Ghanaian youth visits the Netherlands
Learning to listen to one another's opinion
"Intercultural travel gives young people the opportunity to develop their own vision of the world they want to live in," says Neindow Moses (1984) from Ghana. He welcomed a group of Dutch youngsters to his own country in 2008. In 2009, he went to the Netherlands to do volunteer work alongside Dutch and Kyrgyzstani youngsters. The experience changed his life forever.
Moses did not have an easy childhood. He grew up as a Christian in an Islamic family in northern Ghana. His grandfather played an important role in his early years, and his grandfather's death marked the beginning of hard times for Moses. His experiences with Togetthere changed this. "This trip has made me take a more positive attitude towards life. I see problems as challenges now. This experience has made me a stronger person."
What is development?
Moses learned a lot about dealing with people from other cultures. "I learned that I can listen to people, regardless of whether they share my opinions or not." He believes that listening and observation are essential skills, which he used to make new contacts. "I realized that there are major differences between developed and still-developing countries. And between developing countries, too. I wondered: why are there so many differences between countries? What is development, really? I realized that the answers can be very different for different people."
Learning about new methods of mutual communication has made him reflect on his own country. "I've seen that problems can be resolved through dialogue. That's very different from what I'm used to. Back home, people tend to quickly resort to violence whenever they want others to listen to them. Many children in Africa have become orphans through conflicts and war that may have been solved by communicating with one another. How can we change that attitude in Africa?"
He also took a critical look at the Netherlands. People in the developed Netherlands are much better off than in Ghana. "But I also saw huge factories emitting massive amounts of carbon dioxide. What does growth really mean, when it's at the expense of the environment? It's good to hear that the Netherlands is working to reduce those emissions."
During his time in the Netherlands, Moses helped to fix up an asylum seeker's home as a volunteer. He also worked on the farm called `De Eemlandshoeve´ "I knew a lot about agriculture, but I felt insecure. So I was too afraid to take a step and start something new. I've learned to be more confident."
He took his learning experiences home with him and applied them in practice, together with his family. Along with his wife, he started cultivating earthnuts. "She is making a good profit now." With his father, he started a guinea fowl project. His father is saving up part of the yield of the eggs to be able to renovate his house and replace the roof. His mother started processing rice.
Moses himself is now cultivating organic sweet potatoes. He has also taken an active role in a student association in order to encourage other young people to work on developing their area. "This exchange has inspired me to tackle the various challenges in my life."