The Women of Amasaman and Fise

2-5-10

Today several things were to happen. Early in the morning, a woman named Asana Farouk was to come to the office for an interview, and afterwards we were to visit the new loan group in Amasaman, before walking to the next town to visit the 7 women that sell there. All of this would have been accomplished before noon, but Asana being a typical Ghanaian failed to show up. We called to tell her a time to come so that we could start our visits, but she said she ‘was on her way’. An hour later we phoned again and she told us she was outside of our office… at 11 o’clock.

She came with two other women from the program, one of which paid off the remainder of her loan. This meant I had two interviews to conduct. The first one took a long time to complete because my questions were scattered, and Hayford, who was translating, only told me pieces of each answer, making it difficult to ask follow-up questions. I gathered, however, that she repaid her loan in nine weeks instead of sixteen because she had more products to sell and therefore got new customers. This enabled her to save 5 Cedi each day as opposed to the 2 Cedi per day she was saving before the loan. Along with this, she was able to spare 10 Cedi each week to pay back her loan.

The second woman was more difficult to understand. She paid off her loan in 11 weeks but was still only saving the exact same amount of money, 5 Cedi per week. She also didn’t use the money for home or family improvements, she only said she ‘reinvested in the business’- I am not sure how much shea butter she was buying. Interestingly, she asked for a second loan of 200 Cedi (talked down from 500) to buy even more shea butter. When she left Hayford and I discussed our confusion about where she spending the money. He suggested that she might be spending it on clothes and hair styles. He also agreed that we need to limit her second loan and suggest branching out from shea butter.

Afterwards Justine, Ben and I went to visit the women. I was wearing a long skirt and tank top, and everyone thought that I was Ghanaian! We visited the women of Amasaman, only one of which was around. She agreed to begin her bookkeeping when she bought stock with the loan. Most of the women have their sons fill in the books for them, which makes me wonder if they don’t place as much emphasis on educating girls. She also said she would pass the message on to the other women.

In Fise, we met with five of the seven women. They were all very nice, and many of them were doing well with their bookkeeping. I suggested a few days earlier that we get the women who cannot write to only put in the money that they spend and earn each day. I figure everyone can write numbers, and I was right. We’ve now begun telling women to do this. For our purposes, we will be able to measure business growth, even if we do not know particularly what areas it is in, and the women will know if they made a profit each day.

In the afternoon I got a take-away lunch from a man who spoke in Twi to me and was surprised when I said I didn’t understand. The food was amazing, partly because I hadn’t eaten since lunch the previous day (my stomach ache). Ghanaian fried rice is magical. They put escallions, carrots, green pepper, and possibly a bit of ginger in it. So freaking good! When combined with the salad plopped on top (cabbage, green pepper, escallions, ketchup, and mayonnaise) it is an explosion on your taste buds.

After eating Justine and I visited the local school that VPWA works with. She had taught French there for three months and wanted to visit the children. This school was substantially smaller and less well funded than SOS. Unfortunately I was there just before closing, so I did not get to see what academics were like. The kids seem happy however. I goofed around with several of them who were trying to push each other into the obruni.

In the evening Justine went to Kumasi and I laid in bed wallowing in painful self-pity. I watched 300 (very epic) and decided to go to Cape Coast in the morning…

Ghanaian Practical Travel Tip #45: Take-away meals in Ghana cost roughly $1 for a small portion and $1.50 for a large portion. They are usually very good and cooked well.

Ghanaian Practical Travel Tip #46: Bring a multivitamin if you can.

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