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THE COVERT PEACEBUILDERS: TWO PEOPLE WHO “DRIVE” WANEP’S WORK
Often when we talk about the actors and efforts that goes into conflict prevention and peacebuilding work, the focus tends to be on Directors, program coordinators and managers and hardcore program areas such as; capacity building, lobbying and advocacy, mediation and policy influencing at various levels. However, in many instances, reaching our core constituents in their localities comes down to the professionalism and dedication of drivers and other support staff.
Across WANEP offices at both national and regional levels, drivers play a crucial role. The dedication and hard work of our drivers contributed immensely to WANEP’s work and the reputation gained over the years. These drivers tirelessly transport staff, program materials and supplies to dangerous terrains and sometimes hard-to-reach communities, within which we work- communities without whom we have no relevance.
In this article, we focus on chief driver Michael Darko and his colleague Seth Akrong; two professionals at our Regional Office in Accra-Ghana who have braved the elements and undertaken assiduous long journeys to deliver peace across the region.
How many years have you worked at WANEP and what made you join WANEP?
Michael Darko: I joined WANEP in 2005. This year will be my 14th year in WANEP. I heard about the good job the organization was doing in peacebuilding in West Africa. I would always hear Mr. Emmanuel Bombande on the Television on ‘Talking Point,’ especially and on radio, Joyfm. And so, I said to myself, “If I have the chance, I will join them and contribute my quota to the peacebuilding work.”
Seth Akrong: I have worked with WANEP for 6 years. I heard about WANEP from a friend. The very first time I walked into the WANEP office in Abelemkpe, I knew this is where I wanted to be. The office environment was nice. From the reception to the HR Manager’s Office, I was received very well. The show of respect and love from day one influenced my decision to join WANEP. One thing I can never forget is when the HR Manager after the interview escorted me out of the office herself. This is rare.
Describe a day in a life of a WANEP driver (How are you involved in contributing to peace in the region?)
Michael Darko: Normally, I drive staff and sometimes partners for meetings, events and also missions within and outside Ghana on mediation and election monitoring. On very rare occasions in the past, I have supported with taking pictures of specific meetings. I also support with logistics.
Seth Akrong: As a driver, I support with the movement of mostly staff and logistics for meetings and workshops. During election 2016 in Ghana, I drove members of the Decision Room of the WANEP Situation Room -which was set up to monitor and mitigate electoral violence in Ghana. It makes me feel good that in my own small way, I am able to support the work of the organization.
What have been some of your challenging moments in your line of work?
Michael Darko: The major challenge for me over the years has been the language barrier especially when I travel outside Ghana to the Francophone countries.
Seth Akrong: For now, I haven’t had any challenges
What would you describe as some of the most fulfilling moments?
Michael Darko: I was very happy to be part of the 20th anniversary celebrations of WANEP. For an organization to work and thrive for 20 years is no small feat. Every day I look forward to work because of the friendliness across board. I love the family spirit.
Seth Akrong: The staff birthday celebrations, the end of year staff parties and the General WANEP family spirit make every day in WANEP fulfilling.
In what ways have your personal life been impacted (positively) at WANEP?
Michael Darko: Because I know where I work, I am mindful of my conduct anywhere I am. Even my friends tease me about the fact that I do not get into confrontations with other road users or other community members.
Seth Akrong: Working at WANEP, my lifestyle has been affected in a positive way. My family has also been impacted positively. Anytime I am driving, I have it my mind that I AM FOR PEACE. Sometimes, someone commits a traffic infraction against me, I just look at them through my side mirror and drive on because I know as a peacebuilder, there is a way I should behave. Just like being a Christian, I know I must bear the tag of Peacebuilder everywhere I go.
M ARC H 6 , 2 0 2 0 Visit Website: www.wanep.org; Twitter: @WANEP_Regional; Facebook: W-A-N-E-P and LinkedIn: WANEP_Regional