Thursday, August 09, 2007
TOWN FORUM HELD AUGUST 7, 2007 in Axim
Congratulations to the Global Citizen Journey Ghanaian delegate alums (shown in planning meeting in photo) who on August 7, 2007 successfully hosted a followup Town Forum! By all accounts the meeting was a step forward for the folks of Axim. The District Chief Executive gave the opening remarks. Attendees from various sectors in the commnity attended, including representatives from the Christian Council, Fishmongers, Fishermen, Traditional Council, Market Women, Assembly Members, N.E.D.A., Farmers, Urban Council, Opinion Leaders, Secondary School Leaders, G.N.A.T., Health, and G.P.R.T.U.
According to one of the conveners, community participants openly shared their views, opinions, and concerns. Topics included the condition of the roads, sanitation and water, education, the condition of the Axim Landing Beach, and the use and sustainability of the new orphanage/community learning center.
Thanks to the first Town Hall meeting, held back in November, 2006, hosted by North American and Ghanaian Global Citizen Journey delegates, the local people were familiar with the process this time around, and according to particpants, the meeting went smoothly and was very helpful. Plans are afoot for another meeting next year as followup.
posted by Maryanne at 3:10 PM
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
WE RAISED THE ROOF!!!
The GCJ Ghana North American alums made a MIGHTY effort to RAISE THE ROOF on the orphanage!! We raised more than $3000, enough to buy the needed 256 aluminum roofing tiles, and nails to DRIVE THEM HOME!! Thanks to all who donated items, bought items, hauled stuff, lifted stuff, and gave us so much encouragement. We appreciate it.
If you missed it, you can still use your shoulder to hoist the water polytank into place, or get some ceiling panels in the kids’ section. Or you can help pay our faithful carpenter his due! Maybe nails are your thing. GO FOR IT with a donation to Global Citizen Journey, via the web site at http://www.globalcitizenjourney.org/ or mail to Global Citizen Journey, 4425 Baker Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107. (Make sure you indicate “GHANA PROJECT”)
Our “Western Heritage Scholars” thank you!!! (These are the kids who will be moving in soon)
posted by Maryanne at 7:24 PM
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Hi all. I’m back in the US, but the work goes on. Most of the building materials for the roof have been purchased. Because of the delay in work due to our Boeing grant check being impounded by customs, we will need more money to finish. During that time, cement escalated in price by about 25%, due to power outages.
On my last day, James and I visited Produce Buying, American Embassy, Ministry for Women and Children, Ghana Commercial Bank, and West Africa Trade Hub office. We also contacted Ghana Bauxite, but the person we needed to see could not receive us. All of these contacts were positive, and the companies indicated interest in helping us with funds. They have requested formal requests from James as Chair of the WHH Board.
The aim is to have kids living in the facility by Sept when the new school term starts. If you’d like to help furnish and equipment the facility (bunk beds, gas cookers, industrial strength oven, etc.), please visit the www.globalcitizenjourney.org website to make a donation. We need help of any kind. The items can easily be purchased there. They are making a mighty local effort to find or buy items, but it’s difficult for them when it comes to these large items.
We have 19 kids enrolled in Manye Academy and have received their first school reports. Some are doing quite well, but most are very much behind due to irregular or no school attendance until now. They are receiving tutoring. We will be looking for adult volunteers, either locally or “visiting” to help give them a boost between terms, after school, etc. We have one child enrolled in Morning Star Academy, because she is doing extremely well there, likes the school, and so far wants to stay there.
I have the life stories of the kids now—I’ll add details in an upcoming blog. Suffice it to say that Annie and Esi have done a good job (difficult) of selecting the truly needy kids.
Other news: a fellow who designed the computer lab for another learning center in Central Region is putting together a plan for our Learning Lab. We already have requests from local establishments to provide training for their staffs. Also, when I left Axim, the satellite internet connection was working quite well, thanks to hours of work on the part of two technicans who came all the way from Kumasi to work on it. We will probably be able to share the signal coming to Axim Beach Hotel.
We have a “good enough” accounting system in place, now, using Quicken software. Almost all receipts have come in, and we are very close to matching inflows/outflows. This has been a big accomplishment for Anastasia, our Admin. Assist., and for the whole Board, actually. It’s not easy to do in what is, essentially, a cash economy. Patrick, our logistics guy, has done a terrific job of keeping records. He is also a district assemblyman, and deserves this position because he is a leader and conscientious man.
