Posts Tagged With: Ghana

Support an anti-violence, women’s advocacy organization in Ghana!

The organization that I am an intern for in Ghana is called the Ark foundation.

It is truly amazing, and provides support, resources and advocacy for women in Ghana, especially victims of violence.

Please go to their website at www.arkfoundationghana.org to find out more information.

 

Please see this link to donate:

http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/anti-violence-shelter-in-ghana-needs-support/

Right now is a great time to donate because the Ark is participating in a Mother’s Day Tribute Card Campaign to possibly win an extra $500 for the organization! Donate as “A Gift or In Honor Of” and you will help the Ark to raise more funds!

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Being a Vegetarian in Ghana

 

I’ve been a vegetarian for almost seven years now, and this diet choice is something that is very important to me. I do not eat meat or fish for animal rights, environmental reasons, health reasons and in general because I do not believe in killing living beings. Before I came to Ghana I was very apprehensive about this lifestyle and was nervous about being healthy as a vegetarian here. But now that I have established life in Accra, I have found that being a vegetarian is actually quite easy here! Between my options in the markets, restaurants, and what I can make with a hot plate in my dorm, I have a good assortment of options. There have certainly been situations (mainly while traveling) where my choices have been limited, but all in all I am impressed with the ability to be vegetarian in Ghana.

Although I have maintained my lack of eating meat or fish, my diet has still very much changed to adapt to Ghanaian lifestyle. In Ghana there is very little dairy, which is something that I ate a lot of in the States, so this has been quite an adjustment. But this lack in dairy has been replaced by an abundance of fresh, deliciously flavorful, and cheap fruits and vegetables. I seriously eat at least one avocado a day! I also eat a lot more starches such as bread, rice and beans because many Ghanaian dishes include these as a main component. Although my diet has changed, I feel that I am getting the proper amount of nutrients and have really been enjoying Ghanaian food.

 

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What do I eat?

  • Fruits: avocados, mangos, bananas, watermelon, pineapple, plantains, African blackberries, coconuts 
  • Vegetables: tomatoes, carrots, peppers, onion, cucumbers
  • Snacks: “cake” (like muffins), plantain chips, yam chips, “biscuits” (cookies and crackers), popcorn
  • Ghanaian local dishes:
     -Banku with stew (Banku is a dough-like ball)
    -Kontomire with boiled yam (Kontomire is a spinach-like stew)
    -Tomato stew with noodles
    -Red-Red (beans and rice)
    -Kelewele (friend plantain)
    -Other assortments of rice, noodles, beans, and stew
  • Other random things I make or order
    -Pizza
    -Veggie sandwiches with salad cream (salad cream is a mayonnaise and egg sauce) 
    -Egg and bread (fried sandwich–they are very popular in Ghanaian markets)
    -Burritos (when I’m lucky enough to find tortillas!)
    -Vegetable Stir-fry
    -Pasta with sauce 
    -Breakfast items such as omelets, pancakes, and oatmeal

What foods do I miss the most?

  • Good coffee!
  • Dairy products (especially cheese, yogurt and sour cream)
  • Cereal with milk
  • South-western style food and spices (enchiladas, burritos, fajitas, etc.)
  • Black beans!
  • Veggie burgers

 

 

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Mountains, Monkeys and Waterfalls in the Volta!

Week Eight

On the weekend of my eighth week I set off for another trip away from Legon, this time in the Volta Region, which is northeast of Accra. This region of Ghana is filled with thick rainforest covering layers of mountains; it was stunningly beautiful! The first adventure we had was climbing the tallest mountain in West Africa, Mount Afadjato! It was a 2,905 foot hike to the top, which was very steep and challenging. After several rests, being very sweaty and out of breath and almost vomiting, we made it to the summit of the mountain, where the view was breathtaking! We could see villages of the Volta down below, rolling mountains and even the border of Togo. We also were given a gift from nature by having a small, cool rain come down on us once we were at the top.

