Thursday, October 8, 2015

New Country, New Ways, New People

I think the second we landed at the airport I knew things were going to be different, especially after landing in tamale where there was one building and the exit from the airport was from a side door.

 There was a huge buzz once we arrived at the hostel for our three days of training. For me the wait had been seven months since first applying so it was amazing to finally be out here.  

We met our in country counterparts’ Isaac, Stephen, Portia, Elizabeth and our team leaders Sarah and Prince and spent three days together going through several training activities. In the evenings we went to Gidipass, a local bar where we unwound. Several other UK volunteers and I learnt the azonto dance from the ICVs (In Country Volunteers). For me this was a challenge as I’ve never been very coordinated as you had to move your arms in different ways. This was a brilliant activity and we have started to bond and become a group. 

The Team heading to town to get Craft people registered for the BICAF 2015

However the time came to say goodbye to our large group from training and we all embarked on a Trotro (minibus) and headed to our prospective homes for the next three months. It was weird saying goodbye to everyone as we had shared a huge new experience and had formed a family.

Isaac and I’s home is in Bolgatanga. I live on the outskirts of the town, surrounded by maize and millet with my host family. I think this was the thing I was most anxious about. I had all the questions of what if they don’t like me, what if the food is horrible and what if there isn’t a working toilet.

However after being in the home for ten minutes all my fears went away. My host mother, Madam Cecilia is amazing and her home is lovely. She had prepared waakye upon our arrival which is a rice and beans dish, it was incredible and can’t wait for more.

Host Home - Home Sweet Home
I wanted to make a good impression on the first day so decided to help out with the family’s washing. They all found this weird, as men generally don’t do washing in Ghana.  I entertained them with my bad skills, luckily they took pity on me and showed me how to do it correctly. A few days later it got to the point where I had to do my own washing, these new skills came in very handy, though two hours later and soar hands I miss washing machines!

Working HARD to make an impression

The home is quite busy with many people living there. Madam Cecelia has two sons who stay at the house; Jay and Engo as well as a daughter; Patricia, who has her own place for her and her son. Madam Cecelia also has a grandson, Kennedy. He has been helping to teach me FraFra the local language, it was quite difficult at first as the words sound very similar. I ended up spelling them phonetically and operating a look, cover, write, check approach which I used back in primary school.

Host Family - Madam Cecilia and her two sons

I had decided to bring gifts to my host family as a way to introduce myself to the family and as a thank you for welcoming me into their home for three months. I had brought several postcards of Wiltshire where I live and spent ages talking to the family in particular Kennedy about Stonehenge, the rivers and Royal Wootton Bassett where I live and comparing it to Bolga. The other gift I had brought was a tea towel with the major London attractions. The whole family loved this! I pointed out all of the places I’d been to and what they were and why they were famous. I surprised myself with my own knowledge as I’ve only been to London half a dozen times.

In other news, we discovered that we would be getting two new volunteers. Abdul, from here in Ghana and Andrew who was meant to be going to Burkina Faso! They both are really cool guys and have fitted into the group perfectly.
We have now started our project at Trade Aid Integrated. Our main project is the Bolgatanga International Craft and Arts Fair (BICAF). We are to be hosting this at Jubilee Park on the 12th to 15th of November and there are to be 150 stalls of a variety of crafts from basket weavers to smock weavers to pottery, a tall order for myself and Isaac who are in charge of sales and registration. 

Our team had arranged to promote BICAF at the market, however I had completely forgotten that my t shirt was dirty and had to do last minute washing, shown in the image above.
I don’t think anything can prepare you for the incredible experience that is an ICS placement and after two weeks I am absolutely loving it and would fully recommend it to anyone.

From all of us here at Trade Aid, I’m James Storey. You Stay Classy Bolga.

Be in James' position in January - apply by the 16th October

No comments:

Post a Comment