Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Trick or Treat?

Wow! I’ve been in Ghana more than a year…and almost that long since I last updated this. Sorry to disappoint. This entry doesn’t mean a revival of my blog, if anyone is actually looking, but I just wanted to let any random visitor know I’m alive and doing well. Things have moved at a slow pace here…I’m not quite sure what impact I’m really having and I have plenty (PLENTY) of time to think about that and other similar things. I’ve been healthy, and probably safe to say happy, for most of the past year. Frustrated lots, too. My highlights include becoming a peanut farmer, working on some tree plantings, appreciating cold water, and helping with some Village Bicycle Project workshops.

I hope you’re well and thanks for thinking of me. I’m sure I’ve been thinking of you…and all the ice cream you may be eating. If you’re not, what’s wrong with you – take advantage of your opportunities. Hopefully, I will mine. I’ve opted to communicate mostly through snail mail and most of those letters get transcribed and then emailed. If you’re interested in joining the list, send me a quick note.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

How is it December?

So, it has been nearly a month since I've updated things. Sorry the blog thing hasn't quite worked for me, although many of you many not be surprised. I will likely communicate mostly through snail mail. If there are topics you'd like me to address in them, post them here or write me. I now have a local PO box for letters:
Ashley Beavers
U.S. Peace Corps
PO Box 11
New Longoro
via Wenchi - Brong Ahafo
Ghana, West Africa

Also, if you have sent email to ashley.beavers@alumni.fandm.edu in the last several weeks there is a good chance I didn't get it. I am no longer able to log into that account. For email correspondance, please email beaversinghana@gmail.com. I will probably check email once a month, if that, when I travel to a larger city for market days or for buisness.

I'm officially now a volunteer and have been at my site for a little more than a week. I'm still getting settled. I've started (slowly) learning the local language - Mo. Some people do speak Twi, but more speak Mo. I'll find a tutor in the next few weeks. For now, I spend my days sitting with my supervisor and/or counterpart, chatting about various things and then spending some time each day trying to meet folks in the community, and then trying to figure out what to do with my place....will I paint, what furniture, if any, will I get...do I get a propane stove or should I use a coal pot? We had our first Habitat meeting on Friday so they now know I'm in town and ready to help. How I will do so remains somewhat up in the air, but I'll find a way. Technically I won't be able to teach these folks how to grow their yams better, but I can introduce them to a few things they may not know about -- basic permaculture, green fertilizers, some different crop varieties, growing mushrooms, rearing rabbits, or grasscutters and/or a few of the other things we discussed in training. As I see it, I basically be a resource to find answers for them, do a little education and connect them with other local resources. PC makes it clear that I'm to help them do, not it for them. I'm sure I'll be learning more than those I'm helping. So, we'll see how it goes. I'm still adjusting to not having lights at night, the lack of available produce and some other things, but so far so good. Two years is a long time, but only 101 more weeks to go and the first week was pretty good. It's hard to think that it is mid-December, cold back home and folks gearing up for the holidays. I wish you and yours a great one. I'll be thinking of you.
As always, thanks for your interest in what I've been up to.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

More bat caves!

So, I'm just back from a five days at my site. It was nice to see the place, meet some folks. It's certainly a lot different than here, so more adjustments, but that's part of the fun. My village is about 2,000 folks, I think. I spent most of my time with my supervisor and counterpart (my instant friend and person to help me integrate into the community), but did manage to meet a bunch of people whose names I've all forgotten. The village is on the main road from Wenchi to Wa, which is nice. It actually divides the village in half. I will live in a community of Habitat homes. My house has two rooms (about 10x10) and outdoor space for the kitchen and then two small rooms, one for bathing and one for the toilet...and it has lots of bats. It seems that a colony of bats is living in the space above my drop ceiling. I can hear then, and they leave lots of presents for me (that fall through the space between the wall and the drop ceiling). This morning, I woke up with one on my misquito net. I managed to wrangle and release it. While I appreciate their effort in keeping the bugs away, I'll be happy when they are gone (hopefully by the time I return in two weeks). There was a meeting of Habitat memebers one night. Most didn't show, and those that did missed much of the meeting, but that's the way things will be. I'll be trying to help them delevelop alternate means of income from their farms (such as beekeeping, raising rabbits, etc.) and teach them some agroforestry basics. I have my work cut out for me (despite not actually knowing what I'll be doing...In theory I'm to help them do what they want to do) but I think they can use the help...and I'm sure many would trade their current accommodations for my bat house. Back to the town....not really much to it. Some of the town has electricty; my section doesn't (powerlines are about 150 feet in front of my house). So, besides lots of sitting at my counterpart's general povisions store (think backyard shed-sized building), where he sells small amounts of rice, sugar, a few drugs, tea bags, batteries, some gum...the basics, I went to the nearby town's market (probably 1/100 [really] of the market in Techiman). It's every Saturday and has taken all the merchant's from my town's market so my town doesn't really have a market day. I also went to Kintampo for a day to open a bank account and a current volunteer (my closest neighboor) who does some tourism development there took me to meet some of the important folks. Kintampo is about an hour drive...the taxi broke down on the way...the clutch...the driver got out, picked up a few screws andstarted working on it. The five passengers plus one baby (in estentially a Geo Metro) start walking. The driver got the car working and picked us up maybe 1/2 mile down the road. When I got it there were still some screws on the dashboard, so I was somewhat happy when the car only made it another 15 feet or so before stopping. So, we hoofed it the rest of the way. Hunger calls so I'll end this here. Thanks for all the snail mail. It's awesome and once I get to site, I'll have more time than I know what to do with so I'll actually write some myself....thanks for checking up on me.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

