A huge thank you for all of the kind words and well wishes that you all have been sending. Every time I read your comments I am inspired to continue working hard over here and to share my experiences! Thanks!
In case you’re interested, I just had an article published for ‘Rural Woman’s Day’ on the EWB website. Check it out…. http://www.ewb.ca/en/whatsnew/sheanut.html . This story was inspired by a visit to a small village called Zakoli in July, and led me to take a deeper look into shea butter processing groups in the area. Its quite amazing the amount of work that many women across West Africa will do to support their families!
A few new things on this blog. First, feel free to check out my new Photo Album – I’ve just started it, and will upload a TON of photos in the next week. Second, I’ve added links to other EWB volunteer’s blog sites so you can see what other crazy Canuk engineers (and non-engineers) are up to around the world.
If you haven’t heard, there was an amazing global event that took place on October 15th. The event was called Stand Up Against Poverty, where 23, 542, 614 people worldwide stood up in solidarity to remind our world leaders about their commitments to meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The EWB volunteers here in Tamale put together a Stand Up event at Giddipass, a local gathering spot, where we brought out over 300 people! It was incredible! The day included performances by local drummers, a crew of dancers and musicians from the Tamale Youth Home Cultural Group, along with an unscheduled pre-show performance by a horde of 'small' boys and girls breaking it down to some Akon and Bob Marley. The crowed was addressed in Dagbani by Madaam Elizabeth, the Regional Gender Desk Officer, and by MC Ricky from Diamond FM, along with readings of the Millennium Development Goals from local youth. It was AWESOME! We hope that our message is heard loud and clear – we want action, and want to see leaders in both the developing and developed world get serious about meeting the MDGs. For a look at exactly what the Stand Up Against Poverty campaign was all about, check out: http://www.standagainstpoverty.org/ .
In other exciting news, the EWB – West Africa volunteers just spent a long weekend up in Dori, Burkina Faso for a quarterly retreat. We all had a chance to meet one another, and to share our experiences, challenges, and successes in our placements, while getting a solid ‘recharge’ in energy for the months to come. I’ve got to say Burkina food is sooooo good. There is much more variety in Burkina than in the Northern Region of Ghana, and I think it has a lot to do with the French influence! There are baguettes, cheeses, yogurt, couscous (mmm), ice cream, and so many kinds of meat… so good! It was a nice break from the staple yam or rice meal here for me. It was the end of Ramadan at the time, and since we weren’t at our own homes to enjoy the traditional celebrations, we had one of our own. Families will often slaughter a goat or lamb for everyone to share, and so we found one at the market and had a local restaurant ‘prepare’ it for us. I’ve got to say, it was pretty tough seeing the goat take its last walk on the way to the butcher!
Dori is way up in the North East corner of BF, right near Niger and Mali. A whole different world there compared to Tamale. It is up in the semi-arid Sahel region, just south of the Sahara. So yes, it was incredibly hot! Around 40-45C each day, though the dry air was easier to deal with than the humid hot days in Tamale. There is very little ground cover, and the trees are sparse. On an early morning run with my friends Katherine and Monica, we discovered deep sand along the trails leading from town, and scenery similar to what you might see while on an East African safari. We found an early morning caravan of traditionally clothed women carrying water on their heads from a small ‘oasis’ to a nearby village. We greeted them, then continued to run towards the village of mud huts in the distance. We ran past fields of millet, neatly arranged with small purple flowers growing at the base of every plant. We saw groups of small children riding donkeys, pulling carts with sacks of grain, herding cattle, and fetching water. Finally with the sun rising we were forced to turn back to Dori to grab something do drink! It was an absolutely surreal experience, and one of the most interesting ‘exploratory runs’ that I have been on.
On our ‘day off’ we traveled to the nearby village of Bani, where we visited a group of mud-brick buildings. The architecture is truly impressive; massive mud brick towers pierce the sky, while mosques filled with giant archways and cavernous chambers stretch out below. Cowering from the sun we hurried towards every bit of shade we could find while roaming about. The locals were kind enough to bring us inside the mosques, and gave us an incredible tour of Bani. Check out my photo album for more pictures!