September 4, 2011 at 1:37 pm (Africa, Ghana, Travel)
Tags: Northern Region, Sandema, Tamale, Upper East Region
This morning I awoke to crashing thunder and harsh winds. It was raining so hard it came through the hotel room’s bathroom ceiling. Check out time was noon so I snuggled under by two yard with my book. I had enough time to wait out the storm.
My mother always said “Rain before seven, shine before eleven.” Although it was not yet shining at eleven it was no longer raining. Since I was eager to get to Sandema to see my friends I decided to take the chance it wouldn’t rain again before I got to the station.
The tro was almost full which is lucky because we would probably leave the station within the half hour but unlucky because I had to sit in the back seat. People and luggage were piled in the seats and aisles. The aisles were hardly wide enough for a child let alone a this broad hipped woman with her two bags. Thank goodness Ghanaians are helpful. The other passengers sent my bags to the back seat while I navigated over the bags, boxes and cases in the aisles. I crammed my backpack on the floor between my feet and held my green L.L. Bean bag on my lap. There was no room under my seat or the seat in front of me to stow my bags.
At first I was excited; I was going to enjoy every minute of my last trip to Sandema. Then after about 45 minutes it was no longer exciting. My back hurt, my butt hurt, my knees were locked into position and my right side was 10 degrees hotter than my left because the person in the seat next to me was squished up against me.
After one hour and fifteen minutes I longed for the cushioned wide seats of the STC bus I had taken from Kumasi. But alas I was bouncing in the back seat of a tro tro. Just as I thought I couldn’t take it any longer we reached the outskirts of Bolga. Thank God it was only a two hour trip this time.
I alighted at the station and zoomed the last 45 minutes to Sandema in the relative comfort of a share taxi and Metro Mass Transit.
Sandema Here I Come!
May 1, 2011 at 9:33 am (Peace Corps)
Tags: Ghana, Paga, Picworo, Slave Trade, Slavery, Upper East Region, West Africa
Today I went back to the Picworo Slave Camp in Paga, Upper East Region, Ghana. Those of you who have followed this blog since the beginning will remember that about 2 years ago I went to Paga to the Pikworo Slave Camp with my sister-in-law Melanie Steward but for those who have started following later in my journey here is a link to the first Pikworo Slave Camp entry. The first time I went I didn’t bring my camera, I think I forgot it in Sandema, so I wanted to return to get some photos and share them with you.
At the reception hut we were given a price list – 7.00 GHC (Ghana Cedis) for non-Ghanaians , 3.50 GHC for Ghanaians, .70 GHC for students and a 2.00 GHC fee for taking photos. I am not sure that charging Ghanaians a higher price is the way to encourage tourism but at least they were up front about it. We Peace Corps volunteers call it a Obruni tax. However the Rofina and Portia were in bargaining mode and the four of us, the two girls, Dizzy and myself, got in for 12.00 GHC including the photo fee.
There was a small grove of trees around the reception area. The guide told us that the captives were tied to these trees after they were sold and were waiting to be sent down to the bigger slave market in Salaga. Read the rest of this entry »
April 16, 2010 at 1:27 pm (Peace Corps)
Tags: Exams, Ghana, Sandema Senior High Techical School, teaching, Upper East Region
You are managing a typing pool in your office. There are enough computers for the employees but your boss insists that they continue to use the typewriters. You are going to talk to your boss about letting the typists use the computers. Give three reasons why a computer is better than a typewriter.
Answer given by Anyina B. Kennedy
St. Kennedy Company
Post Office Box 41
St Kennedy Company
Computer is better than typewriters, our concern
To my lovely boss of St. Kennedy Company. I will like to address the concern about how work is slowing down due to the fact that we don’t have access to the computer donated to us. Boss to let you an African get a vivid picture of how a computer can be good is that the computer help word to be faster than the typewriter we using. Because the computer is powered by the electricity unlike the typewriter where human being have to use he/her hands to get words in which slows down work. Also the productivity of works high due to the compuer use and also bucaues of the computer business contact are easily transferred from on place to another with out fear. In addition to that, the computer help us to communicate to the outside world through internet which will help us get business contract else where.
Due to the numerous reasons above I would like to have the computer for as to be usng rather than the typewriter.
What I love about this is that Kennedy used his imagination and creativity to put himself in the place of the senior typewriter. And he has grasped several concepts about using the computer, i.e. connecting to the outside world, it increases productivity and can expand their business opportunities. I also love that he could see what would make a boss let them use computers. He starts saying he is concerned that work is slowing down and ends saying a computer can increase their business. The problems with writing are cosmetic and can easily be fixed with some good English tutoring but with his intelligence, insight this boy will go far.
