a few photos

May 30, 2010 at 2:47 pm (Uncategorized)

Women in Bidima


Bush fire whacking


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May 21, 2010 at 6:47 pm (Uncategorized)

Children reading the brochure I designed!

I made it to Walewale!! I love it, I am getting to see more of the country and I’m talking to farmers, children and community members about the environment and other RAINS stuff.

I was driven up here on Wednesday early in the morning, the town is about an hour and 15 minutes north of Tamale. Then we went straight to visit a community called Wungu, and my first meeting was with the children’s club. Ive never had any kind of teaching experience, but we sat in the front of the class and I was asked to ask them whatever questions I wanted to..! It was a bit daunting, but the children were very eager to answer any questions and so I found out lots of interesting things about what they do in the club. I have been to 4 communities so far, and in each one the children are all from farming families but they don’t want to be farmers when they grow up at all! They want to be doctors or accountants mostly, usually someone wants to be the President, and some wanted to be a pilot. One boy wanted to travel to silminga land! haha.

I found talking to the farmers really interesting, I learnt about where they get their seeds from if they haven’t any saved from the last harvest, and what problems they are facing in regards to climate change and environmental degradation.. it seems as though the environment has deteriorated really quickly over only the past few decades with increasing population and tree cutting. Anyway, I wont go into all the details.. I’ll be writing a document about it for various people so if it goes on the internet perhaps I will put the link in here!

One of the groups I met in a village called Nayorku, when there was nothing left for us to dicuss, the women wanted to see me dance! I tried to say I couldn’t dance and that it wouldn’t happen in a million years but they kept on insisting that I show them a dance.. so i got up, in the middle of a circle of about 15 women and with no music to dance to i did a kind of weird shuffle type movement, hahaaa, and the women were so happy, they were laughing and clapping and came to join me (thank god) .. and with more clapping going on it was easier to do some kind of dance, so I think I left the event without looking too much of a fool… haha it was so much fun.

Me on the blackboard!

Today we drove out to a much more rural community, about 15/20 miles out East from Walewale.. there was tarmac on the road for about 5 minutes, then it was dirt road and then dirt track the rest of the way… we have been driving everywhere on Miftaw’s motorbike, and riding over those little ridges that you get on dirt roads is so funny!! It feels so ridiculous! I really would have got the giggles if I hadn’t been slightly wary of my life. The two photos in this blog are from this more rural community, called Sheninvoya (i think). We met the chief first, who wanted me as one of his wives, then we met the children in the school. Quite a few children were scared of me in this village and were running away from the silminga! hahaa, I dont think many white people venture to this village at all. I really liked Sheninvoya, the children were really animated and their farming seemed to be going well.

The drive out to the village was so nice, the few villages we past on the way were really quiet and leafy, and all the houses were the mudhut round style type. The drive back into Walewale, along the same way, was perilous.. because I was driving! haaha, my god it is harder than it looks.. and the bike is so heavy! It took me a while to get the bike off from standing still as I kept stalling it, and then when we got going I had to dodge the sand/rocks/potholes/puddles/goats/people.. it involved much of my concentration.. and then i had to stop it, as would make sense, and even that is tricky! I found it easiest to put all the brakes on and stall the thing until it comes to a stop. I enjoyed it 🙂


So back to Tamale tomorrow, this time by public transport.. my first experience on the buses in Ghana!

I took a picture of fufu, one of my favourites here.. this one is with ‘light soup’ or karakara. You use your hands to cut the fufu then.. well, eat it.

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A short but eventful week

May 11, 2010 at 11:21 am (Uncategorized)

Since the day I pounded a floor (monday) I was in the office for only 1 and a bit days last week! On Tuesday and Wednesday I was out in the field to 3 communities, helping to document the girls we are supporting. Tried some different foods, this time a soyabean kebab which was really good! oo and Koshey! Fried bean/dough thing.

Friday I had a brief but intense encounter with malaria, so stayed at home all day trying not to move,

A farmer and her sheabutter

until I was persuaded I should go to the hospital, which I did (for the first time in my life). The visit to hospital was an experience, it is a very old building and smelt very strongly of disinfectant.. but I guess thats the same for the uk? 14 pills and some sleep later and I felt better..

