Recently the government of Ghana approved the increment of the ‘allawa’ of the service personnel from GHS559 to GHS715 and though this seems like good news it’s only a reminder about how high the cost of living has become.
This jogged me down memory lane thinking about certain things I wish I had a fair idea about during my days as a service personnel.
Below are six things I wish I knew before National Service and tips that current and future service personnel may want to consider.
1. The E-zwich card you use is important; there are two different types of e-zwich cards. One with the gh-link and one without. The one with the gh-link can be used in any e-zwich machine to withdraw money, but the one without it only allows you to withdraw money from certain branches of GCB. Ask questions when getting an e-zwich card it will save you a lot of stress.
2. The money takes forever; honestly, before I started my service I didn’t know the money would delay for about three months before we’d finally get paid. We started service in September and got our September/October allowances in November. At that point if you’re not in an institution that will give you some stipends or from a family that will give you some pocket money you are going to be in a very dire situation. Some even took loans to bail themselves out.
3. The painful deductions; I remember the time the allowances finally after months of waiting only to find out we had been deducted. For what exactly! I fumed they told us, for an NSS ID card, but the next one they deducted they said it was for NSS cloth. I don’t remember using both the card or the cloth for anything, I didn’t even go for the cloth. I was just annoyed that nobody told me that those deductions were going to be made from the measly 559; now that it’s 715 I wonder how much the deductions are going to be.
4. Spend the money! contrary to what we’re told about saving I wish I had bought tangible goods with the money, during the time we were registering for the national service, there were companies offering kitchenware, home appliances etc on credit. Honestly, I wish I took them on credit and allowed them to deduct from my allowance. Because years down the line I think about the 559 and I wonder what I used it for, the money is gone but there’s nothing to show for it. I should’ve bought tangible things, even if it’s just some bed sheets or saucepans or a tv set just buy it. One day the prices of those things will go even higher, and one day all the money will be exhausted but those things will be there, they’ll be useful and when you think of the money there will be something to show for it.
5. Learn something; Whether it’s about using your allowance to pay for driving lessons or learning something from the organization you’re posted to during the NSS period take your time and learn new things, material wealth can be lost but no one can take the things you learn away from you. Humble yourself and take what comes in good faith use it as grounds to learn, whether it’s being sent to buy waakye for every one use that as an opportunity to learn how to get unpleasant tasks completed to meet deadlines because in real life you won’t always get to do what you like but you still have to do them anyway. So just have a positive attitude so you can learn something.
6. Maintain a good relationship with everyone; you don’t have to be friends with people, not everyone will be your friend. But learning to be polite and pleasant simple things like ‘please’ ‘thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry’ can go a long way. This is not to say be a people pleaser no. Stay in your lane but when people cross your lane have some class and be polite. You may not get retained at your place of posting but you may get recommended at places you don’t expect by people you don’t expect. So, don’t pick and choose who to respect and honor just give everyone a little bit of your pleasantness.
Lastly, what I can say is, advice is like medicine what prescription works for you might not work for the other. Your journey might be different, so just be hopeful and look forward to the coming days with a positive attitude national service is fun but stressful, sweet, and bitter too just look forward to what fate has in store for you.