As mentioned in my last blog, there are challenges that present themselves with regard to our work here in Kpando. Specifically pertaining to communication, these challenges relate to cultural differences, technological capabilities and access; however, a layer of difficulty in communication that I have yet to mention is corruption.
Corruption in Communication
Corruption, simply defined in this context as ‘dishonesty’, is an issue that transcends all boundaries, within every country. It can exist on a finite level-taking place within personal relationships and affecting familial and community relationships; it can also exist on a grand level-taking place within governments and bodies of higher power affecting the relationships and status of a country’s people.
Over the past couple of weeks, Edward and I have been continuing outreach and marketing for our programs. During this time, we have had many insightful conversations with individuals interested in our work. These individuals have shared genuine appreciation for the work we are doing, yet they have also voiced concerns with regard to the process of any NGO or other organization attempting to offer programs that benefit the community.
The concern is this: individuals in places of power may utilize information to only benefit themselves, their families and those with whom they have an invested interest.
This kind of ‘corruption’ happens on a daily basis and involves withholding beneficial knowledge from the community. It is the intention of this type of corruption to prevent others from pursuing an opportunity, hence making it more possible for those who are knowledgeable about the opportunity to obtain it.
Though in this instance, corruption presents itself on the community level, this type of corruption is the foundation for the higher level corruption we find in governments; this is how it starts, and this is why success, both social and economic, is found within such a small percentage of an entire country’s population-knowledge hoarding.
Share not Hoard
Edward and I have done everything in our physical power to ensure that knowledge of our programs is widely disseminated throughout the community. In addition to the people with whom we work at the ministries, departments, orphanages, schools and healthcare facilities, we have gone into the community and informed as many people in person as possible in attempts to avoid knowledge hoarding; yet, there are only two of us and no matter how hard we try to reach out and inform everyone in the community about our programs, it is not possible.
The process of communication should not, and does not, begin and end with Edward and I –the part of communication that makes it so powerful is the ability of information to continue to be shared and disseminated organically. Yet, even with the best of intentions, there will still be individuals who, for whatever reason, may not be aware of our programs and there will still be individuals who are aware of our programs and will not share this information with individuals who could benefit.
Going back to the community members Edward and I initially spoke with about this concern-we mentioned to them we had considered this issue and wanted to know, from them, ways in which we could challenge corruption on this level.
They mentioned the way we were completing outreach in the community as the first step. They went on to suggest disseminating our program information on a larger, public venue like the radio. From my experience, but with hesitation of using a blanket statement, everyone in Ghana has and listens to the radio on a daily basis. Radio is widely used for communications in all of Africa. While we had plans to market our programs on the radio, the concern of communication corruption and receiving the suggestion from a community member to utilize a venue like radio to challenge it, reminded us of the importance and urgency to do so.
Everyone involved with communications knows that supplementing physical program communications and outreach with public announcements is necessary to enable as many people to access the information as possible. Television commercials, radio ads, and newspaper announcements are utilized by people and organizations as primary venues of communication to inform the public of projects, programs, events, etc; yet, like many aspects of our work here in Kpando, what is done simply everywhere else has its own challenges here. While such venues exist here in Ghana, access to each of these venues differs for every individual. Not everyone here in Kpando has TV. There is no local newspaper. Radio, however, is widely accessed and thus, our best bet.
This past Saturday, Edward and I made a 20 minute radio announcement on Radio Kpando, 102.5-Kpando’s favorite radio station, providing information about all of our programs. While on the air, we specifically mentioned the institutions and individuals we have been working with while here in Kpando.
We informed the public that all staff of Ghana Education Services and all headmasters and teachers at Senior and Junior High Schools in Kpando are aware of our scholarship opportunities, can provide information and are able to assist anyone interested in completing an application. We mentioned that the Department of Health Insurance and Social Welfare, St. Patrick’s and Margret Marquart hospitals, the local clinic and the Department of Health are aware of our health insurance program, can provide information and are able to assist anyone interested in completing an application. We mentioned our farming project, our community relationships, and our intentions.
Edward and I utilized the radio announcement to inform the public of our programs; simultaneously, we held every institution and individual we are working with accountable for knowledge sharing.
Due to human nature, corruption is inevitable, especially in contexts where desperation and need greatly dictate behavior. Communication brings awareness to opportunities and provides everyone an equal chance to benefit-challenging corruption that would otherwise hoard such opportunity.