Monday, August 23, 2010

One Year in Ghana

Weather in Accra: This is the weather that Bob loved - a pretty constant breeze, temperature ranging from the high 70sF to the mid-80sF. Humidity is still around 70% but it doesn't feel like it because of the breeze. The rainy season here has nothing on Liberia - it rains a few times a week, but without a large accumulation.

August marks our one year anniversary in Ghana. To say this has been a stressful year would be a gross understatement. On stress scales, death of a spouse rates as number one. Add to that moving to a new country, learning about a new culture, both of us starting new work, the kids starting a new school, new church, and the list can go on. According to stress tests, I am at the highest risk for stress related illness. Yet I have been relatively healthy and I thank God for that.

Here are some reflections on living in Ghana for year one:

Electricity and water have been a blessing, in comparison to Liberia, but not entirely smooth. The water is typically off from about Thursday-Sunday, and we live off our storage tank during those days, with very slow streams. By Sunday we are seriously conserving and hoping that the water will come back on Monday. The best shower day in our house is Tuesday - great water pressure. Electricity comes and goes - for example, this past Thursday the power was off from about 10 am - 6:30 pm; Friday, off from 8 pm - 10 pm; Saturday, off from 9 am - 11:30 am. It can be frustrating because you don't know when it will go off or when it will come back on. It's really bad when your computer is downloading updates and the power shuts off.

Getting to know Ghana, her people, and her culture has been more difficult than expected due to the predominant use of Twi by most people, which is the local language, instead of English which is the official language. Additionally, the independence that we admire in the Ghanaian people also makes them a little more reserved or less welcoming. So at the end of our first year, we know we have a lot to learn about Ghana and hope that this next year will allow that to happen.

Here are some pictures from this past year that hadn't made it to the blog yet.

On my way home from teaching class on Wednesday, we paused to let the cows pass. One of the things I love about living in West Africa. Unfortunately, this wasn't too much of a problem in Liberia, but we pray that animal husbandry may continue to grow in that country, providing more meat and protein for Liberians.
Getting used to dust was a big factor in Ghana. In Liberia we lived by the ocean and there was always sand in the house, but not the same level of red dust that we have in Accra. Every day, things are covered with a fine layer of red dust (because the windows are open 24/7 and we live on a dirt road). Paper can't be left out overnight, printers and computers need to be bagged, and a daily chore is wiping down tables and desks so as not to turn everything red. The amazing thing is how clean most cars are - people here are fastidious about keeping their vehicles clean and taxi drivers, when they aren't driving, are always wiping down their cars.
Hannah and Noah had the opportunity to participate in the Model United Nations (MUN) this past year at the Kofi Annan United Nations Building. Hannah represented Brazil, Noah represented Argentina. They had to research various topics and then debate them with other representatives from various countries. It was great to see these high school students get dressed up for those days and debate real issues.One of the last pictures taken of Bob, with the group in Nigeria. In the past year, he was able to go to Mali as well. I was able to travel four times to Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia.
Writing on the back of vehicles is a very common thing and we often get a kick out of what is written. One day we saw this truck and had a good chuckle over it saying "highly inflammable" as it was filled with gas. We were still chuckling over it later in the day and mentioned it to someone else who looked at us like we were idiots and told us it was completely okay. Sure enough, flammable and inflammable both mean the same thing. Go figure. There's your English tip for the day.
As much as Accra looks like a well developed city, you don't have to drive far to see areas where poverty is prevalent. In the distance you can see many fishing boats, which are more like canoes.
Hannah had the opportunity to join the worship team at Elim International Family Church and either sings or plays the flute. The youth group is leading worship in this picture and Hannah is on the left, playing the flute.
I have met many great business people in the greater Accra area. This is a picture of a man making those little rubber feet that you find on the bottom of steel tables or chairs. He's making them out of scraps of rubber. One main difference between Ghana and Liberia is that there are many more real SMEs (small and medium size enterprises) here, which we define as having five+ employees. There is an actual middle class in Ghana.
A shot of a classic village, found in between Accra and Cape Coast.
We had a chance to visit Bob's tree in July. It has grown significantly and looks very healthy. Last Friday marked five months since his death.
A number of you have asked about the pups - all seven are doing well. Three males, four females. Dusty (the mom) has also stopped attacking our other two dogs every few minutes (especially our other female, Faith), so we are all getting sleep again. Aren't they cute?


Quawu said...

Good review of the year Renita and thanks! Hope you all are much more settled in now as we look forward to a more rewarding, peaceful and comfortable year ahead.

Quick question; are you still in contact with little Trokon and some of the other neighbors in Liberia? Just curious to know how they are doing since you all left Liberia.

Thanks again for keeping the blog up in spite, of the many challenges. We will continue to keep you’ll in prayers.



Anonymous said...

Hi, very interesting post, greetings from Greece!