Mar(k): Travel, Hiking, and "Doing Good"

musings on our life of travel and volunteering

Heading to a Community…

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This week I finally got to be a “reporter in the field”, as I headed out with a fellow VSO volunteer to some of her communities. The main objective was to interview a woman elder in a village where she is making a difference. (NB: notionally this article will be published in the April edition of the Advocate. So keep an eye on the tool bar on the RHS for this article once it is published!)

Anyhow – after an unsurprisingly delayed start to the morning, we headed off; in a 4WD completely filled with boxes of drugs for the children, as well as five of us destined for various villages. For NGOs here, every available bit of space is used when going to communities – to bring needed supplies, and needed people!

conical thatched roofs are commonplace on mud huts

So there we were – five of us in this vehicle, which theoretically had air con, but there really wasn’t any sign of it in the back seat, I can assure you! Heading down the dusty corrugated roads, African rap music playing as we slowly made our way to the community. We had bought food beforehand at a street-side seller in Tamale, because the journey is long and food hygiene/ availability where we were going is questionable. We pass women with bowls of foodstuffs on their head, bicycles laden with goods and the odd other vehicle.We observe clusters of traditional mud huts with their conical thatched roofs and groups of chickens and goats gathered together along walls where they can find a bit of shade. The earth is dry, parched – and made worse by the ubiquitous bush burning that goes on – some say it is done so that hunters can more easily forage for food (bush rats). We occasionally pass large termite mounds – some almost as tall as trees.

At the community we visit, I wonder aloud about the pile of pipes I see sitting next to the school (see photo). Here is a classic political “vote buying” story if ever there was one. This community, during the last election (late 2008) was visited by the then governing party (NPP). “Vote for us” they enthused, “and if we win the election, we will make sure your community gets water piped all the way from Tamale!” As a gesture of their “goodwill”, they brought a load of pipe (per photo) to the village. Well, the NPP lost, and the water pipes now sit in the hot sun, unused, and slowly deteriorating. Not surprisingly, there was much reporting on the massive budget blow out that was incurred in the lead up to the election. Here it is, demonstrated in action!

Now, the community is hopeful that an NGO will come and provide assistance for them to perhaps get water piped from a nearby dam. So far, there have been some “technical folk” visiting from US AID and UNICEF, so it seems the feasibility is being determined, so that issues of siltation, purification, etc… could be addressed and some use made of this pipe. No one is holding their breath…..

method for keeping medicines cool where there is no electricity....

Onto more positive subject material, I was most impressed with the delivery of these drugs and vitamins to the local community health services. The two nurses at the clinic showed me the storage area for the drugs. Being without electricity, they have a gas cylinder of the corner of their office, which is used to keep the refrigerator unit going, and hence, prolong the life of these valuable drugs. (see photo) Very impressive!

Once the drugs had been offloaded, this freed up some space in the vehicle for no fewer than six women to join us on the return journey. We were able to drop them at their village a few km’s down the road, saving them from walking in the heat of the day in very dusty conditions!

Local village women grab a lift back home

Reporter Mar, signing off for now.

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Written by Mar(k)

February 11, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Posted in Life in Ghana

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