Should I stay or should I go?

8 06 2008

Marco Vicky Helen kissI found myself wandering through the streets of Tamale at 2am last Sunday morning accompanied by the contingent from Salaga, who were intent on bothering the local sheep and goats. The more I see of the Welsh the more they seem intent on enforcing their stereotype. The Salagans had arrived that morning and announced that we were going for dinner and a dance that evening. Helen and Vicky’s transformation with the application of a little make-up and their party frocks was breathtaking. I don’t think Marco or I did them justice, but the arrival of Fred (a volunteer from Kenya) with a fantastic yellow and black stripy cap made a difference – Fred was a bit of a star, jumping around like a loon in the almost empty club. A few hours after I packed my friends back to Salaga Sunday afternoon (and after a fine fried breakfast they provided) I was host again, this time to 4 volunteers from north of Tamale who’d been in Accra organising the upcoming national volunteers conference. This time I was simply playing inn-keeper, with the four women arriving Sunday night and leaving by 7am Monday morning.

My huge little house has been getting quite a lot of business, and now I have a couple of lodgers for a few weeks. These lodgers have higher hygiene standards than me, so a cleaning frenzy has resulted in the destruction of the ecosystem I’d spent months creating and the tragic deaths of many of my 6 and 8 legged friends. To replace the spiders and cockroaches who’d provided me with such loyal company I now have a couple consisting of a Canadian man and a French woman (Keith and Jenny). They’ll be staying until the end of July and in lieu of rent they’ve offered to cook and clean. I’m delighted by one of the offers.Jeni

I felt like Livingstone, Stanley or some other great explorer Saturday morning, swinging a big machete to clear a way through dense jungle. Unlike any Victorian explorer though I was simply trying to clear a path from my gate to my door; in the two months of rain the desert that used be my garden has transformed into a veritable jungle. Fortunately after about an hour and a half more manual labour than I’ve performed in several years (i.e. about an hour and a half) a couple of locals persuaded me to let them take over in exchange for a small donation. They’re finishing off this morning (Sunday) and I must say that I’m pleased I was stopped, muscles I didn’t realise I had were complaining when I woke up and my hand is blistered after just an hour and half’s work which achieved less than my labourers cleared in about 10 minutes.

My more professional skills were employed this week when I gate-crashed yet another VSO conference. I was providing IT support to a conference VSO Ghana were having with a number of their partners in the education sector to discuss a proposal for a bid for a large grant from Comic Relief that will hopefully fund projects to encourage girl child education in northern Ghana.

After the conference had closed I took the opportunity to chat with VSO about options for after September. My current placement is due to end in September, but I’m starting to feel like I’m beginning to understand how I can be useful here. Without any strong reason to go back to the UK (except great family and good friends) I’m starting to play with the idea of staying in Ghana for a second year working on a different project. This’d also give me the chance to keep an eye on the AGSP database I’ve been working on to fix any problems. When I applied for VSO I intended to be away for 2 years, and considered a two year placement. If I do extend it will be to a new job and I’d probably take a break back in the UK for a few weeks in September/October.

In the words of The Clash, “Should I stay or should I go?”

 

 

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5 responses

9 06 2008
Dr Nick

Tim – I vote that you should stay: you’ve spent a year learning the culture, now spend one more year really appreciating it!

(But obviously come back for a ceilidh or two in the meantime!) :-)

10 06 2008
Dr Nick

Or….is it ‘London Calling’…?

13 06 2008
Ekow

HI, my name is Ekow and i am 17 year old man in Accra.
First of all i must say that i am impressed that you gave up your life of luxury :) in the UK to selflessly devote a year of your life to serving some of the less fortunate in my country?…
If i am not being nosy here, i politely ask you to stay, but try to experience some other parts of our wonderful country. I am positive that our very hospitable people will welcome you warmly wherever you choose to place yourself.

I want you to do me one favour though, please reply to my e-mail and tell me if you have learnt any local languages.

Warmest Regards,
Ekow Bartels-Kodwo.

22 06 2008
fieldlog

I vote you stay.

24 06 2008
Tim Little

Ekow:

I’ve learnt a few greetings in Dagbanli but not much else I’m afraid.

As for seeing more of your country, I plan on exploring the Volta region at some point and have been up and down to Accra a few times as well visiting towns in the Upper East and Tumu in the Upper West. If I do stay I will try to explore a bit more.

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