Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Remember that time like 7 or 8 years ago when the power went out for about 12 or less hours and everyone freaked out. I remember I was out at my grandparent's camp with my family... I vividly remember the ONE time the power went out for more than an hour, "The Blackout". I can guarentee not many people here remember one of the last times the power went out for more than an hour, while it's recently been happening about once a month. And nope, not everyone has a generator, we just chill (as much as one can chill in the heat). But, TIA.

Now, can you remember the last time you've not had water flowing out of your tap in Canada? Never? Ya, never. Well here, I'm living in an area where ambasadors live and my water goes off daily. Now that's TIA cause EVERYone has a polytank (big plastic cylinder that holds water) for just these situations. This is where the bucket showers come in. Not so TIA is entire neighbourhoods not having water for weeks or enough money for the water truck to come and fill up their poly tank. People have their ways of collecting water, so life continued, but that's another thing. The water in the tap isn't even drinkable for some of the people living here.

I'm not complaining about water distribution here cause it's definately in progress and a big feat, it's just that I will never think of water in the same way again. Like I have 2 buckets that I keep full of water just in case the water stops flowing. These buckets are the same 2 buckets that I use to do my wash. Now, I always feel nervous about doing a wash because the water could stop flowing half way through (with my luck this often happens) and then I'm left with half a bucket of water not knowing when the water will come back on! Talk about anxiety.

This whole blog was inspired when I was walking out of work yesterday and I saw a huge water truck spraying water into the gutter. At first I thought they had some sort of business going on, but then I realized the truck was stuck in the mud and pouring all it's water into the gutter so it would get lighter for people to push it out. I've been living with a toxic toilet, dirty clothes, showering at work or with travel wipes (due to no water coming out of the tap OR polytank for a week), and they were spraying like a tonne (ya, a tonne!) of water into the dirty gutter for nobody to use! It was painful. Not quite as painful as bucket showers with well water, but still painful.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

- basketball
Holy basketball. So my friends here, Eve and Moh have started up this basketball program that runs every Saturday. It’s basically an awesome 5 hours of trying to convert these football/soccer loving kids into basketball players. We (I try to help them) have a session in the morning with the younger kids just doing basic skills, then in the afternoon we take the older kids and try to have like a team practice. They are all super cute and super serious. We’ve been going for 6 weeks now, and each week we’ve had from 60-80 or so kids..

A couple of weeks ago, Eve and our friend were taking a taxi to the program and the taxi driver started going on about how he came to Accra when he was young and worked as a shoe shine boy for three years, then took out a loan at 60% interest to buy his first taxi. He worked 24 hours and 6 days a week for a little bit to pay of the loan as quickly as he could. Now he has 6 taxi and can get a much better interest rate. Anyways, Eve got this guy to tell all the kids about his story and it was pretty cool. He made them repeat “I can do it” after him. He also emphasized the potential of staying in Ghana, which was nice because so many people here get stuck on the idea of moving to the US.

Soo. I’ve been tagged in a couple of pictures on facebook during the program, so you should check the album out. ALSO, the NGO is called ABaCoDe (African Ball and Community Development). Eve’s friends from Canada started it in Uganda, so her and Moh have adopted it and made it their own thing in Ghana. Since it’s just starting out, they’ve been fronting a lot of the costs so far. The costs aren’t a lot, (water for the kids, t-shirts, basketballs, and paying the local staff) but it’s adding up. Anyways, if you have 5 bucks or something, feel free to help us out! http://pledgie.com/campaigns/13675

between the program and playing scrimage games in the morning, the court has really become my favourite place in ghana. it kind of feels like home

- visits
Also my brother and sister were here for a week! it was AWESOME. we spent a LOT of time in tro tros (small bus things) but we got to see a lot. in the end, we even got to feed a monkey 3 days after biking down and walking up hills hopelessly looking for a monkey sanctuary for 2.5 hours (a trek which was concluded when I asked an older lady walking this really long dirt road if there were monkeys ahead [full with monkey charades to ensure she really understood what I was saying]. being February, it also happened to be Christmas and my birthday while they were here, so I got a sweet stash of granola bars and solid stick deodorant! apart from the random rashes we all got, overall it was a really good time, but super stressful trying to show them everywhere in such a short time. and my parents are coming tomorrow!!!