On my last day in Axim, I attended the Anglican Church with Old Soldier. It was a funeral Sunday (most are), and almost all were dressed in white and black. The women’s dresses were really stunningly beautiful, I thought. The Ghanaians are experts at designing beautiful fabrics, and making simple but exceedingly beautiful dresses. Their cultural pride is evident at these gatherings. There was a visiting choir—and the entire congregation sings well, too, in parts, etc. Beautiful. Now I’m dreaming of a choir festival in our new facility in Axim—hmmm. Sometimes dreams happen.
posted by Maryanne at 4:19 AM
WHH Orphanage/Community Learning Center Construction with King of Lower Axim Inspecting
posted by Maryanne at 4:12 AM
posted by Maryanne at 4:05 AM
Today was another good day. Yesterday I was exhausted and just kind of hid out at Axim Beach. Typed up a report for James, and also a report about care of children from the public health folks, etc. I am particularly proud of the bookkeeping system we’ve set up; Patrick and all have really done a wonderful job of keeping receipts on all purchases, and Anastasia has caught on quickly to Quicken software. We’re doing it all in “new” cedis, because the currency will be converted in about two months. Today we went over all the Quicken data, and made fixes. Then Justine came about 6:30 which was fun. She stayed with me overnight.
Then the king invited Justine and me for lunch, so we had lunch there—-fufu, smoked fish, light soup.Very good. I’m getting good at using the right hand to eat (with the hand, not fork, etc.). We had red wine!! But the family ate in another room, so Justine and I just sat together and chatted and ate. Then a wild ride with him to the site, where we went over everything. Looking very good. I got quite a lot of info about chief things, land issues, etc., too from him. Mary is such a nice person. He is giving them two weeks to finish. Well¦maybe…
Then to the Beach Hotel for meeting with Esi, Bentil, Justine, Anastasia. One name came up: Axim Asomdwee Heritage Home (asomdwee is “peace” in Nzema) We voted unanimously, but have to consult James and Awulae. (Note: in the end the Board decided finally on “Western Heritage Home”). They also decided to try to raise the furnishings themselves—I think, Ravyn, they’ll probably not make it on the gas stoves, oven, bunk beds, etc., but they marked an “L” next to everything that can be donated locally in their judgement. This is terrific, and something VERY new for them. They are going to write letters to everyone imaginable asking for support, and take people to visit the site. Bentil will take the guys tarring the streets, and get them to grade the road. Things are moving. The interesting thing is that they said this has never been done in this town before (asking for donations, etc.) They are brave to step out like this.
Then the colors came up: cream and chocolate are OK, but they want COLOR! This is Ghana, after all!! So, big discussion about blue and green with cream and chocolate, no, yellow, no., I just enjoyed it. Who knows what it will eventually be! They want to make “the cloth”, too. I assured them we’d buy 15 shirts at 120,000 each ($13.00).
Then, back to my room to dismantle the computer to return to the little WHH office in Bentil’s building. Anastasia took charge. Each person got into Thani’s cab, and held part of the computer on his/her lap. Carefully. They all went down to the office together to put it back together. She was just beaming. Leif, you would have loved it.
Then, I just sort of collapsed down at the beach area on a lounge chair. What a day! James is coming tomorrow for a funeral. I’ll go to Anglican Church with Old Soldier, and then to Sekondi. I have tentative appts with Coca-cola, Ghana Bauxite, US Embassy and Produce Buying.
So, since I may not get to an internet connection again until I get home, I’ll sign off from Axim. I’ll catch a flight 9:00 at night on Wed. See you all SOON!! Good luck to the BHam folks at church tomorrow—I wish I were going to be there. It will be great.
So, good night. Love you, Maryanne
posted by Maryanne at 3:59 AM
To review: Jerome, Dina and Frank have done the basic registration, will do the forms in June, and the student will go to school in Sept when the term starts. Dina has the money. All is OK on that front. Please let Jackie know.’
