Ghana for the summer

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Some thoughts (and photos) near the end

I had plenty of time to myself on the trip south from Paga to Tamale, it took about 3 hours in total: first a taxi to Bolga then in a nice new Ford pickup to Tamale. I just happened to get ushered by a pushy guy to a private ride to Tamale with another women passenger. 4 months ago I would have been much more skeptical and uneasy but at this point in time I was excited for the comfortable speedy ride. I should have left the day before like all the other volunteers but didn’t wrap things up in time so I left really early in the morning and arrived just in time for the start of our debriefing workshops.

Even while in Tamale with all the other Ghana volunteers my head and heart were in Paga with friends, coworkers, and farmers. I remember a few times sitting with the volunteers discussing our placements and what it might be like ‘reintegrating’ back in Canada, while still receiving and making phone calls to friends and coworkers in Paga, like giving an AEA Nadia’s cell number so they could set up a farmer group meeting. Sure I wanted to see my family and friends back home but I just didn’t feel ready to leave.

Here’s some of the reasons (i.e., people) why I didn’t want to leave just yet:

Awudu, Saphia, me,and little Muftawu - they were my family in Paga,

I still talk to Saphia over the phone and we still refer to each other as brotha (nabo) and sista (nako). Saphia and I had some really good conversations and really connected, she taught me a bunch of language and more general life/cultural/social norms. She really was like a big sister always watching out for me and caring, she was definitely the manifestation of Ghanaian hospitality

Fatauh,me and Ayeesha -

her and Saphia always shared a meal with me every night,

and Fatauh walked and talked with me the first night I was

there. By the end we refered to each other as father and son

Michael and me -

He lived in the compound and works a water company so I always refer to him as boss and he does the same with me. We lifted weights together sometimes, he clearly did more often than me proving that not all Ghanaians or Africans are thin and hungry like they show on the news. I also went out with him and the guys for his birthday having some drinks and dancing it up (which they of course found amusing), but he was there if I needed him and helped me out a few times.

Awudu and me -

I always called him 'big boss' because he worked for the water company with Michael and because he's built like a tank. He always responded by calling me 'champion', not sure why but we always had a good laugh about it. We didn't really sit and hang out or talk all the time but he also helped me out all the time, like letting me use his old bicycle, repairing some popped bike tubes, answering any questions I had about social interactions and such. He was like a big brother, which I sometimes called him in local language Kasem, and I always made him laugh by speaking Kasem or basically anything I said or did because after all I'm a strange white guy

me and Kofi -

Even though we didn't run into each other until late in my placement, Kofi and I became pretty good friends. Aside from being a great tailor he's a great guy who's kept a positive outlook on life even though he's had a rough ride so to speak. I'm going to do a separate post about him and few others so I won't get into too many details here, if you're interested I'll be posting more soon.

Vitus, Sarah, and me -

Vitus and Sarah work at the internet cafe which is also a computer training center. Because I was there pretty often posting blogs and sending emails I became friends with the two. Sarah would always randomly say Mr. Brian in a weird pitch that made me laugh, and Vitus and I had some good conversations (I'm also going to post a story about Vitus regarding his life's past present and future which we sat and discussed).

Wisdom -

This my good friend and coworker Wisdom, we became great friends and joked around all the time for some constant good laughs. He's what I call the champion of the Agriculture as a Business program not just because he's following along or something, but because he's a great AEA and has been using the program to really benefit farmers. He's fully capable of running the program on his own and has contributed important feedback to us on what works and what doesn't, what areas it can improve on, and so on. Wisdom is great at what he does and gives me hope for the future of Mofa's extension services.

This is the Nyania Farmer's Group, Wisdom and I would meet with them every week to discuss different issues involved in the program and others they would bring up themselves. They are serious farmers and are o motivated to improve their livelihoods through their farming business.

This is Wisdom's other group the Zenga Farmer's Group, we would also meet with them every week. This is the group that gave me the chicken and eggs that I mentioned in the last post.

