Saturday 4 – Friday 11 October
Last night all but one of our volunteers arrived, in the time-tabled blackout. The Ghanaians arrived first, meeting each other by the lights of their phones as casually as you would in daylight. Later in the evening came the volunteers from the UK, held up by one missing bag (now found), who giggled at the idea whilst fumbling their way past clothes mannequins up the stairs in the dark to be greeted by the rest of the team. Something which was required in the morning when the sun came up.
Esi was actually holding an induction day for the Ghanaians at the University of Ghana on the Saturday, so those from the UK and I wandered around the neighbourhood of East Legon discovering the local mall and the sports centre before braving a tro tro into the city. It was nice to walk and talk as we took in the little things that make a big difference in culture, for example the small street stalls along the roadside selling plantain and corn and the small children playing so freely by the busy roadsides. We were also stopped by a guy named ‘Henry’ who worked at the local arts market and eagerly wanted us to visit his stall, though he was happy just to chat about Ghanaian crafts on the promise we would one day visit. I am honestly looking forward to going there soon as I’ve heard good things.
On route to Jamestown we noticed how the coastline was far from the beautiful west African beach you dream of, and more of a landfill site. It’s disheartening that in so many developing countries litter (and its impacts) seems to be such a big problem. I haven’t yet had the resources to research waste disposal and recycling here in Ghana, but I am definitely interested in doing so to see what is being done and where the opportunity lays. We also saw such a huge disparity in living conditions among the Ghanaians, from those in dilapidated tin shelters to those in secure and solid concrete compounds; but whilst Jamestown is visibly of a lower socio-economic status than other areas of Accra, it doesn’t say much for its beauty. There is so much life here, teems of boys waiting to play soccer on a dusty pitch, children scattered along the sand playing among the beech dug-out canoes, fisherman meandering around the fishing village with those out at sea working in the background. Thankfully a lovely local called Humphrey took us up to the top of the lighthouse and showed us incredible views over the whole of the city and the shoreline as the sun started to set (to the soundtrack of his slightly enhanced version of Accra’s history). At this moment being in Ghana to co-lead a team of multi-national volunteers to help alleviate poverty through supporting small businesses became real.
And then the fun started. Sunday marked the beginning of 6 days of training for the entire team in order to learn about the agricultural industry in Ghana, the challenges it’s facing and the needs of the SMEs which the volunteers will be working directly with. It was interesting from a UK point of view to see how Ghanaian lectures are held, but credit is definitely due to Esi as she had organised some fantastically inspiring and intelligent speakers for us making the overall week a success.
This weekend, everyone is eagerly awaiting to begin work but happy to be able to spend time getting to know each other better before we pair off and move into our new home stays. I’ll update next week.