The People of Ghana

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This absolutely delightful little girl was given a tiny packet of biscuits after church is relishing them.
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These are the Young Women of the Kenten Branch of the church where Elder Wood is temporarily serving as the branch president.
I taught them today as they had no teacher. They were amazing.  Eric’s sister Linda is on the left and Nancy on the right. The lovely girl in the centre told me her name and I couldn’t understand what she was saying.  I didn’t want to embarrass her as she said it three times so next time I will get them all to write their names for me.
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Above On the left:  Elder Vuakatange, currently serving in Techiman from Fiji:  Centre Behie Matthew Achiri: Right Elder Dudley from the USA.

Yesterday Matthew was baptised.  He is nineteen and is completing his senior high school year. Matthew came to his baptism and was completely on his own.  No fanfare or family accompanied hm and was baptised by immersion in the water. Today at church he was invited to bare his testimony.  What an inspirational young man he is. Matthew is very sincere, clever, focused and respectful.

I mentally compared him to a young man we spoke to this week who has chosen another path.  I  felt to tell him if he continued on the road he was taking he would soon be in prison. He had a friend participate in a robbery at knife point on Monica Kyereme, the mother who sews to support her children in Sunyani.  She was attacked in the dark, had her new phone stolen, her arm cut and was thrown to the ground and was left terrified and bruised.  Unfortunately like any country in the world there are good and ugly people.  Ghana has them both.  To see the path that Matthew chose was so refreshing to me.
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Every week in our church families are assigned to clean the chapel.  When I arrived at this chapel these little darlings had the rubber gloves on and were doing their part?!
A few weeks back we traveled out into the back blocks of Ghana to a place called Nchira.  We were taking a young man, who wants to serve a mission, to his village to try and get a weigh card for him.  When babies are born in Ghana they are weighed and are given inoculations which are then recorded for the first year of their lives.  If he could get a copy of his weigh card it would mean he doesn’t have to have several of the inoculations required to serve a mission.  We arrived in this tiny village and were directed to a clinic.  Above is Martha who is the midwife at the clinic. What a great lady she is.  She has delivered hundreds of babies and has a huge personality.  She is very informed about many subjects, and has been highly trained in her role as a midwife. Martha has been practising for over thirty years.  We have become friends and yesterday she travelled to Techiman to have lunch with us even though she had no sleep as she had had a delivery that took her through the night.
The quality of the picture is not good as it was dark and I think the person who took it was a bit shaky.

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A few weeks back we traveled out into the back blocks of Ghana to a place called Nchira.  We were taking a young man, who wants to serve a mission, to his village to try and get a weigh card for him.  When babies are born in Ghana they are weighed and are given inoculations which are then recorded for the first year of their lives.  If he could get a copy of his weigh card it would mean he doesn’t have to have several of the inoculations required to serve a mission.  We arrived in this tiny village and were directed to a clinic.  Above is Agatha who is the midwife at the clinic. What a great lady she is.  She has delivered hundreds of babies and has a huge personality.  She is very informed about many subjects, and has been highly trained in her role as a midwife.  Agatha has been practising for over thirty years.  We have become friends and yesterday she travelled to Techiman to have lunch with us even though she had no sleep as she had had a delivery that took her through the night.
The quality of the picture is not good as it was dark and I think the person who took it was a bit shaky.

