Working_in_Ghana_with_ MOFA

Saturday, July 29, 2006

HOME STRETCH…NOT THAT I AM COUNTING
July 19th

No matter how much you try not to start the countdown, it is inevitable. My weekly and daily pills are dwindling, my hygiene supplies are running low, I have nearly run out of reading materials and have a daily/weekly schedule planned for my last 4 weeks at work here in Bole. Time seems to be ticking at a higher frequency here in Ghana it seems. The days are going as fast as the night passes.

This past weekend was delightful, invigorating and indispensable. It was fantastic to have some comfort food: I fully took advantage of the pizza served in the beautiful restaurants in Tamale. I got to eat ice cream for breakfast and also ate the first chocolate bar I have had in the past 6 months…mmmm it was great! As a large group of MoFA volunteers we rented a TroTro to Kentempo Falls; a beautiful set of waterfalls tucked in a beautiful nook south of Tamale, near Kentempo (town). I didn’t think that I would go into the water, but am I ever glad that I did. The water was so invigorating; it was such a release from my daily routine (and from the 12 hour workshops with EWB). I will never forget this trip and among other great experiences I have had in Ghana, this will definitely be one of the highlights.

Every time I meet with the MoFA volunteers I learn so much. I feel re-energized and excited about the last four weeks of work. I have formed some priorities based on the impact I want to try to accomplish with my placement:
1. Try to change AEAs attitude from Technical Advisors to Development Workers: if the AEAs consider “Dorothy” as their boss, they may create better outcomes with their farmers.
2. With the last workshop I will try to make use of the information from the first two workshops
3. I will work close with 3 AEAs: understanding their job, thought processes, what they need help with, how they can use the information topics of the first two workshops and to use what was learnt in the first two workshops so that they can lead the group in the last workshop (practical field visit, activity action plans, data collection and discussion). One AEA has been working with MoFA for a while now, meanwhile the other 2 AEAs will be working together on a second field visit activity because one of these AEAs is brand new to MoFA…we will all be learning from each other.
4. Approach Data collection Guidelines.
5. MIS using algorithms and excel functions.
6. Creating a sustainable DFSN.
7. Find my “Dorothy” …I have way to many to choose from (New DAO, Sister Jane, Sister Samata: Market woman, or Bro. Mohammed: AEA).
I have 4 weeks to squeeze all of this in. I realize that I have spread out my risk on achieving IMPACT, however, I do feel that I will be focused and hard working enough to reach my priority objectives.

Being back in Bole makes me fully appreciative of the Ghanaian food. It has become far more palatable as I have become more used to the flavours, consistency and utensils (fingers). I am getting used to the fact that when you buy food in the market you should hide it till you are by yourself, unless you feel like sharing with the whole lot of people who invite themselves to your food as you are walking and eating. I am used to the garbage thrown about everywhere; I really try hard to serve as an example (holding on to my trash till I see a garbage can, so that it can be incinerated). Disrespecting the environment is not much of a concern here, not yet anyhow, but really, how concerned are Canadians, right?

Before I left for Tamale, lying in bed early, I decided to read a book that was given to me by a past Junior Fellow: Sarah Lewis. It is a beautiful book with photos of Canadian Landscapes and nature. Each picture was paired up with some thoughtful words from some remarkable Canadians. I couldn’t help but be emotional as I looked at the photos of HOME. I truly do feel at one with nature and especially when it comes to the experiences I have had in Canada while strapping on my snowboard on the peak of a mountain in the rockies, breaking the glass like water with a canoe in lake of the woods, taking a fairy ride to Vancouver Island, lying on the silky sand beaches of lake Winnipeg or being mesmerized by the colours of the trees of Mont Royal, in autumn, silhouetting McGill’s downtown campus. I thought of how much you really miss a place when you aren’t there. It made me think about my placement in Ghana; I really must take advantage of every breath I take here in this beautiful, bountiful, country that engulfs so many treasures and possibilities. Whether it be taking time to look at the lush landscape or taking more time to share with a stranger during the many greetings experienced in a day or to fully enjoy the unique cuisine of which I would never be able to reproduce back home. There are countless ways of taking in Ghana, and I must not take them for granted while I am here.

With all this being said, I have come to LOVE Ghana and I know that it will only grow stronger as I reminisce my experience upon being back in Canada! I don’t like having my next few weeks planned out because it has formed a countdown for me. It is difficult because I feel like I can stay here longer now and I don’t want to think that my time will come to a close. So, it is inevitable to count down: I will work hard in these next few weeks and try to imagine my stay here as extended past my departure and enjoy my interactions and surroundings.

Back to work…

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