Busua Beach, Kpatia & the End.

And so my time in Ghana is coming to an end… but not without a bang! Since my last post we’ve traveled down to the coast to Asa Baako Festival, I’ve stayed 2 nights in a Ghanaian friend’s village in the north, and I’ve been busy at work trying to get everything tied up.

So first, Busua beach (and Asa Baako Festival)! This is where we visited for a long weekend due to independence day on March 6th:

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The beach was simply stunning – very serene.

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Coconut Dream was where we had breakfast each morning.

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The festival involved a stage on the beach, before moving inland for the Jungle Party at night.

Then in the week came a visit to the Nayorku community. For the Farming for Futures project, Charlie had organised for a member from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food to teach the farmers of the community on best-practice farming techniques.

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The following weekend I visited Martin’s village, Kpatia, in northern Ghana. Martin and I have been friends since meeting at the guesthouse we stayed at our for our in-country induction, and I have stayed in touch with him and been to house a couple of times throughout the 3 months. Last weekend I was privileged enough to stay with his family in his home village. After buying the food Martin said I’d require, I met him at the tro tro station after work on Friday, not knowing exactly what to expect…

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Myself and Martin’s (the man to the right of me) family! They were very welcoming.

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Before heading to Kpatia I had to buy all the drinking water that I would need. The village has no market, and is simply a collection of huts/houses dotted around the landscape. This made for a very peaceful atmosphere.

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We spend much of our time in Kpatia meeting the village people and more of Martin’s family. They were all very keen for a photo (and to see and laugh at the result), offering me the opportunity to shoot numerous families! I have printed most of the photos taken, to give to Martin who will deliver them to everyone once he returns to Kpatia again.

We climbed to the top of a nearby hill, for a fantastic view over the village.

We climbed to the top of a nearby hill, for a fantastic view over the village.

This man is searching from gold in rocks he'd dug up. The village members of Kpatia are certain there is gold, and this is backed up by the large and established gold mines in a neighboring village. Kpatia, however, does not have the money or resources to begin serious gold mining and for not is restricted to guessing and either searching like this man, or building shafts just using man power and without shaft machinery... this of course can unfortunately be very dangerous.

This man is searching from gold in dug up rocks. The village members of Kpatia are certain there is gold in the land, and this is backed up by the fact there are large and established gold mines in a neighboring village. Kpatia, however, does not have the money or resources to begin serious gold mining or prospecting and is restricted to guessing and either searching like through rocks, or building shafts just using man power and without shaft machinery… this of course can unfortunately be very dangerous.

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I was privileged enough to able to attend a funeral during my time there. Having seen the Damba Festival and also cultural performances I expected to know roughly what to expect, but this was very different in its own right! A very eye-opening experience that involved various dancing, traditional wear, fascinating instruments, and also the sacrificing of animals. Interestingly, March is the month during which people wait to have the funerals; the burials are performed around the time of death, but the cultural norm is to wait until March for the funeral to take place.

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Another photo from the funeral.

And another. The drummers formed a circle, in which it seemed that anyone could jump in a start dancing.

And another. The drummers formed a circle, in which it seemed that anyone could jump in a start dancing.

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My favourite photo from the many families I photographed.

I arrived back into Tamale on Sunday evening, exhausted but amazed at the last 48 hours. Sleeping and waking up in the huts, wandering around meeting the village people, and also visiting the gold mines in a nearby village, was certainly one of the most memorable experiences from my time in Ghana.

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Back at work and training Kamel and Hardi on how to make basic updates to the new website. The previous day I had trained Saani on the website, and the following morning he showed me a photo gallery he’d created himself from the evening after – all perfectly done! The fact the training and manual I’d given him had worked was a real boost to my hope that RAINS would be able to truly utilise the new site, in particular to raise awareness of all of their achievements and help the organsation in receiving funding from both national and international donors. A great moment is the smile on their faces when they edit something their self, and realise that editing HTML isn’t as difficult as it has to be!

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Surveys, Websites and Elephants

And so here we are again, another plog post! Last weekend we visited Mole National Park, which was absolutely fantastic. But first, this post will also contain a little update into how my work at RAINS has been going…

Last week we visited the Yama community in West Mamprusi to interview the pupils, mothers and teachers about sexual health knowledge and awareness, and also to see what they thought of our plan to bring Dinani to their community to perform a drama that taught correct sexual health knowledge and eradicate myths. Since conducting the surveys, I've been mashing the data in excel to find some shocking statistics: 67% of pupils interviewed did not what contraceptives are or had not heard of them.

Last week we visited the Yama community in West Mamprusi to interview the pupils, mothers and teachers about sexual health knowledge and awareness, and also to see what they thought of our plan to bring Dinani to their community to perform a drama that taught correct sexual health knowledge and eradicate myths. Since conducting the surveys, I’ve been mashing the data up in excel to find some shocking statistics. E.g 67% of pupils interviewed did not know what contraceptives are or had not heard of them.

