Joan Burdeniuk (left) travelled to Ghana to help work with credit unions in the African country.

Moola matters

Joan Burdeniuk writes from her travels to visit credit unions in developing countries.

The map on the on airplane board display shows that we are crossing Saskatchewan and the view from my window is of frozen white fields as far as the eye can see.

I can hardly believe that I am really heading out on yet another grand adventure.  As some of you may recall I was fortunate enough to obtain a volunteer position with the Canadian Cooperative Association (CCA) two years ago.

My first trip with CCA was a coaching program in Mongolia.  Coaching programs are designed to partner Credit Union staff from Canada with developing credit unions worldwide.  The goal is to be able to share best practices and experience to help these developing credit unions in their fight to move their members from poverty to prosperity.

In 2013 our credit union participated in another of CCA’s programs.  This one was called the Woman’s Mentorship Exchange.

This program is designed to expose Woman Credit Union leaders from developing countries to the Canadian Credit Union system.  The participants in this program spend a week in Ottawa learning about the Canadian Credit Union system then they are partnered with a host credit union for two weeks of practical experience.

I was fortunate enough to be able to host Helina Oforiwaa Quaque from Ghana Africa.

Since returning to Ghana Helina has been able to apply some of the learning’s and experience’s to strengthen their credit union.  In a recent report back to CCA Helina says: “It is amazing to know how the monitoring of our staff duties are massively progressing with the little knowledge and experience acquired from Canada. Right now, four of our staff have been caught in fraudulent acts where they were found to have embezzled some monies from the credit union’s funds, three of them are currently under police investigations and I am very grateful that I am able to help detect them by my observation.”

So you can well imagine my excitement when I found out that not only would I be traveling to Ghana for  my second posting with CCA but that one of the three credit unions I have been assigned to work with is the Berekum Teacher ‘s Credit Union, Helina’s credit union.

I am not under any delusions, Ghana is a very poor country and it is a struggle for the majority of the population to survive let alone prosper, but people like Helina are working so hard to improve the conditions of their fellow countrymen that it is hard not to be optimistic.

Ghana is located in West Africa, bordered by the Cote d’Lvoire (Ivory Coast) to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south.

The average life expectancy is 56 (men)  and 57 (women), the average yearly household income was reported as US$1,327 in 2008 by the Ghana Statistical Service.

It is hard but I know that there are people and organizations that are working diligently to improve the economic situation of the most impoverished.  I believe that it is only by moving out of poverty that we will be able to start to solve many of the other global problems that face so many today.

Credit Unions are structured on seven cooperative principles; two of those principles are concern for community and cooperation amongst cooperatives.  By working together we are all stronger.

If you wish to follow along on this journey I will be doing my best to provide regular updates (as internet service allows) via my blog www.I’llCUinGhana.blogspot.com and the Integris Credit Union Facebook site.