Monday, January 10, 2011


Okay, work stuff first. I’ve been doing a lot of trainings. First we trained kids the difference between child work and child labour in the cocoa sector, then we prepared adults (who are going to be “patrons” of Child’s Rights Clubs) for our upcoming project where we are going to get kids to make a Child Labour Monitoring mechanism/tool thing for them and their community to use to stop and prevent hazardous forms of child labour (trying to encourage them to do child work instead which isn’t harmful to their health/development/education), THEN we trained kids how to conduct interviews and to advocate for something using the media. We are going to get them to interview juveniles who are in correctional centres to see which essential services they are receiving and what rights are being violated then the kids have to take what they’ve learnt and advocate for change where it’s needed. That’s the most of it. The trainings are pretty fun. What’s even better is reading their evaluation forms for the training. Some of them complain of other students being late and others note a copy the clapping pattern kind of game that we played as the “most difficult part of the training”.

Don’t Laugh
So public transit here involves these Volkswagen van kinda things that seat about twenty people. The side door to get into some of them are a little lower than most people are prepared for, so everyone is always hitting their head as they’re getting in and out, and every time it happens, everyone says “Sorry oh.” Because they are sorry for making the person hit their head? Anyways, they are usually sympathetic, so when I was with my Canadian friend/colleague (Eve) and I bumped MY head, her Canadian intuition to laugh at pain was not well received. People couldn’t understand why I was smiling and she was laughing, one lady gave Eve the DIRTIEST look and asked her, “Why are you laughing?!” as if Eve had just banged my head on the door frame or something. Note to self, continue feeling bad for other people’s clumsiness. Their sympathy is actually nice most of the times. If you trip or something, a stranger will be saying sorry and making sure you’re okay. Sometimes they’ll just laugh at you, but usually people are comforting.

Spending Christmas in a hot place is definitely one of the weirdest things ever. I thought the city of Accra was definitely loosing it when they put a very oversized Christmas tree at one of the major intersections. It’s 30 degrees, why are they thinking that’s its anywhere close to December. After checking my calendar, sure enough, they were right, it WAS December. but there was no snow, how could it be anything after august. Part of me still feels like I’ve only been here for like 2 months because it’s been the same season the entire time I’ve been here (while Ghanaians will argue that it’s actually just turned into the dry season, I’m sure they’ve just made imaginary seasons because they were jealous of our winter, it’s still just as hot and just as sweaty). Anyways, I think it’s for the best because Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t really miss it too much cause it didn’t really feel like it. I guess it also helps that most people here don’t really do the Christmas thing. I think a bunch of people go to church and such, but mostly it’s just a normal day that everyone gets to take off work. ALSO, people actually say “X-Mas” like the phrase, “Happy X-Mas” was seriously said to me.

New identity
So here in Ghana, they call foreigners obruni. It’s been getting pretty old lately cause around EVERY corner, someone finds it necessary to yell obruni, not because they want to talk to you, or warn you of a potential life threat, but just to point out the fact that you’re white. Because of this, I have warmly welcomed my new classification as Chinese. I think it’s because of my latest hair “chop” (I went to the barber shop next door to my work for a $4 hair cut. after I woke the guy up and educated him on the need to wet my hair before cutting it [which he did with a bowl of water] he tried to cut my hair, but his scissors were to dull. He said, “I don’t know what to do.” then pulled out a blade mechanism thing that they used shave men’s beards in the old days and started hacking away. he wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted because the woman in the picture I showed him had blonde hair, and that just confused him, so he got creative. anyways, after a little guidance and a week of growing, it’s cool now.) So now, I think about six times I’ve been walking down the street and kids yell after me, “China! China!” and I wave.