Answer given by Nabaare Isaac T.
Although the typewriter was considered as a scientific tool for processing data, the invention or use of computers in the offices and at workplaces prove taha the typewriter is no more of good use as compared to the computer.
The use of the computer is faster than the typewriter. Because of the fastest nature of the computer, time and energy is saved. For example, the typist cannot copy information on the typewriter so if he is entitle to writer 20 pieces of letters he will suffer the pain. But if it is a computer, you can copy text and print it out of a printer is attached to the computer.
Apart from the fastest nature of the computer, the document or text created on a computer has a good quality. After writing text on the computer you can format it to give it a nice appearance and add personality to it. Infact, with the compuer,you can design any type of document you want. Tables can be created using a spreadsheet program if you are dealing with business data that involves tables.
In addition, information or date created can be saved and stored on the computer for future reference. The information of a company can be saved on the computer for future use. With the typewriter, you cannot save and store data on it. Infact, it is true that the use of the computer is far better than the typewriter.
Sometimes they just get it! Hurray!
April 14, 2010 at 1:16 pm (Peace Corps)
Tags: Ghana, Hamattan, Sand, Sandema, Seasons, Upper East Region
Today when I woke up it was foggy out. I got my camera and took the following photos. Then I had to go teach my Master’s class. After class about 10 am it was still foggy. I mentioned it. Raymond said it was not fog but dust, that the harmattan was back. WOW!
April 13, 2010 at 1:13 pm (Peace Corps)
Tags: Ghana, Sandema, Sandema Senior High Techical School, teaching, Upper East Region, Volunteer
The day started out very nicely. The morning air was cool. Very refreshing after the heat of the day before. I took my blue plastic chair, my local stool, and my small wooden side table outside to have tea and work a puzzle. As I was sitting Master Amino came by. I rose to greet him and offered him the chair. He took the chair and sat on the footstool.
We chatted small small then the real reason for his visit came. He wanted to tell me that the masters on duty were going to punish 3C. He said that they wanted to send a message that the students shouldn’t treat Madam Vicky like that. I admit that my first internal reaction was “It’s my class butt out!” But quickly I decided to take it as a compliment that they were covering my back. I asked what they planned to do to the students. He said that they would all have to kneel outside. I thanked him and he left.
I went to the classroom block about 9:15 and Master Morris was there. He said that he had made 3C kneel and that he also wanted them to write a letter of apology.
Then I went to 2B2 to give them their class test. All went well during the test. Things broke down while we were marking the exams. I turned my back and I heard students shouting “Who’s got my paper. i want my paper” then other students said “Madam they are tearing up their exams and writing new ones.
I turned and calmly said, hand in all your papers. They did. Then I sent everyone outside. Searched the room and had them come in and pull out their pockets. I was seething. It was the second time that week I had tried to help them learn and some of them were just wicked! Also I hated searching because I knew most of them were innocent and I hated violating their privacy like that. I hated having mistrust sown in that class. Now I would wonder who was cheating and suspect innocent people. That made me angriest of all.
So I shouted at them. I have never shouted at my class before. I told them that one reason I liked coming to Ghana was that the students were very committed to their faith, Christian or Muslim. I see them at prayers and going to church each Sunday. But I said that it was easy to be Christian standing in the field, holding hands, singing feel good songs. It was easy to be Muslim when you were praying in the Mosque. The hard part was the rest of the time. As I talked I could feel my throat tighten and my voice raise in pitch. I told them that outside of church or mosque, that was when it counted. Not when you were in church or the mosque but when you were in the world. I told them cheating was wrong. That when God or Allah looks down upon them cheating He feels bad that His children have gone astray. I told them I felt the same way. I asked do you want to give up your honor and integrity for a grade? By this time I was screeching as I asked what will matter when you get to Heaven? A grade or that you were an honest person.
I stopped talking. Picked up my things and left.
As I was walking down the classroom block I heard Rofina say “Now look what you have done. You have made Madam annoyed with us!”
March 24, 2010 at 6:05 am (Africa, food, Peace Corps, Volunteer)
Tags: cooking, Ghana Culture, Sandema, Upper East Region
Ever since Thanksgiving I wanted to make Crème Caramel. Twice I bought the eggs and ended up using them for something else. Today was finally the day.
Last night I took the top off two Ideal Milk cans and let them soak in warm soapy water. This morning they were sparkling clean and ready for the burned sugar and custard. So was I.
