On 8 August 2023, I embarked on a year-long journey internship with the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), aimed at enhancing my research skills while immersing myself in the dynamic realm of civil society activities.
It all started when I (along with 24 other colleagues) was offered the opportunity by Emerging Public Leaders (EPL) Ghana to contribute to promoting sustainable development whilst sharpening our leadership qualities through a year-long internship in various public sector institutions. EPL Ghana is a non-profit organisation that believes in equipping young leaders with the needed cognitive and affective skills to drive change in the public sector and the country at large. In this regard, seven of us were posted to WACSI, an organisation that has extinguished itself in the civil society and non-governmental organisation sector in terms of capacity strengthening and believing in youth leadership.
WACSI is a prominent regional non-governmental organisation with a strong emphasis on promoting women and youth leadership, fostering an enabling environment for civil society sustainability, and harnessing technology for development. The Institute operates through three key program units: the Capacity Building Unit, Knowledge Management Unit, and Policy Influencing and Advocacy Unit. In addition, there are four integral supporting departments: Finance, Human Resources, Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Technology, and the Communications Unit. Despite these distinct divisions, these units work collaboratively to ensure the Institute’s central goals are effectively achieved.
Early Monday morning, 8 August 2023, I set-off to the new experience finding my way to the office through google map. After 30 minutes’ walk, I was relieved to see a signpost of the Institution which stood right in front of the building in a calm neighborhood in East Legon. My colleagues and I later met Bless Belinda Ahiakonu – Programme Assistant, Administration and Human Resources – who was amazing with her hospitality. She introduced us to all the departments and together with Agnes Adwoa Anima the Head of Administration and Human Resources, we were placed in the various departments which aligns with our interests and aspirations. I was fortunate to have been placed in the Knowledge Management unit where a lot of research and documenting is done.
My role within WACSI’s Knowledge Management unit is multi-faceted and impactful. In just about two weeks old in the unit, I find myself intricately involved in diverse research activities while meticulously curating and maintaining an expansive collection of publications on the WACSI website. This role is more than just a job; it’s a means to equip civil society organisations (CSOs) in West Africa.
Spanning a year, this programme holds the promise of transformative learning and growth. My journey began with the goal of developing my research capacity, but it has evolved into something more profound – an opportunity to truly comprehend the essence of non-governmental organisations and civil society activities, and their pivotal role in shaping our societies.
At its core, WACSI is a beacon of empowerment for CSOs across West Africa. These organisations are the driving force behind societal change – advocating for the marginalised, addressing critical issues, and fostering inclusive development.
As Charles Kojo Vandyck, the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at WACSI indicated in one of our orientation sessions, “WACSI’s role is to strengthen the organisational, technical, and technological capacity of the civil society ecosystem”.
In doing this, “we conduct research and gather information on the status of civil society groups across West Africa to see what challenges exist, and how we [WACSI] can contribute to strengthen [CSOs to respond to] them”, says Shu Mabel Lum, the Programme Assistant, Knowledge Management Unit.
Nonetheless, to realise these, it requires resources, making funding an indispensable element in their activities since the organisation is a non-profit one.
The correlation between funding and impact is obvious. The workshops, capacity-building initiatives, and research endeavors that WACSI conducts are propelled by financial support. My role, even though not a grandiose one, is contributing my quota in fostering sustainable change.
“Giving is not just about making a donation: It is about making a difference.” – [Mother Theresa]
It is therefore up to everyone who believes in the power of change, school colleagues, governments, international organisations, donors, and everyone, to support in whatever role they can to ensure the match needed change in West Africa is realised. Volunteering as intern or national service personnel, and financial assistance from various bodies will go a long way to supporting the Institute to expand its engagements to have more representatives and create a ripple effect that spans nations and impacts lives all over the West African sub-region.
As I delve into research and diligently contribute to knowledge, I am reminded daily of the immense potential of this internship. It is not just about records; it is about demonstrating the potential for growth and development. I believe in the end, my journey at WACSI will be a testament to the profound impact an individual can have on a larger cause.
The road ahead is full of promise and potential. This internship isn’t just a personal voyage; it is a step towards shaping the future of West Africa. Support us in whatever way you can; for together, we can be catalysts for change, creating a more empowered and equitable region.
Are you ready to be part of this transformative journey? Reach out today to learn how you can contribute to the impactful initiatives of WACSI. To get involved, you can send an email to email@example.com