Thursday, March 27, 2008

Issues Affecting African Children #5: In Ghana, Water is Life

It's been a while since the last IAAC post...the closer our teams get to leaving for Ghana, the more busy things become! We can't wait to get back to the children at New Life, and to help them and others!

Today's post is about something I take for granted more than anything else: water. It's so easy in the west to simply turn on a tap and drink straight from it. In Ghana, I had to get used to drinking only purified water-- not too much of a trial. When I was at New Life, they did not yet have running water, though it came while I was there. For the first few months, water was hauled every day from wells by the children. It was not entirely clean, and one of the children had an ulcer on his leg from it. That was the first time I really thought about water beyond something to drink, wash with, and play in. It was life.

Then I traveled to the hot, arid north. In the village of Larabanga, as I was being shown the village, I saw a deep wash-- completely dry-- covered in deep holes. We descended into it, and I discovered that in the rainy season, it was a large pond. Now, in the dry season, it was a dust bowl. Many of the men in the village went out every day to dig and dig until they managed to get a few feet of filthy water. Water was something I had never even thought of as a necessity-- it was just there. Suddenly, I was facing an entire village so desperate for every drop, they spent their days to gain such a meager bucket of muddy water. And they were grateful for it.

While I was there, I happened to see one of the sporadic arrivals of a government water truck. The village went mad. They brought barrels, buckets, anything that could hold water and formed a mob around the truck, desperate for the absolute necessity they were deprived of. A well was in the process of being built for the village, but for the moment, that water truck and the muddy water from the wash were all they had. Water was life-- and lack of it was death.

As the article linked above mentions, even in the metropolis of Accra, water is sometimes hard to come by. Damaged water works are a big problem, and many days, people went without running water. Lack of water for farmers means drought, and therefore less food. This increases prices of goods, upping inflation, a big problem in Ghana at the moment. Water is the absolute basis of life, it affects so many things, and yet so many people live without it. Here are a few places you can go to help: and

The Return

The directors are back, and the trip was a great success! All of the legal processes were completed to begin the school, and construction should be starting any day now! The directors were also lucky enough to meet Mr. Kingsley Eshun, who has started an orphanage near the Buduburam Refugee Camp. Luckyhill Children's Home was begun in 2001, and serves around 80 children, plus 300 that come to school! Mr. Kingsley has done amazing work, much of it with his own hands, to provide all that he can for the children there. They are still in need of much support, though they are getting help from several different avenues. We have hopes that we can continue our work with Mr. Kingsley and Luckhill!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

And They're Off!

FFCI's directors, Katherine and Blaine, are now in Ghana! After the scare with Blaine's health prior to their January trip, we weren't sure if they'd be able to make it, but they are now in Ghana and starting our school! I can't wait to see it (even partially finished) when we go over this summer.

In addition, I'd like to wish a belated Happy Independence Day to Ghana! March 6th was Ghana's 51st independence day, and to celebrate, the volunteers heading over this summer had a little party. Just a little fried plantain, Fanta, high life music, and a prep for Ghanaian culture, but it was fun!

We also have heard from one of our contacts that we will (most likely) be receiving a donation of 200 children's literacy books! This is very exciting for us-- we are building a school, after all!

I'll post more once the directors return on the developments-- and it's past time for another IAAC post. It's a busy time around here, but I'll get to it!

In the meantime, here's a pic to enjoy, since I haven't posted one in a while!

This is Prince, one of the students from my class at New Life in 05. He came into school from the village halfway through the school year. He spoke no English (though he liberally made up for it by chattering in Fante all through class), and it was a challenge just to get him to trace a line. However, he slowly improved (especially in school manners!) and was a playful, happy student and child. One of his favorite things was to "sew" cardboard pictures with string and hear me try to help him in Fante. "Ha? [Here?]" he would ask, pointing to a little hole in the cardboard. "Oho, ha [No, here]," I would respond, indicating the right hole. He would laugh in delight every time, occasionally calling to his classmates, "Bruni, wotse Fante! [The white lady is speaking Fante!]"