Because of the relationships with people including work, it was tough leaving. It’s not so much that I had unfinished work to do, I know Nadia will do a great job, it’s just that after 4 months I had plenty of momentum going. For example, I felt comfortable with all my coworkers and build some great relationships with them, I was working on getting some more AEAs involved in the program, I was working on getting the local bank involved with our program, and so on. I felt like I had a lot going on and things were happening, like farmers taking initiatives and trying new things to improve their farms and therefore livelihoods (without any handouts). It took for 4months, maybe 3, to get in the zone and feel very comfortable with work, friends, and my home life, and then it was time to leave. It wasn’t easy, but luckily I can (and do) stay in touch with people over the phone. All in all I had a great experience, I learned about on the ground development work and got to experience a different culture and people across the world and for that I’m extremely thankful. Aside from my personal learnings and experiences, the Agriculture as aBusiness program was successfully started in this district and EWB now has some good relationships and reputations with Mofa and farmer groups. With our team of hard working, critical thinking, thoughtful volunteers and staff alongside dedicated, hard working, caring, and intelligent Mofa staff working to assist hard working small scale farmers I see hope. Hope for the majority of people in this area living off a dollar or two per day, hope for the women and men putting in long hours of work often physically demanding for just enough (and sometime not enough) to meet their basic needs, and most of all hope for the young girls and young boys who deserve a future where they are entitled to the same opportunities given to girls and boys in North America or Western Europe. I have hope for Gertrude, Sulemana and all the other young ones:



So, our program isn’t perfect, we have a lot to learn and many challenges ahead, but we realize that this AAB program always needs to change, always needs to improve, and most of all always needs to put farmers and their families first. AAB is working, it is helping some of the Ministry’s staff better assist farmers and some AEAs are using it with little to no help from EWB. The main incentives I saw AEAs working with are an internal drive to help farmers and contributing to food security in their country so everyone has enough to eat and then some. I loved being in Ghana, surrounded by some warm hearted people who are striving for a better tomorrow, working with people who had few resources and moderate to low pay for the large work load they carried, but who still did a great job and put in the time and effort while receiving little to no recognition from their superiors or coworkers. With that said I’m looking forward to applying for a long term placement (1 year) and (God willing, as they say in Ghana) hoping to return to Northern Ghana next summer to work with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

This isn’t the end of my ‘experience’ or ‘journey’; it’s really only the beginning, and I know that must sound pretty cheesy but it’s the honest truth. And I’m very thankful for the opportunity and privilege to travel to Ghana and live and work there, but that was only possible because of people like yourselves who donated out of their pockets to help our EWB Windsor chapter raise the money for my placement, and equally (or more) important was all your support, whether is was directly through contacting me via emails, text messages, phone calls, and blog comments or through your prayers and positive thoughts/energy. Even the mere fact of knowing that so many of you were supporting me and wishing me well really made a difference especially during those difficult times where I felt down and out. It’s so incredible how people can positively influence one another and sometimes all it takes is a few kind words to help someone up after they fallen, and believe me I fell down more than a few times overseas but with simple short email or blog comment or phone call I got back up and tried, tried to do what I could. I think that’s all we can really ask of ourselves and one another. We can try, and continue to try so that future generations, the Gertrude’s and Sulemana’s all across the world, may live in more fair and just world without the hardships of poverty…

Thanks everyone for everything you’ve done.

I still have some more stories, photos, and a few videos to share, and I’m open to any comments or questions regarding any aspect of my placement.

All the best,


My last few weeks in Ghana

As most of you know I’ve been back home in Canada now for a few weeks and settling into my apartment in Windsor. Since I haven’t posted for almost a month now I’ll fill you in from where I left off, my last 2 weeks in Ghana.

As you can imagine my last 2weeks were pretty hectic as I attempted to wrap everything up like writing reports, saying all my goodbye’s to friends, coworkers, farmer groups, and people I stayed with in Paga and the village in Kandiga. On top of that I had the new volunteer come and stay with me during my final week. Nadia from Toronto was my replacement and is currently working in Paga. I had the chance to introduce her to everyone and show her around hoping to make her stay comfortable and getting off on the right foot. As all this was happening I continued to work and meet with farmer groups. Basically I had a difficult time ‘finishing up’ and leaving, in other words I didn’t want to leave.

