Claudia Rosario, Senior Project Manager

Claudia Rosario, Senior Project Manager, recently spent some time in Ghana, Africa - one of the toughest and most rewarding experiences of her life. She found herself in a small town, discovering the truth in the saying, ‘those who have the least, give the most’…

It all started in 2017 when my landscape architect boyfriend won an international sculpture competition with two of his colleagues. I cautiously agreed to be part of the ‘build team’ (which ended up being just him and me) to construct a rammed earth/bamboo sculpture in a rural arts village. Fast forward to early September 2018, and we found ourselves in the small town of Korase in Ghana – pretty unprepared for what we were about to experience.

We naively thought we were going to build a land art sculpture with the help of a few local labourers. Instead, we became part of a community project and were warmly welcomed into the lives, homes and hearts of the people of Korase. And everyone in that village became part of our project: from the Chief Elder who took the project on as his own, to the labourers who worked tirelessly, digging trenches and hand-mixing concrete; from the villagers who offered us oranges and coconuts from their farms to the young woman at the local store where we bought water; from the passers-by who stopped for a chat, to the locals who picked up a machete or paintbrush to help. In fact, it became their project. And the saying ‘those who have the least, give the most’ was proven in almost every interaction we had with the community of Korase.

I’m not going to lie, doing manual labour for 12 hours a day in 35 degree heat/90% humidity is definitely not my forte, but I loved seeing how the construction of this slightly foreign-looking object sparked curiosity, discussion and a sense of ownership and pride. Originally designed as a contemplative space, the possibilities for the use of the bright red structure became endless, including: a play area for local children; a meeting place for friends to have beer and play draughts; or a way-finding tool between the dense tropical forest and the small village centre. As the days passed, it became less about what it was meant to be and more about what the community wanted it to be. And for me, that was the best feeling.

Here’s a couple of my favourite photos. The feature photo shows one of our favourite locals (who spoke no English but would often come over with his machete to help us remove a stubborn root from the ground) and a kitten assessing the 'in progress' sculpture.