Bits and Bobs

Below is a tuk tuk that has become an increasingly popular form of transport here in Techiman. It has a twin cylinder petrol, motorbike engine in it.  They seem to be mostly used as taxis and are taking  over the streets.
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Above are yams. The texture of a yam, which is a tuber, is a little like a potato but drier. It is high in starch and very low in protein.  A yam can grow up to seventy kilos in weight but the average harvested yam is usually between five and ten kilos. They take from six to ten months to grow.  Yams here are typically harvested by hand using sticks, spades or a digger.  Wood based tools are preferred as they are less likely to damage the yam tuber.  Harvesting is extremely labour intensive and physically demanding.  It involves standing, bending and squatting.  Yam is often boiled.  It also is cut into wedges and fried in oil and served as Yam chips.  Another way of serving yam is it is made into fufu instead of using cassava or plantain or cocoyam.  This soft dough is traditionally eaten with any of the varieties of Ghanaian soup. It is popular in Northern and southeastern Ghana. The ladies above carrying the yam on their heads could have conservatively up to eighty kilos in their bowls.  I tried to pick up a bowl and it was way to heavy for this Obruni lady to even lift off the ground.\IMG_4539
I showed this photo to Eric and asked what it was.  I was given a Twi name and after discussion figured it was a cricket.  It was on the gates to our property when I went to padlock them.  It wasn’t bigger then about five centimetres and rather stunning I thought.
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These gorgeous little girls were playing together cooking.  They had three rusty old tins, a broken plastic jar and a spoon, which I suspect had all come from the garbage pile, and they were happily mixing and filling up their containers, with dirt and water.
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Eric and Rick in Accra  the day after Eric was told he had been granted his visa to the United States.  This photo was taken in the gardens of a hotel we stayed at in Accra. It was a very nice place. I had booked into another motel four days before we left Techiman.  As we were travelling to Accra they phoned and said they were over booked and we didn’t have a room. When we arrived late in the day we drove down a back street near the Accra Temple and found this gorgeous accomodation.

Water for Everyone!

A sign at Holy Family Hospital in Techiman.  Carol Sharrocks, Rick’s sister visiting from England laughed at many of  the signs in Ghana.  This one is a gem.
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Above is Phillip who is an artist at the cultural centre in Kumasi.  He was  born in Techiman.  I have two paintings that he has done for me.  Below is one painting he painted of Techiman. He’s a smart, talented, very confident young man and I was very impressed as he knew where New Zealand was.  Most Ghanaian people think we are from the US…..of course I correct them.  Maybe one in one hundred people will know of Australia or New Zealand.
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My painting of Techiman.
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Last Tuesday Rick, myself and Carol went to the handing over ceremonies of two magnificent water wells that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints had constructed, drilled and built.  When the handing over ceremony is completed the community’s that have benefited from them are then responsible for the maintenance of the wells. One well was at a large high school of over two thousand students, who were mostly boarders in the small town at Akumadan.   The other was in the village of Nkenkaasu.
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A big ram given as a gift of appreciation to the Redlins, the Church humanitarian couple from Accra who are responsible for these projects.  A huge bowl of Yams was also presented to them.  I laughed inwardly as I imagined them putting the ram into the back of their truck and driving the seven hours to Accra. It was amusing until gallant Rick offered to take it for them and dispense of it to a worthy cause.  Elder Redlin spoke with the community leaders and he gifted it back to an orphanage in Nkenkaasu.  We did accept the yams and have given most away.
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Carol, Ricks sister with a few students and a teacher at Akumadan High School.  All of the students came to a big assembly for the water well handing over.  There was much clapping and cheering at the assembly.
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Below Carol with Daniel a little boy from the village of Nkenkaasu.  In the background is a poly tank on a stand which is part of the new water system  for the village.

On Safari at Mole National Park

Mole is Ghanas largest and most developed wildlife refuge and is situated in northwest Ghana on grassland savanna.  Sunday afternoon we drove to Mole on mostly excellent roads. It was a three and a half hour drive from Techiman and we stayed one night.  The park covers about four thousand eight hundred kilometres and is home to over ninety three types of mammal species.  The large mammals of the park include an elepant population, hippos, buffalos and warthogs.  The park is considered a primary African reserve for antelope species including kob, waterbuck, hartebeests , and the bushbuck. On a three hour safari this morning, which started at six thirty, we did get to see a few of these animals.

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Above is the Land Cruiser that we toured the park in. The tree on the right  is a Rosewood that are now very endangeredand and face extinction.