We are meeting tomorrow to figure out the next strategy for the building. Things are going well, although yesterday the masons didn’t show up which annoyed everyone. Today the paint color was decided: cream and chocolate. Basically, the guys deferred to Anastasia who had strong opinions. They want it to be spectacular, and so it will be.Basically did receipts and training in reports, etc. today.
We have the final, final bank statement, checkbook, and the last receipts, so tomorrow we’ll polish it off. Going well.Kids are in school and attending regularly. Got the invoice for 2nd term today, (esi did) but there was an error in it, so back it goes.
BARBARA: women’s meeting won’t be until Friday, per Constance. We went to her stand today. Bentil is looking for a place to meet, which seems hard to come by.
Anastasia can’t wait to “market” the new building as a meeting place. She is dynamite. 🙂 The young guys around Axim are definitely aware of her…interesting. I’ll report on that at some other point. She has the bank manager around her little finger because she has mastered the new currency—she did the entire Quicken file in the “new” currency, so it will all be consistent. He was so impressed, he gave her a special poster that is supposed to go only to “big” outfits, such as the Social Security and Insurance Administration.
Lots of discussion about the building: should they put the roof up? or finish the floors first? Everyone has an opinion, but the contractor, who presumeably knows what is best, will do what he will do. It sprinkled a bit today which kind of set everybody off on the roof business.James is coming tomorrow; Justine on Friday to be with the women’s group. Anastasia will go to the women’s group, too, to help us, take photos, notes, and generally be helpful. She’s very excited about it. She will be a good network person for Gifty to get to know.
posted by Maryanne at 3:58 AM
Diana for you: I have good photos of Hajara, girls, etc which I’ll forward to you when I get home. I have also read all your “idea” emails. The people here have a pretty full plate right now—and I don’t think I should introduce something new right at this time. The girls and Hajara herself really appreciate your scholarships—a chance for them to learn a vocational skill.
Leif: I talked to Ghana Telecom again today. I have more info, but I think I’ll wait until I get back to discuss thoroughly with you. I’m not quite finished with my fact gathering. Went to a lot of places today, and have a few more interviews on that subject ahead of me. Also, I laid the CPU on its side today and it took the CD immediately, so…just to make sure the vent on the top side is not covered. When I got back to the room, A had covered it with a booklet, so tomorrow I’ll go through that with my more “stern Mom” approach.
Barbara: I went to the “special gardens” today, and learned through a guy who just happened to be there and was willing to interpret that the plants are from various places in the world, not from “our” forests/jungles here. So that will be a more complex project. Please just give this much to BHam James who was interested in my findings on that. He is interested in what local wild herbs/plants etc might be cultivated and used. Note that Essie stepped on a nail, made a poultice of a leaf and ginger, put it on a hot stone, and in two days, it was fine. Hmmmm.
Also, please tell BHam James that according to the contractor (M Biney) the site is perfect for solar application. He actually went to Accra to talk to somebody about it. So…
Susan P: I got them to fill out surveys—they’re input seems a bit sketchy, but I’ll forward them to you.
Went to the site today. The roofing materials have almost all been delivered. The last row of concrete is being added to the “near” side. Probably as soon as tomorrow they will begin the roofing. Today they were treated the wood with preservative. Many of the doors have been hung and swing easily and also lock. They are starting to think about the color of paint–they want it to be “spectacular”, per Patrick! I can’t wait to see what they choose. When I thanked Patrick for his incredible vigilance and work, he got quite emotional. He really loves this project.
Today Anastasia finished entering all data, deposits and receipts, from inception until the last we have. She’s doing a terrific job. I noticed some anomalies which I’ll work through with her tomorrow. Then on to how to make reports, how to backup, and how to download and file photos.
I had a great and “real” African dinner made by Annie and Esi last night—they said at the meeting (as they call it) we had Ghanaian ingredients, but not made and served exactly like they like (which is why the Ghana GCJ meeting notes included Gifty’s comments about our not eating “good Ghanaian food”. They were outside, pounding the fufu (very very good—cassava and plaintain mixed) with fish and sauce and rice in case I didn’t like fufu. It was fun. They love being “real Africans”, and said “doesn’t it smell like Africa?”
With luck Constance will gather her women tomorrow. She’s working on it. I hope it comes off—even if only a couple. I let her know I’d like to talk just to her, if others can’t join.
