Last Day in Ghana:
This morning we joined the World Vision Ghana National office staff for worship this morning and had a short debrief meeting with the National Director, Hubert Charles, afterward. He was encouraged by our work and emphasized the importance of disseminating the findings of this project and the work of WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) in general to Ghanaian policymakers and other NGOs.
Afterward, we accompanied Rodney and Nate for a brief meeting with the National Director of Innovations for Poverty Action, an international non-profit research organization. Their office just happened to be located just across from Labadi Beach so we decided to stay in the neighborhood for lunch!
We will depart from the Accra airport just after 10 PM tonight. We appreciate your prayers as we travel home over the next day, thank you so much for your support and for keeping up with our travels on this blog. We have learned so much on this trip (and so has the World Vision staff we have been working with!) and are excited to put this knowledge into practice as we continue this project. We have also been able to see some incredible things, including Juliet, a women who uses a hand powered wheelchair, fetching water herself for the very first time in her life. We are excited to share some of these experiences with you. Also, stayed tuned for the documentary which will be completed later this semester! You can follow Derick's film blog at theghanafilm.wordpress.com.
During our last post, we shared some of the most significant things we had learned on this trip. Now, on a more light-hearted note, as we debrief this experience, we thought we would share some of our highlights and favorite moments of the trip.
Rodney's Bribe. Arriving in Accra two weeks ago, Rod was the last of the team to exit the customs area. Separated from the rest of the team, he was approached by a man in apparel that gave him the air of an airport security officer. The man said to Rodney, "You need to give me $20." Rod asked the man why and he simply insisted that Rod needed to give him $20. Assuming this must be an unusual part of Ghanaian immigrations protocol, Rodney handed him a $20 bill. Once reunited with the team, he recounted the incident. We agreed that he had just been scammed and recounted the incident to Williamson, the World Vision staff member sent to pick us up. Williamson, in turn, reported this to a group of airport security guards, who accompanied Rodney back to the man and asked him to return the money (which he did). Neither an argument nor a reprimand ensued. Thus began our through the looking glass experience of entering a different culture.
Hot Dog Pizza. In which the team looks forward to having pizza on our second night in Ghana and discovers that the more accurate translation of "pepperoni" on a Ghanaian menu is closer to "hot dog." Derick, at least, enjoyed this new delicacy. (Also, if you ever visit Ghana, please know that any time you order sausage or pepperoni, you will likely get hot dog.)
Rat poop. Elizabeth and Nate CLAIM to have observed a very large rat exiting the dining room at breakfast one day. Later that evening, about halfway through an engrossing game of Bananagrams, Elizabeth announced that she had discovered what she BELIEVES was rat poop on the very table we were using for our game. This inspired Nate to compose a lyric poem on the subject which reduced us all to tears. Please ask Nate to recite it for you the next time you see him.
Bar Cliff (So named by our driver and pump technician Gabriel). Between us, we packed not two, not three, but SEVEN boxes of Cliff Bars for "emergency sustenance" on the trip. (Mind you, this is 49 granola bars. 49!) We were glad to have them for our field days because, except for the offer of some local stew (appreciated by Evie but not so much by Elizabeth or Nate), we didn't have lunch on our days in the village. Nate graciously agreed to store our generous Cliff rations in his room. You can imagine our surprise when we discovered after our first field work day that our supply had mysteriously dwindled to about 10 bars. An accounting revealed the following: Rod: 8, Elizabeth: 3, Evie: 2, Derick: 9, Nate: "I was hungry."
Ostrich. In which Derick persuades some of the children of the Tolon community to run in front of him so he can film them running. The rest of us were interrupted in our work at the pump site by the uproarious laughter of the adults to see Derick and camera flapping across the field in hot pursuit of a tittering flock of small children. With elbows out to hold the camera, Derick looked for all the world like an ostrich herding its chicks.
Paga Chief's Compound: Otherwise known as Achala Village Tours and Museum. Otherwise known as "the Paga tourist trap." We especially appreciated the "archeological artifact" from Paga's ancient history with the Ghanaian flag on the side. You do the math.
Ode to a Latrine. Composed on our last day in Talensi. Ask Evie to sing you all the verses sometime.
Mr. Po-Poo. Nate considers this his finest moment to date in his development career. He managed to convince the fine people of Talensi that this was Rod's actual name. A coup of persuasive communication or inditement of Nate's character? We will let you be the judge.
The Chicken Frisbee. In which Elizabeth desecrates the chief's holy chicken water in search of a frisbee. (Notice how this tale has already begun to take on epic proportions.)
Skip-Bo. After two failed attempts to figure out the instructions (written for children over the age of 7) and a pretty lame experience once Derick deciphered the rules, we fail to see how this game can be considered under the category of "amusement." Take note: Despite what the packaging might say, if you're looking for a short, fun, amusing game, Skip-Bo is not for you.)
The Taxi Ride. Imagine a car. A tiny car. Not as small as a Smart Car, but a tiny, four-passenger Nissan that does not boast much more space. Now picture all five team members wedging themselves in said Nissan designed for four for the hour long ride back from the beach to our hotel in rush hour traffic. Believe us, we looked like we were riding in a clown car all piled up on top of each other in the back seat. Elizabeth laughed uncontrollably most of the way home. (And had you seen us, you probably would have too!) Thankfully for the rest of us, Elizabeth is good at maintaining bladder control while laughing.
The Officer. In which Nate gets arrested and the team goes to jail. Well, not exactly, but almost. In the middle of said taxi ride, Nate makes eye contact with a police officer patrolling a busy intersection. The officer comes over to the car, yanks open the door, starts pulling on Nate's arm and seat belt and yelling about how many people the taxi was carrying. Amazingly, the taxi driver was able to placate the officer, who responded by laughing and tweaking the taxi driver's ear (literally). We were astounded how quickly the officer's affect changed from fury to amusement. The driver claims he only explained that there was just one passenger in front (in compliance, apparently, with the law). Moral of the story: NEVER make eye contact with a police officer when dancing on the edge of the law.
Tox. In which Evie creates a new word for the purposes of winning at Bananagrams. "Tox." Meaning to intoxicate, to toxify, to curse (as in "to tox upon your houses"), to infect.
Elizabeth's negotiating skills. Look for her forthcoming video series "You Too Can Get a Good Deal," "How to Charm Your Way out of Any Sticky Situation," and "Bargaining for Dummies." Ask her to demonstrate next time you see her.
Buffalo. At breakfast in Bolga.
Evie: "Those donuts are really good. What are they called?"
Server: "Bol Float."
Evie: "Wow, a Mamprusi term I can actually remember! Thanks!"
Evie proceeds to tell the team the imaginative name for this delicious breakfast delicacy. The team proceeds to confidently ask for "buffalo" each morning at breakfasts thereafter.
In a discussion with Gabriel on the way back to Tamale, the team was informed of their error. (It's pronounced similarly to 'ball float'...not exactly the same as buffalo.)
Evie: "They are still buffalo to me!"
The wait staff is probably still laughing at us.
Nate's imitations. In the right mood, Nate can do a side-splitting imitation of French people, Russians, Ghanaians, Mexicans, a French person speaking Spanish...be careful, he may even do an imitation of you!