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A buck Kob antelope.
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Warthogs grazing.
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These Baboons were very close. We did see some monkeys at a distance.  Most of the animals moved too quickly to photograph.
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A waterhole below the lodge where we stayed.  Elephants, antelopes, and warthogs use it.   We did hear crocodiles but didn’t see them.
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More antelopes.  I can’t remember what species this is.

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We saw these antelopes as we were driving into the lodge on Sunday night.
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Sadly as gorgeous as this elephant is it was the only one we saw in Mole and was housed inside the lodge foyer!!!

Moving, Street Hawkers and Kumasi Traffic

We wait for word from the US Embassy re the visa for Eric Ayala thinking each day maybe we will get a call requesting that we travel to Accra, but nothing.  Rick has tried to phone the Embassy with absolutely no success.  He has emailed them and received a computer generated response.   So we wait…….

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This is how you move the contents of your home in Techiman.  Just grateful that it isn’t raining for the guy sitting on the load.
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This is how you actually move the house in Techiman.  Five men pushing and pulling. This is being moved on the main road from Techiman to Sunyani.  A while back I saw a building being moved down a rather steep slope.  The men moving it couldn’t hold it back as it careered all over the road.  I fled to safety and by sheer luck it came to a stop on a huge bump in the road.  Today this was a flat road and hopefully it reached its destination safely.
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A major intersection at Kumasi. We are waiting in a huge queue of traffic for the lights to change.   The people on the road are street vendors and they duck in and out of the traffic selling anything that can be carried.  The man in the foreground is selling cushions.  Behind him is a girl selling drinks from a bowl on her head.  At the back is a guy with a blue box on his head.  He is selling Fan Ice…an ice cream in a plastic tube.  I don’t know the statistics of how many are killed or seriously injured going this but it is a heart in the mouth scene watching them.
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Another road scene.  This is one of about six huge roundabouts in Kumasi.  The traffic today is about five cars wide.  I can not describe how unbelievable it is. Cars jostling for position, horns tooting, people gesturing, truck drivers yelling out their widows and sounding air horns,  and tro tro drivers just ramming their vans in anywhere.  It’s insanity.  I think the roundabout was intended to be one lane.
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The same roundabout as above.   Rick loves vying for position and pushing the ute into any one millimetre space it will go into.  As for me I just close my eyes and remind myself to breathe.
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Another road scene.  This photo doesn’t show just how crazy and life threatening selling to vehicles is for the vendors. These ladies are trying to sell to passengers in a tro tro who are possibly the best customers for these venders.

Miracles still Happen!

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Above.   Kwame Amanfoh and Gifty Andoh, Techiman, Ghana
Kwame Amanfoh is from Ghana and now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.  He works for Charlotte Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat as an optometrist.  Twice a year he travels back to Ghana for three months and runs the Charity Eye Clinic.
He does not charge for eye examinations and only a tiny fee for glasses.  On some occasions I have seen him give glasses free to people.
He is incredibly generous and kind,  and many people who would not be able to afford glasses now have improved vision because of his  charity clinic.
Seven years ago Gifty Andoh was using drops in her eyes for the condition glaucoma.  She would buy her drops every two weeks from a local hospital.  She had reasonably good sight and could see everything.  One Friday she went and bought her drops.  The senior eye nurse said they were from a different supplier but the same as her old ones.  After using the prescribed drops three times over a twenty four hours period she was blind.  She had twin daughters who were twelve when this happened.  She went to several doctors in different towns and the prognosis was the same each time. Her eyes were ruined. In Ghana there is no compensation in anyway for such an occurrence, or government help.  For seven years she has had to depend on her husband or children.
Yesterday I told Kwame about Gifty and he said bring her in to see me.  He discovered she had a very small tunnel of sight in her right eye.  The left eye was sightless. He tried several prescription lenses on her and then the miracle occurred.  After seven sightless years Gifty could read letters on the wall chart.  When we first arrived and he asked her about herself she told Kwame I would just like to see my girls.  Her wish was granted today.  In bright sunlight she described what Zenita her daughter was wearing in detail and then she hugged her.  It was a very heartwarming moment for Elder Wood and I, Kwame and Zenita.
Kwame has arranged for Gifty to have prescription glasses made and Zenita and I chose pretty red ones for her.  A small miracle today in Techiman and some very happy people.

