Field Stories 28 February 2018

Close cooperation with cocoa households: the work of a Community Facilitator

Lois Odeiwaa Ampomah is a 19 years old Senior High School (SHS) graduate working as a Community Facilitator with the Tony’s Chocolonely CLMRS project in Suhum. According to Lois, she joined the project after an interaction with the ABOCFA manager, Steven Ashia, at a depot in Suhum where she had gone to sieve cocoa. He encouraged her to apply and recommended her to the selection team.

Lois serves as the community facilitator for the Banna area, covering 32 farmers and their households.

Lois usually dedicates at least four hours, five days a week to her community work. This is based on the number of households she will have to interact with for that week.

When asked what her role as a community facilitator, she tell us:

“My day usually starts after 12 pm because that is when most of the farmers would have returned from their farms. I collect information from the farmers and their children on child labour. I ask the farmer for information such as names of the members of his household, their dates of birth and marital status. I will also help the children who have been identified in the first stage of the data collection as being at risk of or engaged in child labour to access the needed assistance during the remediation process. I select respondents based on her or his in-depth knowledge about the household so they can provide detailed answers to the questions asked.”

In recounting some of the challenges she has faced so far in the course of her work as a CF, she spoke of the inability of some farmers to supply key information for the data collection process which slows down her pace of work among others. In her own words,

“Sometimes, I will get to the farmer’s house and the child is not ready to talk to me. At other times, by the time I get to the house, the farmer has left for another engagement which results in having to pay repeated visits to one household during a stage. Some of the farmers always forget their date of birth and other key information. I have dealt with most of these challenges by ensuring to call the targeted respondent before heading to his or her house.”

“One of the greatest motivations for becoming a CF for the Tony’s CLMRS project was to develop good interaction and verbal skills. My constant interaction with the farmers and their households is helping me to do this. I have to translate the questionnaires from English to Twi in a way that the farmer can understand it well so I can get quality answers. This process is teaching me how to relate to people and deal with them in a way that our shared objectives can be met.”

The idea behind the use of community members as CFs for the CLMRS projects is to ensure the sustainability of the impacts made in collaboration with the farmers after the end of the projects. These CFs gain an in-depth knowledge about the issue of child labour in cocoa, child safeguarding practices and awareness raising methods which serve as great benefits to the farmer societies to which they belong and the community at large. As part of the process, these CFs also build their capacity on data gathering skills through the use of the system.

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