Category: Nigeria and Ghana, 2013

Planning for the Future

August 31

Breakfast at the inn, and then a couple hours to talk about strategy, going forward, including development work for Global Health, the approach and the story to be told. A young woman, carrying her son and a large bowl of cauliflower, passes by, as we talk.

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Drive over to The Golden Tulip for a lunch with 16 people, including, in addition to those mentioned on previous days, the chiefs of the remote villages of Abesua and Bonkwaso, who we’d visited on several prior trips. Dick has a special fondness for the Abesua chief and the chief of Bonkwaso and I have a special relationship, developed over our having seen each other for four years. He is referred to as Nana, and he calls me Nana II.

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Also involved in the meeting were Gabriel Barima, the district chief executive from Moncraso, the district in which those villages were located and two officials from the water and sanitation department of that district.

The meeting over lunch lasted three hours, with communications with the chiefs translated (though they both speak and understand some English). The district officials spoke English quite well. There was a candid exchange of plans and needs on both sides, and many questions asked and answered. These chiefs and village officials seem to be very good prospective partners, because they all “get it”, and seem quite willing to contribute to the effort. Seems quite likely that we’ll work together, though exactly how will need to be worked out.

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Talking after the meeting to Alex Owusu, the contractor and friend of Peter’s who we’ve been with each year, he asks about Carol and I explain that she had to go home after Nigeria. He asks me to “snap” a picture of him to show her, and tells me that he remembers the dance we did and does a few steps. He’s referring to the Israeli dance to “Mayim” (water) which we taught the villagers at the dedication of one of the wells Carol and I donated. He says he also has the cover (the challah cover) that we gave him, purchased at the Jewish community we visited two years ago. This is a very nice moment for me, symbolic of the real and continuing relationships we’ve formed in Ghana.

Back to the Four Villages, where Susie had invited a family to stop by, the parents of the husband of which Susie knew from church. We expected a short visit, but they wound up staying four and a half hours and being included in dinner. Kristin and Buck Taylor live in Montana, though Kristin grew up in New York and Buck in Chicago. They had brought their 10-year old daughter, Kendall, and 12-year old son, Ben, for a 3-month stay in Ghana. Also joining the Taylors was a 35-year old Ghanaian man named Kodua, who ran an NGO relating to health services.

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Buck, a public health person, and Kristin, a lawyer interested in sustainable development, will volunteer here, and the kids will go to school. This is the third extended trip the family had taken, the others being to Ecuador and to some Southern states in the US. All of the adults told the kids that they were so fortunate to have this experience, and, though they miss their friends and soccer, Kendall and Ben seemed reasonably content (or, at least, resigned). I grabbed a seat near Kendall at dinner to chat her up.

Another large dinner served on the porch of The Four Villages, with about eighteen people, including the Taylor party. The Taylors had wanted to get together with Dr. Annie and Joe Kwarteng while they were in Ghana, so the dinner provided them an unexpected opportunity to meet Annie and Joe in person. Food was excellent and conversation good over dinner. We concluded the evening by going around the table with everyone giving comments on the trip that we unanimously agreed was fabulous. There is a warm, family feeling between the Chicago and Ghana groups, exuded in everybody’s comments. Funmi says that we need to get dates on the calendar for next year’s trip. As Dr. Annie leaves, she gives me a painting as a gift for Carol and Annie’s son, Robert, who is just starting a residency and who I’ve met for the first time on this trip, rolls it for me and goes down to the car to get a rubber band to secure it.

2 comments to Planning for the Future

  • Margo Oberman

    Some words that come to mind by reading your blogs…magical, unforgettable, beyond expectations, soul searching. How fortunate we are all able to experience your journey through your blogs Arnie. I am sure you are not the same person now as when you left on your trip. Thanks for sharing Arnie, and may you have safe travels home.

  • Wendy

    Phenomenal first picture on this entry, Dadz. I hope Maz is working on a poem to go with it.
    And how nice that Alex remembered and valued so much of what you’d brought on a previous visit: Maz, the Mayim dance that accompanied the dedication of the well, the challah cover . . . That must have been very gratifying.
    What a beautiful family, too, complete with handsome Ghanian man who runs the NGO. Great opportunity for the folks in public health to connect with Dr. Annie and the Olapades . . . and an amazing three-month experience for their children!

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