Date: Early 2007
Context: Thekenyanexplorer went to Ghana with a team from uni on a 3 week trip to Ghana. Her team was focusing on some development work in energy and water. This is an email that was sent to her friends and family after the trip. The full story will be in a few separate consecutive blog entries.
LAND OF THE LEARNED
One of the things that amazed me in Ghana was how well educated people are. Everyone we met seemed to have a Bachelors, Masters and perhaps even a Phd. It was plain to see that having a forward-looking first president like Kwame Nkrumah has given Ghana a head start on some other African nations. On Monday we went to a neighbouring town called Wenchi, and went to visit the district hospital. It was pretty well equipped, but had mostly Cuban doctors. The head of the hospital told us that brain drain has taken so many of Ghana's doctors and nurses that now they get doctors from Cuba. I spent the time in Ofuman testing water samples from the rivers, and testing plastic bottles versus plastic papers in solar water disinfection (SODIS.) It was pretty interesting work for me. Our host was a layman in the Methodist church and took us to visit the Bishop in Wenchi. Yet again he was a highly educated man with huge plans for the country. Ghana really felt like a forward moving nation to me. He was educated in Wheaton college, and we had some German tea at his place. It was really sad that in two weeks the Bishop's lovely house would burn to the ground due to an electrical fault. Luckily no one would be hurt, but all his earthly possessions would be no more.
INTO THE DEEP
Our last days in Ofuman were spent working with agriculture students in the region showing them how to make charcoal from waste materials e.g. coconut husks, corn cobs, sugarcane bagasse. It was a really worthwhile experience considering what a big problem deforestation has become for developing nations. Our last night in Ofuman we had amazing tofu kebabs (I have a new found respect for tofu after having it Ghanaian style.) During one of the charcoal demonstrations one of the university students kept winking at me, and making me slightly confused during my presentation. Boys!!!! There are lots of grasscutters in Ghana, and they are eaten in quite a few places. I remember seeing one, and I totally freaked out. It is a huge huge rodent. It is fatter than two rabbits, but looks like a huge rat. I have not yet eaten a grasscutter to my knowledge. The night we left Ofuman the host family were having marriage negotiations with their daughter’s fiance’s parents. He was a really cool computer engineer who was about to marry our host’s daughter- who is only 26 but is an importer of agricultural materials and has her own store. Her fiancé loves her so much that he moved to the village to instead manage his soon to be father in law’s farm. He is a really nice guy with a habit of telling stories that are built up to sound like jokes, but never have a funny ending. We just called his sense of humor "special." This calm guy randomly decides to tell us how much he hates pedestrians on the road who don't move when they see a car approaching. He calmly tells us that he carries a cane in the car to hit people on the road who don't move off fast enough. We were all silent, and wondering whether to laugh or run. I still think he is a nice guy. Just probably suffers from suppressed rage. Every human being has their own mental disorder.