Saturday, March 6, 2010

6th March

Today Abuadi, and the rest of Ghana celebrated 53 years of independance from Great Britan. Children from the surrounding villages joined Abuadi's children in a display of marching and drumming that they have been rehearsing all week. They first march through town, and then to the school grounds where they pay respects to Ghana and her flag. It was a lovely display, and an assemblyman addressed the crowd. He announced that in addition to the road paving project that just broke ground Friday, the government has added the villages of Adaklu to the list of those that it will be supplying with the means for electricity. Big changes are to come to Abuadi in the next few years.
From my room I can hear the beating of drums and bleats of trumpets as the celebration continues. In honor of the day, I sampled the "local gin," at ten in the morning. This tasted like death, and not too different than cheap whiskey in the States.

I spent some time visiting with Anani's (let me point out here that in my last post, and since I got here, I've been mispronouncing and misspelling the man's name) family: mom Elizabeth , fedelia, desmond, yorm and grandmom Mary. Childcare here is quite different from home, and really amazing. The babies here rarely cry or fuss. Cloth diapers and rags are used, and there are no baby wipes, ointments or powders, yet the babies somehow survive (ha). The babies sleep with their parents, as do all children. Anani told me that its not uncommon for children aged 18 to sleep in the same room as their parents. They don't put so much stress on independance as we do in the States, and yet, the children here are some of the most kind, respectful and capable that I have ever encountered.

Favor contines to take excellent care of me...and I will most certainly come back having gained 10lbs as every meal is based in yam and/or cassava. Its like a carb-lover's heaven. I'm beginning to wonder just how many ways there might be to prepare a yam in the universe.

I'm feeling a bit disillusioned. I don't think I was really given a clear picture of what I was expected to do while I was here...and I still don't have one. Basically, I'm here in Abuadi to design and hopefully implement an HIV/AIDS education program for the community that can spread throughout the surrounding villages. This seems to me quite a daunting task considering I have zero experience in this type of thing, and I have nothing and no one to work with. Well, to say I have no one to work with is not fair. I'm working with a CBO (Community Based Organization) called Adaklu Restoration. This is literally a handful of farmers and tradesman that have formed a committee in the hopes of doing good works and promoting development in the area. Projects they have in the works are dry season irrigation (which is currently on hold until they can raise over $12k to dredge a nearby dam of silt and mud), repairs to their schools (which are in major disrepair, and I have not yet seen an estimate of what it would cost to make even the most basic repairs), and now this HIV/AIDS education program. These poor guys don't even know where to start...and that's where I come in. My goal is to get these committee members to a point where they personally can lecture and educate the community. I don't think they should rely on outsiders, like me, to deliever the message. So, how to I teach these men everything there is to know about HIV/AIDS, and how to effectively teach it????? I started at the local hospitals in Ho.

Anani and I travelled to Ho on Thursday. These trips into town are growing more and more frustrating for me. A simple trip (there is only one road in and out of town) that should take about 30 mintues, tends to take more than an hour. The trotros come and go as they please. They will not depart a station until they have a FULL vehicle, and they make random stops along the way to talk to friends and even grocery shop. It is infuriating...but only to me, because it is the way in Ghana. Our first stop was Ho Municpal Hospital. It was outrageous...I wanted to take photos because I don't have the words to describe the shabby conditions, but I didn't want to insult or offend the multitude of people waiting outside on benches to see a doctor. AND, I was told that the HIV counsellor was only in on Fridays, so therefore I'd have to come back tomorrow. No one else could offer us any help, apparently.

Friday saw us taking another infuriating trotro ride into Ho. Stop one was good old Ho Municipal Hospital to see Dr. Robert. Thankfully he saw us right away, in an airconditioned room. Dr. Robert informed us that he is not a doctor but a medical technician, and the resident HIV counsellor. He was super nice and very helpful. At Ho Municipal, HIV antibody testing is free! Robert had tested 16 people so far that week, and three had come back positive. We then saw the head midwife and she was kind enough to show us the HIV clinic...which is a tiny room crammed with desks and chairs...barely enough room for 2 people to sit comfortably. She offered us some of the materials and pamphlets they have available. All in all, a useful visit, which is certainly more than I can say for our visit to the regional hospital.

This hospital is supposed to be the nicer of the two, and therefore much more expensive. However, we were greeted with such hostility and inadequacy, I left fuming. The nurse that was supposed to be helping us had no information, or just didn't want to share any with us. According to her, they had no materials and/or pamplets, and the one and only HIV counsellor was not there. She coudn't even tell me when the counsellor was supposed to be there. I can't imagine what it would be like for someone from a village like Abuadi to walk away from farming responsibilities and pay money to make the trip into Ho to bravely submit to an HIV test only to encounter this sour person and her attitude. It took all I had to remember I'm not in NY, and not tear this woman to pieces. Ah....patience.

The pace of life here is mindnumbingly slow...maybe it is because of the heat. But village life is beginning to wear on me, and I'm making some plans to travel starting Monday. I hope to head west to Cape Coast and Elmina.

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