Waterfalls and Crocodiles

During the past 2 weekends we’ve had the chance to visit the crocodile lake in a town named Paga located at the most northerly part of Ghana, be given a very moving and informative tour around an old slave camp, and also visit Kintampo waterfalls which were beautiful and serene. What follows is, as always, my favourite photos from the experiences!

First, the crocodile lake. In Paga, the village that the lake is in, the crocodiles are sacred to the community. This is because that the legend is that a man, named Panlogo, contesting for his position as chief was fleeing an outbreak in violence when he came across a river, where he found a crocodile. Believing already that the spirit of his ancestors resided in crocodiles, Panlogo asked for help in crossing the river from the crocodile. The crocodile obeyed, and ever since the people have sworn to never harm or kill any crocodiles.

First, the crocodile lake. In Paga, the village that the lake is in, the crocodiles are sacred to the community. This is because that the legend is that a man, named Panlogo, contesting for his position as chief was fleeing an outbreak in violence when he came across a river, where he found a crocodile. Believing already that the spirit of his ancestors resided in crocodiles, Panlogo asked for help in crossing the river from the crocodile. The crocodile obeyed, and ever since the people have sworn to never harm or kill any crocodiles.

I had the rare opportunity to get seriously up close to the crocodiles...

I had the rare opportunity to get seriously up close to the crocodiles due to them being very domesticated. They lie with their mouths wide open, giving off a sinister look!

...and I mean really close. Touching one was a surreal experience. Charlie and I opted for a heartwarming photo with the crocodile.

Touching one was a surreal experience. Charlie and I opted for a heartwarming photo with the crocodile.

We were led around the slave camp by this man, who was a very good speaker and extremely passionate about the history behind the camp. This was a very moving experience, particularly when we were told about the punishments the slaves had to endure if they did not obey orders.

We were led around the slave camp by this man, who was a very good speaker and extremely passionate about the history behind the camp. This was a very moving experience, particularly when we were told about the punishments the slaves had to endure if they did not obey orders.

Just as one small example, the grooves in the rock here are what the slaves would eat their food out of. A signal would let them know that the food is ready, and then it would simply be first come first served.

Just as one small example, the grooves in the rock here are what the slaves would eat their food out of. A signal would let them know that the food is ready, and then it would simply be first come first served.

And then this weekend and Kintampo waterfalls. The region was very lush as were further down south. This was a welcome change from the desert-like conditions of Tamale and the north.

And then this weekend and Kintampo waterfalls. The region was very green and lush as were further down south. This was a very welcome change from the desert-like conditions of Tamale and the north!

This was the first of three stages of the waterfalls. Signs at each stage informed the waters path through and under the rocks. After this, the water disappears under the rocks and reappears 20 metres down stream. Interestingly, the sign says that "the volume of the water increases with more visitors present"...

This was the first of three stages of the waterfalls. Signs at each stage informed the waters path through and under the rocks. After this, the water disappears under the rocks and reappears 20 metres down stream. Interestingly, the sign says that “the volume of the water increases with more visitors present”…

We then wandered through the woods to the next stage of the waterfalls.

We then wandered through the woods to the next stage of the waterfalls.

Stage 2! At this point we took off our shoes and waded through the water, using that log as support, to head further down the stream to sit and take in the scenery.

Stage 2! At this point we took off our shoes and waded through the water, using that log as support, to head further down the stream to sit and take in the scenery. Zainab decided she didn’t want to get her feet wet and instead attempted to crawl across!

Carefully wandering down...

Carefully wandering down…

...and just taking a moment to enjoy the peacefulness.

…and just taking a moment to enjoy the peacefulness.

And the grand stage 3! This really did feel like a tropical paradise, and we spent a good hour or so here just fooling around in the water and relaxing.

And the grand stage 3! This really did feel like a tropical paradise, and we spent a good hour or so here just fooling around in the water and relaxing.

The stream directly after the waterfall.

The stream directly after the waterfall.

I may look relaxed here, but in actual fact lying down means you get battered by water. Fun though!

I may look relaxed here, but in actual fact lying down means you get battered by water…which is great fun though. The first time I tried to get behind the falling water to sit inside, I failed and slipped all the way down the platform I’m lying on in this photo…

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Step into Tamale Market

So this week I finally went into the market with my camera to try to capture the essence of it. Tamale’s central market is where we do our weekly shopping for basics like fruit and veg, whilst we get any western specific items at the supermarkets dotted around. This market can be a right pain to go around after work when trying to find what you need, but at the same time it’s full of life and fascinating to walk around. If smellography existed, this would be a perfect case for it. The mix of meats, vegetables and a hundred other things make for a unique and dynamic smelling experience – I can assure you.

Just to set the scene. The buzz of Tamale centre!

Just to set the scene. The hustle and bustle of central Tamale!

It can get a bit tightly packed at times...

A basic first peak into the market.

Vegetables, particularly onions and tomatoes, are in abundance.

Vegetables, particularly onions and tomatoes, are in abundance.