On my last official day of work with Mofa in Paga, my coworkers (some of them good friends after 4 months) gave me a smock, which is a cultural garment worn mostly in the north:

Some of the District Mofa Staff and I in the courtyard outside of the office in Paga

Me and Maggie (one of the great AEAs I worked with)

Me and Dominic (the District Director of Agricultue aka my boss)

Me and Azuntaba aka John (smock buddies)

Most of us went to the local bar for a drink after giving me the smock at the meeting. I have to admit that I pretty much knew it was coming because I bought a smock from the same tailor and he dropped a hint. But I was still happy and appreciative of their thoughtfulness, and all across the 3 Northern Regions almost all the volunteers were given smocks by coworkers, friends, or host families. I ended up wearing the smock all day Friday after receiving it and the response I got in town felt incredible! Numerous people that I knew, mostly acquaintances but also friends, commented on me wearing the smock. Everyone loved that I was wearing it! There were laughs and clapping and lots of compliments, one person even mentioned that “now you are a native of Paga!” while another person mentioned how they were happy that I have accepted their culture by wearing a smock. On the whole most people I encountered that day were happy to see a white guy wearing their cultural dress, I tried not to let it all go to my head, but I must admit that I was pretty happy with all the compliments, smiles, and (friendly) laughter.

But that wasn’t the only going away gift I received. On one of my last days in Paga some of the executive members of a farmer group we work with stopped by my place with a rooster and about 3 dozen eggs.

An unexpected gift

You see, this happened when I first arrived with another group and boy did I feel uneasy about accepting it! I know how much these cost (which I can easily afford) and I wished they would keep it or give to someone who actually needs it. It’s interesting how my outlook changed by the time I left. Sure I still wished that they would give it to someone in need, but I felt that I understood a bit better than before. Even in Canada we give going-away gifts if a visitor has come from afar to work with us, even if they hold a prominent position (in my case one I didn’t earn nor deserved). It’s similar to this situation but the wealth difference still makes it uneasy. On the other hand, rejecting their gifts would have been worse, and if they found out that I gave them away that might not have gone over so well. What if you gave some visitors a going away gift and found out they immediately gave it to someone else?

Basically I accepted the gifts without as much uneasiness and much more gratitude and appreciation. I understood it was a gift of thanks for a visitor that spent time with them trying work together for their benefit (and not just coming to help the poor ‘other’ but discussing issues, listening to their concerns and ideas while sharing our own so the farmers can find solutions to their challenges as myself and the AEA support and encourage them). Let’s face it, development work consists of intervening in people’s lives, it’s just the way it is, but how this is done is what makes or breaks it. And if a Ghanaian NGO came to work with them and was leaving I’m pretty sure they would give them a chicken and eggs too. Anyways, they said thanks by giving a chicken and eggs, and I said thank you and appreciated their kindness/thoughtfulness and also gave them a printed photo of their group that I had the previous week.

Monday, August 3, 2009

2.5 weeks to go!

Time is winding down and before you know it i'll be exiting a plane in Toronto. I'm feeling about a 50/50 split between excited to come home and sad to leave. Luckily, or rather thankfully, there will be another volunteer replacing me for another 3.5 months and she's arriving really soon so I'll get a chance to show her around Paga and introduce some good people. I feel pretty good with my placement on the whole, sure there's plenty of things I "should, could would" have done which I'll be sharing in my final report, but I'm very thankful for the opportunity to meet all the incredible people, see-hear-feel all that I did, good and bad, and I'm thankful for all the learning. Being far from home help me appreciate all the wonderful people I'm lucky to have in my life, and I truly mean it when I say thanks for all the different types of support.

I don't know if I'll get a chance to post a couple more times before leaving, I'll put in the effort though, as you probably guessed I'll be quite busy finalizing all that I'm doing. Whatever the case, when I get back to Canada I'll put up a lot more pics, blog writing, and of course the videos I spent hours trying to upload here. When I head back south to Tamale in a couple weeks I'll try to prepare another post about my work and hopefully some pics about the people from the compound and work.

Until then...

Village stay part deux

Here’s photo of the family I stayed with left to right: Tony, Peter, Alice, and Robert in the back then the two kids Gertrude and Solomon in the front.