This is not the first world

Living in first world countries we truly take so many things for granted.  Supermarkets for instance are there for our convenience and hopefully make our lives easier.  In November when I was in England I went to a supermarket that was so large it irritated me.  I was weary when I left after purchasing our goods just from the sheer size of it.
After our second interview at the US Embassy and leaving without the much sort after visa we took Eric and Linda for dinner and afterward they experienced their first supermarket.  It was  a smallish supermarket compared with the supermarkets I am use to and tiny beside the one I went into in England.  Eric and Linda were wide eyed and full of amazement at what could be purchased in one place.  It was a joy hearing them saying wow and exclaiming at all the varieties and choices available in one place.  Eric kept calling Linda a village girl because she had never been to a city before.  Accra has a population of about four million and is teeming with people and traffic.  We reminded Eric that until one week ago he also was a village boy. He promptly replied I am not now.  Very cute we thought …the elevated status in one visit to Accra.
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Red haired people are not uncommon in Ghana. I have also noticed several Albino people in Techiman.  I am unsure how they fare in the hot African sun but they don’t seem to cover up more then anyone else.
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“The Unusual Garden” was in the middle of a traffic island on a major motorway in Accra. On the sign kinder the title The Unusual Garden was written A Ghana Garden and Flower Movement Initiative.  It had tyres and baths painted and planted in flowers and shrubs.  To me it was an initiative more then a thing of beauty having been spoilt by gardens of the caliber of the Hamilton Gardens. I will leave you to judge for yourself.
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Two missionaries walking on a clay road.  When it rains these roads rapidly become  bog roads with huge craters and water in them.
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Different Days in Ghana

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This woman is carrying multiple baskets of charcoal in her hand and on her head. Charcoal is used extensively for cooking on the tiny stoves outside.  I have also seen dressmakers using non electric irons that have hot charcoal in them to heat the iron.

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A parade of young Muslim girls on a busy street in Techiman.  I made Rick stop the truck and I ran across a main road to photograph them.  It was a special festival celebrating Muhammad.  They were singing and chanting and there possibly was at least a hundred of these gorgeous young girls dressed in white.  There are a lot of Muslims in Techiman.

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A mango tree.  The trees are everywhere in Techiman.  These are the small mangoes and they are really delicious.  As always when I get my iPad out children flock to have their photo taken.  The boy on the right is eating a mango although they are not quite ripe yet.IMG_3514

Eric felt very privileged to meet Elder Vinson, who is the West Africa President for the church when we were in Accra.    A truly lovely caring man from Australia.  I miss the accents of down under here and it makes me a little homesick when I hear people from the Pacific area talking.

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I can’t help myself and want to include this cartoon in my blog.  Hope I don’t get prosecuted for plagerism or copyright! On round two of visiting the US Embassy in Accra this week trying to obtain a visa for Eric I could imagine Rick saying this to the interviewer.  It was an absolute nightmare.  On the first visit Eric quietly told me that Daddy kicked a stool. I’m surprised he wasnt arrested, locked away or shot. Unlike the hundreds of others that day who were declined visas Eric wasn’t, and we have to supply a heap of other information to them for consideration.  That means driving the seven hours back to Accra next week if we can get all the info requested.

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A girl making wigs in a tiny shop inside the Kumasi market.  All the packets in the background contain wigs, braid for hair extensions and other paraphernalia.  I would guess that a majority of Ghanaian women have and wear wigs.  Black, red, blonde, multicoloured, straight, curly, long, short,  you name it you could buy it.

 

Seasons, weddings, festivals and more

An Observation of Seasons in the Tropics.

