I spent the majority of the morning solo. I never saw Meshach and felt like a bit of a fish out of water going to explore without him (language, directionally challenged issue) He finally came around at noonish to tell me the leaders wanted to meet at 3:00. We are ‘required’ to meet with the leaders/elders of the village for permission to move forward with the project. We walked around for a bit and I requested that we go use the internet. In my mind I thought it was about a 20 minute ride in a cab….reality was we had to wait about 30 minutes until a car showed up, agree on a fare and then stop several times to let 5 more people in..that’s right, 7 total in a tiny car- of course all men. A constant series of full on acceleration, followed by an abrupt stop, as we navigated the huge potholes that riddled the so called paved road. After letting most of the 5 others out, we were dropped off in a chaotic cluster of countless buses, taxi cars (barely shells of their former selves from what was most likely another country in a former decade far removed from the present) We then flagged down a bus; you can only imagine- countless Ghanaians crammed into a small bus way beyond capacity, going what seemed to be 80 miles/hour. Thank god the windows worked and I could at least catch the breeze and ‘fresh’ air to keep me sane.
We finally arrive, about 45 minutes later, with about 20 minutes to spare before we had to turn around and go back to meet the leaders. About 10 minutes later we arrive at the ‘internent café’, which consisted of about 3 computers. I told the boy, surrounded by a group of other boys his age, that I was here to use the internet…hardly looking up, he informed me that it wasn’t working today…didn’t even phase me, to be honest, but I did wonder what they were all looking at that did not require a wireless connection.
SO off we went, back to the village, no internet fix to be had.
I came back hot, tired and frustrated with the knowledge that I now had to go sit in front of the tribal leaders to justify my presence. I was already a bit apprehensive about this, which worsened significantly when I saw about 20 men had gathered to hear my ‘testimony’. Meshach gave me the go ahead and I began explaining in English what our mission was as Meshach translated. The main leader began to tell me the history of Ekumfi Akra…which skipped around from centuries back to decades back to centuries…none of which I could understand. Then came the discussion regarding our project plan and next steps. All the men became very animated as Meshach tried to counter their arguments and translate to me what the hell was happening.
I have a bit of an issue masking my emotions or hiding my disillusion with what was being said. I could tell that the conversation was not necessarily favoring the women and I had to do everything I could to force my expressions to stay neutral and not react to the seemingly condescending responses from my audience. Fortunately, the language barrier saved me and I just imagined them all doing nothing but singing our praises and celebrating the fact that ‘their women’ just might have a chance to learn a skill, earn an income and have a voice in their community. I smiled enthusiastically and graciously handed over the cash necessary to be granted their audience (50 sedis, the equivalent of about 10 dollars) and headed with Meshach to find a ‘cold’ beer to celebrate our success and discuss the reality of making this partnership work. His organization has been halted due to local organizations that were supporting him cutting off their funding. He is trying to keep it afloat but is earning no income and has his 3rd child on the way. I am not exactly sure how this will all play out and sincerely hope that my justification for pursuing this effort- to the leaders, to the women, to Meshach- will come to fruition and not prove to be yet another empty promise or reason to lose hope for a prosperous community.