Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sounds of Cape Coast

Standard

After living in Philadelphia for two years, I naively assumed that Ghana was going to be quiet and peaceful. Man, was I wrong. The first week here, I could barely sleep due to the amount of noise at night. Here’s a bit of what you would hear if you visited Cape Coast, and many other parts of Ghana as well.

Roosters

These noisy little suckers crow every morning around 4:30 AM and randomly throughout the day. During my first couple of weeks, they would wake me up every day. I would silently curse them and attempt to fall back asleep (which never happened). Nowadays, I can sleep right through them and not even notice. It’s always funny meeting people new to Ghana as the roosters always drive them nuts.

Goats & Sheep

Animals are definitely “free range” in Ghana. Along with the chickens, goats, sheep, dogs, and cats wander around eating anything they can find.  The goats and sheep have owners who will eventually eat them, but the animals are let loose during the day. Around sundown, the animals return to their respective homes for the night.  I’ve asked several people how you know which goat is yours and have yet to receive a definite answer. I’m seen some animals spray-painted or mutilated to mark ownership. You can almost always hear the goats and sheep bleating. The goats, in particular, are hilarious because they sort of sound like whining children. The baby goats are adorable and I keep joking that I’ll bring one home with me.

Baby goats!

Baby goats!

Honking Cars

I used to think that Philadelphians were the most honk-happy folks that I’ve experienced. Well, Ghanaians beat them by a mile (or a kilometer). Drivers honk for a multitude of reasons here and each honk sound slightly different. The first is the universal angry driving honk. This is generally what I was used to hearing at home. Secondly, drivers honk to warn pedestrians to get out of their way.  Road rules are not strict at all here (Car accidents are one of the most common cause of death) and cars drive all over the place. Therefore the honk is a useful method of telling oblivious walkers to move. Lastly, taxis honk in order to get customers. These often consist of short double honks letting pedestrians know that there is room in their taxis. Occasionally it can be annoying to get honked at when you are try to walk somewhere, but a brief head shake seems to do the trick.

Children

Growing up, I wasn’t supposed to play outside by myself unless I was at my grandmother’s farm. Most of my friends had similar safety precautions as children. Here, children seem to have much more freedom to wander and play outside. I believe that this is due to the “takes a village to raise a child” mentality that Ghanaians have.  For example, Papa Kofi occasionally doesn’t have school on days that Auntie Alice still has to work. She packs him a lunch, locks up the house, and sends him out to play for the day. He spends the day out with his friends, visiting their houses, or simply wandering around. Since there are so many adults looking out for him while Auntie is at work, Papa Kofi is safe the whole time. Therefore, hearing children laughing, playing, crying, and yelling is pretty much constant.

Church/Call to Prayer

Depending on your proximity to your local church or mosque, you might be serenaded by worshippers on a regular basis. There is a small Christian church located right below my window and there are services about three times a week. Despite its small size, that church is loud. The services are in Fante, so I don’t understand most of it, but I enjoy hearing the music. A former intern lived across from a Pentecostal church that would broadcast people talking in tongues. It’s also very common to hear the Muslim “Call to Prayer” near mosques.

Advertisements

Ghana loses GH¢4.5 billion due to irregularities in use of public funds

Standard

I like the use of the term “irregularities” instead of corruption or embezzlement. C’est la vie!

Xklusives Portal

By Edmund Smith-Asante

Available figures from the Auditor-General’s Department indicate that Ghana lost GH¢4,559,976,756.76 within five years as a result of irregularities in public institutions.

Reports from the Auditor-General spanning 2008 to 2012 indicate a general trend in the rise and fall of the incidence of irregularities, with the periods 2008 to 2009 and 2010 to 2011 being noted for massive leaps.

View original post 891 more words

Happy Thanksgiving!

Standard

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States. This will be the third Thanksgiving that I’ve spent away from my family, but this is the first time I’ve truly felt alone. During the past two years, I was able to Skype with my family during dinner and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This year though, there’s no parades, no mashed potatoes, and no football (Not that I really care about dudes running around with a ball). It’s strange to be spending such an essential American holiday following my normal Ghanaian routine: breakfast, work, dinner, and bed.  Nevertheless, I find it important to express the many things that I am thankful for. So without further ado, here’s what I am thankful for:

1. Family

The more time that I spend away from my family for college or work, the more I realize how much I love and miss them. I know I’m often guilty of taking them for granted. My family has always been supportive of all of my decisions, even when they aren’t thrilled with them. For example, my parents were very nervous for me to come to Ghana. However, when the time came for me to leave, they made sure that I was prepared as possible. I definitely lucked out on the parental situation. They taught me to be independent, to value hard work, and to try new things. I also greatly admire my sister as she so many wonderful qualities that I lack. Overall, I feel very thankful to have such a wonderful family and can’t wait to see them when I return home.

2. Friends

Though I tend to be a bit of a lone wolf, I’m very grateful for my few, but mighty friends who put up with me on a regular basis. My friends challenge me to be a better person and I never fail to learn new things from them. I’m also thankful for the new friends that I’ve made here in Ghana. Without the support of my fellow obroni, I would have had a much rougher transition here.

3. Health

While I may struggle with some minor health issues, I am thankful that my loved ones and I are relatively healthy. I’m also grateful if I do happen to fail ill, I have insurance and will be able to pay for treatment. Also falling into the health category, I am thankful to live in a place with elaborate sanitation systems and to always have access to clean water.

