Saturday, August 25, 2012

Akwaaba to Ghana!

HI! My first week living in Ghana is officially behind me. To be honest, I am still adjusting to the fact that I am going to be here for an entire year. Part of me feels I will going home soon, but this is just the beginning.

I would like to introduce you to the Global Brigades (GB) house! It is located outside of Mankessim, roughly two and a half hours from Accra. The house thankfully has 3 functioning bikes. Some mornings we have yoga sessions in the courtyard and others go on runs. I have been diligent about getting a ride in every day except today.
Our house!
Our office is also located at the house. Every morning we sign in at 9:00 AM and we get cracking. The past week I have been out to 3 communities with 3 different Medical Brigades. My goal was to observe their Public Health Stations and the door-to-door follow ups they do on their last day. Loyola (Chicago), Kings (London), and  Dalhousie (Halifax) did incredible work.
The office!
Highlight of the house is the attic. It is where we chill out and occasionally do yoga. It was recently cleaned and set up anew. Pretty fancy!
The attic!
I share a room with 2 other ladies, Caitlyn & Rebecca. Our room is located on the second floor of the house. Caitlyn is our architect for the Campus of Holistic Development (CHD) that is being built to house brigaders. Currently, students stay at Weda and Fair Hill, centrally located "hotels." Here is some information about the CHD if you are curious. Rebecca is the advisor for Water Brigades and soooo much more! I met her back in May when I first came to Ghana. For me, she played a big role in my decision to return. As you can see we use mosquito nets and they have been pretty helpful. Only got a few bites and have not had to use repellent yet.
Home Sweet Home!
Right now the house does not have running water, so using the bathroom requires some planning and it kinda gets a little stinky. We carry buckets of water up every day so we can do our daily washing. There is a second house in the back that has running water where we can shower and cook.
I guess at some point there was a wall between the houses, but someone decided that it should come down. Great idea especially when dinner is ready!
Getting to the back house!
Right now there are 10 of us living here and we share cooking and the grocery shopping among ourselves. Food gets eaten here so quick. Partially because it is super organic and actually rots in a couple of days and because there are so many of us. A thing of ice cream was devoured in 15 minutes, if that. And if you are thinking about sending a care package, please send food! I miss hot cheetos, sriracha, cheese, dark chocolate, tortillas, pizza. Oh geez, just thinking about all that stuff makes my mouth water. Bruce, I want to personally thank you for taking me to some DEEEE-licious places before I left. Those memories are keeping me going! My address is: P.O. Box 93, Mankessim, Ghana. THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!
Our kitchen!
Our fridge is a joke compared to the ones back in the states. Oh the luxuries we are fortunate to have!
Baby fridge!
If you are wondering where everyone is because no one is in any of the photos it's because they were either napping or out in Aboano, a community we work in. Last night we went to Salt Pond's festival. It was ridiculous. We danced and drank and ran into interpreters that work for GB. Our accoutant, Aikens, made sure to show us a good time. Azonto is a popular dance style in Ghana that is really fun. It is my sincere hope to come home and somehow be good at it.

So now that you know where I am staying and what it kinda looks like you are probably asking yourself what I am doing here. Well, I finally found out! As Program Developer for Public Health, my goals are pretty straightforward.
  1. Improve Medical Brigades' Public Health station.
  2. Provide support to Water and Medical Brigades in their work with selling Life Straws, filters that remove bacteria and parasites from water.
  3. Improve the follow up conducted at door-to-door.
  4. Ultimately, develop 10 day Public Health Brigade.
While it is pretty clear what I am to do the work all lies in the HOW. In the next month, I am working on having a comprehensive understanding of Public Health in Ghana as well as in Central America. I am researching project ideas with Kyle and Rachel for a UCLA brigade that is coming in December. Kyle and Rach are advisers for Medical and are super excited to help out. I am couldn't be more pleased to be working with them and to have their input. 

I am really excited because I have the opportunity to put the knowledge I gained while piloting gender empowerment workshops in Honduras. I definitely learned quite a bit about engaging community members, facilitating discussions about change, and empowering others to take ownership of their well being. I am a little rusty, but I think in a month's time we are going to have a wealth of knowledge at our disposal. And thankfully, I can share all that I am learning and doing with YOU! I miss you and can't wait to see you when I  visit in February. I hope we keep in touch until then. 
My view as I write to you.



  2. Hey Rachel! Just found you're blog, so glad you're enjoying Ghana and good luck with that bathroom ;)

    and p.s. (just for public health interest) the veggies there are usually far from organic, but if you grab an interpreter and do some interviewing around the market you can sometimes find women who don't use pesticides :)