Archive | July 2012

Local Food

Better than TV

(Fri July 6th)

Basket weaving attracted quite the local crowd with the ‘yevoo’ weaving! The locals clustered around to see if I had any skills, and some stayed for the entire 3-hour duration!  Turns out I’m a pretty decent basket weaver–thanks, Mom! And thanks to both of my basket coaches: Agbey, one of the teens, and the man who took his coaching job VERY seriously! Your guiding hand was much appreciated!


DIVOG (Disaster Volunteers of Ghana) is an amazing organization of local Ghanians from Ho who partner with non-profits to improve the lives of people in the villages. One of their main projects is building schools, because of the belief that knowledge is power and the future of Ghana lies in the hands of the kids. In addition to using funds donated by groups like VIDA (Volunteers for International Development and Aid), they not only oversee the building of new schools, but involve the members of the community in order for the community itself to have buy-in into the project.

Bright was my DIVOG guide for my two weeks in Mafi Tsati. He wins the award for the best Red Red ever! Red Red is a local dish of black-eyed peas in red sauce with fried plantains. Yummy!!!

Thank you Bright, and all of DIVOG, for taking such great care of me in Ghana and for introducing me to the Village of Mafi Tsati, who’s people have a special place in my hear forever and whom I plan to return to visit very soon.

Yellow Moon

(Thurs. July 5th)

Under the waning yellow moon, the village kids and I stayed out after dark playing clapping games and goofing around. Decibels rose as kids smacked each other in the head, argued, pushed, shoved and yelled to vie for their turn. These are the most relaxed, fun times because the camera is hidden away. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will not truly be able to capture the fun we’re having together, because of the “posing” that happens with the camera. For those of you who know my relationship with the camera, you know this is quite the necessary coming to terms. Picture or no picture, this evening of games and screams under the yellow moon is a moment I’ve captured forever in my memory.

Solar for Ghana

(Thurs. July 5th)

A new “yevoo” arrived today: David Lettero from Oregon brought all the equipment to install solar panels on a medical clinic in the neighboring village. David and I received a celebratory welcome of dancing, singing, and presenting of gifts: coconuts, tree nuts that have no name in English (they call it ‘eno,’ which means breast) and the most honored gift: palm wine and Schnapps. As the women pulled David and I into the circle to dance, they draped us with fabric so we could be more “appropriate” for this occasion. Thank you, ladies! I don’t mean any disrespect when I come into your midst dressed like a man (wearing pants). Note to self: next time I come to Africa, bring colorful, ankle-length dresses and wraps.

“Getting Loose” at school – Cultural Performance

(Thurs. July 5th)

At the end of the school day, the entire school gathered and a group of students where selected to do the drumming, dancing, and performing. The kids can most definitely out-dance me (by far!), but I did pretty well when one student challenged me to a handstand contest mid-dance. I got to try the drumming with a couple of tree branches–much more of an upper-arm workout than it looks!

This one’s for Katie

(This one’s for Katie and the students in the MAC class)

Many of the kids got to pick a bracelet today, thanks to Katie Proal who made all of this possible. Katie, a 9th grade student at SDA, made 100 beautiful bracelets for me to bring, and taught my students back home, who made the rest. The village kids swarmed to the bracelets like bees to the hive and I need to hand out more tomorrow. Kids without one pass me and hold their wrist out saying, “Give me one.” Can’t wait…

Village Funeral

A knock on my door startled me out of a deep, dreamless sleep. “Master?” came a low voice. I opened the door and it was one of the village men whom I’d worked along side at the project site. He informed me that there would be no work today because someone had died last night.

The funeral was held in the afternoon. Men and women, elders and children alike all gathered to pay their respects to the deceased man. Men played the drums and chanted while people danced, talked, or sat in silence. I was invited not only to see the body in the casket, but to take a picture of it. I took one out of respect for the invitation; I didn’t feel I had any business photographing the body in the open casket. It’s humbling to be included in absolutely everything here… Once again it strikes me how much these people want to share their traditions and lifestyle. When I first came to Accra I felt that this trip was blessed. Now I know and am deeply humbled by what I am experiencing here in Masi Tsati.

Dirt Hands, Happy Heart

Before I left San Diego, I was nervous. All the “Whatif’s” danced in my mind as I prepared for this journey. Now that I’m here, I’m embarrassed to admit just how nervous I was, because I can’t imagine a more welcoming and safe place. It’s true that my hands are dirty most of the day (except when I wash them first thing in the morning and when I take my “bucket shower” in the evening). But the warm greetings, the helpful, willing, curious people, and the smiling kids make my heart very happy.