Book II

2-1-10

The word of the day was transition. I threw all of my belongings into various bags in the morning and headed off to work with Senam. When we arrived I milled around, catching up on emails and researching potential graduate programs (no success…) and future internships (mild success) until noon. Hayford, the Executive Director of VPWA, said he would be there to pick me up in the afternoon, but gave no inclination as to the specific time he would be arriving; Senam’s response to this was that he would be more than happy to take me home again. I would have been more than happy to oblige.

We went for lunch through a door on the first floor of one of the many buildings at the University of Ghana- Legón, where I had my typical lunch of jollof, chicken, and plantains. We met a friend of his there (I’ve given up on remembering everyone’s name) and talked about the inadequacy of his employees and the state of the Ghana Cedi. Afterwards, we returned to the office and I called my Dad.

During this time, Hayford called to say that he was on his way, but as opposed to telephones in the U.S., there is no incoming call signal and no voicemail on the phone, so I didn’t know until he called back. At any rate, Senam gave him directions to the office and we said our goodbyes before loading my luggage into Hayford’s car, Spider, and leaving for Amasaman.

The drive over was interesting. We discussed Ghana’s economy between potholes. We stopped for petrol and watched as the attendant pumped air into the tank. Twenty cedis yielded 10 liters of gasoline instead of twenty. I also experienced my first FanIce, which is basically flash-frozen soft serve ice cream in a bag. It tasted a bit like when you blow bubbles into a milkshake and then try to drink it. Our next stop was to buy internet credits from a street vendor (I still don’t get how prepaid internet works… it’s not by the minute. I think you buy a certain amount of credits per month, which gives you access to up to a certain amount of kB worth of downloads?).

Eventually we got to the compound, where I dropped off my things and met Princess, the chief’s wife. Chief Numo is the high priest of Greater Accra and his wife’s personality matches his status. She is a large-breasted (understatement), very vocal woman who’s first question for me was if I brought her chocolate. She also stared intently at my hair as we spoke, which I later found out is an obsession of hers. Chief Numo is looking for a white second wife. Specifically American or Australian (he would be ok with an Irish woman, but probably not a Scot and definitely not a Brit).

Hayford then took me to the office in Amasaman where I met Justine, the other volunteer for the Microfinance section, and Ben, an employee. Justine is from France and speaks French and Portuguese, and is learning English during her stay here. She has completed four months of her six month program. The first three she spent teaching at a local school. I am not sure what either of the programs has to do with her career goals, as she is a Political Science major interested in Development Politics. She and I share one of the apartments at the compound which is nice, although the language barrier has proven to be a hindrance so far.

The other volunteer currently is Katherine. She will only be here until next Wednesday, however, when she will return to Australia via Dubai, then Paris, then London, then Dubai again, and then finally to Australia. She is 33, divorced, and without a ‘real job’, but seems to be rather happy with how things have turned out. Her background is in biochemistry and she began her work here in the local clinic, but has since shifted to more administrative work helping Hayford to write proposals for various grants.

In the middle of February we will get another volunteer from USAID (I think), and then at the beginning of March we will receive three more volunteers from the U.S. and Canada. Until then it will Just be Justine and I trying to survive the heat and royal family.

A bit of excitement happened yesterday at the compound. In the evening, one of the ladies who resides there came out crying and chasing after a man. He got in his car and started it, which resulted in her lying in front of it wailing at the top of her lungs. She cried out “Don’t do this, I love you so much!” and he responded something in Twi. The whole ordeal lasted a good hour before she was herded inside to finish crying. I’m still not sure what the whole thing was about.

Ghanaian Practical Travel Tip #39: Power cuts, water shortages, and internet issues are all commonplace throughout the country. Don’t wait until the last minute to do anything involving electricity or internet, and don’t be surprised if you can’t have a shower some days.

Ghanaian Random Fact #40: In absolute terms, 44.8 % of the population lives below a dollar a day while 78.5% of the population lives below two dollars a day.

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2 Responses to “Book II”

  1. Mom Says:

    I AM SOOOOO GLAD YOU ARE BACK ONLINE!!!!!!!!!!

    That said, the power cuts, water shortages and internet problems are normal and dont surprise me. It would be nice if they would schedule the outages like they do in Jamaica. You might want to plant that thought in someones head. I was surprised at the wages, only because from what you have said so far it doesnt seem like people are “suffering”, apart from the poor diet, but the stats are eerily close to Haiti. I take it the cost of living is lower and somewhat more survivable.

    Lisa says you should remember Farmville as a way to pass time, aparently herself and Duane have been taking care of your animals for you……

    Talk later,
    Mom

    • christinasamuels Says:

      I am not quite back online. Hopefully in the coming days we will be able to all have internet again. The cost of living is much lower here. With that said, I can’t imagine surviving on that little, especially with children to feed. Sorry I was foul earlier… I am just frustrated and tired.

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