Thursday January 24, 2013
Today, I was idly watching a credit union internal auditor pouring over weathered receipts and documents that were haphazardly piled on his desk and at his feet. Some of the receipt books looked like they were about to fall apart from overuse and I was silently observing to myself how tough it must be to audit in these conditions.
I could tell that he was curious about me. Stealing glances at me as he worked. I could see that he didn’t know what to make of me. He was mustering the courage to ask me a question, but was hesitating. I decided that it was in our mutual best interests to introduce myself before he lost the nerve.
He was polite and dignified man who asked permission to ask a question. He asked me if I live in a country where there are poor people. I replied, “Yes, we have many people who are poor and cannot afford financial services. There are people in Canada who lack access to financial services and there are many Credit Unions who are trying to help communities.”
He then replied, “Why Ghana? Why not help communities in Canada that are poor? Why come to Ghana?” I was taken aback at his question with a mixture of reverence for his wisdom to be so insightful, and his ability to be so authentic with a complete stranger from another country. I did pause before I answered, but I replied, “Of course many Credit Unions help at home, but it is in our nature to co-operate with others. It is our nature to share, learn, and work together as a common global co-operative to help each other succeed.” I explained that my Credit Union is also the largest in Canada and has learned many lessons over its lifetime and now feels an overwhelming responsibility to pass these learnings onto other Credit Unions so that they can be successful.
He immediately smiled at my response. Initially inquisitive, he now pointed at me, shook both my hands, and said, “Happy Family” which is a common phrase used by Credit Union Members here to describe the co-operative movement here.
Today, I feel very proud to be a part of this happy family. Only in a co-operative can you get this kind of wonderful experience that if you travel the world as a co-operative you will always find family.