Category: Ghana, 2012

Reflections and Ruminations

Well, I’ve read through the blog, so I can now confirm that it was another fabulous trip.

What made the trip so great? Here’s a list that is almost certainly incomplete:

1. The companionship among our group of five
2. The wonderful people we meet in Ghana, most of them by now old friends.
3. The complete immersion in the trip itself (for me, a relatively rare opportunity to stay in the moment for an extended period of time).
4. The sense that something good is coming out of all this.
5. A reality check on what is important in life.
6. The stimulating conversations that we had over meals, while driving, while we were observing and in debriefs. Many, but by no means all, of these conversations related to the purposes of the trip.
7. The exposure to a totally different world and culture.
8. The ability to learn and the humbling reminder of how little we know and/or understand.
9. The intellectual challenge of considering the issues involved.

This is not an easy trip. We cram an enormous amount into each day, and the days are lengthy. The travel is long, both getting over to Ghana and back, and the extensive car trips over bumpy roads or in heavy traffic. A great deal of mental energy is demanded, as well.

But it’s a true privilege to be able to participate in an adventure such as this. And, of course, it’s because of our good friends, Dick and Susie, that we’re able to do it.

As this is my third trip, it’s inevitable to (or at least damn hard not to) compare it to the prior two. Hands down the biggest difference was the involvement of Sola and Funmi Olopade. Having met with them several times and exchanged numerous emails over months, I knew that it would be great to have them along, but I did not appreciate how transformative and eye-opening it would prove. The trip would not have been nearly as productive, and certainly we would not have learned so much without them. Nor would it have been as much fun.

On the flip side of people participating, it would have been an even better trip, had Carol been along. Every one of the Ghanaians we’ve dealt with on prior trips said that they missed her, and so did I. Joe has pretty-much committed Carol to coming next year, as he told two chiefs and a district manager that she’d be there.

The meetings with governmental officials, and the much broader and more holistic approach to the issues were new and engaging. As schools were on break, I very much missed all of the school children who flocked around us at each stop in prior years. While it’s fine to see the buildings and meet with chiefs and governmental folks, as Susie says, this work is all about the children, and buildings without children are, well, just buildings.

A trip such as this leaves you spinning. There’s a lot of digesting and sorting out left to do. But I expect to begin regular contacts soon with the Kipharts and the Olopades, as well as the people in Ghana, to identify what we’ve learned and what that suggests in the way of future work. Indeed, there’s already been email exchanges with the Kipharts and the Olopades on next steps, even though the latter are now in Nigeria. This trip is far from over.

I hope you’ve enjoyed coming along. I’ve appreciated the comments I’ve gotten from many of you. Some have wondered how I have time to write the blog. I don’t. But I do it all for you. Actually, that’s a lie. I do it to try to get a handle on the experience, and as a substitute for a written journal. Okay, and I really like to be followed.

Hope to see you all in China in late October.

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