I am Koffi Mawulolo Mahouna, translator and conference interpreter (English-French) of Togolese nationality. I have just completed twelve (12) volunteering acts with the AU-CJV, based at the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat in Accra Ghana.
My selection for the 11th cohort of the CJV-UA
Indeed, March 2, 2021 remains a memorable date for me. This day I received a notification from the CJV-UA, informing me of my selection for the 11th cohort of young volunteers of the AU. From that moment, I knew that my volunteering journey started a few years ago was already taking shape and that I had to seize this opportunity to take advantage of it. Everything went very quickly, from receiving the selection message to receiving my job offer on April 26, 2021 as a language facilitator at the ZLECAf Secretariat based in Accra, Ghana, through the pre-deployment training, and a very rigorous selection process.
My arrival in Accra On November 22, 2022, I arrive in the Ghanaian capital. What a surprise! I discover a very bubbling and eventful capital, unlike what I know in my country. I was welcomed by the volunteer colleague, Christian Tionon, who was already there. Even before arriving, I had asked my colleague Christian to reserve a room for me in the Guest house where he lived, which was done. I took office the day after my arrival, i.e. November 23, 2022.
My integration into Ghanaian society
It must be said that I did not have too much difficulty integrating into Ghanaian society. Indeed, Togo and Ghana being border countries, I very quickly found myself in almost all the cultural aspects that I discover. One of the most widely spoken local languages in Ghana is Ewe, whose origins are Togolese. Also speaking this language, I very quickly find the formula to establish certain relations on the spot which will be of great help to me in my integration.
The only thing that stood out to me in Ghana in my integration process was the high cost of living in Accra. This is remarkable both in terms of housing costs for apartments and in terms of the shopping basket. It must be said that as a volunteer, I receive monthly financial aid which did not at all allow me to deal with this situation in a suitable way.
On the cultural level, I had to participate in some cultural events such as the traditional dance of the Akans and the Gans during the visits of eminent personalities to the ZLECAf Secretariat. I also had the opportunity to try my hand at cooking some local dishes, including Ken'ke, Jollof rice, Fried rice with chicken and Banku with tilapia.
In terms of tourism, unfortunately I did not have time to get out of Accra, given my workload, and the outing planned by the Secretariat itself on Cape Coast was canceled due to our still tight schedules. However I had the chance to visit places like Black Star Square, Accra Stadium and Lagon University.
My responsibilities at the AfCFTA Secretariat.
Once installed, it is necessary to quickly master the various works and areas of intervention of the ZLECAf. My job more specifically consists of translating, proofreading and correcting all types of documents, and interpreting during internal meetings and certain external meetings, supporting the various divisions in the organization of ZLECAf meetings and contributing to the drafting of the reports of the various meetings. outfits.
Once there, my colleagues and I are quickly organized to meet the many needs of the Secretariat. Very early on, I get used to the routine and everything becomes a little more affordable. We are called upon almost every day, either for the translation of documents or to cover meetings as an interpreter.
I spent the best moments of this adventure in missions. Indeed I participated in several missions as a translator-interpreter, visiting countries such as Senegal, Niger, Nigeria, Togo, Ivory Coast and the United States. I met several personalities that I would not have imagined meeting so soon in my career. This is the case of the current presidents H.E.M. Mohamed Bazoum of Niger, H.E.M. Alassane Ouattara of Côte d'Ivoire and H.E.M. Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria; former presidents like Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria. I also met the Nigerian businessman Mr. Aliko Dangote. Each of these trips has been a unique experience, where I not only discover other countries, but also face the challenge of interpreting at a higher level.
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