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First Impressions and Reactions in Ghana

Homemade Cargo Bike

Homemade Cargo Bike

Below is a journal entry from my first day in the rural village in Ghana where I spent my eight-week Master’s internship. A quick background on what I was doing – my internship was working with a Multi-purpose Community Telecentre (basically a community center with a technology focus).  I was mostly helping them with program evaluation and did some teaching. A lot of my time ended up being about experiencing the culture and learning about village life.

The below excerpt was my first day in the village but also a major event for the Telecentre.  One of their projects is teaching bicylce repair and selling new and used bicycles.  I’ll try to insert relevant links if I can find them if I can.  Johnny is running the bike program, Osei was my supervisor, Samson was a news reporter from Ghana TV and John represented ITDP.

June 4, 2003

Today is a big day for the center. I didn’t realize how big until later. Today was the big bike show, the chance for the center to showcase the converted bikes as well as the new bikes being sold. A whole bunch of us began by putting together 20 of the new bikes so that they could be ridden. Johnny had done a great job training his students and they made the process go very quickly if not haphazardly because of the lack of tools. Many people were arriving and they bike ride began.

Homemade Tall Bike

Homemade Tall Bike

I rode, it was funny because almost everyone took off like a bullet! I took it slower and began passing people, especially up the hills! Ghana Information Services (a Land Rover with a microphone) proceeded us down the road so many people were near the road! Many started cheering Obruni [Twi for White Man] when they saw me so I would wave and say hello. Also some of the groups would cheer m on to pass someone while others would cheer for the guy I was passing.  We rode to Konongo which is about 8 miles round trip with some good hills.

I did take my time, letting people pass me until they would look back and smile! When we got back I was very hot and very sweaty! The show began with a prayer in Twi. John, Johnny, and Osei all spoke. Osei was very powerful and inspiring. Also the Deputy Minister of Roads and Transport spoke as well as some other officials from the national government. All praised the program as innovative and an example to the rest of the country. The program was recorded for a segment on Ghana TV next week.

Also during the program a group of girls did some traditional dances which were interesting, they were poetic. Also the chief and his elders were present wearing full traditional garb. A single piece of cloth wrapped toga like around the body and was held together by the left hand. Each was unique but the chief’s was very intricate looking and it had some gold pieces and very colorful. Also there was an umbrella that was held over him.  I learned later that the size of it represented his power. Chiefs have authority over the land and are to be respected in the community. It runs parallel to the state government. Samson wants me to write about about the psyche of development to understand the people working in development and also to understand what development does to the people being affected. After the program

ITDPs Bike by Trek

ITDP's Bike by Trek

I did a little dance with some of the girls who laughed hysterically!

I met one of Osei’s students who lives in Konongo. He will be working at the centre as well so that will be a great learning experience. Unfortunately, I forgot his name. I also met Effa, one of Johnny’s good friends who offered to show me around the area and also to help understand the culture better. I am a little concerned that he is more financially motivated than truly wanting to getting know me and show me his culture. Samson and I continue to have great talks. He is very interested in using his TV skills to help his country develop. I gave him some ideas of things to look into such as micro-credit lending and also Mister Rodger’s Neighborhood to interact with the kids. We had a brief talk about the transforming power of Christ and how we can be joyful despite suffering.  Later John, Johnny, and I did some welding. We just messed around with some of the steel tubing but it was an interesting way to spend part of an evening. I’m beginning to feel tired of being the only one not drinking, while I know I can I feel it is a conviction I must hold on to.

Pa ni (sp?) = respected elder

Nsu = water

I also realized that while water inside a satchel [plastic bag like container] is filtered, there are probably plenty of germs on the satchel itself as you squeeze the water into your mouth. There are lots of little lizards running around. Also there were a lot of crows this morning. All black with a little white stripe just behind the neck. Also something I never thought about before today’s bike ride was having to watch out for wandering goats on the road!

Galatians 2:10: Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Thank you for taking the time to read some of my rambling thoughts on one of my first days in Ghana. This is also a good insight into some of the great things that are happening across Africa.

Team World Vision

Team World Vision is a fund raising arm of the organization which uses ordinary people like me, to get ordinary people like you involved in ending poverty and injustice across the world. I have decided to commit the 26.2 miles of my first marathon to the memory of and in honor of the children I have met during my international travels. I can’t remember all of their names, but I have many pictures and stories.

On the right side of my blog there is a widget that will allow you to support me during this race or you can visit this secure page. I have set a goal of raising $2,000 which will help children have a chance at living to become adults across Africa.

[tags]  World Vision, Team World Vision, Ghana, Telecentre [/tags]

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