Hot again today…more typical. The cool spell is definitely passed us.
Enough before I get cut off. Love you whoever you are reading this…Maryanne
posted by Maryanne at 3:55 AM
Hi all. I’m going to paste below my notes of Friday and Sat.because I could not send them out earlier.Today internet seems to be working. Jonas is back and apologized to me for all my troubles, and said a guy is coming tomorrow. We’ll see.Rich, I’m sending this to you, too, to forward if the other one doesn’t work. Anastasia sent me a text message for mother’s day—nice of her. I was sitting next to her working at our data, and my phone beeped and here was a nice message from her. She’s a sweetheart.
Today I attended the Methodist church with Bentil and Anastasia. The music was terrific, the sermon preached by a lay woman in the absence of Pastor B. All in all a wonderful day. I was asked to “bring greetings”, but I used most of my time to discuss the goals/etc. of WCHH, etc. Decided to greet briefly, and use my remarks time to do a little PR work. After church, who should zoom up his motorcycle but John Abugri. Now that the streets are tarred, I see more bikes and motor cycles—not loud ones, but small quiet ones.
Annie, Esi and Anastasia came up to ABH with me, and we worked all afternoon on getting the details recorded on each WHH Scholar—family situation, why they need a home, current situation, etc. They just left, and I’m going to relax a little. Many extremely sad stories—they have done a good job of selecting truly needy kids, I think.
Here’s Friday and yesterday’s:
I just spent half an hour getting into the Netmail service, composing, only to have it all disappear somewhere when I tried to send. I
I really enjoyed Chamsou and Lo. They are really good, gracious, gentle, caring people. She joined in our meetings, although she knows little English. Really great folks. Of course, I invited them to connect with us when/if they/he is in Seattle area.
Well, that’s off my chest. Now on to the good news. Yesterday was a good day—we started off with Chamsou (Boeing rep) and I and Lo, his wife, going to the building site at about 8:30. We spent about half an hour looking at everything, taking photos, etc. He was positively impressed, had a lot of questions. The workers are making really good progress—working hard and skillfully. Mostly it’s the masons and plasterer now, but Michael says on Monday they’ll start the roof. He is anxious because of the long delay and the rains are coming. Michael has the solar all worked out—says using the roof is just major unnecessary expense. If we install, we will put on a stand, like the Hot Water systems here at ABH. Plenty of proper exposure, he says.
Then back to ABH for the WHH Board meeting. Good meeting. Discussed name change but took no action yet, decided to go for water pipe AND bore hole, agreed that a Polytank is an absolute necessity, discussed a less expensive fence, etc. Then we joined Chamsou and went over to the Dist Chief Exec office to meet with Mr. E., all but one of the elected assembly members, some other officials. Patrick is an assembly man so he was there, too, kind of for both them and us. James went over the whole plan, blueprints, status, etc. They were very receptive, very positive. Felicia (from our gender dialog) is an assembly woman and also works at Manye Academy, and was a very positive advocate. She said the Assembly members should finish off the playfield behind Manye, and asked for support for that. They were all very enthusiastic about the whole project, I thought. Very very positive. It was really a great feeling. They, too, gently suggested taking the “Christian” out of the name, because they want it to belong to the whole community. James is following the proper route and will bring it to a vote at next Board mtg.
Finally, the DCE looked at everyone, and said “This is our baby. We need to support it. We will provide the water pipe and fix the road”! Well, people clapped! He didn’t mention “when”, but this is good news, nevertheless. Also, Annie told me today he’d promised both a pipe and borehole, so, if that happens, we’ll be in good shape. When we left, our WHH people were ecstatic. The Dist Chief Exec said he’d come to see me at the hotel. Later that evening, one of the staff came to get me and two of the DCEâ€™s assistants were here saying he regretted he could not meet me that evening (which I hadn’t quite caught on was the plan, but I would have been happy to host him). I thanked him for the barracuda, after the meeting, and he laughed! James said he thought he’d had to go to the Regional Minister to get it approved. Not sure if that is true. He also said that at least one of the Assembly members should serve on the WHH board. I’m hoping maybe Felicia will, but James will know which one to choose. I think Father Paul will also come on board.
