Bon Voyage, Mate

2-10-10

This morning I created a form for volunteers to use when we interview women who have finished repaying their loans. Afterwards, Justine, Catherine, and I sat around and ate breakfast together. When we arrived at work, we decided to buy a pack of playing cards. Ben and I went to a woman we had seen last week selling them and found out that they are only 40 pesewas (30 cents)! We bought a deck, but as soon as we began playing in the office, women piled in to repay their loans, and eventually Hayford came for a meeting with potential partners.

After lunch Hayford and I returned home to pick Catherine up. Our mission was to get her to the airport and get me to an ATM. Unfortunately there was a miscommunication so Hayford thought I wanted to go shopping at the mall and was planning to drop me off there for a while (I would have, but I didn’t feel like waiting for him to come back, nor did I feel like taking new trotro routes at night). After a quick but heartfelt goodbye Hayford and I left the airport and went to Accra Mall.

On a more awkward note, I just received several text messages from my friend Nicolas telling me that he misses me. So I totally used the “I have a fiancée” line but it didn’t deter him. His next text was “when can I take you out” (yes, via text message). So I said that I am in a serious relationship and will be away this weekend, but maybe next week (I shouldn’t have added that bit… foresight!). So he finally calls me and asks if my guy is in Ghana, and I say no (once again, foresight!) and he says next week will be fine. FML.

Anywho, at Accra Mall I got money and books (3 novels! I went for jeans…) and Hayford attempted to get an ink cartridge for his printer. Afterwards, we scouted the Greater Accra region for a used monitor, and found one that he will probably purchase tomorrow. In the evening I had dinner and sat with Justine in the common room surfing the web on our respective computers. I think tomorrow she will go to Accra and I might join if I am invited. If not, I have books to keep me company.

I no longer look at Ghana as a challenge to overcome. I have made enough friends and gotten comfortable enough with the pace of life here that I can take most things (except super creepy men) in stride. My goal is to continue to branch out over the next two months and learn more about myself, this country, and the microfinance program. One step towards this is the start of the English literacy program for loan recipients next week.

Ghanaian Practical Travel Tip #51: You can register with the Embassy online which is much less painful than navigating the streets of Accra to do so. It can also be done pre-departure.

Ghanaian Practical Travel Tip #52: Shop around for the best cell network for your needs. Networks have service in most areas and some offer better rates for domestic or international calls.

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6 Responses to “Bon Voyage, Mate”

  1. Dad Says:

    Hi Christina

    Good to see you are getting more comfortable, what kind of business do the women typically have? do they need collateral to get a loan or is based on trust and if a person gets a loan and pays it back on time does that mean they automatically qualify for another one or do they go through the process again.

    So sorry you missed the blizzard which is pounding the northeast corridor right now.

    Love You

    • christinasamuels Says:

      The women are mostly food sellers. They have small shacks that they sell out of or hawk around town (they walk with a product on their heads selling to cars, people, etc.). Also, the collateral that they need is mainly just to have someone to vouch for them. We like to see that they have savings, but usually they don’t and almost all don’t have a bank account. When the women pay back the loan they automatically get a second loan if they would like. The only thing that would change this would be if they always paid late. Microloans are really interesting. The women pay back the money because of social pressure from their loan group. This week we had two women finish and next week three are scheduled to finish.

  2. Chelsey Says:

    (asks same question as your Dad)

    Also, are you getting paid for your work here? Or are you just volunteering? When you get money from the ATM is that just your money, or is it a school program funding you being here? I am so confused lol.. I guess not keeping in touch till you were already in Africa has left me clueless on what exactly you are doing over there and learning, ect

    haha, sure took me a long time into your blog for that question to come up =)

  3. Christine Says:

    Hola Christina,

    Sorry I have not said more. Each installment of your blog is so fascinating. I am really enjoying your trip from my livingroom. I am glad to see that each day/week brings you more knowledge and comfort of Ghana and travel in general.

    Be safe.

    Christine

  4. Chelsey Says:

    (I hate that I cant go onto facebook and reply to your message because I am at work) SO…..

    Spouse fights can be major, but they are also just a part of life. He has been jobless since December and we were arguing about his parents racking up are cell minutes and the fact that he doesnt do anything all day. He has been depressed because he feels useless that he doesnt have a job, I say clean the house and you will be plenty of useless, but he still felt unimportant because he was raised that the man should work- ugh! anyways he got a job Monday so its all okay =)

    HA! I dont think I could cut it in Ghana =) I would love to travel the world but it would be hard for me to leave everything behind.

    lol I dont think they have 5 year reunions, but I suppose I could go since I am only 15 minutes from the school =) I still talk to most of the people I talked to in HS though… or they are on FB, ect….I even gave Ashley a tattoo last year =)

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