One of the things I noticed from my short stay in the village is that Alice and her daughter Gertrude do a lot of work. Alice, the mother, works as a seamstress sowing women’s dresses and garments that are commonly worn by women, but before starting work she is up very early (I woke up at 545am one morning and she was already up and moving) and fetches water, sweeps, and prepares food for everyone, which is pretty labour/time intensive. After returning home from working the whole day sewing at the market she began to prepare dinner which took a couple hours or so, served everyone, then sat down to eat. By now it is dark, after eating she washes all the pots, pans, and dishes before resting and retiring for the night. From what I saw she’s the first one up in the morning and the last one to relax at night, basically working double shifts within and outside the home. Her young daughter (probably around 10yr plus or minus 2) does much of the same work. She’s also up very early helping her mother with everything I mentioned above before and after school, and she also weeds people’s farms to gain money for the family- either after or before school, I’m not sure, I just saw her leave in her school uniform with a hoe in hand and was told how she weeds on peoples farms. This young girl works hard, like a grown woman, and if I were to do her work for a day I’d be pretty exhausted and sore. She also help to take care of the small boy Solomon, she helps him bath and prepare for school in the morning, and plays with him in the evening. I kept thinking that Gertrude, a young girl plays the role of a mother while attending school and working on the farm here and there.

Here’s photo of Solomon, or as Tony calls him ‘Sulu-macho’. He’s the son of Peter and Alice’s daughter and was he was pretty apprehensive and shy around me for almost the whole time I was there, on the last day I was taking a lot more snaps and he opened up a little and I caught him smiling a couple times – he usually has a somber and shy look on his face.

I spent a lot of time with Peter’s son Anthony (Tony) who is a year younger than me and home for the summer holidays. He studies at the University of Ghana in Accra and is doing a BA taking sociology, religion, and Swahili. He showed me around and we talked about many things, I asked him many questions about village life. It was good to hang out with someone my age who speaks good English, he made my stay a lot more comfortable.

His friend and relative (although in our culture they wouldn’t be related) Samuel or Sammy was a good character to chat with and have around; he’s a local teacher and was working on the farm with us the one day.

I had a great time in Kandiga, learned through experience how difficult farming is, met a number of kind friendly people, learned about people’s culture and way of life and was able to experience a small part of it. I also learned that the term “village” evokes many preconceptions and expectations, but here in Northern Ghana there’s so many different types of villages with different cultures. For instance, another JF/friend Spencer took a small boat to his villages stay, met the chief, went hunting and gathering, and the village was like a big compound and semi-isolated in the bush. You can imagine the large contrast between my stay with a solar panel, concrete courtyard, sparsely located family compounds, and located about 20 mins from a paved road. Basically there’s not one type of village that we’ve seen in movies or pictures. Anyways, I’m planning on heading back there by the end of this week with some pictures I told them I would print, I can’t wait!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Village Stay in Kandiga (part one)

When you think of a village in rural Africa what comes to mind? Stop and think about it for a minute….

Without getting into a discussion into why we think of certain things, I have a hard time deciphering where the village begins and where it ends, and what a village actually is. The place I stayed, ‘the village’, wasn’t isolated or far from “civilization” it is a community comprising of spatially separated homes by fields, dirt roads and foot paths, boreholes to pump safe clean drinking water shared by everyone, no electricity, and where just about everyone greets everyone. This isn’t the most detailed description, but how many of you reading this will actually sit here and read a 5-10 page description? Anyways, the home that I stayed in judging by my observations was a little better off than others but not as wealthy as some. The courtyard, I guess you could call it, was concrete instead of earth, they had zinc metal roofing on all the rooms except for the one I slept on, and they have a solar panel:

The solar panel only powers 3 lights and an outlet that can only handle a radio or black and white TV, not powerful enough to recharge a cell phone – the batteries are weakened since they are about 4 years old, a common problem with solar power. I think Peter, the father, said he paid around 300 Ghana cedis for it, but now they are more expensive because of a high demand and short supply, which is unfortunate because the area is perfectly situated for solar power with lots of sun and spaced out homes/compounds making infrastructure expensive to run all the power cables. Basically there’s different levels of wealth in villages, not everyone lives in extreme poverty and people have some ‘modern’ amenities and possessions like you or I - not all villages are isolated communities in the bush.

One of my favourite things about staying in the village was sleeping under the stars up on the roof of an older style room:

rooftop camping

I had the chance to lie under a sky full of stars every night with a cool fresh breeze carrying the scent of dew and millet crops (similar to corn field smell). It was incredible to wake every morning to a cool breeze and beautiful sunrise over the millet fields:

I’ve mentioned millet quite a bit because it’s the main food staple in this village as well as the district and maybe even region. We ate millet every day, mainly in the form of TZ with leafy stew and a couple times in the field we had it in grinded floury form with water added:

We also ate rice, bread and tea, guinea fowl (similar to a chicken), and gari which is kinda like cold sugary oatmeal, pretty tasty! Millet is very nutritious and suited to the environment so fertilizer isn’t needed, and the stocks are used after the harvest for thatched roofs and to make fences for dry season gardens to keep animals out. Here’s a pic I took as we made our way along a path between millet fields on our way to weed the groundnut field (another nutritious staple suited to the environment not needing fertilizer):

more pics are yet to come!

