Helping NGOs do more with their money

Mango members on Placement: Cathrine Meda in Ghana with the Sabre Trust

11 October 2017

Register Member Cathrine Meda is currently on her first Mango placement, as a Group Finance Manager with the Sabre Trust in Elima, Ghana. Cathy tells us how she is enjoying implementing structural change in an expanding organisation and how she is savouring life by the ocean.

‘I’ve been with the Sabre Trust for nearly six months now, and I’m really enjoying myself. My role is very interesting and it’s exciting being part of an organisation that is growing. There’s lots to get my teeth into, as we’re planning on scaling up Sabre’s operations in Ghana. This has been a great opportunity for me to showcase my internal controls and design skills, and I’ve also had the opportunity to train the staff on how to implement and follow new policies and procedures. I’ve worked as a financial trainer in the past and I pride myself on being able to ‘demystify’ finance so I’ve particularly enjoyed this aspect of my new role.

‘My main responsibilities revolve around all financial duties, but also involve procurement, donor reporting, banking, treasury management and staff management. Even though I’ve only been with Sabre Trust for a short time, I have  already been appointed Operations Manager effective this Oct 2017, with new responsibilities as head of Finance  HR, administration and IT. I’ve also been on a few field visits, which I have really enjoyed as I started my career working in the development programme sector. The only  challenge in my role has been the usual change management; to come into a new organisation and to implement new changes is never a smooth process, but I am blessed with an excellent team, so structural change will certainly be implemented. I encourage the team to take the shoes of the donor, which has helped the change management process, as donors expect transparency.

‘Sabre Trust is a charity working in Ghana  and its vision is to contribute to an Education system where all children in Ghana are engaged in active and play-based learning in high quality learning environment in the early years. This will equip them with the skills and knowledge they need to progress through primary and junior high school and complete their basic education. We achieve this through our transformational teacher training programme (TTT) as well as our Building Better Schools (BBS) program. Our methodology promotes learning through play and actively encourages teachers to monitor their pupils’ cognitive development.  We use as much as possible the local available resources as teaching aids, for example teachers are encouraged to use empty water bottles or leftover tissue rolls as their learning tools. We work with the Ghanaian Ministry of Education, which has adopted our methodology. We also actively work with existing teacher training colleges. Depending on funding, we are looking to expand our operations.

‘I have fallen in love with Ghana. I am originally from Zimbabwe, and I have just spent two years working in South Sudan. I have noticed that Ghana is a very peaceful country and the people are very non-violent. Strangers greet each other in the street, which would be very odd in Zimbabwe, but I have grown accustomed to this and I think it is a nice practice.  I have learnt that Africans are very diverse; each country has a unique culture and unique values, and I am enjoying learning about our neighbours. My favourite aspect of Elmina where I am based is that we are next to the ocean. I’ve never seen the ocean before, and my son and I rushed to the beach on our first day. It is so refreshing to hear the ocean flowing from where I work. Elmina is also a real fish zone! The streets are bursting with fish stalls; I have never seen such enormous fish!

‘In my free time, my son and I have been getting to know Elmina. It is a very historic coastal town. The locals love to use a lot of chilli (pepe) in their cooking, which I am trying to getting used to. There are some national parks in Ghana outside of Elmina, so we are planning to start visiting these. I have also picked up a few words of Fanti, one of the local languages. I’m very excited that the University of Cape Coast is close to us and I am planning to start an MBA next year.

‘I very much respect Mango and I love working with them, with the recruitment team and beyond. Mango’s free resources, such as the Guide, which is very helpful and concise, have been invaluable to my work. I have utilised them here in Elmina with Sabre Trust and in my previous role in South Sudan. They have helped me to implement new policies and procedures. What else do you need except an institute that makes your life simple? I can say that I am very proud to be a Mango member.’

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