A month by month account is the best I can do with limited Internet and an inability to access this blog page nine times out of ten ( don’t fret I’ve been in contact with google Africa….no seriously I have!!!)
July: A month to settle in, a month to get used to the lackluster feeling of Accra. I craved the rural areas and spent 3 weeks convincing the IT boy at Critical TV to come to the Volta Region with me to do a human rights story on some neglected Lepars. The story was entitled ‘ How to pick Ghana’s battles’. Many lepars though painfully ostracised in Ghanaian society, are now well looked after in the nation’s capital… but only in the nation’s capital. Makafui, my intrepid new reporter was shocked at what happened to these people made to live on less than 5 dollars Canadian a month. Some go 3 days without food- their children turn to prostitution as a means to fund the family- many local men turn to the girls and call them ‘leper ladies’ of the night. It was my first intimate look at Ghana’s treatment of the ill- there is a pity here- but stigma sometimes stands in the way.
Makafui had never seen someone with the disease- he asked if it was contagious, I told him ‘no,’ and as simply as that…he was a activist journalist. Small success. I spent the month tasting Ghanaian food and learning the language – 30 phrases to be exact. I learned to cover my lower belly and thighs in a society where covering up is class. I had my thighs slapped on a busy street and went home to burn my short shorts that night ( well- put them in the back of the closet). I also found my home- the roof over my head with a space for yoga on the roof. I live for 40 dollars Canadian a month ( 50 cedi) and I pay my power bill ( when the power is on) once every two months. I live in Labadi- a middle class burb of Accra- I am on the fringe of the expat community with their barbed wire encased palaces and washing machines that feed on the little power and water Ghana has to be drained. Middle class in Accra equals tin roofed, cement houses, most of which have a water closet out back, but because I’m privileged, I have a toilet. I also have the most beautiful group of children that kick up the dust of our compound and call me aunty Sarah ( Sarah Jane is hard to say for most tongues here, understandably so I go by the name of Ama or Aunty Sarah). My night’s are usually laced with some time with Esther, Erica, Adjoa, Isaac, Emmanuel or whoever else is playing on our lot. They say ‘gimme toffee” and I say ‘would you like help with your schoolwork instead?’ Last week I helped Emmanuel who’s 13 answer the question ‘ what should Ghana do with it’s oil money when it comes’- it was like Christmas for me. Emmanuel says Ghana should have more hospitals so his mother can stop having children at home because ‘ it so loud’ ha ha. July laid the foundation of my life here. Open sewers no longer phase me, I know what points on my street I need to hold my breath at- and every other place outside of Accra has relatively clear sewers as the population is more meek in these areas, and garbage is burned.I’m not sure what is the worse of two evils- but what I feel is evil is simply a hurdle here- there’s a willingness to improve recycling, sewage……from the Ghanaians, not their leaders- there’s oil to think about.
I learned that Emmanuel was more transparent on the subject than his country’s leader.
That was what July was about…..talking to the locals.