individuals and their families improve their livelihoods. Literacy Bridge first began its partnership with MEDA in 2013 through a pilot program in 30 women’s groups. Today, that number has expanded to over 600.  MEDA runs the Greater Rural Opportunities for Women (GROW) Program that focuses on women and families in Ghana’s Upper West and Northern regions. Their goal is to train and educate smallholder women farmers to enhance farm productivity, increase awareness surrounding nutrition, diversify agricultural production, strengthen market linkages, teach financial knowledge and skills, and ultimately reduce food insecurity and better the lives of women and their families in these communities. Through this partnership, Literacy Bridge and MEDA reach 16,550 people directly and impact over 124,000 people through the dissemination of information to family and community members. One participant in MEDA’s program said the following:

The Talking Book is better than the radio because it deals with issues that affect our daily lives. The radio sometimes talks about things that are not useful to us but we cannot ask the people inside there to switch to a different topic but with the Talking Book we decide what to listen to and when to do that. All the topics are useful to men, women, and children.” –  Hillia Kazie (Kohuo)

CARE is Literacy Bridge’s newest partnership, which began in May 2015. CARE works with some of the poorest communities in the world, helping individuals and families improve their quality of life. CARE uses the Talking Book program in 58 women’s groups in Ghana through their Pathways to Empowerment Program, which works to empower women to more fully engage in equitable agriculture systems. They strive to achieve positive outcomes surrounding gender roles and societal norms, marketing, and agricultural productivity, food security and resistance to shocks of smallholder women famers and their families. CARE hopes to achieve these outcomes through supporting advocacy and policy change, engaging men and boys in the discussion, nurturing community organizations, and facilitating market linkages.

“First I used to farm & harvest my produce…even when my wife [did] not know when I would sell the food. But now I sit with my wife, we discuss what to sell and what to keep for family feeding. This is from the knowledge I learned from CARE and the group members.” –Anaasa Abugbil, 62 (Tankpasi)

The Literacy Bridge Staff works to support its partners through a variety of activities, including recording content with local experts, performing community monitoring visits, and providing partners with statistics on how the Talking Book is being used. We are excited to continue our work with both MEDA and CARE and provide rural Ghanaians with the tools they need to improve their lives.

Journalists Visit Talking Book Villages

July 14th, 2015

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Thank you to our wonderful partner MEDA and our ICT Manager, Andy,  for sitting down with international journalists last week and taking them to Suke Village to see first hand how rural women farmers use the Talking Book!

Literacy Bridge partners with MEDA through their Greater Opportunities for Rural Woman (GROW) project to provide Talking Books to Ghanaian women in order to train them on gender, agriculture, nutrition, health and more.

 

 

Summer 2015 Update

July 13th, 2015

 

Making an Impact: From washed bowls to equal opportunities

“Before receiving the Talking Book I dare not even talk to my husband concerning men-women relations. At first he did not show any interest in listening to the Talking Book so I started playing it anytime he was eating dinner. He showed a lot of interest in the agriculture aspect. The first day I tuned into the gender messages; he laughed a lot and we argued a lot. The next day he asked to listen to the messages on gender again. We began to discuss how joint-decision making and reviewing the workload can help all of us. I was surprised when he asked our sons to always wash their bowls anytime they finish eating.”

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Scaling the Impact: New partnerships with MEDA and CARE

We have expanded our partnership with MEDA from a pilot reaching 30 women’s groups to a program reaching more than 600 groups within MEDA’s GROW project! MEDA is one of Canada’s top international economic development organizations; their Greater Opportunities for Rural Woman (GROW) project aims to increase food security for families in Ghana’s Upper West Region by helping increase availability, access and utilization of nutritional food through strengthening production and market linkages, increasing diversification in production and creating nutrition awareness.

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We are also excited to announce the launch of our new partnership with CARE in the Upper East Region of Ghana, a new region for Literacy Bridge. CARE worked in 90 countries last year and reached more than 72 million people around the world; their Pathways to Empowerment program is funded by the Gates Foundation and aims to empower women through agriculture by encouraging equitable agricultural systems and increasing the productivity of women smallholder farmers. Our Talking Book program is providing women’s groups with information on agriculture, marketing, nutrition and gender.

Attracting Global Interest: Selected as finalist for Qatar Foundation award

Out of hundreds of applicants, the Qatar Foundation selected Literacy Bridge as one of 15 finalists for its World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) Awards, which recognizes education projects from around the globe for their innovative approach to solve the real-world obstacles to education. The Qatar Foundation was founded by His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani and Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser to support education, science and research, and community development. The six WISE Awards winning projects will be announced in September. Read about Literacy Bridge on the WISE Awards website here.

GiveBIG 2015 Day of Champions

May 4th, 2015

We need your help tomorrow! From midnight to midnight (Pacific Time) on May 5th, The Seattle Foundation will host its fifth annual GiveBIG. We are excited to announce that Literacy Bridge has been selected by Global Washington and Seattle International Foundation (SIF) to receive a special challenge grant because of our dedication in working to improve lives in rural Africa.

If Literacy Bridge raises at least $2,500, SIF will match that amount at $2,500. In other words, if Literacy Bridge receives at least $2,500 in donations on May 5, we will get an additional $2,500, PLUS the funds raised through the stretch pool! If you planned on donating to Literacy Bridge this year, tomorrow is the day to do it!

We believe the world’s most vulnerable communities have a right to critical health and agriculture education, which is why we are happy to accept the GiveBIG Global Challenge. We are thrilled to say that each donation made to Literacy Bridge through the Seattle Foundation website tomorrow May 5th, will help the poorest and hardest to reach populations in the world receive access to life-saving knowledge. Become a champion tomorrow and give BIG!

