The Scotland Ghana Society is an association made up of members from various backgrounds that have worked in Ghana at some point in their life. This society is a way for those with a common interest in Ghana, to connect and share ideas.
Donald Smith is the very embodiment of the Scotland Ghana Society. As the Treasurer and Membership Secretary of the Society, his connection with Ghana goes back to the year 2000, when he gave up his position as Deputy Head of a school in Perthshire, to volunteer in Ghana. He was sent out to teach mathematics in Sefwi Wiawso Teacher Training College in Western Region, where he worked for two years.
The Scotland Ghana Society is made up of members like Donald, who dedicate their time to enrich their local communities both in Scotland and Ghana. From charitable offerings to proactive volunteering schemes In Ghana, this association is rooted in the love and development of Ghana. The work of this association has led to their nomination for the Moneygram Ghanaian Association of the Year award.
GUBA speaks to Donald Smith, as he shares the premise of the Scotland Ghana Association…
Tell us about the premise behind your Association
The Scotland Ghana Society grew out of a group of teachers, doctors, scientists and missionaries who had worked in Ghana or, before that, the Gold Coast and had then returned to Scotland. They met regularly over many decades, always willing to welcome any visiting Ghanaians to Scotland and relishing the opportunity to meet old friends, and relive shared experiences from their time in West Africa.
In 1998, the Society was formally constituted with the aim of increasing mutual knowledge and promoting friendship and understanding between citizens of Ghana and of Scotland. Our members are still mainly UK nationals who have worked in Ghana, but they have now been joined by a number of Ghanaians working in Scotland.
Our meetings provide the opportunity to remember old times with old friends, both Scottish and Ghanaian, but crucially, to help further our knowledge of modern Ghana. Invited speakers educate us about some aspects of Ghanaian life, culture, the economy or the current political scene, while charities working in Ghana bring news of their latest projects. We also try to work hand-in-hand with other local Ghanaian groups and supporting their events.
How does it feel to be nominated for the Ghanaian Association award and what would winning mean to your Association?
As a small Society, we were astonished but delighted to hear of our nomination. In spite of the distance involved, a few of us are planning to come down to the Awards Ceremony since this is such a significant event. If we were fortunate enough to win the award, I believe we would all be extremely proud that our view of ourselves as “Friends of Ghana” has also been recognised by others, particularly the Ghanaians in our midst here in the UK.
What do you think about the GUBA Awards?
I have been impressed by what I have seen of GUBA. It is clear that a tremendous effort goes into organising the Awards and GUBA is to be commended for maintaining such a high profile through the significant people who have become involved. This is an excellent way of pulling together the Ghanaian community within the UK and I am really looking forward to being part of it.
Do you have any plans of expanding your Association?
The origins of our Society inevitably mean that we have an ageing membership, many of whom worked in Ghana in the 1960s. As some of our members become less able to play an active part in the Society’s activities, we are always on the lookout for new links with Ghana. The membership has in the last few years been augmented by those with a more recent connection to Ghana: a church group that supports a rural community in Western Region, Scottish students who have found short voluntary placements in Ghana and others linked to the Scottish Guides’ long-standing support of their Ghanaian counterparts.
Is the Association involved in any other projects?
The Society, while not a registered charity itself, has maintained for the last 10 years a Charitable Fund, supported entirely by donations from members, for the support of good causes in Ghana. Those benefiting have included schools, hospitals, rural communities and groups with social needs, either directly or through charities already working in Ghana.
Do you have anything else you would want to add?
Each year we publish two newsletters, reporting on the work of the Society and interesting recent developments in Ghana. These are much valued by our members, particularly the older ones who now find it hard to come out to meetings but like to maintain their links to Ghana in any way they can.
The Scotland Ghana Society is a fantastic association working to connect and build relations between the Scottish and Ghanaian community. GUBA supports the work of associations such as the SGS and the positive impact it has.
Vote for the Scottish Ghana Society for the Ghanaian Association of the Year award at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ghanaian-association
Visit their website at http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/dasmith/SGS to find out their work and other activities