Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fabric Daze!

Remember when I said that the fabric in Ghana is unreal well I decided to make some tailored dresses a reality! Today Christina, Rachel and I ventured into Mankessim to pick out some quality fabric. We found a sweet woman who educated us on the fabrics and the stories behind some of them. Excited with our new purchases we went home and did some research about what we wanted our dresses to look like. Eagerly we ran down the street to Miracle Fabrics and met with Benjamin, the tailor. He took our measurements and discussed how our dresses would look like. Here are some photos from our adventure!
Ben taking my measurements.
Figuring out the length of Christina's dress.
She is gonna look like a princess!
Ben writes down our measurements and requests for the dresses.
Fabric and photos of what we want.
Designs for my dresses.
Colorful fabrics decorate the inside of their business.
Our fabric was 10 cedis for 2 yards. It costs 8 cedis for a dress and 5 cedis for a skirt. Total for a tailored dress fabric and all is $9 US. It is unreal. I am so glad I didn't pack a lot of clothes because I fully intend to come home with a new Ghanaian wardrobe. It will be tasty!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

This is Crazy Chaleeee!

This post is meant specifically for you and kicking off your weekend!! Ghana boasts some pretty awesome music inspired by Azonto, a catchy dance style. It is relatively easy to learn, but it definitely all lies in your attitude. Unfortunately for me it is something I am working on. I can't say the same for the kids in the communities. They got it going on. BBC even did a special on Azonto.

Here are some of my personal favorites:

I would love to hear your thoughts on Azonto and the music. It is a lot of fun and highly addictive. I created a  playlist on YouTube if you want to explore more, "Life is Tasty." I will send you on your way with one more tune because we all know we need an African man. Hope your weekend is a blast!! Miss you!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Past Couple of Days!

Man oh man, electricity has not been on our side. For the past 6 days, we lose power. Sometimes it is off and then back on and other times it is 3-4 hours. Last night it was off for 13 hours. We light up some candles that are posted up in the necks of wine bottles. Don't judge us. Christina and I had dinner duty on Sunday. We decided to spice it up with our Latin roots and lay down the law. 
Improvising with a sunscreen and wine bottle as rollers.
Christina getting down with paper thin tortillas!
Caitlyn manning our cooker which soon turned into a fryer. Fried flour tortillas are soooo gewd.  Also, you get a glimpse of our very IMPORTANT kitchen rules.
Beautifully colored beans!
Power went out just as the sun went down. Note the awesome candle holders.
Beans! Beans! The magical fruit!
Homemade tortillas galore! I can't wait to make some with you,  Bruce!
Fresh guacamole and pineapple (not shown because I ate it all) accompanied us too!
I have been spending more time in the office researching compost toliets, urine diverting toliets, how to use urine in one's garden. This is some serious shit. Pardon the language, but I couldn't help myself (hope you liked that one, Pop). What I mean to say is that we are learning what creative development projects are out there and what our options are for piloting in December when UCLA's Public Health Brigade comes down.

I have also been working on a baseline survey to introduce to three communities. My current methodology of choice is the Socio-Economic Gendered Analysis (SEAGA). The approach focuses on tools to elicit the participation of men and women from local communities in the development process. For my close pals, you know how important equal participation from all members is to me, particularly women. Often times women's voices are not included in projects for a number of reasons: cultural differences, surveys only include heads of households which tend to be males, women are unable to attend project meetings, or projects are just given to communities without any consideration for any member's input to name a few examples. My time spent in Honduras definitely reflected cultural differences. Men gave their opinions more freely and openly. Women, on the other hand, were shy and often stayed at home when we had our community meetings. If they did attend, they stood to the side and were hesitant to share their experiences. In August 2010, my gender empowerment workshop focused on creating mutual respect and value between men and women and the unique perspectives they offer. Together they have the opportunity to tap into the different roles they have and improve the overall well being of the community. In addition to having a gendered aspect, SEAGA also focuses on socio-economic patterns. It identifies the needs and constraints that different people have. The needs and issues of a wealthier woman won't be the same as a poor, single mother. In Ghana, there is still much that I am not familiar with. I am hoping SEAGA will allow us an introductory understanding so we confidently move forward with communities knowing that we are listening and supporting them as they direct their development.

Wednesdays and Saturdays are crazy market days. There is so much to see and smell. It can be overwhelming. So many people want to ask us how we are and what our names are. Obruni is what old and young yell at us. Ghanaians' speak Fante, and in their language it means white person or foreigner.
This photo doesn't even begin to show how packed it gets. I am gonna try and show you guys.
Unreal fabrics! You can get fabric here for $2-3 a yard and then get a tailored dress or skirt for $5.  Unreal, I  say.
My market guide, Kyle Putnam...I mean Putman. Haha!
Lots of dried fish! They always just stare at me.
I passed my camera to Kyle to capture a guy carrying one of those huge bags in the background on his head. Instead he got these two cute kids. Kids love Kyle.
Maize laid out to dry.
Another day I went walking with Christina. This sign was ridiculous!  This poor  woman doesn't even get to use her name. She is just Officer Sammy's Wife. Bummer.
Got to meet our neighbors at Miracle Fabrics. They invited us right in and let us take photos of their industrial sewing machines. They don't make things like they use to, do they?
More neighbors! Christian snaps incredible photos of this guy. We asked what it was for and they said to keep thieves out. Job well done, guys!
The last neighbor we met up with was making furniture!  Just down the street from us we have seamstresses,  blacksmiths, and a furniture maker. It was a make everything from scratch kinda day. 
Christina and I finally made it into Mankessim by foot and ran into this  parade!
We think it was for a chief, but we weren't able to confirm. 
I can't believe it is already 4 days into September. Time is going by real quick. (Did you catch that, B?) Come next weekend I will have already been here for a month! I have been good at keeping my momentum and having a great time when I can (which is pretty much all the time). It is starting to feel like home! Don't worry, Mom and Pop, it just feels like it, but I know where I belong. I love you guys and hope you are doing swimmingly well!