Friday, January 23, 2015

Tales from the harmattan

Yԑ  Zaare!!   Well, we’ve arrived in Bolgatanga for our 2015 ICS placement and there is no language we can use to better extend our greetings than in the local language, Frafra.  Upon our arrival, we were welcomed by excited local people with children singing out the famous “solimia” which means  “white person” to specially welcome our UK Volunteers. Upon entering Bolga, it was easy to identify that it’s a crafts town as we saw heaps of colourful woven baskets and hats , smocks,  leather bags and wooden carvings.

Piles of Bolga baskets

For the Ghanaian volunteers who seldom visit the north, the weather is quite chilly in the mornings and evenings. For the UK volunteers, it feels like they are living in a sauna; and it’s only going to get hotter from now.  The area is currently in the harmattan season where its hot, dry and dusty.

This is the second cohort where the UK and Ghanaian volunteers all live together and so far, it’s been a great experience. As part of living together we have decided to share the cooking, which is proving successful and we’ve managed to eat a variety of both Ghanaian and western foods; even though the UK volunteers are finding it hard without an oven!  Tess is struggling to get used to the spicy Ghanaian foods, and for Felix the European food doesn't contain enough carbohydrates to satisfy him.

The team tucking into minestrone, not an easy word to
explain the pronunciation of!

Another aspect of the culture that the UK Volunteers are appreciating is the traditional Friday wear. It’s Friday today and the Ghanaians (and Sam!) are wearing their colourful Ghana made clothes. The new UK Volunteers are keen to join in and are having their traditional fabrics sewn soon.

Joel, Sam and Felix in the office

This has been our first week in the office and we’ve been out to meet the various craft groups TradeAid works with. We are excited to continue working with these artisans and have already planned some training sessions to build their capacity to improve their businesses.  We will also be working with the local communities to raise awareness on Fair trade, using ecotourism to diversify income and promoting the E-selling platform to increase income for the local traders.

We are looking forward the next eight weeks ahead and for now, bayi bayi !!!

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