Sunday, August 17, 2008

Coming home

Congratulations and Good Hopping in Canada. (This was from a card my house sister wrote me:) )

My head space has certainly been interesting lately, as I have been finishing my placement, writing my final reports and saying my goodbyes. I am now in Tamale, meeting up with the other JFs and decompressing, and slowly getting into bigger cities and more developed places. These last few weeks have been challenging in a different way, because figuring out how to exit and leave people and not know if you will ever see them again, adding onto that the fact that you have been away from home and in a completely now environment, you are heading back and wondering, how have I changed? Am I different? and more inner dialogue along those lines. It has been quite the ride, but I think that I am ready to get off the coaster and take a break. Go see the Atlantic from my side of the ocean and just sit and watch the seagulls. I have had an incredible journey, both learning about myself, development, a new culture and people in general. I am looking forward to sharing what I have experienced, and I hope people will have specific questions about what I have seen, done and learned. Less than a week. Hard to believe.

Until next time.
Kate, my friend from choir

My family
Pouring Pito!

With some of the kids

Kim, another JF came to visit. What an awesome time!

Gifts from my women groups. SO generous.

Richard, my house father teaching me how to tie a head scarf!

turned out well !!!

My friend Fausta who sold me bread

Saturday, August 2, 2008

D4 Innovation Fund Workshop

So yesterday the Storage Learn-Share-Exchange Workshop I had envisioned and started planning for a month ago took place. It was a really good day, with the representatives of my women groups came together to learn about proper care for their storage facilities for their crops and food stuffs to lead to helping them improve their food security. This workshop was made possible through support from EWB's D4 Innovation Fund. I worked with TUWODEP and MoFA (The Ministry of Food and Agriculture) to plan and create the content. We also invited the Tuna Concerned Youth Movement, a group who is working to make Tuna more attractive a d environmentally friendly, to give the women Moringa seedlings (a tree with medicinal and food properties) for their communities. This a very short explanation and some photos of the event. Please feel free to contact me to learn more!
Me and two of the women I have been working with

Anastasia and Raphael, my two coworkers

Me and my coach Josephine

All of the workshop participants, including the women, TUWODEP, and from MoFA, the District Director, Tuna AEA and District Development Officer

District Development Officer and women during the Learn-Share-Exchange

Showing women methods of improving their storage

Introductions and discussions


Faces of Ghana

A profile of some of the people I interact with on a daily basis:

Raphael (on the left)
Raphael is my boss and the Project Manager for TUWODEP. He is 45 years old, and has completed a university program in Agricultural Studies. He has two children, Tobias and Sofia and his wife Monica is a teacher. His family lives in Wa because his wife was able to get a better teaching position there. He spends his time between Tuna and Wa. Raphael is a strong, passionate and devoted person. He has been a strong support for me throughout my placement. He has been working with women groups in the area for over 15 years now. Through his drive, he has been able to start many projects and build up a strong enthusiastic network of women groups around Tuna. Some of Raphael’s biggest frustrations are with the local government and how it does not listen to the needs of its people. We went to meet the District Chief Executive here and the office was full of flat screen computers, marble floors, leather furniture and air conditioning. Tuna does not even have Phase One electricity! He also gets frustrated with dealing with donor organizations that want the priority of projects to be physically measurable results, instead of what will be the biggest benefit for the beneficiaries (yeah that’s right, this man is a true warrior for Dorothy!). One of his personal goals for the future is to attend the Coady Institute in Canada to gain knowledge and experience about development and from others in the field around the world to bring this back to Ghana and broaden revitalize his efforts here in the community.

Anastasia is my counterpart and co-worker. She is my best friend here in Ghana, half mother, half counter part, half co-conspirator to take the afternoon and go to the farm and then for a mineral. She is one of the strongest women I have ever met. She works for TUWODEP as the project assistant and also has a farm, brews pito and rears goats, pigs and fowls. She gave birth to four children but sadly only one lived. Her son, Josiah has just completed high school at age 18 (which for Ghana is young to be completing high school, especially in the Northern part of the country). He is waiting for his results to find out where he can apply for university. Her husband, Thomas is a carpenter and has his own business. They are strongly involved in the Catholic Church and Anastasia is involved in a variety of committees here in the community. She is thoughtful, caring and a genuinely nice person. She is incredibly hard working, going from 5:30 in the morning until 9:00 p.m. every night with her various commitments. She is also a great teacher, seeing as she has helped me get over a number of big hurdles I have faced since arriving in Tuna, including doing my laundry, keeping my room free of dirt and bugs and where to buy the things I need. She also helps support a number of her brothers and sister who live in surrounding communities. I met one of her brothers in the market one day and he proposed to marry me. After telling him flat out no because I have someone wonderful in Canada, I asked him how he thought he could ever afford to think of marrying me, because I would require 25 cows, 100 goats and tiger (which is interesting since they do not live here…) and he said from his sister’s support. Well at least I said no… But she is a pillar of strength in her family and the community. She is always greeting people with a caring smile and nice words. She sees unity and communication as keys to improving development work in Tuna. For the future, she hopes the further her education here in Ghana and also learn stronger computer skills.

