7 Months Later...
We have finally updated the website for Wofabeng (www.wofabeng.org) with a list of current projects and our plans for the year. Or, I should say, it will be updated WITHIN the week. We have also updated our contact information. I will try and get some pictures of our projects on the site soon. There has been a recent increase in interest for the group and our projects are rapidly picking up speed. The Women's Association has also submitted a proposal to the Global Fund for Women (an NGO based in San Francisco; me and my cats' ole stomping grounds) to begin a project focusing on the education and empowerment of young women. I am happy to say that I am more optimistic than ever about my work and its impact on the community here in ******.
It's hard to believe it is already mid-April. I am surprised that I have gone this long without going crazy (though you, as readers of my emails, may beg to differ!) or giving up and returning to the U.S.A. Indeed, on April 19th it will have been 7 long months since I left home for West Africa. Everyday I become more and more convinced that joining the Peace Corps was the best decision I could have made at this time of my life. I want to thank everyone who has supported me. Without your letters and emails it would have been very difficult for me to make it through the rough times.
There have certainly been challenging experiences. About two weeks I had a severe bout with malaria. I had a fever of 40-41 degrees centigrade (or 104-105 degrees fahrenheit) and my joints became entirely immovable. I stayed in my bed for a good two days while anti-malarial medicine pounded through my veins and did its own part in keeping me disabled. I can whole-heartedly say that malaria is the worst sickness I have had, and that it should not be given the romantic treatment it is often endowed with in travelogues and novels based in the humid tropics. It is god-awful. Then there have been the quite tragic experiences: driving through a small village which had been devastated by cholera; coming down a hill to witness a 70-person bus which had just flipped over after blowing a front tire (inflicting God-knows how many casualties).
But Ghana has much more inspiration and happiness in its day-to-day existence than worry and sadness. The people of Ghana are the friendliest and most welcoming I have ever met, and they are truly interested in making a better life for themselves and their country. Ghanaian culture is vibrant, musical, spicy, and invigorating. The environment is incomparably beautiful and the food is a godsend. Whoever thought that someone could gain weight moving from America to Africa? Where you're hearing from one right now!
Ghanaians are entirely aware of what they need to do and how to do it, but they just don't have the resources to get things done. As I have said before, Ghana as a colony was given an export-oriented infrastructure, and this infrastructure has exported both Ghana's natural and human resources. And no, I am not talking about slavery. About 80% of college graduates in Ghana move to richer countries - depriving Ghana of doctors, teachers, scientists, businessmen, and future leaders. On the one hand it is difficult to blame people for wanting a better life, but on the other hand it is difficult to understand how Ghanaians can expect their country to change for the better if the educated class just wants to leave.
Again, I beg you to visit the Wofabeng website, and I hope everyone has a wonderful Spring. I can even smell the orange blossoms from this distant corner of Earth!
"Uncertainty, in the presence of vivid hopes and fears, is painful, but must be endured if we wish to live without the support of comforting fairy tales."
-Bertrand Russel, "The History of Western Philosophy"