By Olivia Matthews, MIPP Graduate (2017)
I’ve officially been living and working in Ghana for four months.
While the primary focus of my work day is on communication outputs for the International Organizations for Migration (IOM) in Ghana, I often get pulled onto other projects as there is always an abundance of work to be done. I’ve been very fortunate in my position to have real hands-on work opportunities rather than simply being an intern who is only allowed to do menial tasks. While I can’t explain everything I’ve been a part of in my role 1) because some of it is confidential and 2) it would make for a very, very long blog, I’ve created a list of highlights to provide some insight into the life of an IOM intern in Ghana:
-I write, edit, and review all communications and marketing materials including press briefing notes, media talking points, information sheets, mission overviews, documentaries, annual reports, concept notes, etc…I spend the majority of my time writing and reviewing. I’ve included some of the press briefings I’ve written on the projects I’ve been a part of so far below.
-My first big project was the organization of a photo exhibit entitled, A Day in the Life of Migrants and Refugees. The exhibit was in partnership with the UNHCR and the Embassy of Mexico as a way of promoting awareness of migrants’ journeys, successes and challenges as well as fundraise for a new refugee project. We invited refugees from settlement camps around Ghana to perform their cultural dance and music routines and sell their artwork, food and crafts. As a french-speaker, I ended up providing the majority of the translation during the week-long event as the majority of the refugees were from Cote d’Ivore.
-I am the current designated representative of IOM Ghana on the UN Communications Group. This group combines representatives from all the UN agencies in Ghana in order to work on streamlining our messaging and develop cross-agency projects.
-I recently wrote a Concept Note on the social theory behind abandoning the practice of child trafficking in the Volta Region of Ghana. Ghana is a source, destination and transit country for human trafficking. IOM Ghana’s work focuses on returning children who are trafficked into the fishing industry in the Volta region as well as preventing and protecting all children in the region.
-I was asked to join IOM Ghana’s Gender Team during the 16-day campaign to “Orange the World” in order to stop violence against women and girls.
-I was a part of the project team setting up for IOM’s Migration Film Festival and International Migrants Day where we worked to engage students in films concerning trafficking and irregular migration. Targeting youth to explain the dangers associated with irregular migration and encouraging safe and regular migration is a large focus for IOM Ghana at the moment given the high rate of youth leaving West Africa through irregular means.
-In November 2017, IOM Ghana facilitated the return of 127 Ghanaian returnees from Libya. I was a part of the IOM Ghana team aiding their return by greeting and registering them on the tarmac at the airport and hearing their horrific accounts of the conditions they were subjected to in Libya. It’s a night I will never forget. IOM Ghana will spend the next few months providing these migrants with reintegration assistance in their local communities.
-I monitor and post regularly on our Facebook page.
While many of my experiences have been educational, there are some very good days and some very bad days. Living and working abroad is a major challenge but it’s one that I’m so thankful I have the opportunity to do. I’m learning a lot from my local and international colleagues but perhaps even more so from my neighbours and friends. Here’s to the next 2 and a half months!