Christina is my housemother. She is 30 years old and has two children, my little house sisters, Augustina who is 5, and Joyce who is 10. She has been married to Richard, my housefather for a number of years, but Joyce was born before she was married. She works to support her family through brewing pito (which she does very well, I have to say!), making cakes to sell and farming. Richard used to have a job driving trucks around West Africa, but stopped because he wanted to be with his family. He recently got work in the Upper West Region with the company that installs electricity in communities, but he has come home to help with the farming season, so currently Christina is supporting the family. She brews pito and sells it Sundays, Mondays at the local market and Thursdays. For me this has been a great way to meet people because they are always around our compound those days to have a drink and chat. Christina can speak a little bit of English and she has been my teacher over the past few months with help from my house sisters to teach me the local language. She often tells me about her struggles; from the money she has to come up with for school fees, medicine when the children or her or Richard are sick (which has been more and more now that the rainy season has begun), feeding the family (which includes her, Richard, his brother Titus, the girls, Rena who is Richard’s niece and myself) and having the start-up for the materials for pito. She also tells me how she misses her remaining family in Jirapa and how sometimes she wishes that she lived closer to them. However, this woman who has become my Ghanaian mother and taken such good care of me will never turn someone away from our compound for a meal or give someone small money if they are in need, even though she is struggling to get at times herself. She is giving, sharing and caring and I consider myself very lucky to be living with her and learning from her. She has taught me how to cook, put up with my struggles to wash my clothes and constantly comes to defend me from the variety of insects that seem to find my room some kind of sanctuary. I asked her what she would say to my family at home and she answered that she would send her greetings and God’s blessing for happiness. What a woman!
This woman represents for me many that I have met over the summer. She is a widow with two small children, who recently lost her husband. She has found strong support within the other women in her group in the village of Bombalanyuro. They have helped her financially, and emotionally to manage to get back on her feet after her husband’s death. She is now the sole breadwinner for her family, which includes farming, caring for her home, washing and feeding the family, caring for their livestock and participating in other income generating activities. She told me through my boss, that without the group’s support, she does not think she would be able to survive. She thinks that poverty would overcome her and she is thankful to God o be able to depend on the other women. To me, this is Dorothy. One of the many I have met, her story tugs at my heart. She inspires me to learn more, and work harder in development, to do my part, however small it may be to try and make a difference in her life.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

My mom wanted to see how I spent a typical day here in Ghana, so so I decided to show you part of my week with a photo blog! I hope that you enjoy it!
This is a wild turkey, and they are fierce animals. Pretty entertaining to watch though.

Pounding shea before it goes to be fried and then pounded again.

Babies come to our meetings too. Sometimes children look at me and smile, other times they cry. It is pretty funny, especially when they start running away, but I just smile and try to put on my friendliest face. Sometimes it works, others it doesn't!

TUWODEP t-shirts that they gave to the women a few years ago.

At one of the activity meetings in Gando, one of the villages I am working with.

Pepe - looks really nice, but is not so good on the digestive system is large quantities.

Pito, the local beer

This is how we cook our food at my house!

this feathered friend is my wake-up call. At any time from about 4:00 am until 8:00 pm

I was trying to see the pigs, but they did not like me coming into their pen.

With my fowl Bertha, and the motobike I ride to the village and my friend Elizabeth.

Meeting with the District Director of MoFA

A map of where the villages I work in

A Ghanaian traffic jam!

practicing my Dagaare with the activity

Checking out the results of a time analysis on shea nuts

Doing an activity with one of my women groups

shea nuts (right) and shea butter (left)

the Tuna Market - every Monday rain or shine...although a lot less people when it rains!

these are some of the women I work with selling their goods at the market!

fish for sale!!
Checking tomatoes...we got a deal!

My little friend at the market

Good Shepard Church, where I go to mass and sing in the choir.

Helping with shea nut cracking

Our house dog. She loves me! She always wants me to pet her! Not usual for most dogs here.

My house sisters dancing to Celine Dion on the radio!

Fresh maize! Tasty!

This is how water is carried to homes. So impressive.

After church, hanging out with my house sisters

Helping prepare supper

My house mother preparing supper

These are some of my friends from the church choir I have joined!

My house sister- she is beautiful! This is when we celebrated Canada Day!

This is a girl from one of the villages. The scars of from trying to take away pain.

This is how I bathe. Bucket baths are awesome!

This barrel is where the bathing water comes from. The stalls in the background is where we shower.

This is my house sister, Rena bringing water to the compound. I try, but it spills EVERYWHERE!