Ravyn, it was at the Board meeting described above, which was in full swing when you called, and we’d all just promised not to answer our cell phones. I really was so sorry, but I really couldn’t talk then. Maybe it was just as well, since I have included a lot more info since I talked to you.
Then, on to the ABH where we WHH people met for another 3 hour w/Chamsou. Michael Biney, the contractor, also joined us. Chamsou had a lot of questions which the WHH people answered very forthrightly. In the end, he said he thought it was a very good project, he was very impressed by the quality of the facility, and like them, he has concerns about its distance from town but he feels they addressed it, and he really liked the relationship in distance from and also the nature of Manye Acad. He said he’d like to help us more, and gave us (me esp.) info about applying for a grant for 2007! He said he preferred to work with our US organization because we’d gone through the Boeing process for being a trustworthy, reliable organization, properly registered, etc.(rather then WHH directly—so they very formally requested me to represent them and follow up, etc) So, he and I talked more later. Since the grant money was available only two days before I’d left for Ghana (having cleared three banks), it’s a little hard to say exactly how we used what we have, but we of GCJ need to report on the Boeing website by June 6 as to progress, and then write a new grant request. He stressed having a plan, knowing your outcomes, etc. He was positively impressed by the Board, I think, as to the quality and focus. Well, they were very happy about the whole business. He mentioned working together on infrastructure over 3-4 years!
After all that, I tried to send out email or blog or something, but no…the African Internet God was not with me/has utterly abandoned me, I guess.
So, then comes this mammoth thunderstorm—lightening, thunder, pounding rain, high waves, etc. When it subsided, I ventured to the restaurant and joined Chamsou and Lo for a light supper and of course, the storm resumed, leaving us in the dark. Thanks for headlamp, Rich—worked great—we dined by headlamp light, and the staff all wanted to know how it worked, how much it cost, etc. It was amazing how that little light lit up the whole area, really. This went on most of the night, back and forth. And today was actually “cool”–as in Washington State type temperatures, but much more humid. But a relief. And just to make sure, Florence left two sheets for me tonight in case I get cold–not much chance of that!
Today another surprise. I happened to notice the calendar in the office had “April” up and a photo of the Skagit Valley! I said to the receptionist that it was a photo of my own home valley. She was amazed, and then said that on May 7 another guest, a guy, had mentioned that it was HIS home valley and he was amazed that they had it! Of course, she is new and didn’t know us from before. Of course, since this was Ghana, they told me name, description, parts of his conversations, etc. He is Michael O. from Anacortes. I have heard of Michael—he does development work—but have not met him. Unfortunately, we did not connect, even though I’m in room 13 and he was in room 14! I noticed two young-ish, nice looking guys around, but… I’ll call him when I get back. The staff is appropriately somewhat flabbergasted by this event, with two of us from the same spot. They see very few Americans, after all, as compared to Europeans and Africans, and from the same place?!
Then, Frank showed up. Yesterday he had worked on the office computer and got all the activations done from the Trial Software to the real stuff, a few more updates, and loaded Encarta. The half hour internet part of the task took five hours and cost me 150,000 cedis. He also sent you all an email, I believe. This is “reality” at this time; Iâ€™m not sure why. Last week everything was working quite well with the Ethernet. They blame it on the weather, butâ€¦. Today he came a bit early and helped me get ready for the GCJ Ghana alum group. We had a little time and he pumped me with â€œcomputerâ€ questions—Leif had told him, he said, to learn all he could from me. Well, I tried to share whatever knowledge I might have. Tonight I just refused to pay for half the time Sammy seemed a little crestfallen, but I told him if you go to a restaurant and don’t get anything to eat, it’s not fair to make the person pay. He agreed.
Leif, you are doing a wonderful job coaching Frank. He is so motivated, so grateful, and, compared to when I was with him last fall, so MUCH more knowledgeable—it’s just so great to see. He will keep the administrator password and told me he has no money to donate to WHH, but he will donate his abilities and time to help Anastasia as she needs it. That is just so great.
