Posted by Emily Block | 1 comments

Ghana (Day 5)

Presently, I am not able to send e-mail so a bunch of blog entries may be posted all at once.  I hope they stay in the order they were sent so the chronology doesn't get all messed up.  Oh well.  :0)

I woke up this morning after an awesome dream that I was in Ghana.  As I was coming out of the dream more, I remembered that I was back at home and started to get really sad.  Then I woke up fully and realized I really was in Ghana!  It though this was a pretty funny way to wake up.  :0)  

Today was an easy day compared to the rest of my stay in Ghana.  It was a FDP which is like the lab portion of a class I am taking on the ship.  (As opposed to field programs that are for fun and general education.)  In my Globalization and Development anthropology class we have been learning about some of the solutions to poverty in Ghana.  The two main models we have looked at are microlending for the poorest sector and entrepreneurship in the middle class sector.  We got a chance to see both in action on our tour of Accra today.  
Karen and photobomber (don't know his name yet) on the bus with hilarious plastic covered on all the seats.  

   The first stop was to Global Mamas, a non-profit started by American Peace Core vets to give skilled women a market for their products.  There are and have been tons of programs set up for skill training for women, but the women would end up being highly skilled with no access to large markets.  A woman who made purses may have only been able to sell two shirts per week.  Global Mamas connects these women (and some men) to customers all over the world so they can sell up to 80 purses per week.  The organization doesn't just help the women sell the handicrafts though.  They provide the women with the fabric and some of the other materials needed (thread, zippers, etc.) in a form of microlending in supplies instead of money.  That way start up costs don't limit the women's opportunities.  All of the products are of very high quality.  Before Global Mamas starts working with a woman, they go through an interview process to ensure that they will make good products.  This very much showed when I looked through the Global Mama's store in Accra.  The products were so much nicer than what is customary to find in stores at home.  I loaded up on gifts and a couple of things for myself and felt doubly good about it because a) shopping and b)fair trade shopping!  I would really recommend looking them up (they are known as Women in Progress in the U.S.)!  In addition to shopping, one of the two founders of the organization talked to us about how she started up the non-profit and how it is run.  Their main goal now is to expand (they are so busy!) without compromising the intimacy in how the organization works.  It was a great example of a really successfully and thoughtfully implemented idea.  

   Our next stop was part of the huge Accra market.  (I believe it is the largest in Ghana.)  I was a littler nervous based on what I had heard about it from my friends.  They had said people are really aggressive and it is way too crowded and busy.  I actually really enjoyed it and wasn't intimidated at all.  Maybe it was because my friends had done such a good job of preparing me for the worst.  In fact, it really wasn't all that different than some parts of cities at home.  The products were different and there was real danger of being run over by a car as you shopped, but the hustle and bustle was fairly familiar to me.  

Karen and Alyssa at the market.

  We only had a half an hour there so we didn't get to see that much.  We were all supposed to stay in this one square so we didn't get lost or mugged or whatever else our tour guide was worried about.  Naturally, the people I was with didn't follow this rule and I had to stay with them or break the other rule (stay in groups).  So shucks, I got to see more of the market.  :0P  I was beyond ecstatic to purchase two vuvuzelas for less than I could get ten of them at home!  I've tried to use one in the past with no such luck, but because of the magic of Ghana, I was able to do it on my first try here.  I guess I got luckier than I thought with the purchase because those were the only two I saw in the whole market and I had three Ghanaians want to buy them from me!  I fully intend on bringing one to the intramural soccer games!  
Wow this is a bad picture. I look ill!

  Other than my proud vuvuzela find, there wasn't much else I wanted to buy.  The market was the real life version of the other economic strategy we looked at in class, entrepreneurship.  The women who were selling at the market are usually middle class women who travel to other countries (usually the U.S. or China), buy goods at wholesale prices, and then come back go Ghana to sell them.  It was funny to find a bracelet I bought at Forever 21 for sale at a booth!  This business model is made possible by some relatively new pro-globalization legislation.   I found it interesting because so often I hear about all the negative effects of globalization and here was an example of how globalization provided a really good living in a fairly poor country.  

In the market, I wanted to take pictures but had heard lots of stories about people getting yelled at or harassed for doing this.  Some of the SASers who got yelled at asked the person why they were so angry and I guess it is because the person worried that the pictures would be published and show a bad side of Africa.  I thought this was strange because the market was pretty similar to some in the U.S. and an example of successful entrepreneurship.  I don't know how that would portray a negative picture of Africa, but I concede that there is probably something I don't understand because I'm not from here.  I did take pictures despite this, although it was done stealthily.  No one seemed to notice and if they did, they didn't care.  I did get screamed at and probably would have gotten hit if there wasn't a bus window between us by a man when I was ironically not taking a picture.  I was just holding my camera in my hand and leaning against the window in a way that it was visible and all of the sudden this guy is pounding on the window and yelling at me.  I showed him I was not taking a picture but he just kept yelling and hitting my window.  It was actually a little scary even though we the light turned green and we drove away before he could do anything.  

Back at the port, I still had some ceti (got the right spelling now I think) left so I bought some stuff and talked with some of the vendors.  I went back to the painting guy as promised and bought a really cool one with some nicely painted African symbols on it.  I still don't know if it was really painted by him, but it was really nice and it was hand painted by someone.  I stayed an talked to him for a bit and he gave me a big hug and said thank you for coming back because he didn't think I would.  I also bought a drum (for asking price) from a different guy.  He was really nice and not pushy at all.  I also talked with him a bit about where he gets the products from and how that process works.  (He travels North and buys things that various villages specialize in.)  It was a really good way to end my stay in Ghana.  

Leaving is always so difficult.  Especially this time because I got to know a family.  The only way I can stay sane is to assure myself that I will be back.  haha  

P.S. Right now the ship is going crazy rocking!  It's the worst it's been yet.  There is a serious possibility I could be launched off my bed.  Cool!  The captain just came on the loud speaker and basically told us to avoid walking around as much as possible in the next few minutes and it should get better after that.  

P.P.S.  It's a couple hours later (I went to a post--port reflection session in the middle of writing this) and we are back to the usual boring gentle swaying of the ship.  

Also some fruit bats for your enjoyment.  

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like SOOOOOOO much fun!!! I love you, and miss you! Enjoy the rocking and all the sights... Can't wait to see you again!


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