Monday, May 15, 2006

Arrived at last!

This Monday marks both my first complete week in the country and the day that I move into my home for the summer. My director, Mr. Evans Sinkari, has put me up in some new buildings that RAAP is renovating and hopes to turn into their training centre. The buildings are about 4km outside the nearest village, Hain, where the RAAP offices are located. I’m disappointed that I am not able to live with a family and experience the culture further, but all the people at RAAP have already gone to such great lengths to set this up that I don’t want to offend them.

Two of the employees stayed with me when I got in this morning, helping me roll out some mat/floors for my room, and cutting and hanging some curtains. They also fetched some water and cleaned out some buckets that I can use to shower from. They’re also making a list of everything I could possibly need and are trying to get it for me. It all seems like a bit too much for me (and I’ve told them this), but they’re confident that the more material things they can provide for me the happier I’ll be. It’s probably a half-truth, but this precedent set for Westerners troubles me a bit. I didn’t come here to be pampered; I came here to try and help, all the while experiencing life the way these wonderful people live it. While room service is nice, I’m not sure it’s such a great growth opportunity.

I’m told I will have a neighbour soon. His name is Mike, and he’s an American Peace Corps volunteer who has been here since December and will remain here for two years. He went traveling somewhere last week and was supposed to be back last Friday. They don’t know where he’s to, but they’ve mentioned that he often leaves and is not, in their eyes, very committed to helping them. Seeing as I haven’t met the guy yet, he definitely has the benefit of the doubt in my mind, especially since I know that there’s weekends in which I’ll have to peel out to meet EWB people and submit reports, etc.

Right now I really have to use the washroom, but there are no latrines or anything set up. I was told that the whole office will come construct some simple pit latrines for the centre in a week or so as a team building activity. Sounds great, but until then I assume I’m just to walk as far away from the buildings as I can into the bush and have a nice squat.

It’s hard to describe what I feel right now, as so much is unknown or simply unfolding as the day goes on. I’m getting quite thirsty and have fetched some water from the borehole, though I’m not sure if it’s safe to drink or not. I tried to pristine it in my Nalgene bottle, but I found it hard to get exactly 4 drops of each solution, and consequently loaded too many chemicals in it. It tastes quite funny and already my stomach seems to be reacting to it. I could kill for some sachet water right now.

Scratch that. Most of the office staff just showed up with drinks and food. These people are too good to me! :)


At 3:27 p.m., Blogger Laura said...

Really great to hear about everything you'bve been up to Bryn!

It certainly is an interesting conundrum you have in front of you as you try to fit into an African community while being a Westerner.

I wonder if part of the issue is purely western. I obviously have not been through the experiences that you have been through, but perhaps it is in our Capitalist nature to try to try to climb the esteem-ladder, and that notion can be contributed to our 'savior' attitudes to foreign nations that we don't understand. So I see where you're coming from.

But (and this is just all speculation, like I said, you would know WAY more than I would) does everyone feel that way? Does the community you are staying in see you as a "white Savior" (okay, I suppose you addressed this question when you said that they will call you Jesus), or are they just being hospitable while trying to see and understand a culture that is different than their own?

I guess my ramblings are just to wonder if putting TOO MUCH emphasis on trying to make sure you don't seem like a Western Savior would in fact distance you more, because it is always being consicously focussed on?

Anyway, just my two cents worth. I'm not even sure if what I wrote is coherant!

Just great to read all about your adventures. I'm just trying to supress the flamboyant jealousy! :)

You're missed!

At 5:21 p.m., Blogger Emily said...

Hey again
Just a question for anyone interested;
How does the way you are treated in Ghana compare to the 'Western' concept of Affirmative Action?

At 10:23 a.m., Anonymous Dan Ferris said...

Hi Bryn,I am really enjoing your writing.
It's a great way to keep up with your work.

uncle Dan

At 4:27 p.m., Anonymous Jenn said...

Wow , sounds like you're living the life out there. Sorry I've missed your calls. But I hear you and mom are starting up text messaging so I don't think I'll be able to miss them.

Yeah I'd definitly would feel awkward if they kept pampering. But they probably will settle down once you're use to everything, maybe... lol i think they're just trying to get on your good side ;)

Anyway keep it up, can't wait till your next update.

At 7:39 p.m., Anonymous Matt said...

Wow. What an experience. I am so glad you are writing this down for my mind to imagine it all as if I was there. You are doing a terrific job and hope you stay safe.
Oh, see if you can get any shots of wildlife and send them to me :D

Stay safe.


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