Where is our self- help spirit?

BY: Doreen Hammond
Doreen Hammond
Doreen Hammond

There was a story that made a lot of fun on social media recently.

Though I thought it could only have been a big joke, unfortunately it wasn't.

It was an audio featuring  male and female voices engaged in a serious quarrel over how the males were feasting their eyes on the private parts of females as they both used the same toilet in the community.

 Obviously, the community had only one toilet.

While the woman complained about the embarrassment it was posing to them, the man was emphatic that it was not their making and so long as there remained only one toilet in the community, they would share it and in the process feed their eyes on the women’s private parts.

 After a good laugh, and realising that the audio was no fiction, I asked myself how on earth this could happen; a whole community with one toilet for both males and females?

This is definitely an affront to our culture as a people.

 And until this issue came up, a friend of mine had been saying that the only rule most Ghanaians respected was strictly ensuring that females kept to the ladies toilet while males kept to the gents.  

It is true that the government, and for that matter the assemblies, are responsible for providing certain amenities and facilities for the citizenry.

 This they do through the revenues collected from taxes.

However, in a situation where it has not been able to do so, must males and females reduce their dignity and compromise on their privacy in such manner as to use the same toilet facility?
What at all does it take to construct a place of convenience?

 Why couldn't the chief, assemblyman or opinion leaders in that area mobilise the people to construct one more toilet so that each gender could have its own?

 If it is the cost of constructing one with blocks that was the hindrance, how about the good old "hweetim" which many villages have benefited from for ages and has never failed anybody?

 Often in the news too, I hear and watch inhabitants of villages sharing one pond with animals and drinking same because of the lack of a borehole.

 I ask myself what makes it unattractive for the leaders to mobilise the youth to dig wells for separate use until government or an NGO comes along to build one for them?   What has happened to our self-help spirit?

This spirit was actively cultivated during former president, JJ Rawlings’ era but unfortunately has been allowed to die slowly.

He was able, through leadership by example, to mobilise the people to engage in projects for the benefit of communities and the nation.

 We saw students carting cocoa onto trucks in the hinterlands in order to get them transported to the ports for export.

He was also known for mobilising the people in clean up exercises to rid the communities of filth.

 In all these, he led by example and was personally involved.

 It is our right to demand certain services from the appropriate government agencies and authorities responsible but where they are unable to provide  them, we need to help ourselves.

Not long ago, a monthly clean up exercise was instituted to complement our sanitation challenges.

 Though it was not full proof, it at least helped in creating awareness of sanitation issues and also reduced the volume of filth on our streets.

Strangely, with the coming into being of a new government, the initiative has been abandoned as is the case with most projects when there is a change of government.

And we look on helplessly as we are engulfed by filth, perhaps expecting a miracle from above.

It is high time we rekindled the self-help spirit for our own good.

We must make use of the little resources, skills and talent available to us in our communities for our own benefit.

 That is what will create a difference for our own welfare and comfort.

 Nowhere in this world is the government alone capable of doing it all.

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