So, Internet in Hohoe is not that reliable, so I had to wait until I got back here to update the blog.
I JUST HAD THE BEST TIME EVER! I sincerely think that I am a missing African child, and I need to go back to my homeland now. I loved Ghana so much! The people, the food, the landscape, the environment, and the overall culture! I will definitely go back there.
Getting to Ghana was pretty much a breeze because all of my connecting flights to JFK went through okay, and after being a little delayed due to people with huge suitcases who were trying to bring them on board, we finally left about 2 hours late. I thought that I would be going all the way to Africa without knowing anyone or anything, and that kind of made me nervous, but luckily on the plane I
got to sit right next to another volunteer, Maureen! By some random act of chance, Maureen and I were seated side by side the whole flight, and we were able to hit it off and talk all about the trip to come. AND, two other volunteers, Jenny and Subby (Sue – bee), were seated side by side just a few rows ahead of us, so they got to bond. It was great.
Once we got into Accra we headed up to Hohoe. It was definitely culture shock to see all of the women walking on the side of the road with the craziest things on their heads – sewing machines, baskets, wood, boxes – anything, you name it, and they were carrying it on their heads. And, there are no road rules in Ghana, as well very poor roads. It was pretty much a roller coaster ride driving around the potholes and over speed bumps every other second. The countryside is so beautiful, though, so you soon ignore the bumps.
The Volta Region is definitely gorgeous with the rainforests, lakes, hills, etc. It’s definitely breathtaking.
To reiterate, I went for three weeks with Cross Cultural Solutions. The other volunteers who were there were all amazing! They were really nice, and we all had similar interests. It was amazingly fun to hang out with the seven other volunteers.
I’ll recap quickly what all we did. We went to the Wli Waterfalls – upper and lower. We went to Mt. Afadjato and got to see the border to Togo. We went to a Monkey Sanctuary and a Snake Sanctuary. We got to see some voodoo in action and some elders and chiefs. We got to go to Cape Coast and Elmina to see the life on the seashore and the slave castles. We also went to the Kente Village where we got to see people weaving. All in all, the traveling that we did was amazing.
The best part of this trip was the volunteer experience, which is of course why I went there in the first place. Half of our time was spent at the volunteer placements and the rest was available for cultural learning. My placement was at the Hohoe District Hospital, but on our first day there the administrator told us more or less that we weren’t wanted, so I moved on to an NGO called Rural Action for the Poor (RAP). RAP does work to mobilize the savings of people in small communities who don’t have access to a bank. It was such an enlightening experience to be with this NGO and see what they do.
Basically, they go into different small communities and talk to the elders and chiefs and people of the community to set up these microfinance groups. Once the groups are organized, the field officer (FO) goes to the meetings and trains the people to start saving their money. The members of the groups do this by buying shares valued at 50 pesewas (like 50 cents) or 1 cedi (like one dollar). Each meeting they buy shares and in this way, they save money. Then, once they get enough money saved, they can start making microloans to each other with interest rates. All in all it’s a fantastic program that allows people to save and borrow and make money!
Well, now that I’ve updated you a little bit about Ghana, I’ll show some pictures, and save more good stuff for another post!