I collected the ingredients and laid them out on my cooking table. First I set the water to boil. Then I beat the eggs and sugar with a fork. Oh how I wanted a wire wisk. The eggs were somehow frothy when I added the milk to them.
Then I remembered I should have burned the sugar. While the sugar was carmelizing I greased the milk tins and the notebook paper with Moi margarine. It is by far the best margarine in Ghana.
I poured the carmelized sugar into the tins. The margaine melting made a lovely pattern and gave the sugar a sheen. Then I put the custard in. I folded a napkin (Dish towel) and put it in the bottom of the pan with the boiling water. Then put the filled milk tins on the dish towel.
I set my alarm for 30 minutes, grabbed a book and sat in my favorote chair. I could hardly wait.
The alarm rang. They were finished. Hot as the tins were I managed to loosend the sides and dump the crème caramel out on to a plate. All along I had been documenting the process with my camera. As you can see from the last picture taking photos was not the first thing on my mind.
March 21, 2010 at 6:03 am (Africa, Peace Corps, Volunteer)
Tags: Ghana Culture, Sandema, Sandema Senior High Techical School, teaching, Upper East Region
For the first day of classes I had oatmeal with raspberries (thanks Mel), and ground nut paste. I rounded it out with a slice of bread and some tea. I was ready to face the masses.
Today I would give back the end of term exams. I decided to give small prizes to the student with the highest grade in each class and a pencil to the top students. Thank you Brother Jack and Mama Doil for all the pencils. I was able to give out 150 pencils 15 to each of my 10 classes. The student with the best grade also got a pen, an American eraser and a small notebook. They students shouted their cheers, blessings and praise to my friends and family in America for thinking of them.
3A was the best class in all of form 3. They had only one C and the rest As and Bs. I handed out bubble gum and Lollypops to them. Thanks again Mom. You are the class favorite. Some students came in late and their mates even reminded me to give them some. At the end one of the students asked me to do ya da ya da. A smile came to my face and my heart beat quicker could this boy know Sienfeld? I asked him to explain. He wanted me to throw the rest of the candy in the air so they could all rush for it. I said no firmly. I could see the broken noses and stomped feet.
Coming home from class I thought surely Cantuace won’t come. Ah but she came about 10 minutes after I arrived. I told her the deal. She will fetch water for me twice a week. Tuesdays and Fridays. She will not leave anything in my house. I will give her 50 pesewa each time she fetches water.
My other girls also came back. Portia brought some girls to fetch water, so Cantuace had some help. Portia and I cooked rice and stew. Over dinner we talked about careers for girls besides nursing. It was good to have them back.
After they left I took a bath, put pomade on my feet and hands, then settled down to read a book and go to sleep.
March 15, 2010 at 5:52 am (Africa, Peace Corps, Volunteer)
Tags: Ghana Culture, Sandema, Upper East Region
Oh my I am so behind on typing my hand written entries into my blog! I just found this one.
Today I pulled up ground nuts. This morning I stepped outside to brush my teeth and the field was ful of people – students, my landlord, his family and my neighbor, Pat. After brushing my teeth I shouted “I’m coming” and walked back into the house. I put on my shorts, t-shirt and grubby shoes and ran out to join the fun.
Unlike the planting, where two people worked each row in an orderly manner, people were scattered all over the field like confetti after a parade. I watched my student, Alfred, he would lean down and spread the weeds then grav the groundnut plant with elbow bent he would then pull the plant out of the ground. When his upper arm was shoulder level he would raise his arm over his head and toss the plant into one of the large metal wash basins that were placed around the field.
I bent down to find my own plant to harvest. What
was plant and what was weed? “Asandale, let me help.” Alfred said, coming over. As he was looking for the plant he told me that there had been too much rain this season to weed.The groundnuts would have come up with the weeds because the ground was so soft. He found a plant. So that is what they look like. I uprooted my first plant with less than coordinated movements but managed to hit the wash basin when I tossed it over there. Lucky the wash basin was a big as the broadside of a barn.
We worked together for about two hours. As we filled the basins one of the girls would put it on her head and carry it back to the compound. As the walked down the bumpy dirt path between the rows, they held themselves like models on a runway. They smiled at me like I was a fashion photographer. They dumped the uprooted plants under a tree at the compound and then returned the empty basins to the field.
Around 9:30 am, the air began to get heavy and hot. We quit to eat breakfast. After breakfast we gathered under the tree and began plucking the groundnuts off the plant. Last year I sat under a different tree on a different stool at the Kampusi’s compound and did my first agricultural work in Ghana. This year I was plucking the groundnuts I had sown and harvested. I had come full circle.