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.
We moved on to our final destination. A village right on the border between Brong Ahafo region and the Northern region. A village basically separated from Ivory Coast only by a range of mountains. In New Longoro we would be staying with families so as to get the whole community experience rather than living isolated from the community. I ended up living with Pastor George. He was a sweet old man, and the main opinion leader in the community. He had made so many preparations for our arrival. We had been learning Twi in MIT, but in Accra people mostly speak Ga. In Ashanti region people speak Twi, and in New Longoro they speak Mu. We each had our own translator who would be living with us in the homes. His house was the poshest in the village. Granted we didn't have electricity, but he had his own water tank. He even had an indoor toilet even though you had to fetch water into the bucket to flush it. My first shower in New Longoro was a bit funny. The house had an outdoors bathing room, but it was definitely built for someone shorter than me. I went in with my bucket of water, and realized I could see people on the road pretty clearly. It was pretty strange having people say hi to you as they passed by the shower. It was equally funny when a goat would walk into the shower. My poor team-mate had a chicken watching her shower. Pastor George kept grass cutters, cows, bees, goats etc. I noticed that in Ghana all the goats are fat, and all the cows are really thin. Fresh milk is not available in Ghana. They use powder milk and evaporated milk. It was interesting noting some minor differences between African countries.
Having Pastor George as our main host meant that Sunday would be a church sunday. It was pretty amusing considering only 20% of our group was remotely Christian. We were asked to give a sermon, and our professor gave a wonderful sermon on development. The pastor is a genius, and planned out what we should tell the folk before church. He said our sermon should involve talking to the people about sending children to school, good hygiene etc. It was interesting to see how much power the church holds in a community. One of my team-mates (a medical student) decided to deliver a sermon on the benefits of breast feeding, and Pastor George being a very practical hands on person decided that people learn best by example. He asked a lady in the back who was breast feeding her baby to come to the front. I thought it would be an awkward moment for the rest of the group, but it turned out none of us is faint of heart. I think my time in the village I saw more boob than I have even seen on Girls gone wild ads.
A BUG'S LIFE
I worry for my health considering that when we were in New Longoro we got bitten by tsetse flies, onco flies, mosquitoes, bees and other insects of unknown origin. So worst case scenario we braved getting sleeping sickness, river blindness, malaria etc. Let me not forget to mention my varucca/fungal infection growing on the sole of my foot. Quite adventorous I must say. I got it from going barefoot into the Black Volta (not really sure why that seemed like a good idea.) In Ghana I noticed a strange habit. Before meals a bowl of warm soapy water is brought before you, and everyone washes their hands in the same bowl. We tried not to think too much about how many germs we might be sharing between us.