Friday, August 14, 2015

Ete sen! (Eh ya!) - Travel Team 2015 Week 1

After a variety of air travel mishaps, we’ve all arrived in Ghana! At this point we’ve been here for almost a week, so this post will include a brief summary of several days worth of work.

For those of you who are not familiar with our projects, here’s a quick summary:

This trip we are hoping to accomplish two goals. The first is to implement a latrine for the community of Kwasi Doi. Our other goal is to gather information about water usage and availability in the neighboring community of Amanfrom.

We expected there to already be a hole for the pit of the latrine so that we could begin working right away. Unfortunately it’s always difficult to communicate overseas, and when we arrived in Kwasi Doi we found that the community had not started digging yet. Because of time constraints, our community contact, Sammy, had to hire a backhoe. Luckily, the backhoe was finished digging in just one day.

While the backhoe was working, we met with leaders in Amanfrom. The leaders emphasized that their first priority is water for their community, but also mentioned that in the future they’d like to have a latrine as well. We told them a little about how EWB functions, and our expectations for the community to contribute to the project as well.

One of the biggest challenges we’ve had this trip has been reaching design agreements with the workers, especially with the language barrier and because we did not communicate as well while we were still in the U.S. Additionally, we found that some of the measurements for materials such as the cement blocks are not the same as we had anticipated. We eventually came to an agreement after talking with the district engineer, and now we’re back on track for latrine construction. On the bright side, many of our larger quantity building materials cost less than we budgeted for.

Before making cement, we had to gather a bunch of water to mix into the cement powder and sand. The community’s water pump is down the hill from the latrine, and the villagers carried water from the pump to the latrine site on their heads. We wanted to help out, so each of us carried a few as well. Balancing the buckets on our head was tricky at first, but we caught on quickly. The kids and women watching thought it was hilarious that the “obroni”s (foreigners) were carrying water the way they do. They are better at it than us, but at least we were some help and it was amusing for them. We are now done with cement pouring, and will let the cement cure over a few days before beginning on the walls.

We’ve learned a lot just by interacting with the different people who live here. Our neighbor, Abraham, told us about his experiences living in Amanfrom. He told us about his job at a hotel, and also about the blackouts that they experience in Ghana. We also learned about what TV shows he likes to watch, and he taught us a few useful words and phrases in Twi (the language spoken here). He and his family have been extremely hospitable to us during our stay.

This afternoon we met with the district assembly man of Amanfrom. His name is Michael, and he also happens to be Abraham's brother. From him, we learned about the three regions of Amanfrom and how they currently get water. He also told us a lot about what the government looks like within the community, and how families are structured. Tomorrow morning, he's going to show us around a little, since we haven't really gotten a chance to see Amanfrom yet.

Our next travel team begins arriving on Monday, and we look forward to seeing them soon! For now, we hope you enjoyed our little update, and we'll try to update again in the near future.

All the best,

EWB Ghana Travel Team 2015

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