Frank and Patrick were on time; Gifty came about 1.5 hours late. Annie and Esi were 2.5 hours late. But, nevertheless, Dina, Gifty, JC, Patrick, Bentil, Annie, Esi, Frank and I were there. James and Justine were doing a motivational talk at a SS. JJ is 7th day Aventist and Sat is not good for him. Mustapha is the new Deputy Head master at a private SS in the middle of the country and couldn’t come. Steve was at his Mother’s funeral. Highlight was the 45 minute discussion going through items in the Town Hall notes. Finally, I suggested very gingerly, that perhaps they might consider….holding a public Town hall Followup meeting. They were a bit skeptical, but I could tell they wanted to do it. I suggested that if they would find it helpful, perhaps Barbara could assist them since she’s been trained in Appreciative Inquiry, and would be here in Sept. That seemed to galvanize them—they were determined to go ahead on their own, without our help. They didnâ€™t feel they need training. They have also experienced AI with a USAID program and know how to do it. They decided right then and there to do it themselves (nothing to do with you, BJG just more or less got them focused on what they wanted to do—this is rheir baby). And they decided to do it BEFORE we come, on the third Tues. in July. Then the ideas just came flowing out—finally Gifty insisted on a talking object to keep the discussion reasonable! They really got their collective juices going. They more or less planned the whole thing right then and there, right down to who would do what and when, including where to find cardboard for writing on. I said I still have some magic markers in my suitcase, and will leave all of them. Frank took a copy of the Town Hall Notes on his thumb drive, and Bentil offered the paper to print copies for each GCJ person, plus Constance and a couple of other women they will ask to help. They agreed to invite all who had been there before and aim for 100 people, and hold it in the new WHH building if it’s ready. I was spellbound. I suggested that we North Americans might help a little bit with expenses if they think it would be helpful. They said they’d let me know! This may or may not end up being the most perfect AI session, but it will be a perfect Town Hall Meeting!!
Then another big surprise. At the beginning of the meeting, JC rather formally introduced me and welcomed me. Then, according to the agenda, I had to make a speech. So, I briefly summarized some happenings, including the new journeys being planned for Burundi and Nigeria in 2008. Then, I was knocked off my feet by JC saying that he would like to be a delegate to Burundi, to join the non-Burundians part of the delegation there!! They all concurred that this would be exactly what they want to happen. They are serious. SUSAN, CAN WE POSSIBLY MAKE THIS HAPPEN? I think it would be great. I realize it would be a bit of a stretch with training, etc., but he’s such an insightful, articulate, intelligent, and warm guy, that I think it would work. And he is trained already, one might say. I suggested that since Burundi is poorer than Ghana, perhaps they would have to assume some of the expenses, just as we had to for Ghana, which is poorer than the US. That didn’t seem to phase them too much”in fact, they agreed! I guess we’ll need to think about it, but really, this is a terrific development, in my opinion. (The airfare will be a problem for them, I think.) I told them that the latest I’d heard was the possibility of working together on a well/borehole as the legacy project, which they thought was a great idea—they are well aware of the Hutu/Tutsi situation, and they just want to be involved—Africans working together one said (can’t remember who) put it. He asked me to find out how he could apply.
Patrick spoke eloquently about how, as assembly man, he goes around his district each morning and urges all the children to go to school. He is really a motivated man. Just a terrific guy.
Not only Patrick’s father, but also Stephen’s mother, and Bentil’s mother (Aunt actually, but assumes mother position when the biological mother dies) have died in the last week. Bentil’s brother also died this week, and a couple of Gifty’s cousins recently.
Well, you’ll get the minutes from Frank at some point, so I won’t go into everything. I used the some of the gift money from you guys to buy a nice lunch (including Dina and Gifty’s sons), and I would say we had a really good meeting and a good time. So thanks for the help, esp. Diana, and we enjoyed the chicken and fried rice a lot. I told Gifty I would wire her money as soon as I get back and know for certain what has cleared the bank on our end. She was fine with that.
Jerome, Dina and Frank have seen to the young man’s college. They have helped him do all the registration paperwork, and in June he will have to do more forms. Dina has the money and she and Frank assured me they will pay for him when he starts in September, which is the start of the new year. He had to wait until then to start.
That’s about it. I’m zonked, but kind of hyped–hence this long conversation. Had to talk to someone!!. I’ll try to get this out sometime tomorrow. I will meet Bentil at the Meth. Church tomorrow. Time to sing a little!!
posted by Maryanne at 3:41 AM