One unique role I have taken on is to become RAINS's 'resident photographer' for any events, conferences or workshops they have. This is linked to my work in re-developing their website which I will go on to next. This is Hardi, the Executive Director of RAINS talking to the PTA of Kpachelo Primary School about 2014 plans for their community under one of the projects RAINS is currently leading.

One unexpected role I have taken on is to sometimes become RAINS’s ‘resident photographer’ for the events, conferences or workshops they have. It is linked to my work in re-developing their website, which I will go on to next. This is Hardi, the Executive Director of RAINS, talking to the PTA of Kpachelo Primary School about 2014 plans for their community under one of the projects RAINS is currently leading.

This is the current RAINS website, which was not only looking outdated but also heavily lacking in any content. Most areas would simply state 'coming soon...'

This is the current RAINS website, which I was dealt the task of updating. It was not only looking outdated but also heavily lacking any detailed or up to date content on the projects RAINS are undertaking.

And here we have the brand new one! Packed full of up to date information on the current projects, including recent project reports, a photo gallery and the eventual uploading of the 20 year anniversary documentary made last year. RAINS have had many great successes over the years but are always very modest about their achievements. It is vital that their accomplishments are recognized, and with the website doing just that it creates a professional front for prospective funders and for the community to be more aware of the work RAINS is undertaking. RAINS have received funding from many international charities such as Comic Relief and Hope for Children, so it is essential that they continue to develop into the 21st century in order to further promote their work.

And here we have the brand new one! Aesthetically the update is mild, but the importance lies in the fact it is now packed full of up to date information on the current projects, including recent project reports, a photo gallery and the eventual uploading of the 20 year anniversary documentary made last year. I’m now in the process of developing a ‘how to’ manual on how to do basic regular updates to the website from which I will train some of the RAINS staff, in order to make the website sustainable. RAINS have had many great successes over the years but are always very modest about their achievements. It is vital that their accomplishments are recognized, and with the website doing just that it creates a professional front for prospective funders and for the community to be more aware of the work RAINS is undertaking. RAINS have received funding from many large charities such as Comic Relief and Hope for Children over the years, so it is essential that they continue to develop into the 21st century in order to further promote their work and attract further funding from big donors. That said, with this nearing completion I am looking forward to having a hand involved with the direct ground work once again – hence the work on the sexual health stats.

Lastly, there is of course the video I'm making. Inspired by the '50 people, 1 question' series of videos, I'm asking 25 Ghanaians and 25 British people the question "Why do you think education is important?" in order to compare their answers and see how/if the two cultures differ. It's been fun making it so far, especially having the Ghanaians speaking in their local language and then having it translated by Justice and Festus for the subtitles. Some of the answers have been really fascinating!

Lastly, there is of course the video I’m making. Inspired by the ’50 people, 1 question’ series of videos, I’m asking 25 Ghanaians and 25 British people the question “Why do you think education is important?” in order to compare their answers and see how/if the two cultures differ. It’s been fun making it so far, especially having the Ghanaians speaking in their local language and then having it translated by Justice and Festus for the subtitles. Some of the answers have been really fascinating!

And then the weekend and Mole! The view at the motel where we ate lunch was simply stunning.

And then the weekend and Mole National Park! After a veery bumpy ride in a minibus, and a wrong turn that took us half an hour the wrong way, we made it.

And the view from the hotel where we had lunch was really quite something...

And the view from the hotel where we had lunch was simply stunning.

As it was getting late into the afternoon, we decided to go on the canoes and leave the safari for sunday morning. This turned out be a very lucky escape for me, and particularly the camera. I and 4 others got on the first boat and headed off all ok, but the second boat was over capacity and capsized, leaving many people wet and wrecking a fair few phones and camera as well! Never again will I take any valuables onto a canoe again...

As it was getting late into the afternoon, we decided to go on the canoes and leave the safari for sunday morning. This turned out be a very lucky escape for me, and particularly the camera. I and 4 others got on the first boat and headed off all ok, but the second boat was over capacity and capsized, leaving many people wet and wrecking a fair few phones and camera as well! Never again will I take any valuables onto a canoe again…

We spent the night in a treehouse, which took the feeling of isolation to a whole new level. It got very cold in the night though unfortunately.

We spent the night in a treehouse, which took the feeling of isolation to a whole new level and gave us a great insight into the sounds of the park at night. It got very cold in the night unfortunately; it was probably still around the mid to high teens, but it had us almost shivering.

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The following morning we got up and walked with our guard/guide back to the hotel, tracking animals occasionally along the way. Just several metres from our treehouse we found hyena tracks from the night before. We then set off on the foot safari…

We then went on the foot safari, and found elephants almost instantly. We followed them down a hill to a waterhole where we watched them for a long while.

…and found elephants almost instantly! We followed them down a hill to a waterhole where we sat and watched them for a long while. There were of course other animals, but apart from elephants Mole doesn’t have many other exotic animals unfortunately due to hunting. Still, it meant we spent a long time with the elephants! We did, however, have an amusing encounter with a baboon stealing the remainders of Charlie’s lunch.

And that was that! Rounded off with a group photo with our guide.

And that was that! Rounded off with a group photo with our guide.