Monday, September 20, 2010


So 2 months into my 12 month stay in Ghana, the hard disk in my computer decides to stop spinning (so I’ve been told). Fortunately I haven’t really needed the computer for work because we’ve been out of the office. I’ve been going around with my boss and 3 regional representatives to 3 different regions. We do 2 districts in each region a week, with 5 communities in each district for a total of 30 communities! It’s all part of the monitoring of a Juvenile Justice project we are running. In each community we are quizzing the kids on the Juvenile Justice Act to see if the training they earlier received was effective. We also collect letters from a locked reporting box, which is for the kids to report problems in their lives or community. For the most part my role was camera lady and observer as I couldn’t participate much because most of the trip was immersed in Twi.

A couple of weekends ago I spent some time in a city about 3 hours away called Cape Coast. While I was there I got to see a lot of sheep. In Accra, I’m sure there are tones of sheep, I guess I just haven’t found out where they chill. Anyways, my new discovery is that the sound they make is ridiculous. It’s like the sound that requires the least amount of energy, like a belch of sound that starts with a B. I was also told that in Ghana, if you call someone sheepish it’s a big insult, because sheep are so dumb. While the goats here don’t seem that bright either, apparently sheep are extra talented at ignoring cars and getting hit. It’s so strange how in Canada, we say sheepish people are shy. Why would we do that? Don’t all farm animals generally run away from humans? I’m not sure, but from the goats, chickens, turkeys, and sheep that I’ve met, they are equally aware that they are next for dinner. Anyways, sounds of sheep= cool. BUT, the sound of chicks are the most peaceful and relaxing.

A lesson for all IDSers. My friend recently told me of a time when she was coming down with a fever and suspected malaria. Remembering that Malarone (the pill we take everyday to prevent malaria) is also used to cure malaria and not wanting to sit and wait to see a doctor, she self-prescribed 4 malarone and a multivitamin. Surprisingly, the next day she felt even worse and finally went to see the doctor who told her she had an ear infection and that 4 malaria probably made her feel worse. Anyways… true story, go see a doctor!

The Dress Making Trilogy
So the fabric you can buy here is BEAUTIFUL. It’s full of colours and the randomest patterns (Brianna heaven). So after buying 10 yards of fabric, I decided to get a dress made (which takes about 2 yards), and that was a process. It began with me telling Tanko (an 18 yr old boy on my compound) that I liked his pants (made of flowery blue lace). He then told me that the guy who made them lives just next door and he would bring me to him. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity, so when he came to my compound to take my measurements and ask me what style I wanted, I asked him to show me some pictures of examples of styles I could pick from. He came back with a SEARS catalogue from the 70s. Yam that’s what he thought would be appropriate for me to pick from. That was the first indication that this dress would cause me some problems. The next day he brought the dress he had made over to see if he should make any adjustments. For some reason, regardless of the measurements he had taken, he decided I would grow large boobs overnight or something and made the chest extra wide. Using a bunch of hand actions, I think I explained to him the changes that I wanted. Over the next couple of days I went into “the field”; being unable to reach me, he decided the best thing to do would be to start a 2nd dress. When I got back and found this out, I reminded hum that we actually had a conversation where he said, “oh, this is 6 yards of fabric, so you want 3 dresses?” and I said, “No thanks, just one.” After unintentionally hurting his feelings a little bit by requesting for the unfinished dress, I finally got it back along with the finished dress. I’ve been told I look like a little African girl in it. Cool? Also have been told that my mistake was expecting boys to make girl clothing. While I like to think that girls and boys can do everything equally well, I think I’ll have to stick with the stereotype on this one.

Life lesson being actively learned
I don’t know about anybody else, but for me, I just kind of learn my life lessons by living life. Never really thinking about it or having to try really hard (to learn life lessons). Well until now I guess. The life lesson I am currently and actively working on is rolling with the punches. Whether it’s things constantly going “missing”, technology/my bike failing me, friends going home 8 months too early, being constantly viewed as a source of money or visa rather than a human being, or even the expected glitches of living in a new and different country, the punches keep coming. It starts to feel like Ghana is saying, “Brianna, you don’t really belong here.” My dad helped me realize that even when the punches keep coming in a situation like this, you have no choice but to roll. I thought that maybe I was doing everything wrong or that I should somehow fix the mishaps that were happening, but really, what did I expect? These things are out of my control (I guess), I just have to move on? On the bright side, I had access to a buffet 5 times over the past week! It was awesome. So many vegetables and cheese! Mmm. Definitely made up for all of the punches

Well tomorrow is a holiday for Ghana, so hopefully going to beach.