Ghana

11/22 – Thanksgiving Day and EPDRA

Thanksgiving Day and Turkey

I woke up to a bunch of noise from the common area and immediately jumped out of bed and grabbed my camera.  It was time for our turkeys to become our dinner.  Jessica was planning to do this since she’s from a farm and also here on a nursing rotation.  But the knife that Peter and Emmanuel gave her was a steak knife and not the machete she anticipated, so she opted out and instead Emmanuel stepped in.  He followed in the traditional Ghanaian way of taking care of poultry, which apparently involves sawing its neck rather than a clean, quick cut.  I’m not a squeamish person by nature (see Dakshinkali in 2001) but this made all of us turn away.  Jessica would later remark, “I didn’t think they’d use a steak knife!  I thought they’d use the machete I have.”  Me: “Uh, why do you have a machete?”  Jessica: “As a souvenir, of course.”

Jess, Trying to Take Care of the Turkey

Back in the kitchen, we managed to forget the scene of the first turkey and instead focus on our breakfast.  Then the post-turkey-turkey-prep commenced in the backyard.  I’m proud to say that I helped pluck my first turkey!

Breakfast Table (and lunch table, and dinner table)
Sugarloaf – the best type of pineapple ever
Turkey Prep: boiling and plucking (I helped!!)
Turkey Feathers
Turkey Plucking
Turkey #2

Micro-Finance Day #1

HoHoe has a branch of EPDRA – Evangelical Presbyterian Development & Relief Agency – an organization that helps local business owners to save money.  And when I say “local business owners”, I mean someone who has set up a table on the side of the road to sell rice or bread.  These people don’t have bank accounts, and they’re not going to make the trip to a bank to open an account to save only a dollar or so a day.  Instead, EPDRA offers a way for these business owners to save by walking around and collecting money on their behalf every day.  At the end of the month, EPDRA gives the money back.  So these good people – who normally wouldn’t save anything at all – have a way to save money and to see the benefits of it later.

EPDRA Sign and Election Sign
Map of Ghana

At the EPDRA offices we met Francis and Vida.  Isaac and Ivan went with Vida, and Susan, Andreia and I went with Francis.  We walked around HoHoe, down back alleys, through a lot of poverty, goats, unwashed children, and places without electricity.  It was hot and airless, but everyone was friendly and lovely.

Ghanaians are a kind, warm people.  The phrase “You are welcome” is said by everyone, and not as a formality.  Everyone says it and they mean it.  Ghana also has a special Ghanaian handshake (hand, fist, hand, then finger snap) that everyone does. No joke; EVERYONE.

The day was hot hot HOT.  Within 10 minutes we were drenched with sweat.  And Francis was a fast walker who has about 178 clients to service every day so we hoofed it all around. There was a standard process to follow with each client:

  1. Take pink deposit card from client, initial for each unit they deposit (anywhere between 1 cedi or 5 cedis (GHC))
  2. Record date and amount in the book
  3. Give cedis to Francis to put in his bag
  4. Wish business owner a good day.  Coo at babies.  Carry on to next spot.
HoHoe Street
Susan, Francis, and Andreia
HoHoe Hospital
Miss Ghana

We did this for almost three hours until it was time to return back to EPDRA.  There, we met Happy and George – the EPDRA coordinators – in the courtyard and the five of us sat in the shade and talked until Isaac and Ivan returned.

My Well-Traveled Salesforce Bottle – seeing the last of its travels
Francis’s EPDRA Shirt
Hanging in the Courtyard with Happy
The Bess Brothers Give Vida a Lift
Taxi Allegiance

Turkey Prep

Back at CCS Home Base, prep for our Thanksgiving dinner was well underway.  Lea, Jes, and Celeste stayed home all morning to cook and prep.  There was a lot of cooking going on.

Thanksgiving Menu
Ghanaian Wishbone
Lea Prepping the Banana Nut Bread
Tiger Nut Squishing
Dale Making Sugar
Sugar Making
Turkey Cooking: They had to bring in an extra stove. And put it in the backyard.
Stuffed Turkey

Batik

Hand-dyed batik is an important part of the Ghana culture, and both women and men wear colorful batiked fabrics throughout the day.  So our afternoon trip was to a local designer so we could see and participate in the batiking process.

Batik Stamps
Ivan and Elvis, who came with his mama Christine but always gets passed around our group
Batik and Wax
Dipping the stamp in the wax
Stamping the Stamp
My Batik Pattern
Susan Batik’ing
Dee Batik’ing
Dyeing
Me, doing my part with the dyeing and the glove-wearing
Batik’ed
Boiling Cauldron of Water
Boiling the Wax Off
My Pattern Boiling
Isaac Being Isaac
As everywhere in Africa, women in Ghana walk around balancing large, heavy items on their heads

Kente Cloth

Down the street from CCS Home Base was a hut where three men could often be found on their looms, making kente cloth – another local piece of pride.

Kente Cloth Hut
Kente Cloth
Kente Looms
Kente Loom
The Mechanics of the Kente Loom
The Thread

Lecture about Child Labor

Our Thanksgiving Night lecture was pretty appropriate in terms of being thankful for what we have: it was all about child labor.  Samuel Agbotsey, of the IDEC (Integrated Development & Empowerment Centre) shared with us some of the cultural issues and traditional beliefs Ghana has to get through to progress and evolve.  Many families still have many children in order to put them to work in the fields or to sell them off for labor elsewhere.  Samuel talked about the educational efforts he’s making locally and in the government.  It was fascinating, not only to hear the stories but also to hear from someone in a nonprofit.

Samuel Agbotsey, of the IDEC (Integrated Development & Empowerment Centre)

Listening attentively

Thanksgiving Dinner

Let the Thanksgiving festivities begin!

Chef Jes and her Mac & Cheese
Lea and Ruth Finish up the Banana Nut Bread
Turkeyness
Stuffing
Thanksgiving Feast
Boxes O Wine
Christine and her turkey feather
Chef Lea, Chef Celeste, and Chef Jes
Thanksgiving Family Dinner
Ivan Carves the Turkey
Happy Eaters
Ivan wanted seafood.
The post-dinner carnage

We had turkey, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, carrots, green beans, stuffing, banana bread, garlic bread, sweet potatoes and more…it was all delicious even if there were some unconventional ways of getting in the table.  The CCS staff joined us – a happy family of 23 Thankgiving diners.

Of course we ended the evening with a lively game of Spoons.  Unfortunately there weren’t enough spoons since we used them all at dinner.  Instead we improvised with colored pencils from the resource center.