Ghanaian Reality Check

1 June 2009 at 23:51 8 comments

By Nancy Tuller, KF8 Ghana, Africa

“Akwaaba!”  (Welcome!), I heard, over and over in my first few days here in Ghana, and what a wonderful welcome it has been!  When I stepped outside the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, my heart lept at the feel of the warm and humid summer night clinging to my skin and the cacophony of voices in Twi, which is the most commonly spoken language here in Ghana.  It sounded to me like a kind of chaotic harmony, blending perfectly with snatches of disparate Ghanaian music coming from various vehicles as I left the airport for my hotel.  Every face I encountered could only be described as friendly, every voice warmly welcoming me!

Now I have been in Kumasi, the city of about three million residents, where Sinapi Aba Trust (SAT) has its headquarters, for four whole days as a Kiva Fellow.  That is enough to know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be!  One Kiva staff member told me that she felt that Africa was her home.  I wonder if I will be next to express that sentiment!   Already I am calling the apartment where I am staying with one of the SAT staff members and his wife “home”.  Joshua, Nana and I live in a two bedroom apartment on the third floor in a complex that at one time was a prestigious address, but has lost the right to that claim since the corporation who owns the complex decided not to maintain the roads, lights, security or even the reservoir that should be pumping water to the complex.  The apartment itself is modest, simple, clean and lovely, and I am very comfortable here, but all residents suffer a lack of running water.  A water truck brings water, and persons are paid to carry water in 20 liter buckets on top their heads, up the stairs (no elevators) to each apartment.  Water is used very sparingly, and of course the water problem is not just in this complex, it extends all over Africa, and much of the developing world.  The effects of climate change are very real-time here.  Nana says the monsoon season definitely is bringing less rain (it’s only rained briefly one time since I’ve been here and it is monsoon season now), and the large river that has always supplied the Kumasi area with water is low.  Though there is a large water table beneath Kumasi, very few can afford to bore a hole to access it.  This is a country where almost everyone, and perhaps especially the poor, have to pay market prices for clean water or make do with polluted water, increasing their exposure and vulnerability to illness and disease.  Add to this the absolutely alarming rate of inflation (currently 20.6%), in which the price of a banana or a cassava (and water) might go up by almost 0.66% overnight, and where unemployment is (depending upon whom you ask) between 30-40%!!  Such are some of the most visible factors of poverty here in Ghana, making microfinance,the provision of basic financial services such as savings, loans, and insurance, all the more crucial to the ability of the poor to weather such tumultuous financial storms.

Pounding plantains for fufuFrank &Thomas at SAT offices

If you would like to learn more about Sinapi Aba Trust and the provision of microloans to Ghanaian entrepreneurs, go to:  http://www.kiva.org/about/aboutPartner?id=88&_tpg=fb

Browse through SAT borrower profiles, make a loan, and and make a positive change in someone’s life at: http://www.kiva.org/app.php?page=businesses&partner_id=88&status=fundRaising&sortBy=New+to+Old&_tpg=fb

Entry filed under: Africa, All, KF8 (Kiva Fellows 8th Class), Kiva Field Partners, Kiva Team, Sinapi Aba Trust. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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8 Comments

  • 1. Catherine Beatty Holt  |  29 June 2009 at 13:16

    Nancy,
    We at the church are cheered and inspired by what you’re doing. While it may be true that organized religion is 100 years behind the rest of society, I think change is happening. The United Methodists are re-thinking church. Since 1968, I am told, the focus has been on the transormation of the world, on social justice.
    Salaam, shalom, peace, Catherine Beatty

  • 2. Nancy N  |  14 June 2009 at 15:50

    Greetings, Earthling! Your CR ladies miss you mucho here in No CA, but knowing you are safe and thriving brings us much joy! We look forward to your next blog post – please know how much we admire you!!
    Nancy,Tansy,Kerry,Suzi and many more!!!

  • 3. Unilove  |  3 June 2009 at 23:38

    A heart-warming post. Being a Kiva Fellow is not easy, but you make it seem so… Looking forward to learning more…

  • 4. Michele  |  3 June 2009 at 04:03

    I am LOL!! You have always heard me say I will go back to Africa, always go back to Africa. Once you live there, it is in your blood and there is no turning back. The only question for me is where in Afrcia will that be? One more year here and then…?

    Your love affair will no doubt be mutual. Seflishly, at least I know that when I next live in Africa you will visit!! Enjoy every moment. My best to you and your colleagues, keep up the good work.

  • 5. Joel Carlman  |  3 June 2009 at 00:57

    Nancy, your encouraging spirit comes through with each word. You’re a pioneer… a legend. Good luck to you, and here’s to some African solidarity for KF8!

  • 6. Heidi Danieli  |  2 June 2009 at 12:45

    Hi Nancy: Thanks for the updates. So Very Interesting. Heidi

  • 7. sloaneberrent  |  2 June 2009 at 08:43

    Welcome to Ghana! I’m excited to keep reading about your journey and staying in touch.

  • 8. zevlowe  |  2 June 2009 at 03:13

    Nancy, colour me impressed. I’m having a difficult time living without fast wifi, and there you are not just surviving but thriving in an environment without running water!


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