The 2015 WISE Awards Finalists Have Been Announced!

Literacy Bridge’s Talking Book Program has been shortlisted for the 2015 WISE Awards. The WISE Awards program recognizes education projects from around the globe for their innovative approach to solve the real-world obstacles to education. The six WISE Awards winning projects will be announced in September 2015! Read about Literacy Bridge on the WISE Awards website here.

Ghana’s Best Farmers Are Talking Book Users!

December 15th, 2014

by Fidelis Da-uri

Farmer's Day

Six Out of Eight Farmers Day Awards Go to Talking Book Users

In 2012, we had two Talking Book users win Best Farmer Awards. In 2013 there were three Talking Book users who won awards. And now we are very pleased to announce we had six Talking Book users win farming awards in 2014! Read about each winner below – video interviews coming soon! (Also learn about the history of Farmers Day and the award criteria by scrolling down).

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$15,000 Global Program Grant Awarded From Seattle International Foundation

November 21st, 2014

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We have more exciting news – for the 5th time Literacy Bridge has been chosen as a recipient of Seattle International Foundation’s Global Program grant! Literacy Bridge was awarded the maximum amount of $15,000 to use toward our Health Behavior Change program in Ghana over the course of 2015.

I am pleased to write to you today with good news — SIF’s board just approved a grant of $15,000 to support Literacy Bridge’s Health Behavior Change program in rural Ghana. SIF is proud to continue supporting Literacy Bridge’s work.” – Ashley Skoch, Program and Operations Associate, Seattle International Foundation

By providing direct financial support to local non-profits working internationally, SIF supports poverty alleviation efforts around the globe, as well as enhancing Washington State’s global development sector.

Grant recipients were announced at SIF’s 5th annual Women of the World event in Seattle yesterday, where Literacy Bridge team members attended. Stay tuned to our social media channels for photos from the event!

To learn more about SIF and the grants they award, please visit their website.

Literacy Bridge Partners with UNICEF and ARM!

November 20th, 2014

 

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Literacy Bridge, UNICEF, and ARM Unite to Help 40,000 People Living in Extreme Poverty

SEATTLE, WA November 20, 2014 – As the United Nations marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, humanitarian technology company Literacy Bridge has announced a new multi-year partnership with UNICEF and ARM to deliver health education to 40,000 vulnerable people in Ghana. The announcement comes on the day the UN General Assembly meets in New York to discuss how it can use innovative approaches to make the vision of the Convention a reality for all children.

Literacy Bridge’s new partnership with UNICEF, the United Nations agency dedicated to the rights and wellbeing of children, and ARM, the

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Month 1 – Hugging Pineapples

October 29th, 2014

Kristin is a Field Advisor for Literacy Bridge. She currently lives and works in Jirapa, Upper West, Ghana providing guidance to the Literacy Bridge field team on programmatic work and operations.

Kristin with a few of members of the LB team

Kristin with a Few Literacy Bridge Ghana Team Members

On September 16 I groggily arrived in Accra after a fifteen hour flight from LA to Dubai and a seven hour flight from Dubai to Accra. On the plane, right as the wheels touched down, a group of about ten Ghanaian men started singing in harmony. At first I thought the airline was playing gospel music to welcome us and then I turned around and realized the sound was coming from the back of the plane. The singing got louder and more spirited, largely ignoring the flustered Emirates flight attendants who were frantically trying to keep a sense of decorum as more people joined in. I laughed, happily breathed in the music and thought…it’s good to be in Ghana.

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Literacy Bridge awarded $25,000 Reinvestment Grant from Microsoft Alumni Foundation

October 20th, 2014
Cliff Schmidt MSAF $25,000 Reinvestment Grant

Satya Nadella, Jeff Raikes, Steve Ballmer, Trish Millines Dziko, Richard Gold, Cliff Schmidt

On October 20, 2014, the Microsoft Alumni Foundation (MSAF) announced Literacy Bridge as a recipient of one of three Integral Fellows Program reinvestment grants. Literacy Bridge will receive $25,000 to grow its Talking Book Program, which delivers local-language audio recordings on health and agriculture topics to rural villages in northern Ghana.

The Integral Fellows Award recognizes and supports Microsoft alumni who are making meaningful differences in the daily lives of others by using their talents, time and resources to contribute to the world, whether on a local, regional, national, or global scale.

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Farming in Ridges: Our Most Powerful Agriculture Message Yet

October 14th, 2014

Hi! My name is Fred Braimah, a Field Manager at the Literacy Bridge office in Ghana.

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In Ghana, especially in the Jirapa district of the Upper West Region, about 65% of the total population depends on farming for a living. However farming in the Jirapa district over the past years has been faced with numerous challenges, such as lack of infrastructure (telephone, electricity, road network etc.), inadequate financial power, illiteracy (majority of these farmers cannot read or write in any language), limited number of extension workers (the ratio of agricultural extension workers to farmers is low), poor radio and TV reception in most villages, and more.

To improve farming and increase productivity, the Ghana Food and Agriculture Development Policy (FASDEP) has identified educating farmers to adapt to new and advance techniques of farming and increased agriculture extension services as some of the best ways to improve agriculture production in Ghana. However due to the low number of agricultural extension workers, some farmers have never seen an agriculture extension officer. In addressing this, Literacy Bridge’s Talking Book Program is acting as an intermediary between the farmers and agricultural extension workers.

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