Before heading off to Senegal, my boss promised to email me a document that required editing; this would have taken me at least two days to do had he sent it on Monday morning as promised…he didn’t. Instead he chose to send me the document 10 minutes before close of business on Friday. As I had no work to do in my unit all week, I spent my working week jumping on board projects in other units; this resulted in me being involved in 2 field trips. The first field trip was to Walewale (a 2 hour drive from Tamale) where we were to discuss issues pertaining to our reforestation projects with community members in that district. WFP through its food for work and food for assets programs, mobilises community members to be involved in activities such as dam rehabilitation and building and reforestation, it pays these communities for the work they have conducted in food. The distribution of food and the suggestion/coordination of the project sites and communities is managed by our partner organisations such as the Ministry of Forestry and the Environmental Protection Agency (in the case of reforestation) and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and other NGO’s in the case of dam rehabilitation. In this specific instance we met with the Ministry of Forestry and the community elders to see the progress the communities were making in terms of their planned targets, we also wanted to asses for ourselves whether or not they had met the proposed outcomes and if so, we needed to discuss how to provide them with the food. The second field trip involved me and a couple of other colleagues meeting with Farmer Organisations for the Purchase for Progress project. Purchase for progress is where we (WFP) identify, small holder farms/ers and provide them with the opportunity to produce cereals and other crops for us, we pay them for these crops and then use this food for our other projects such as food for works and food for assets. We went on this trip to find a solution to issues in two particular communities where issues of internal conflict had arisen; this conflict had resulted in disorder amongst the farmer organisations and as a result, they were not producing the right amount of food we had required from them. We also provided them with specific farming information, for example how they could be more effective and produce greater yields, what methods they could use to minimise moisture damage, to see if we could provide them with a small amount of money to mend their machinery, etc.
After a long day in the field, I spent Monday evening recuperating. Tuesday evening, I took part in my first djembe drumming lessons. I have always been musically stunted, somewhat tone deaf, but for some reason unbeknownst to me, I dominated at the drums. I think this may be because for the past couple of years I have been in the presence of many musicians, namely, Uncle Rod and my daddy bear. Slowly getting the ear for music I reckon. Anyway, I really loved drumming and I can’t wait for the next lesson. Spent the remainder of the week, tapping out the drum beat we had learnt, now to buy myself a quality djembe. Wednesday night, we had a little bit of a house dinner which was super cute. I cooked a steak, some roasted veggies and a salad and all of the housemates sat down to some dinner and red together. Tasted nothing like my mummy bears cooking though (miss you mum). Thursday evening brought with it Cara’s cheese night. The idea behind this night is that Cara had brought some cheese back with her from her trip to France….but when she had arrived back in Ghana from her flight which had transited in Madrid, she was told that her bags didn’t make it onto the Madrid-Accra leg. So the cheese (which was stuck in her check-in luggage) only arrived in Tamale 3 days later, it had been sitting in her bag the whole time. Upon its arrival in Tamale it went straight into our fridge (it stunk it out) and as a result we didn’t want to wait too long to get rid of it, so Cara invited a whole bunch of ladies round for dinner and cheese. We enjoyed some risotto and artichokes with chicken, accompanied by beetroot, feta, and pine nut salad; a toss salad (with blue cheese) and roasted eggplant for the main. Most of the ingredients came all the way from France. We ate slowly; I will not get a meal like this until I go to Spain. Wait, I think Togo (being French) may have all these delicious things too. We spent Friday night at Jungle Bar and Mikes to farewell one of the old expatriates, who had come into town to do some M&E of her previous project. Jungle Bar had a great atmosphere, but we had to go to Mikes not long after arriving there because they ran out of drinks….Ghaaaannnnaaa!
Courtney and I spent Saturday morning shopping, organising our Friday night flight to Accra for our long awaited trip to Togo and getting our dresses altered at the tailor. I read on Saturday afternoon. Saturday evening was the farewell of another expatriate (one of the AYADs-Bec), to celebrate her farewell, she bought a whole pig which was cooked on the spit and shared with us all (other expats and her work colleagues). There were many people at the party and lots of dancing. However, that was not the end. People in Tamale are gluttons for punishment, so after the party (which ended around 12am), we headed to the Swedes (four Swedish guys) amazing mansion (there’s a pool table, a huge garden, an awesome swimming pool, double door fridge, a huge projector for movies, etc- things you don’t see in Tamale often) for an after party and a Singstar competition. We left the house at 4am with hoarse voices and bags under our eyes. I am getting too old for these late nights. Sunday was a lazy day around the house, Cara, Mary and I, just caught up on all the events of the week, I also ended up editing that document my boss decided to send to me on Friday afternoon and later that evening Mary taught us how to make groundnut soup and rice balls- a typical Ghanaian delight.
Courtney and I are eagerly waiting for the week to end so we can embark on our journey to Togo. We will leave Tamale on the 5:30pm flight; we will spend Friday night in Accra and leave for Lomé early on Saturday morning. Very exciting. Let’s hope the Austraining/WUSC office gives us our yellow fever certificates back, or else we won’t be able to get back into Ghana.