I'm alive

I'm short on time, but wanted to at least reward you for checking back! Thanks for doing so. I arrived in Ghana three weeks ago today! Seems like yesterday...and a long time ago. We spent the first several days outside Accra, getting to know each other, learning about general PC policies, getting shots, etc. We then each traveled to visit a current volunteer to see what we were getting ourselves into. We then all met back in Techiman. We stayed at a hotel for a few days (more policies, more shots) and then moved into villages for our homestays last weekend. I really like my family, but am looking forward to the day when I can have a conversation with my mom and dad in Twi (they don't speak English). I am learning Twi slowly and usually rely on one of my sisters or brothers, when they are around, to play translator. A dilect of Twi will be spoken at my site, which will be about an hour or two from Techiman. I'm thankful I'm not having to learn two different languages at the same time like some of the other volunteers. Hopefully, over the next couple of months I will get a pretty good grasp of the language....and learn about planting tress and whatnot. Tomorrow we'll be learning how to make a more fuel efficient stove (many folks just balance a pot on three bricks over a fire) and later this week will be building the fence to one of the community gardens we will be creating as part of training. I'm excited to get out and do some hands-on learning...and hopefully it won't be as hot as it was this afternoon.

Monday through Wedneday I have language and sector training (there are 15 in the environment sector), then Thursday and Friday all three sectors (water and sanitation, small business development) meet in Techiman for more policies, shots, etc. Saturdays we have a half day of language, misc. sector work and free time and Sundays we have off, although there will be an optional field trip each week. This past Sunday we went hiking to a nearby cave and that was a lot of fun. I think we are headed to a monkey sanctuary in a few weeks! I haven't seen any exotic wildlife to date, though. It's like living in a petting zoo at times with goats and roosters roaming all over the place. I'm still getting used to their 4am wake up, although my family isn't far behind sweeping the courtyard and the other daily chores.

I'm out of time, so until next time (and it will likely be a while)...know that I'm doing well and I look forward to sharing my experience in more detail when I can.

Thanks for all the letters, emails and prayers.

I hope all is well with you and yours...

Kwami Amankwa (my local family name)





Friday, September 14, 2007

First...and Last?

Welcome to my first, and possibly last, blog entry. I figured this might be a great way to share my Peace Corps adventure with those who are interested. Only time will tell....

Tomorrow, I head to Philadelphia for a two-day orientation. We then will fly Monday to Accra (the capital) to begin training. After 10 weeks, I hope to be an official Agroforestry and Alternative Livelihood Facilitator. In general terms (speficis will depend, in part, on where I am stationed within Ghana), my purpose and goals are as follows:

Purpose
Ghanaians will conserve natural resources and increase food security through agroforestry and alternative livelihood activities.

Goal 1: Agroforestry

Ghanaians will use agroforestry practices to conserve the environment and improve food security.

Goal 2: Alternative Livelihood
Ghanaians will establish and maintain alternative livelihood practices that reduce dependency on existing natural resources.

I'm excited for the opportunity, the experience and the perspective...and to do something totally different. I'm nervous and all those things, too. And tired, with packing still to be completed, so....

I'm not sure how often I'll be able to update this, but I'll try. Stay tuned.

I'd love to hear from you...my address will be:

Ashley Beavers, PCT
c/o Peace Corps
B.P. 5796
Accra North, Ghana
West Africa

(I think it will take about three weeks for letters to get there)

or you can email me at beaversinghana@gmail.com and I hope I'll be able to check it sometime.

Take care,
AB