One fine afternoon in June 2015, I had an encounter with the director of social welfare at the Ga West Municipal Assembly, an experience that would go on to change a lot about me and even to an extent direct my career path. That afternoon, I had walked into the office of the director to enquire about available slots for interns and to leave a letter if there were any. My past experience with governmental institutions or departments made me quite nervous. As a prospective intern, your journey to any departmental head or director’s office ended at his or her secretary’s desk! Usually letters like mine would end up at the bottom of a pile of letters on the secretary’s desk; which at times never got to the boss. My experience on that fateful day was quite different, first it was the director’s assistant who seemed so welcoming and kind. While waiting at her desk, the director himself walked up to me and led me into his office. There he opened my letter and engaged me in a brief conversation about my course of study and my motivation for bringing in my letter to the social welfare department.
Then a final year student of Psychology at the University of Ghana, I had very little idea about the work of the social welfare department and quite frankly I wasn’t very sure of what I was going in for. However, I was sure of my interests, I had always wanted to do something related to humanitarian work. I had spent the summer of 2014 working as an intern at a counselling and testing unit of a health facility in Oda, a town in the Eastern region of Ghana. My core work at the time was to assist in the counselling of HIV patients on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I knew I wanted more of such an experience, I just wasn’t sure if I was going to get that at the social welfare department but I forwarded the letter anyway because it was close to home.
It felt like an interview session except that the director, Mr. Assan dominated the conversation. It was obvious that I had been accepted to do my internship at the department and that alone was one thing to be happy about, but to know that the department stood for social justice, equality, poverty alleviation and social protection was something that took me straight to cloud nine. It was an eureka moment for me! I walked back home fantasizing about what my new role would be, the new people I would meet and the community projects and campaigns I was going to be part of. One thing I didn’t know was that this was the beginning of a long career in advocacy and humanitarian work. It has been five years since this life-changing experience and I have spent four years of it serving in different capacities in different non-governmental organizations in Ghana.