This morning we were reunited with two members of our group that spent the weekend investigating new project sites. It was wonderful to see them again; especially because they brought all kinds great souvenirs, like Ghanian outfits to us to wear.
On Friday we will have a grand opening for the community center we are founding in the village. We were originally planning to have the ceremony tomorrow, but, due to the press’ schedule, the event was moved to Friday morning at 11:00.
To begin our “Publicity Day,” we made posters inviting members of three surrounding villages to attend. Making the posters from crayons and construction paper was a surprisingly fun and therapeutic experience, even though it took a few hours!
In the afternoon we traveled around to the surrounding villages hanging the fliers on buildings, trees, and the occasional worn posting wall! Posters are very rare here, and our colorful fliers attracted quite a bit of attention. In most cases, crowds of people had gathered to see them even before they were tacked up!
After posting, and telling key members of the community about the event, we returned to the local school to paint a second coat of chalkboard paint onto our newly restored chalkboards. They look absolutely wonderful; a major improvement for the school!
After painting we had a delicious dinner of ground nut soup and rice, which we just finished, http://cbertel.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/bambara-groundnut-soup.jpg
As soon as the sun goes down we are moving all out supplies into the community center. Our hostess suggested that we move the supplies after dark so that we don’t get swarmed by community members hoping to see the supplies!
Luckily it gets dark by 7:00 here, so we’re just 15 minutes away from darkness! The early sunsets also equate to early bedtimes. Believe it or not our average bedtime is 8:30 pm!
The day is merely half finished, but we’re posting our blog early because we have a busy evening of meetings, focus groups, and explorations ahead of us!
This morning we visited Kwane Yeboa Krom, an extremely rural village 2 and a half hours from where we are staying. The village currently lacks access to clean water and isn’t likely to have to be connected to the grid for another 10-15 years. Because of this, we’re hoping to provide the village with electricity by installing an engine in the future. Earlier this year, we fund-raised for, and purchased a Lister Engine for the village. The engine was shipped this spring. Unfortunately, it shipped on Africa time and won’t arrive until long after we have left Ghana.
This morning we surveyed the area in which the engine will be installed (in order to make maps for the future students that will we likely to do the installation work.) In addition to surveying, we spent some time interacting with the children in the village. Though they don’t speak English, they were quite happy to see us, walk with us, and simply be in our presence, and the feeling was mutual! Most children here don’t have any toys, some don’t have clothes, and most help with family work as soon as they can walk. Yet nearly every child we see has a smile on their face, and during our trip we’ve seen only a small handful of children cry or have tantrums! It’s absolutely wonderful to be around such a happy and content culture! After taking plenty of pictures, meeting with elders and the village chief, and exchanging all the important contact information we departed for our journey back to our village.
On the way home we stopped at a monkey sanctuary. A guide led us into a forest where we were suddenly surrounded by enormous bundles of 50 foot tall bamboo shoots. We were in the midst of being memorized by the bamboo when we realized that it was filled with dozens of frolicking monkeys. Our guide gave us maize, which the monkeys politely ate out of our hands! The experience was wonderful; it definitely topped going to a zoo.
This evening we will be conducting focus groups to test a cell phone application that we brought thanks to Carnegie Mellon University’s Tech Bridge World. The application is a cell phone game meant to teach English grammar to people in the developing world. It uses soccer goals as a way to reward players for correct answers. Soccer, otherwise known as football, is incredibly popular here and it isn’t at all uncommon to see children playing it on open patches of dirt, often with no nets, and frequently with a flat ball, but happily nonetheless.