On Saturday I had planned to meet with the guy who is starting his own environmental organisation, and he was to take me to several communities to see their work and talk to the farmers. I felt confident enough with the pills that I would be well enough, so he picked me up on his motorbike and we drove out to Duzlugu, 10k away. On the way he showed me a sheabutter processing plant (who export their produce to China), and pointed out lots of different trees.. including the massive Baobao tree. We stopped by a sacred forest, which is all that remains of the forest that used to cover the whole area before everyone started chopping all the trees down. At Duzlugu I was introduced to all the farmers, men and women, and we all sat in the shade of a couple of trees to talk about organic farming, tree planting and the problems that they are facing. I wasn’t expecting such a formal meeting! But it was very interesting hearing their stories and learning about their farming techniques. The village were happy that I was visiting them, and gave me a gift of some guinea fowl eggs! I hope to return the favour by helping set the organisation up with a website, editing formal documents and sourcing some funds.

I was also shown the organic compost and tree nurseries at 3 or 4 other communities, was given some mangoes and some morenge leaves (to treat malaria) and then we rode home and I slept… after boiling a few eggs. A good day.

This week I am back to work and eating wachey!

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May 5, 2010 at 10:04 pm (Uncategorized)

My favourite photo of the day

My 2nd favourite photo of the day

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May 3, 2010 at 6:33 pm (Uncategorized)

This bank holiday weekend did not go as planned, which is turning out to be a recurring theme. Nonetheless, I had a really great weekend!

This week I have been doing lots of work, and starting to plan what I really want to do in the field considering my environmental interests. I also got a cold! Which hasn’t been so cool, luckily only a cold though and nothing worse.

Have been out for a few western style meals at restaurants this week, and have met some new european people. Jessie finally really did leave on Saturday, having had Ghanaian complications.. her friend gave her some of the local shea butter that the rural women make in his village for use on your skin, and he gave me some too! It is very nice, I keep it in the fridge.

On Saturday afternoon I accompanied Rabi from RAINS to meet all the girls in one area of Tamale who are to receive support from the organisation so that they can attend school and will no longer have to work long hours selling small items like pure water or onions in the street. My task was to take their photo for the database, it was great meeting them and getting a small insight into what they do. We all sat at Rabi’s house, in her yard, for quite a while waiting for some of the girls to turn up. I didn’t understand about 90% of the conversation, but it was nice just sitting under her lemon tree and being part of the group. Rabi gave me some lemons to take home, and they are so good. Cycling back from Rabi’s house, a storm was coming, the clouds went very very dark, and the wind picked up. It was hard to see with all the dust flying about.

I was meant to travel to Bolgatanga, a town 100km north of Tamale, with a friend from RAINS on Sunday. This is the plan that didnt materialise, so on Sunday I took my bike and did some more exploring! I went into town this time, and roamed about the back streets. I bought some bananas from a very nice lady, and some wachey from my favourite place.. I ended up there by accident.. In the afternoon I cycled out north of town again and discovered an interesting non-tarmacced road, so I followed it and found myself in some really quiet villages. I think most people were surprised to see me! People have started to farm since the rains are on their way, and I saw a few fields starting to be prepared, and fences being built. I noticed there wasnt much litter in these villages.. it was good to see. On the way back I bought some sugar and some oranges.

Today I went to meet my friend who is also a volunteer at RAINS, as we were going to go swimming. But it turned out her village were about to construct a new floor for someone’s compound, and we were invited to join in. We got changed into some old clothes and entered the compound. The task was a women’s job, the men’s task was to sit outside and play this marble type game.

I will explain the task. The women have logs that have been carved into a kind of bent stunted cricket bat, and everyone pounds at the floor that has been covered in new earth and then water. But the pounding is done in time to the drums, which are played by men, and all the women sing whilst pounding. It was really fun, and really hard work. I got so covered in mud and my hand is now covered in broken blisters! Suhuyini’s host mother gave me a headscarf to wear. All the women found it really funny that Suhuyini and I were helping them, but we worked hard too, right to the end.. albeit with slightly less strength in the last half hour or so. The women were very strong. The drumming was great, I love listening to drums, whenever we took a break from pounding we would dance in the mud. This also was really funny to the women, me dancing! haaha. I really enjoyed it.

When it was over, Suhuyini and I looked pretty mucky, and my glasses were very much covered in mud. So we took a shower in the abandoned hospital then went to get wachey and sat under a tree with Suhuyini’s family. My name in this village is Wunpini, and I got two marriage proposals.

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