It all began in 2008 when love bloomed between Godwin Yidana from Bolgatanga, Ghana, and Gayle Pescud from Sydney, when they decided to hold ‘a day of peace’ in response to a conflict in Bawku. In the face of many challenges and risks to their safety, they managed to pull off a peaceful game of soccer between two warring sides. And with this, an idea for action was born…
In 2010, the pair registered a non-government organisation called G-lish Foundation when Godwin realised plastic water bags littering the streets could be re-used. The duo persuaded five women from Godwin’s village of Dulugu to weave these into baskets. Today, the foundation works with 70 women and 40 young people across three communities.
The initiative has had a tremendous impact on the community in the Upper East region of Ghana – which is poor and distant – 800 kms north of the capital, Accra. Businesses in the region are paid for providing basket material and local households are offered seedlings of precious mango, teak and cashew trees which provide both food and shade.
In an area where domestic violence has been a problem, some men now defer to women for decisions (which is traditionally unheard of) and the violence has been reduced as a result of the empowerment, camaraderie and income provided by the work. With over 70% of people in the area illiterate, the foundation also runs an education program for female weavers who cannot read or write.
An exhibition at Pine Street called ‘Little by Little’ presents these beautiful woven pieces crafted by the Dulugu artisans.
G-lish is exhibiting at Pine Street after Gayle approached the Centre in 2012.
“I corresponded with Rowena from Pine Street by email and she remembered me in 2013 when I turned up in person. She and other staff have advised us on so many little and big details leading up to the exhibition. Allowing us to hire the space for two weeks for free under the City’s Reduced Rates program is a great help too, as we could not afford an exhibition space otherwise,” she said.
Gayle will be at the exhibition every day to answer questions and excitedly adds“The profits from the sale of each piece will equate to up to one year’s average income for the weavers.”
After all, a little love goes a long way.
Finfinhi: Little by Little runs from 6 – 17 February, Mon – Fri 9am – 5pm and Sat 11am – 4pm (closed Sunday)
Pine Street Creative Arts Centre Community Gallery
Lvl 1, 64 Pine Street Chippendale