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After our descent from Mount Afadjato, we headed to Wli Waterfall, the highest waterfall in Ghana! We had a beautiful walk through the rainforest to find it, passing several small waterfalls and long millipedes along the way. Once we reached Wli, I was shocked by how high and beautiful it was! We swam underneath, letting the spray come down on us as we splashed and played. All around the waterfall was tons of bats and lush, green plants.

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After some time at Wli, we drove up the second highest mountain to a village where we stayed the night. This village was the home of one of our staff members at ISH, so we had a great tour guide. We stayed in a beautiful guest house with an amazing view, and ate local Banku and stew for dinner. The next morning we even got to officially meet the Chief, which is quite an honor! In the afternoon on Sunday before we left to go home, we stopped at Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary, home to 400 Mona monkeys, an endangered species. The monkeys were so tiny and adorable! They ate bananas right out of our hands and had no hesitation to sit on our shoulders. The Volta Region was another successful trip full of adventures!

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Tamale and Mole National Park

Week Six

 On the weekend of my sixth week in Ghana, I set off for a 5-day trip to Ghana’s Northern Region! Since we had Ghanaian Independence Day coming up, we had some time off school to enjoy this vacation. There was five of us girls that planned the trip together (two Americans, two Canadians and one British)! We took a 40 cedi STC bus to Tamale, which is the main city of Northern Ghana. The ride was very long; it took us 14 hours to reach Tamale, but the view along the way was absolutely beautiful! The Northern region of Ghana is much more rural than Accra and the southern coastline, mainly because of the unequal infrastructure built by the British during colonialism. The two nights we spent in Tamale we stayed at a place called the Catholic Guest House, which was nothing fancy but definitely cheap. Exploring Tamale was really interesting and different from Accra–the markets and traffic were much more relaxed, and instead of seeing Christianity displayed everywhere like in the south of Ghana, we saw highlights of a predominately Muslim culture.

After some time in Tamale, we set off for Mole National Park. The park is supposed to be a three or four hour bus ride from Tamale, but we ended up breaking down on the side of the road next to a village for three hours! Traveling hick-ups like this are classic to the Ghanaian experience. Luckily the people of this rural village were very kind, and we ended up spending the whole time playing with adorable children. Between the breakdown and the unpaved, bumpy roads, we made it to Mole in about eight hours.

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We spent three nights total at Mole National Park, and it was the time of my life! We went on two safari tours, one by foot and one by car, and I was able to get very close to baboons, antelope, monkeys, warthogs, birds, and even elephants! We got to watch three wild elephants by the main water hole for quite a while–it was amazing! We also spent our last night in Mole in the tree house out in the savannah, literally sleeping under the moon and stars. We heard monkeys, small jungle cats fighting, and even hyenas! Overall this trip to the Northern Region of Ghana was full of new and exciting adventures, and a fabulous way to celebrate Ghana’s 55 years of independence.

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Ghanaian College Life and a Trip to Kokrobite!

Week Four

In the week approaching the end of my first month in Ghana, I encountered several things that provided a genuine Ghanaian student experience. Firstly, I hand-washed my laundry, which was definitely a new type of chore for me. I was quite proud of myself after soaking, scrubbing, rinsing, wringing, and hanging over 70 items of clothing! My Ghanaian roommate, Esther, said that she was proud of me since many of the white students pay for their laundry to be done for them. Although taking my clothes to the Laundromat would be more convenient, I came to the University of Ghana to experience life as a Ghanaian, not an over-privileged foreigner. Plus hand-washing all of my clothing makes me very appreciative of clean clothes!

