Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Life and Sankofa Updates!

Here are some updates from Amanda, who's doing some work with both Sankofa and New Life! (She previously volunteered at New Life.)

"I've talked to David and he sounds like such an amazing person. I'm so excited to be able to help out with the things he wants because he has such distinct plans for what he wants the school to become and how he is going to do it, he just needs the means. To begin he says he wants to do a full-scale farm with chickens, goats, cows, really randomly ducks, and all sorts of veggies to help pay the teachers salaries and feed the kids so we're gonna finance that. People in the village have also offered there land because they're so grateful for everything he's done. Sarah [Frank] says shes working with BlueKitabu to set up an internet cafe as well but I'm very removed from that so don't have any other deets on it.

"For New Life Derrick says he wants a technology center so we applied to Computer Aid for 10 computers. I actually think we have a really good shot of getting them and then we can add all sorts of educational games for them that I really hope they actually use. Do you remember John and Nicholas? They want to put him into an apprenticeship so he can learn a trade and then there are 5 children going into high school who will need help funding and lots of others in the coming years going so we'll help fund that too. I'm positive we'll have enough money for that and then depending on how much the farm costs (David hasn't gotten back with an estimate yet) I'm pretty sure we'll have enough money to sponsor Gloria to go to university or whatever education she would like after high school. Depending on how much we can save in the future I'm hoping we can sponsor other kids for university too.

"I am so excited for the opportunity to be able to work with David. His ability to make something from absolutely nothing is awe inspiring and I feel like with just a little bit of help he can do so much for the kids."

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Impressions of Ghana #3: Cities, Structures, and Villages

Again, it's been a while! I'm so busy right now I'm afraid blogging just doesn't happen much. I don't have many new updates, just that things are going well at New Life, and Sankofa is still in need of help and donations. Hopefully, a former New Life volunteer who is doing an internship in Senegal will be able to help a bit at Sankofa soon! I'll post details when I know more. So in the meantime, how about an "Impressions of Ghana" post!

When I first went to Ghana, I had a friend ask if I had thought they all lived in trees. I hadn't, but I also hadn't pictured the things I saw. Like most Westerners, I saw Ghana as rural villages with grass-leaf huts. While there are places that look like that, there's a lot more to Ghana!
This is the Independence Arch in Accra. It's a symbol of their independence, with the country's motto "Freedom and Justice" and the year "AD 1957" emblazoned on it. The black star is a symbol of African freedom (even their soccer team is called the Black Stars).
Traffic in Accra is comparable to traffic in any big city. It's loud, noisy, and crowded! Accra is a big city in every sense of the word.
This is a main intersection in Cape Coast, with the crab monument in the center (the crab is a symbol for Cape Coast's booming fishing trade). Lined with houses, shops, and small stands, it is often crowded with cars and pedestrians fighting for space, as there are few, if any, sidewalks in Ghana. Cape Coast has the feel of a still large but more urban city.
Not all streets in Ghana's cities are paved-- many side streets, even in larger cities like Cape Coast, are packed dirt. In smaller cities, there may not be any paved streets at all.

Some villages in Ghana are very unique-- take Nzulezo stilt village, for example. The village is built over a lake in the Amansuri wetlands, and the only way to get there from the town of Beyin is by canoe. The town has it's own "main street" (a main wooden walkway through the town), and it's residents live quite normal lives, cooking, fishing, working, going to school, and going about their lives just as anyone else might.
There are many shops in Ghana lining the streets. This one, outside Kumasi in 2005, was one of my favorites. If you look closely, you will see that this artist/sign painter chose to depict Osama bin Laden, George Bush, and Sadaam Hussein. Look even closer, and you will see the two Middle Eastern dictators looking quite pleasant, while George Bush looks rather fierce. I found this incredibly amusing.
There are, of course, those mud huts featured so prominently in Western movies and television. In the north of Ghana, these homes often have flat roofs to allow for drying grains or other things on the roof in the hot sun. You may notice a wire leading from a stick through the home's wall-- it has electricity.
This village, near Nkoranza in more central Ghana, is also a common Westerner view of Ghana. Mud huts, again, but with thatched palm or corrugated tin roofs rather than flat ones.
Here is a view of a portion of Cape Coast. Here, houses are built primarily of concrete, which weathers the climate of Ghana quite well. Apartment buildings and individual homes may often be more similar to Western homes than many expect-- they have tile floors, televisions, and furniture often reminiscent of something in your own home.
Here is another example of Ghanaian culture-- Elmina Slave Fort. These "castles" dot the coastline of Ghana, and were used in older days as forts for the various colonizers and ports for shipping out slaves. Many are now museums dedicated to remembering this tragic past with a promise never to repeat it.
Religious buildings, such as this beautiful mosque, are common in Ghana. Christian churches and Muslim mosques often stand near each other, particularly in the south (the north is primarily Muslim). Religious tolerance in Ghana is quite high.

Here is an example of a Christian church in Accra. The temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a beautiful representation of the strong Christian presence in the south of Ghana.