Thursday, April 16, 2015
A long hard day in Ghana
Wednesday, April 15, 2015: The real work begins.
I woke up constantly all night long from sore hips and an air conditioner that kept going off. We got up at 6:30 and ate at 7:00. Breakfast was complimentary with the hotel: small Western omelet, dry toast (no butter or jam), and pork and beans (a staple here in Africa). We met the district people at their offices at 8AM. Jim, April Dever and I were cramped in the back seat, with me straddling the middle. The District had about 4 people in their truck all day, with different councilors coming and going depending on which community we would be visiting. We needed to see if communities would agree to our criteria and to see if we wanted to do a water project there. The plan was to visit 6 communities. We visited 9. We spent 11 hours driving around and having 30-45 minute meetings in each area. In the morning we were happy and cool enough to be cheerful. By mid-day we wanted to shoot ourselves we were so hot. I became so sleepy that I began wearing my very dark sunglasses in the shade or building so that they couldn’t see that my eyes were closed.
April Dever and I with the head chief—the others were over other sections of a very large community of over 16,000 people. The chief wanted us to be in a picture with him and said that we would be the ‘Queen Mothers’. Clarence said that the queen mothers have more power than the chief and ask her opinion on important matters. She comes from an inherited line and will often be involved in naming a chief. Her offspring will be in line to be a chief or a queen mother, but even they are somehow elected or appointed from among the inherited line. I had never heard this before.
These children are more interested than I am—I am falling asleep. There were people hanging through the windows and doors trying to hear what was being said.
Then the afternoon came and a breath of wind blew by to cheer us up again. But later the air no longer moved and we wanted to die. The lack of sleep and heat left us exhausted. All we could think of as our entire bodies from head to toe were moist with sweat is how much we’d like to sit in the air conditioned truck; then we began to fantasize about what a shower would feel like. We began not to care what they said; we didn’t care if they balked at being asked to save 10% of the job before we’d do anything (it is for them to keep to use in repairs for their future water system). All we wanted to do was get back to the hotel.
It is not too often that you see a fancy homemade toy like this in Africa.
When we got back we ordered our food, knowing it would take about an hour to get. Some of us ordered fish. That sounds good till you realize it is deep fried and there isn’t much meat but there are a lot of bones—it was good, just hard to get at. But I love the vegetable rice we get in Africa—it is always good. Before eating we went up to our rooms to thoroughly wash our hands with soap and water, just like in our hygiene training—somehow the hand sanitizer just doesn’t feel like it’s doing its job. They have this tradition here: you get there and shake everyone’s hand--all the leaders and chiefs and committee members, etc. So first we shake their hands, and then they walk around and shake ours right afterwards. Then we give our spiel, and then they talk it to death (in a language we can’t understand so it is unusually boring for us) and then once again when we are ready to leave they shake our hands again! The communities must be full of each other’s germs!
It’s interesting that in some very large communities with lots of people to contribute to their 10 percent sometimes balk at it while tiny communities quickly agree, and their contribution would be more because there are less of them. We love small communities best because they also seem to be cleaner, even their outhouses. Some groups will have to be mentored by the District in order for them to organize themselves into committees and begin saving their monies if they want us to do a project for them. Only time will tell.
These cell phones are being charged at the bottom of a solar powered light pole in this small community.
One of the interesting things is that Africa loves speed bumps. We know this from when we served in Kenya. But the speed bumps in this area had three little ones in a row, and for some reason they beat us to death each time we had to cross them no matter how slowly we drove, and they had them everywhere!
After our long day I decided we needed to get paid overtime…my feet have once again swollen like I was 9 months along. The best news for me is this: my cough is gone, and I thought it would last a very long time like it has for my grandson. Last week when we were with ‘our’ Joseph, he said that the African sun would burn the cough out of me—I didn’t believe him; now I do!
Two more days to go, we hope not like this one.
Love, from parts unknown, in Ghana