This week I was also introduced to a common Ghanaian issue–water shortage. We had no water in our dorm for three days–no running sinks, flushing toilets, or showers. In this type of situation, the Ghanaian no-stress attitude is greatly needed. We were all pretty smelly and greasy by the time the water came back, but our cheers throughout the hall revealed that we will no longer take running water for granted!
Another way I felt integrated into Ghanaian student life was through my classes. My academic experience here so far has been very, very different from Otterbein. I am taking classes in several departments, including sociology, history, political science, and archaeology, as well as an African drumming class. Each course is split up between lectures and tutorials. In almost all of my classes, the lecture is full of hundreds of students! The tutorials are more discussion-based with small groups. Although courses here are nice, especially since the University of Ghana is considered the best university in Ghana and West Africa, being here in my last semester of college has made me realize how well Otterbein educated me, with the small, discussion-based classes and creative professors. I have never before realized how truly lucky we are to have been Otterbein students.

After a week on campus, I went away for the weekend to Kokrobite, a small costal town in Western Accra. We stayed in a house at Big Milly’s Backyard, which was a beachfront resort! We listened and danced to a live reggae band on Saturday night, after enjoying all afternoon in the sun on the beautiful beach. As with all beaches that I have seen in Ghana, we shared the sand with colorful fishing boats, stray dogs, and people selling jewelry, bananas and plantain chips. A loud morning thunderstorm on Sunday morning closed off our trip, and we headed back to Legon! I had successfully completed my first month in Ghana!

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Legon Days

Week Three

My third week in Ghana I spent at my university going to class and getting acclimated to life in Legon (Legon is the suburb that I live in outside of the capital, Accra). My week felt somewhat “normal” until I felt very sick on Wednesday and Thursday. I had a horrible fever and my Ghanaian roommate, Esther, told me to go to the hospital. I went to the clinic that I heard was the “best around”, and ended up being there for seven hours, mostly waiting and feeling so sick. I do not know for sure, but my symptoms were Malaria symptoms so that is what the doctor prescribed me medication for, which helped within a few days. I definitely gained appreciation for American health care during this experience. One nice aspect of this week was that my friends, Ghanaian and international, really took care of me while I was sick. It made me feel at home.
All in all, life here in Ghana has been amazing! I am happy every day and love Ghanaian culture! Life is more relaxed here in Ghana–people don’t stress about things and rush everywhere like they do in America. I’ve never felt more calm and at peace than I have since I have been in Ghana.

10 Things I love about Ghana!
1. You can say “hello” and have a conversation with anyone, even complete strangers! People are always willing to chat, especially in the local language in Accra, Twi.
2. The beautiful beaches, forests, and red dirt.
3. The fresh and organic fruits and vegetables!
4. “Ghana Time”, everything here is slowed down, and takes forever!
5. The market women and adorable Ghanaian children.
6. The love of football (or what we call soccer in the U.S.)
7. The beautiful African sunset (the sun is very round here).
8. The tradition of music and dancing. Ghanaian music styles include azonto, high life, hiplife, and traditional.
9. How people here are genuinely happy and welcoming.
10. A lot of the Ghanaians call me “Obama!”

Things I’ve Done in Ghana so far that I’ve Never Done Before!
-Traveled and lived outside of the United States
-Took a Taxi and Tro-Tro (a Tro-Tro is a mini-van type vehicle that works like a bus and taxi combined.)
-Drank out of a fresh coconut
-Showered with a gecko
-Danced Azonto! (The popular type of music and dancing for young Ghanaians today. It is a mix of traditional African music and Western hip-hop.)
-Ate plantain and banku
-Been a racial minority in the area that I live
-Attended a school larger than 3,000 students (The University of Ghana is around 30,000 students in population.)
-Hand-washed my own clothing
-Visited an old slave fort castle
-Hiked in, walked in and spent the night in the Rainforest!
-Fell asleep to the sound of monkeys
-Went on a date with a Ghanaian man
-Took classes from Ghanaian professors
-Unfortunately, contracted Malaria

