Hundreds of New Friends- A Visit to Rural Ghana

Power and running water are two things I definitely took for granted back in Canada (also: sidewalks and relatively cheap cheese).

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had to endure cold bucket showers, going without internet for over 48 hours (the horror), sweating more than I’ve ever sweated before, and other unfortunate things that ‘modern’ life USUALLY prevents us from having to experience. Unfortunately, due to broken pipes, power plant explosions, and questionable bureaucratic decisions, it looks like us Ghana residents will have to deal with rolling power outages and reduced water supply until about May (and with African time, that probably means I’ll be gone by the time things go back to normal). UGH.

Anyway. On the bright side, I’ve had a chance to do some pretty amazing things with work recently.

Along with three WiLDAF staff members and three Norwegian students, I headed to a village in the Eastern region about 2 hours away from Accra to attend a week of workshops that WiLDAF was holding to educate the rural communities about domestic violence and mediation.

We stayed in a place called Suhum, and the surroundings were incredibly lush and tropical.

Asuboi, Ghana

Asuboi, Ghana

The training sessions were awesome, even if they were entirely conducted in Twi (thankfully we snagged a translator after the first day). It was great to see the ways in which WiLDAF uses fun, role play exercises, and discussion to train people who may have not had much formal education.

WiLDAF's Melody Darkey facilitates a training session.

WiLDAF’s Melody Darkey facilitates a training session.

After two days of attending the training sessions, the Norwegian students and I set off to some villages to meet up with some of the people we had met during the training. Everyone was incredibly friendly and warm, and even if we couldn’t understand each other’s words without the help of a translator, getting a chance to visit people in their homes and churches really opened my eyes to what it’s like to live in rural Ghana.

After interviewing a Queen Mother and various Legal Literacy Volunteers that had attended the training sessions, the group took our hands and led us around their villages, introducing us to just about everyone on the way.

It was clear that obrunis don’t stroll around those places very often, so needless to say we drew a lot of attention.

"OBRUNIIIII!!!!"

“OBRUNIIIII!!!!”

They showed us how they make gari from cassava, gave us a taste of freshly roasted gari, and even took us to their farms where we weaved through orange trees, palm trees, cocoa trees, and more. I interviewed one woman who told me about how her father gave her land after she educated him about the property rights she had learned about at WiLDAF training sessions, and she later introduced me to her 80-something-year-old father (who was weeding with a machete) on the very land WiLDAF helped her own.

Comfort and her father and the land she now owns

Comfort and her father and the land she now owns

Manually squeezing the moisture out of a bag of cassava

Manually squeezing the moisture out of a bag of cassava

One man even introduced us to his pets- apparently these are days-old "bush cats". They were squealing and terrified.

One man even introduced us to his pets- apparently these are days-old “bush cats”. They were squealing and terrified.

After wandering for over 4 hours, we had made a ton of new friends and were covered in a thick layer in what I like to call “Ghanaian bronzer”.

Ghanaian bronzer. Also known as dirt.

Ghanaian bronzer. Also known as dirt.

The following days took us to two more villages and by the end of our stay in Suhum I was exhausted but happy after learning so much and meeting so many friendly people. It was awesome to see the work WiLDAF is during in the rural regions, and it made me proud to work for such a great organization.

The road to and from Suhum is, well, interesting as well. A large portion of the “highway” is just dirt and rocks, so to call it a “bumpy” ride is a bit of an understatement. On the way back to Accra, we had to swerve around an overturned truck, saw two dented storage containers that had apparently fallen off a truck at some point, and watched as people tried to draw cars out of ditches.

Every chance I get to leave the city and see other areas of Ghana is a lesson in how diverse Ghana is. Different languages, different cultures, different vegetation, and different police (we were stopped by a policeman who actually just wanted to introduce himself and ask us on a date without trying to ask for a “dash”- a first in Ghana, let me tell you). I can’t wait to see more!

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Comments
2 Responses to “Hundreds of New Friends- A Visit to Rural Ghana”
  1. moodygirlgem@juno.com says:

    Real happy to see that your enjoying yourself., even without the comforts of home…continue jour great work and ENJOY every day….Love Noel & Muriel

  2. CH Campbell says:

    Kelsey what stunning photos. So glad you are seeing more of Ghana. Can’t wait to read your interviews with Legal Literacy volunteers!

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