Mid project review provided a welcome break for all the Abrobiano team; the warm showers and flushing toilets was a pleasant change from buckets of water and holes in the ground. The weekend was spent discussing the progress of each of the projects, with volunteers receiving updates on things in Adaklu and Cape Coast, as well as sharing the successes and difficulties experienced by Abrobiano Cycle 7. In a way similar to the visit of the Cape Coast team some weeks previous, hearing of the issues of others made us each appreciate our own group more. Despite occasional difficulties, the team has remained strong and united throughout the project, something we are very thankful for.
After two nights in relative luxury, we departed the hotel, waving tearfully goodbye to the swimming pool and heading to Adaklu with the rest of the Lattitude volunteers. For the UK Volunteers, each journey through Ghana is an exciting chance to see a little more of the country, if only through the dusty windows of a minibus, and it was quite a treat to see the change of scenery the Volta region provided. What remained of Sunday was spent touring around the Adaklu project, which is spread across a whole district rather than just one community like ours, although the numbers of people reached are quite similar. Attempts to play football were disturbed by declining sunlight and we returned to our host homes for the night, with those keen to see the result of the rivalry between Cape Coast and the other two projects pledging to resume the game bright and early the next morning. The evening was filled with a celebration organized by the Adaklu team; music, games, great food and even better company meant that many volunteers did not head to bed until the early hours.
Despite the late night, Monday saw an early start with teams heading to the football pitch to continue the previous day’s fight. The eventual 1-0 victory by the combined Adaklu-Abrobiano team over Cape Coast was a welcome change from the repeated defeats of the past. After breakfast prepared by the Adaklu volunteers, it was sadly time for us to say goodbye and head back to the Central region. Thankfully, we escaped the engine trouble that had plagued our journey on Friday and we were back in Abrobiano by dark. Although we had been staying in easier conditions the past few nights, we all agreed that it was nice to be home.
Tuesday we returned to work on the project. We continue to teach 16 hours a week in the local schools on the weekly topic, but as the programme progresses we are busier and busier with other concerns as well. This week’s topic, for those class groups old enough, was sexual reproductive health, something I (Robbie) particularly enjoyed teaching. Such an important subject is unlikely to be covered by Ghanaian teachers and many in the community either have very little knowledge of the basics or are uncomfortable talking about them. I found my JHS students were particularly keen to learn more and were very attentive. Being able to plan our own lessons meant we also could include vital topics such as consent, which is still not even thoroughly covered in the UK and is a real concern in Ghana, with 1 in 4 young women reportedly being coerced into sex against their will at some point.
Outside of teaching, the programme is well and truly moving now; as well as organizing further infrastructure projects, volunteers are busy planning surveys of the community to assess the overall impact of Lattitude ICS, preparing for upcoming events and much more. Each week is busier and busier and passes more and more quickly; the project end seems terrifyingly close now, a mere four weeks away.
The rest of the week continued in much the same way, with progress being affected at times by continuing power issues. All part of the fun of being in Ghana and something we have all learnt to deal with! Wednesday evening saw this week’s social at Bernadine and Sarah’s house. Far more chilled out than other socials, with less music and more conversation, an enjoyable evening was had by all with the help of the homemade spring rolls the hosts had provided.
On Thursday, hard work continued and the action research team explained the survey that was to be conducted the following morning, whilst it was the turn of Sarah and Robbie to present their My Culture Day (MCD) to the group. Sarah shared her home city of Preston and the North West, giving an insight into the cultural history of the region; whilst Robbie spent time talking about the joys of Northampton, including an insight into the local music scene, and Hull, ‘the most poetic city in England’. That evening the group celebrated Deladem’s 25th birthday, the first of two birthdays this week. Plans to dance the night away had been disrupted by an ankle injury suffered by Dela during the demolishing of Cape Coast in the football, so instead songs were sung and he was treated to a fish supper cooked by Abrobiano’s culinary queen, Vivian.
The following morning the team separated into their community engagement groups and surveyed the locals on the topic of sanitation and recycling. Competition within the team meant that a huge number of villagers were asked, with a more positive response to questions being received than expected. That afternoon Bernadine and Robbie travelled to the University of Cape Coast. Having never visited a Ghanaian university before, the trip was particularly enjoyed by Robbie, with the three-taxi journey providing another opportunity to see a little more of Ghana. Hawkers sprinting to sell their wares to passengers at every stop and the negotiating more and more passengers into an already cramped mini-bus was an awesome experience. The university campus itself was huge, far too large to travel on foot, but not really that different to universities at home.
The intention of the trip was to speak with the fisheries department about the possibility of a guest speaker coming to speak at the Farmers Day event taking place in a couple of weeks time. Farmers Day is a national event in Ghana that celebrates the efforts of fishermen and farmers to feed the population. Last year volunteers celebrated those in Abrobiano, seizing the opportunity to also engage them on a number of health topics, and we hope to build on those successes this year.The pair returned just in time to catch the end of Jack’s MCD presentation, this time on the wonders of Scarborough and Yorkshire.
The week ended with the whole team sat in our own open-air cinema (a laptop and crowd of plastic chairs) for Sellet’s birthday. Enjoyed with groundnuts, bananas and of course the second birthday cake in as many days; we watched what we could of the film before the showing was bought to an end by the inevitable power cut and subsequent deaths of not one but two laptop batteries. The film itself was a Bollywood creation; what an amazing world we live in – a group of Ghanaian and British volunteers sat in a Ghanaian fishing village, watching an Indian film on a laptop made in China!
BY ROBBIE & CLINT