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Trip to Cape Coast

Week Two


During my second week in Ghana I scheduled for my classes and decided to take a trip to Cape Coast, which is a three-hour bus ride west of Accra along the coastline. . It is famous for the old slave castles from the British slave trade out of Ghana. We took a very nice bus for only 6 Ghana Cedi (a Cedi is Ghana’s currency). Since I am an individual student without a program, I travel with other students from the hostel and we figure out travel, accommodation, and the whole schedule of our trip on our own. Although it is quite challenging and never turns out how we planned (which is often the case in Ghana), it is always a fun learning experience. There was about 15 of us international students that went together; it was a mix of mostly British, Canadian and American students. We stayed at the Oasis Beach Resort in thatched-roof hostel-like bungalows literally on the beach! The sand was clean, the beach and resort were beautiful, you could see Cape Coast Castle from the resort, and it was all very affordable!
Cape Coast as a town was great; it was the epitome of relaxed, friendly, no-stress Ghana. It also wasn’t too much of a tourist trap, the locals mingled with us really well and I had conversations with so many people each day. On our second morning in Cape Coast we went on a tour of Cape Coast castle. The castle and its views of the beach were so ironically beautiful. It was overwhelming to step inside of the male (and especially female) dungeons and cells. The stories of colonization and the Atlantic Slave trade literally came to life. The absolute horror that went on in that place is indescribable–but I am indeed glad that Cape Coast was able to still be this peaceful, quiet place in spite of its chilling past.


After a few wonderful days in Cape Coast, a group of five of us went to Kakum National Park, the longest standing Rainforest in Ghana. We stayed in a tree-house overnight in the middle of the Rainforest! It took us 30 minutes to hike up and down hills and through the thick forest to find our campsite. It was so beautiful and adventurous! It was also very, very hot and humid; all of us were sweating so much! We went on a 2-hour night tour before we went to bed, and the most exciting thing that happened in the dark forest was getting attacked by African ants! They were biting us and in our socks but once we got them off we were okay–it was actually quite funny! We fell asleep to the sound of birds, crickets and monkeys calling, and woke up to an early morning canopy walk up high in the trees on rope bridges! It was still foggy in the very tops of the fauna as we walked 100 feet in the air! Kakum was an amazing experience.

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Akwaaba to Ghana!

Week One


After my ten hour plane ride across the Atlantic Ocean, I was overwhelmed with excitement when our plane flew into Accra! It was amazing to look down and see the green trees and deep red dirt of West Africa. When I stepped off the plane I felt the heat immediately–certainly a change from cold Ohio weather. I was picked up from the airport by a member of the International Programmes Office here in Ghana, and was wide-eyed and smiling with my head out of the window the entire ride to my university. The streets were busy with cars, trees, women carrying items on their heads, and street vendors busily selling things.
Once I arrived at my new home (the International Students’ Hostel II, what we call “ISH II”), I was surprised to see how far away my dorm was from the main campus. I was used to Otterbein’s tiny campus community, so this university seemed like a city! My dorm room was certainly not fancy, nor air-conditioned, but my double room was quite nice, with a bed, desk, wardrobe, bookshelf, sofa, side table, and balcony. The hostel overall felt very safe too.
My first few days here I allowed myself to settle in, and I was lucky to meet a lot of international students and Ghanaian students right away. Everyone here has been very welcoming and kind. I heard “Akwaaba!” several times a day, which means “Welcome!” in Twi, the local language in the Greater Accra area. Although I made new friends so quickly, I did struggle with culture shock and homesickness my first few nights here. I was happy and excited, but sometimes emotion overwhelmed me and I longed to be with my friends and family at home. Looking back on it now I understand these emotions, especially since I traveled to a non-Western country all on my own! Ghana is also the first country that I have been to outside of the United States, so feeling some culture shock was completely normal. As the week went on I attended orientation for the University of Ghana, went to the mall to pick up items for my dorm, and spent some time on the nearby beach! It only took a few days for me to completely fall in love with Ghanaian culture and people!


The most exciting day this first week was on Wednesday, which is Reggae night at Labadi Beach, a popular beach very close to our university. It was so much fun to dance and hang out with my friends literally on the beach! There was great music, friendly people, and beautiful waves. That night really made me feel at home in Ghana, and foreshadowed the amazing time I will have these next few months.

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