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It is very interesting living in a climate where there are supposedly only two seasons.  Hot dry,  and hot, humid wet.  We have been here now for a year and I have observed that there is a type of spring and winter.  On arriving back from England I thought a shrub had died as it was just leafless twigs. I noticed also a lot of trees with no leaves. Suddenly my shrub  has sprung into life and it has leaves and flowers on it. The trees that had lost all of their leaves are now covered with soft new green leaves. From that I have deduced that even in the tropics there is kind of spring and winter.

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Above is Monica with a brand new sewing machine generously paid for by a lovely lady who read my blog and wanted to help her.  Monica was so very happy and I think overwhelmed.

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Five missionaries wearing ties made by Monica of Ghanaian waxed cotton.  They are a statement and stunning.

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This lady has the little brooms on her head that most Ghanaians use to sweep their yards and floors with. I have one but it is too hard bending all the time. I prefer the regular broom with a handle!

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A wedding we were invited to attend this week.  Like New Zealand many people live with partners here. The brides father demands a “bride price” from the betrothed before he will let his daughter marry.  The reasoning is he has raised his daughter and the prospective husband needs to pay him for that. Often the price is ridiculous so couples live together all their lives, have children and that’s seems acceptable to the families .  This has surprised me in such a God fearing people.  There is also the factor of the big wedding ceremony cost, and they all want that.   I did ask someone once about the bride price and if the father pays money back to the husband once they have been married for say twenty years??  They didn’t think that was funny.
The groom in this wedding is Yaw Baah who came to my literacy class and was the most advanced learner.  He loved the class and I really enjoyed him as he helped me interprete when people didn’t understand.
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The table with the presents on….. mostly,  if not all were alcoholic drinks.  Look at the amazing decorations.
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There were huge parades and celebrations in Techiman this week for the chiefs of the town. The festival is called Apor.  It has been a nightmare driving up the main road as the parades take up the entire street and seem to be through out the day at anytime.   On the left hand side of the photo you can just see a very large parasol type umbrella with crowds of people around it.  Under that umbrella will be a chief.
I loved the sign on the van in front of us.  Heaven Gate No Bribe.

We are Groovy in Ghana

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Between 6.00 and 7.00am this water tanker pulled by a Massey Ferguson tractor rattles past our windows to deliver water in Techiman.  There must be about ten other tractor units here doing just this.  When the town supply shuts down which happens a lot, if you have a poly tank with water in it you are one of the lucky ones.

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It is a more then a work of art driving in Ghana.  This is a street in Kumasi we have to drive down to go to the KATH Teaching Hospital.  Both sides have market stalls spilling out onto the road. To protect my blood pressure and my marriage I close my eyes so I am not screaming. People often bump the wing mirrors on the car as they get that close OR we get that close to them

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No delivery trucks needed here.  Just a motorbike and strong arms.  This guy has a single tub washing machine on his head riding pillion on the bike.  The driver was on a cell phone.

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At the General Conference satellite broadcast today seven priesthood holders in white shirts and ties arrived on this road king. Was a grand sight.
These are children who probably didn’t understand any of Conference as it was all broadcast in English, out side  amusing themselves.
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A Ghanaian dog.  These ginger and white dogs are everywhere in Techiman.  It is quite unusual to see any other breed of dog.  Mostly they are placid but a couple of times a few in a pack have started to growl at us and my brave husband has chased them away. This one is in pup and healthy.  They are not all like this.
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This is a termite mound in the grounds of Holy Family Hospital where Eric Ayala stays.  I asked Linda his sister,  if she would stand beside it so I could give you an idea of just how big it is.  She decided to climb up on it.  It is as solid as rock.
The structure of the mounds can be very complicated.  Inside the mound is an extensive system of conduits that serve as a ventilation system for the underground nest. In order to get good ventilation, the termites will construct several shafts leading down to the cellar located beneath the nest. The mound is built above the subterranean nest.  We live on an earth with some incredible critters!!!!’