We had an excellent first weekend in Ghana! Friday, we had the opportunity to visit the HOPE Center again in the morning and we had a short meeting with Margaret, the head nurse of the Center. We finalized our plans to officially start working on our projects at the Center on Monday. Margaret also updated us on the work that has been completed on the community nutrition project. The work that has been completed already is impressive: a large demonstration farm consisting of soy beans, maize, cabbage, and okra, immediately surrounding the HOPE Center is ready for harvest, demonstration farms of soy beans in many of the poorer villages outside of Ho have been planted and are nearing harvest, and several community outreach events have occurred, aimed at educating mothers about how to prepare and incorporate these new staples into their diet. After leaving the HOPE Center in the afternoon however, some serious rains started. We needed to get some dinner in town, so we ended up trudging out into the rain and into town.
On Saturday, we slept in a little, but around 10:00 am, we got a call from my friend Vanessa Lee who was on her way to Ho! She ended up spending the day with us as Joseph toured us around some of the more remote villages surrounding Ho where he is virtually famous for all of the great community organizing, bore hole drilling (for clean drinking water), and school building. We were fortunate to visit many of the bore hole sites and brand new, beautiful schools that Joseph has catalyzed into action. I was very impressed by the great work that he has done, but I was also struck by the level of poverty, which is definitely different than what I've seen in the cities. These people are mainly subsistence level farmers who supplement their income weaving beautiful Kente cloth and selling them to marketers that swing by the remote villages on a weekly basis. I think that they eat mostly what they are able to grow on the land surrounding their villages and have little to no access to medical care because they are outside the reach of the HOPE Center and the rest of the medical facilities in the area. After having such a nice time chatting with the little kids, meeting the chiefs and elders of the community, and witnessing their hospitality, I definitely felt guilty hopping into our Land Rover and driving off, most likely never to return to that same village ever again. It did however, reaffirm the importance of global health and development work.
After our tour of the villages, we made a brief stop in Togo (yes, the country) to sample some of their finest malt beverages. I have to say, I think that Portland could learn a thing or two about brewing from the Togolese about brewing beer.
Monday, now that we all feel comfortable in Ho and are finally settled it, we'll start the major work on our projects. I'm excited to finally get started, and I can't wait to see the impact that our team will have on the ability for the HOPE Center to continue to reach these under served communities.