By Rachel Jones, LL.M. ’16
Professor Lucie White has been working alongside Ghanaian organizations for many years on a variety of projects. I am lucky enough to be part of her Making Rights Real clinic, and spent this spring break investigating the impacts of gas development on local communities in the Western Region of Ghana.
Our time in Ghana was short, but packed. Before our visit, we researched various laws bearing on possible compensation for affected communities. In Accra, Ghana’s capital, we spoke with government agencies and civil society organizations. We gathered more information about Ghana’s burgeoning domestic gas sector, and inquired about consultation of, and compensation for, local people. After Accra we all piled into our little bus and travelled to the Western Region, stopping on the way to meet our local NGO partner, whose expertise was invaluable.
By far the most interesting experience from my perspective, and one that will remain with me for the rest of my life, was meeting with community members themselves. We approached people in the village in small groups, accompanied by translators (in my case, the Professor’s knowledgeable clinic assistant, a 2nd year SJD student from Ghana: Oteng’s organization skills and kindness made everyone’s trip run smoothly).
My group talked to two separate groups of people about their experiences – men and women. Hearing their perspective, their anger, their proposals was what this trip was really all about. I left Ghana with a strong and abiding impression that everyone we met cares deeply about the issues we’re exploring – and wants to do their best for their country or for their community.