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Archive for October, 2011

Indeed, we are here! In so many ways it feels great! Our friend the hot sun is a bit too friendly. I am wondering how long before our bodies learn to sweat enough to cool us through out the day. Besides the joy of smacking a few tiny bugs that get through our mosquito net at night, the biggest highlight has been my first visit to the new high school facilities now placed near Pelungu. Classrooms have ceiing fans that work and lights, two features lacking at the old site.

Still, the students struggle with lack of living space. I saw the girl’s dormitory. Bunk beds are set in rows about 20 inches apart. This is good compared to the boy’s living conditions. Their accommodations are the same but the overflow of about 100 boys are left to find a place to live on their own by appealing to the community. The school enrollment is about 425, with the Freshman ( here they are called Form1) coming in late November or December not yet counted. Once the slow-moving ed system compiles the list for who goes to what school, they will come. The term “It is not easy” is said so much here that it loses meaning.

THE POWER OF KIDS TO MAKE YOU SMILE. Having ‘motoed’ (to ride a motorcycle) to the school in time for Monday Assembly, the greeting puts a smile on my face hard to erase. The remaining members of the choir that I assembled two years ago present to me two of the songs I taught them. One a “Kongo Tongo, Bongo Round,” an original that speaks of peace from village to village. It is sung in Nab’t the local language. Bravo! Bravo! It was well done! I myself had forgotten some of the words. The other was a shortened version of “Oh Susanna!”. It was really quite touching. I hope to start a choir again.

FAMILIAR FOOD! Yup! We ate our first self-prepared meal last night! Lisa did her magic tricks with tomato sauce, onions and a few other things thrown in for a great vegetarian pasta dish. Prior to this we have been eating ‘native’. I wish I could say we enjoyed that. Maybe too old for this dog to learn this new trick.

NURSE AND TEACHER’S COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP/LOAN. It is an understatement when I say there is a need. Just today, 5 people have asked for application. Were we to satisfy all, our funds would be depleted in no time. Though we mantian our desire to ‘stay small’, I am planning to make an appeal to those contributing to spread the word to get a few more contributors. I would rather do that than ask the gracious contributors for more. Plans are under way to register our own NGO in Ghana. In a perfect world, the NGO in the U.S. has a corresponding registered organization in Ghana.

SCHOOL FEEDING AND NUTRITION CENTER. We will soon take our moto across the grassy savannah to meet with the Guanwarre community about the feeding program. Reportedly, the feeding program is crucial to the success of this remote, new school. In addition, we are working to obtain information on academic achievement to help us know if the feeding is actually helping in the ways we hoped it would.

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First days in Ghana

Like most visitors to Ghana, we arrived at Kotoka Airport in Accra, the capital of Ghana, a large city teeming with humanity. And traffic. A city with over 2 million people and a marked shortage of paved roads. One could enjoy Accra much more if it did not take more than an hour, at any time of day, to crawl five miles by un-airconditioned taxi or bus. Following recent rains, the humidity was intense, but temperatures did not go much above 90 degrees, making the climate bearable. We instantly became fans of cool showers, which is a good thing considering there is no hot water at most hotels. Our good friend and mentor in Ghana, attorney Tobiga Somtim, was just around the corner from our lodging. We also met with Basko Kante, a Ghanaian friend and an Oregonian who spends about half his time Ghana. Our efforts in Ghana are greatly helped by guidance from these two men.

After we purchased a cell phone modem, a device you attach to your computer for internet access, we sweated through Accra traffic in taxi and bus rides finding someone to configure our Linux based laptop so the modem would work. It felt like nothing short of a miracle when we were actually able to connect to the internet. Another day was spent getting paperwork to register our organization in Ghana, an important step to make the student scholarship/loan program more official. The forms were surprisingly easy to get, but they are very detailed and must be TYPED in quadruplicate. Over the next few days we will be looking for a typist in Bolga to help us out.

Our chance to experience some air conditioning came on the 15 hour bus ride from Accra to Bolgatanga. We decided to pay extra (tickets were $30 each) and go by way of the “Executive Bus” at night. The bus had plenty of leg space (I think of David as ‘Daddy Long Legs’) and luxurious 30 degree reclining seats. With only ½ of a sleeping pill one could could have a mostly comfortable night. And just in case I needed to test my knee mobility, the only bathroom stop was the chance to squat in a brushy patch alongside the road; women to the right, men to the left. The stop was a good reminder of what daily life is like for most Africans.

Women who sell in the markets are transporting the bags of food and clothing. It all fits under o inside of the bus.

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