We haven't tried the meat here, and don't plan to, but I've heard it is fresh from the morning!

We haven’t tried the meat here, and don’t plan to, but I’ve heard it is fresh from the morning!

One of the many little alleyways down the market.

One of the many little alleys in the market.

And another.

And another. It can of course get very cramped when busy!

The Vodafone mobile tower dominates the skyline.

The Vodafone mobile tower dominates the skyline.

Rice, and lots of it.

Rice, and lots of it!

I was lucky enough to find a tailor willing to let me take their photograph. This guy was so willing he wanted to pose! Most sellers and it seems particularly tailors and fabric makers do not like their photos being taken.

I was lucky enough to find a tailor willing to let me take their photograph. This guy was so willing he wanted to pose! Most sellers, particularly tailors and fabric makers it would seem, do not like their photos being taken. Be sure to note the traditional Ghanaian fabric!

Men and their machines...

Sitting proudly with his sewing machine. The tailored clothes here are great. I’ve yet to have my own made but it’s only a matter of time.

This lady has the decorative sewing machines often seen being used.

This lady shows off the decorative sewing machines often seen being used.

A very 'red' picture.

Just outside the market. A very ‘red’ picture…

Just outside the market, people selling veg against the walls of the Vodafone centre. Despite the barbed wire, during the day there is a normal shop inside.

Again just next to the market, people selling veg against the walls of the Vodafone centre. Despite the barbed wire, during the day there is a normal vodafone shop inside.

Off roading, more dancing and… The Jungle Book.

So aside from the weekends, what have I been doing here!?

I’ve already spent 3 weeks working with RAINS, and things are beginning to get moving. Be sure to read my ‘about‘ section before going through this post, so you know what’s what!

Our journey so far has been successful so far, but I’ve quickly learnt of the challenges that accompany international development in my time here already – especially when it has felt like progress is slow. There are many geographical and economical issues to overcome, as well as the matter of the extremely laid back way of life here! The office work, meetings, planning, and phone calls are all the essential back work not included in this post. What follows are some of the highlights so far in the projects when we’ve been able to get out of the office and put our work directly into action.

This was for the uniform recycling project. Here we are loading the donation boxes, created by the previous volunteers, onto a pickup truck to deliver to the donor schools. We piled into the back for a fun ride... of course!

The uniform recycling project, named ‘Students for Schooling’. Here we are loading the donation boxes, created by the previous volunteers, onto a pickup truck to deliver to the donor schools. We piled into the back for a fun ride… of course!

We visited several schools, delivering and presenting the boxes.

We visited several schools, delivering and presenting the boxes. The names on the boxes are those of previous volunteers, who created the boxes, and any other people who have contributed to the project.

At each schools we got the chance to have a photo taken with some of the pupils.

At each of the donor schools we got the chance to have a photo taken with some of the pupils. The next stages of this project are mainly to begin contacting seamstresses who can adapt the donated uniform for the beneficiary schools. But first…

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…the following week we visited the beneficiary schools, which are in more rural areas a fair few miles out of Tamale. This day was absolutely exhausting, travelling for hours to visit each school and going off road what felt like 80% of the time!

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The children were incredibly interested in our arrival, as is so often the case!

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This was speaking to a teacher of one of the schools, introducing RAINS and what we hope to provide for the school. If only Festus could have looked a little more keen!

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The driver catching a short break in the shade. As I mentioned, it was an exhausting day travelling along dirt roads for hours at a time to each school. It was fascinating going into the rural areas after living in the hustle and bustle of Tamale. The rural way of life was eye-opening, but the extensive development going on was also clear – many villages had electricity, whilst those without had the poles up ready to accommodate the power lines.

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Our cinema fundraiser day, in which we put on The Jungle Book, sold popcorn, coolaid and even had Dinani perform! We were putting this on to raise funds to buy professional costumes for Dinani. After flyering the private schools around Tamale, and even managing to get a mention on local radio station Kesmi FM, it was a great success. We achieved 20% of our fundraising target in this one go, which was far beyond expectations.

We even had Dinani welcoming everyone into the RAINS offices in true style.

We even had Dinani welcoming everyone into the RAINS office in true style.

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Jill with the popcorn maker a RAINS colleague kindly lent to us. Jill’s mum sells popcorn, and so with some sneaky tricks of the trade she was creating some truly fantastic popcorn. There was, of course, none of that left by the end of the day…

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Dinani performing in the RAINS front grounds, just before the film was shown. For this project as a whole, the next key stages are to continue to raise funds for Dinani through various ways and then begin organising another sexual health based performance in West Mamprusi.

The only major project not covered here is ‘Farming For Futures’. With regard to setting up the cooperative and organising the best practice farming sessions, these are at the early stages of making contacts and meeting people. We have already made contacts within the Ministry of Food & Agriculture and with NGOs who specialise in best practice farming techniques. However, meeting people is not always easy in Ghana; timing and schedules are less of a part of the culture than in the UK.

There’s a lot to be done! As always, keep in mind this really is a just a small glimpse displaying the key progress points so far.