4. Education

I am very luckily to have parents that value education and sent me to private schools throughout my life. After seeing the education system here in Ghana, I’ve come to realize how much I’ve taken my education for granted. Not only did I learn advanced mathematics and how to write properly, but my teachers also encouraged creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving. I got a lot of personal attention in my small classes, and I never had to worry about caning or any other corporal punishment. Even my ability to use technology is a blessing. So many of my coworkers are amazed at my ability to solve minor computer issues and at the speed I can complete my work on the computer. Lastly, I feel grateful for the opportunity to attend university. College is a privilege that many Americans don’t have, let alone those in less developed countries. Despite my original reluctance, I am very glad that I go to Drexel University. I feel that Drexel is really preparing me for the “real world” and is helping me to figure myself out as a person.

5. Pets

As stupid as it may sound, I’m very thankful to have healthy pets to snuggle with. Here in Ghana, pets are not as common and the ones wandering around tend to look like they’ve come out of the Sarah McLachlan animal abuse commercial. Honestly, one of the things that I’m most excited about returning home other than family and food is seeing my doggies.

6. Nationality

Many people return from traveling with very critical outlooks on their home countries. The thing is, I realize that the United States is far from perfect. The United States struggles with racism, homophobia, disdain for the poor, and many other social and economic problems. However, after living in a developing country for two months, I am extremely grateful for the liberties I enjoy simply because I happened to be born in a particular location. Despite political tension, the United States enjoys democratic elections and peaceful transfers of power. It is far less corrupt than many other countries. Unlike Ghana, I don’t have to bribe the postman for my package, and I don’t have to slip policemen money in order to drive a car between municipalities. Putting taxes aside, I can receive an education through high school for free and learn how to think independently, rather than being indoctrinated and taught to memorize. Lastly, my gender limits me far less in the United States than it would in other countries. I have more freedom to make lifestyle choices than my peers in other countries. Americans are incredibly privileged in ways that we don’t notice or take for grant. For these privileges, I am very grateful.

7. Financial Situation

Like my nationality, my family’s financial situation is simply a privilege that I was born into rather than earned. While my parents don’t have Warren Buffet’s bank account, I have never faced food insecurity or worried about shelter. Not only have my basic needs been met, but I’ve been luckily enough to experience luxuries such as being able to travel. While I pride myself on being fairly fiscally independent (Paying my rent, buying groceries, etc.), I know that my parents are a safety net and would give me money, no questions asked. I’ve worked since I was fifteen, but not entirely out of necessity. My parents encouraged me to work in order to learn the value of a dollar, how to spend money thoughtfully, and to let me buy unnecessary items like a new purse or DVD. I am privileged to be able to accept an unpaid internship. I realize many students cannot afford to forgo a paycheck just because they want to work for a particular organization. Overall, my financial situation provided me seemingly limitless choices for how I want to live and gave me opportunities that others with less money never considered.

8. Courage

This may seem cheesy or boastful, but I am thankful and proud of the courage that it took to come for Ghana. I haven’t done a lot of traveling, and most people who know me would agree that this trip is out of character for me. My boundaries have been pushed here more than I ever could have imagined. I’ve been homesick, physically sick, and generally uncomfortable several times during this trip. However, I’m proud of the experiences I’ve overcome and the strength that it took to do it. During my first two months, I’ve learned a lot about Ghana, but probably even more about myself.

 

There are countless other things that I’m thankful for and have failed to mention in this post. To me, these eight things seem the most important. I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving and remembers to acknowledge all the things that they are thankful for in their lives.

Photo on 2013-11-26 at 11.49

A Note About Work

Standard

So some of you might be wondering why I haven’t mentioned my work in any of my posts! I work for the organization Christian Rural Aid Network (CRAN) at their Kiva desk. During my first week, I learned how to process new loan requests and submit them to Kiva. Despite the constant Internet and power outages, it was a pretty good week and I was getting into the swing of things.

My second week was a bit bumpier. CRAN’s head office consisted of a series of rented offices in a building owned by an insurance company. The offices were super cramped and I had to share a desk. When I first arrived, I was told that CRAN had acquired a new building and that we would be moving maybe in the next few months. Well, it wasn’t in a few months, but a few days. Last Monday, I was told that the movers might be coming the next day (which I had off for a religious holiday). So Wednesday morning, I went to work and discovered entirely empty rooms! All my coworkers were excited and we headed out to go to the new building. When we arrived at the beautiful orange and white building, we noticed a couple of problems. First, all of the furniture was sitting outside. Secondly, there was no power or running water. The workmen had not finished our new building and the desks needed to be sanded before they were brought in. So my co-workers and I started organizing some files and went home around noon.

I haven’t worked since then. I stopped by work the next day and found the conditions to be the same. They told me to try on Monday and have a nice long weekend. Today I went to work and the building is almost finished. However, the computer network was not set up and I was not able to complete any work. After gossiping with two of my coworkers, playing spider solitaire, and briefly falling asleep, I just went home. Everyone said that the network should be set up tomorrow, but I’m not holding my breath. It is Ghana after all, and things can’t be rushed here!

Because of my project difficulties, I might be working on an internal project with ProWorld. They are partnering with CRAN and a small village west of Cape Coast to develop an agro-processing facility. I’m going to be doing some research on this and figuring out the logistics. I’m very excited about this and it will help give me something extra to do with all the recent down time I have.

Once everything settles down at work, I’ll give a more in-depth description of what I’m working on!