This is my last post on my recent excursion to Ghana to work with the farmers association’s in the Ashanti Region. In this article, I say goodbye to the village and the farmers I worked with for about 10 days.
The last day, we held a closing ceremony at the Methodist Church in the village, Akutuase. It was scheduled to begin at 7 AM however we had to wait for the arrival of the tribal chief, he arrived at about 7:30, everyone was patient as he is their authority figure, is older and deserves respect. Once he arrived we began with the opening prayer followed by Stephen calling on some of the participants to share what they learned during our sessions. They mentioned all the topics I presented but good communication, conflict resolution and the sessions on record keeping were the most often cited. The tribal chief then spoke and encouraged everyone to take to heart all the things they learned and apply them, he said they received a gift and should put it to good use. The local assemblyman and the chair of the vegetable growers also spoke to the group and then I was asked for a few closing thoughts. I told them I was honored to be able to come to Ghana and work with them. I wished them and their families prosperity and happiness. This was followed by a presentation to me by some the association leaders of a traditional, hand woven and sewn, African smock. I put it on and exclaimed “I’m now an African.” The crowd went wild! I didn’t except that response but they appreciated the sentiment and recognition of their culture. Here’s are some photos of the ceremony.
And a photo of me with the smock and the four chairs of the farmers’ associations.
And another with my local handler, driver, and friend, Patrick.
After the ceremony, we took some photos with the tribal chief, Queen Mother, and other dignitaries that attended.
I can’t forget George, a young rice farmer that did interpretation for me for five of our sessions. As a gesture of friendship, he gave me two woven Kente cloth scarves, one for me and one for my wife. Very touching and meaningful. If I return to this area sometime in the future, I anticipate he will be a high level leader in the association and in the village. He’s the fellow in the red shirt.
After all the formalities, we closed with a prayer and adjourned outside to take a class photo. Here’s the result, quite a crowd, wish I had ladder to stand on but did the best I could.
Here’s a few departing photos of the village. Notice there aren’t any lawns to cut! And the home and facilities are somewhat primitive by our standards but they are a proud and happy people, wanting the same thing most everyone else in the world wants, enough food to feed their families, shelter from the elements, safety, a good education for their kids, and happiness. Notice in the fifth photo, an enclosure with some tin around the top, that’s the privy I used before leaving the village!
Again, it was a very rewarding experience. I sincerely hope that my work helps them improve and grow their associations. I know I learned and gained a lot from my time with these farmers.
After leaving the village, we headed back by car to Accra, the capital city and headquarters for ACDI/VOCA, the organization that I volunteered with. On Friday morning, I filed my final report, gave a 20 minute presentation to ACDI/VOCA staff on my experience, and processed out. I had the rest of the day free and my flight back to the US wasn’t until 10:45 PM on Saturday night April 2. After an overnight flight from Accra to London, a long layover, the flight to Chicago and the bus ride back to Madison, it was over 28 hours of traveling! Good to be back home but Ghana will always be on my mind.
I lied this isn’t my last post on Ghana, I decided to add a “bonus” article on my half day tour of Accra, too much to say about that experience and lots of photos for one post. Bear with me folks!