Sunday, August 17, 2008

News Bytes from Ghana

July 19th saw the arrival of our friends Dave and Jan from the UK – so we were able to give our VSO work a break for 3 weeks.

The Parent Teachers Association of Brutu Kindergarten arranged a special event to celebrate the completion of the refurbishment of the Kindergarten classrooms, on Tuesday July 22nd 2008. Invited guests included Local Chiefs and Elders, the District Director of Education, VSO's who had been involved in supporting the project, as well as the schoolchildren and staff. Dave and Janet Bullock were the Guests of Honour representing the various donors from the UK; Ruth Heery (VSO and project support worker) represented the donors from Galway in Ireland.
Our VSO colleague Helen has completed her contract and has now returned, with her partner Suf, to work in the UK, she will not be replaced by VSO, and she will be greatly missed.

We had a superb, and eventful, three week holiday with Dave and Jan:
Attended unique Ghanaian ceremonial events;
Experienced unpredictable, frustrating, dubious and expensive Ghanaian and Malian Visa problems;
Enjoyed the delights of Burkina’s cuisine and service (French legacy), outdoor eating and evening jazz in Ouagadougou’s Jardin d’Amitie;
Slept on the roof under the shooting stars in a Malian, Dogon cliff village, awakened by a dawn cacophony of competing cockerels, donkeys, sheep and goats;
Climbed up and tumbled down local cliffs and rocks (used for sacrificial ceremonies – we nearly had our own!), walked 3 km to the car and drove 20 km along incredibly rough tracks and through nigh impassable wadis to get to Mopti hospital –where Malian ‘hospitality’ and Cuban doctors expertly ensured our holiday could continue;
Delighted in the vitality and contrasts of Mopti, its: people, port, the Niger and Bani rivers; boat-life, islands, the tantalising boat journey to Timbuktu - that we didn’t take (hopefully this October/November we will – want to join us?);
Endured the aggravating, over attentive sales-pitch of the jewellery sellers on the ferry across to the ancient city of Djenne with its colossal mud and stick Mosque, and its ‘feet stick in the shit of the streets’ sanitation;Suffered the tedious ‘joined-up potholes road’ via San (Mali) to the Burkina Border;
Enjoyed the hospitality of the nuns at ‘L’Eau Vive’ in Bobo Dioulassou!, the sights and sounds of Old Bobo and in particular the really warm welcome and informative visit afforded to us by our Burkinabe hosts to their magnificent and ancient Mosque;
Really appreciated a few days of rest and recuperation in the peace and tranquillity of Lawra before heading for Cape Coast;
Appreciated the hospitality of VSO friends Dave and Gloria in Cape Coast, giving us a chance to experience a ‘resident’s’ view of the squalor of the living conditions in one of Ghana’s poorest townships, as well as the opportunity to appreciate the fortitude, industry and ingenuity of the dynamic fishing community that resides alongside the former slave fort of Cape Coast Castle.
Reflected on the injustices of Cape Coast Castle’s lamentable past whilst conducted on an illuminating and highly recommendable guided tour of the Castle.
Basked in the luxury of Anomabu Beach Hotel for 3 days whilst also visiting the Kakum National Park (moderately interesting and over hyped - to us), and Hans Cottage Botel to view the crocodiles and relax.
Dropped Dave and Jan off at the Airport in Accra, and that was our excellent break!