We arrived in Ekumfi-Akra today after two days in Accra. I was admittedly nervous about the journey…leaving the ‘comfort’ of my hotel in Accra (meaning there was internet, a ‘proper’ bathroom and abundant supply of air conditioning). I had no idea of what to expect, except that I would be staying in the small, remote village on the coast. I knew it would be small, I knew it would be poor: both of those were accurate. Meshach assured me there would at least be electricity, but I would most likely be showering and using the toilet outside…no running water.
A few short years ago, I might have embraced this…sought it out, welcomed the opportunity to push my comfort zones. Now, I am just anxious, perhaps a bit traumatized by my experience in DRC…(although my accommodations there were more than luxurious compared to those of my neighbors in the surrounding village). We arrived and I was provided with my own room, a mat on the floor, a stand up (barely standing) fan, an enclosed ‘shower’ (with obligatory bucket of water) and a bathroom (a whole in the ground, but tiled floor and a door that locks) I am certain that is the only one in the village as they made sure I had a key and kept it with me at all times.
Meshach found a woman to cook for us (fried fish and plantains) and he and I mapped out our strategy for the next couple of days. The people here do not speak English, as I was hoping. Only Meshach, his brother and a couple of the elders. These women whom I am supposed to be empowering, or at least mobilizing on some level, do not speak the same language. I simply have to rely on Meshach to do all translating. (and genuine smiles along with my crazy gestures)
Tomorrow we will meet the elders/leaders of the community- a requirement for us to be able to proceed. Apparently there have been other NGOs visit and make unrealistic promises that were never fulfilled. They are justifiably cautious and I can’t say that I am not worried about disappointing them.
After (hopefully) gaining their approval, we plan on reviewing the questions for the assessment to get as much information as Meshach has at this point and then visiting 5 or so women from the village to ask them directly questions pertaining to the details of their lives and what they need and want to get out of this project.
Other than that, the people have been very friendly and welcoming. Meshach is truly an incredible man and has overcome many struggles in the name of helping struggling youth in Ghana and finding a way to empower women and men by providing skills training and education. I do hope this works, that we can find a way to build something meaningful and sustainable for his sake and the benefit of all these women I have seen cooking, cleaning, managing the household, fetching water, with at least one baby wrapped around their waist and 3 to 4 others trailing behind.