Agric as a Business and development

With the Agric as a Business (AAB) program things still feel like they are going slow especially since I’m only here for such a short time, but from what I’ve gathered it’s a normal feeling among JF’s past and present. I guess I see my greatest impact in laying the foundation for EWB and AAB in this new district, and building the relationship and credibility that we need to be effective in working with Mofa and farmers. Basically I’m trying to document as much as possible about as mush as possible.

AAB involves a series of meetings with farmer groups that focus on building strong groups and gaining basic business skills so farmers can make more income, therefore profit. We work with farmers that are small scale and mostly subsistence, and if you ask any of them if they want to make some money or more money I’m sure they will agree. The hard part I’m finding is the approach AEAs are taking. The AAB approach is to let the group do the analysis, make a plan, and make decisions while Mofa/EWB guides and supports them in this process. This process is done through facilitating discussions with groups with guideline questions and facilitation tips outlined on the AAB laminated cards given to AEAs.

The problem I’m finding is that AEAs are so used to a top down dissemination of knowledge/information and some aren’t letting the group decide, plan, and analyze at least without telling them the importance of record keeping or group meetings for instance (which are 2 topics covered on the cards). “Top-down” and “lecturing” sound like pretty harsh words so I need to clarify what I mean. Most of the AEAs, the ones I work with or not, are from villages and some even in this area, so they aren’t treating the farmers like unintelligent children, they are attempting to do what their regular job requirements: transfer knowledge which they’ve learned and are given by MoFA so farmers can adopt practices and techniques, like growing a new variety of maize that mature faster and can be harvested earlier. AEAs are doing their jobs the way they’ve been trained and also following their superiors instructions, they aren’t arrogant or condescending in how they talk with farmers.

Here’s where it gets complex: to a certain degree AEAs have the education and knowledge about some things that farmers don’t; many farmers we work with are illiterate for example. At the same time, it appears that to a certain degree farmers want to be educated on business skills and technical knowledge that will help them improve their livelihoods. So, if AEAs want to educate (through a form of lecturing, not harshly or anything, and even with jokes) and farmers want to be educated, then why are we trying to change this? This is one of the things I’m struggling with. Where’s the balance between pragmatic and appropriate, or participatory and teaching? Maybe those aren’t good words to describe the situation, but I think you get the point. Another factor could be farmers paying lip service to please the AEA who gives them fertilizer coupons that reduce the cost of a bag of fertilizer by about half.

From what I’ve observed in the field, through talking with long term volunteers, and reading reports and past experiences, the issue is that farmers voices aren’t being heard enough and their input, opinions, ideas, and concerns aren’t valued as much as they could or should be. As a result, our hypothesis is that: if farmers have more of a say, if they are able to honestly and openly share their ideas, if they are given some more power to do so, then we can learn from them and better understand how to support them in their activities so they can improve their livelihoods. I say hypothesis because we don’t want to make assumptions and present things as facts, for then we close ourselves off to feedback and potential changes. That said, we’ve found through our work with Mofa and farmer groups focusing on the 8 areas in AAB (group: strengths, meetings, finances, work/farm, business plan, record keeping, marketing, and evaluation) can make farmers more profits and improve their lives while feeling more in control over their futures and taking pride in the fact that they succeeded without a handout – usually in the form of a white man in a 4x4 giving money to the “helpless” (which is needed in some cases, but can lead to dependency and helplessness).

Hopefully I’ve been clear and haven’t confused anyone reading this. With all the uncertainty and complicated issues affecting our work, I’m staring to see some farmer groups that initially met with us and expected handouts like money or inputs (fertilizer, seed, chemicals, machinery) that are now starting to strengthen their group from within, make plans and set goals, and feeling like they can succeed. Groups express their appreciation for our support, knowledge and know-how to improve, and in a way we are doing this. At the same time, farmers are taking the initiative, driving the discussions, making the plans, thinking about what they want to do, how to do it, why it’s important or not, if its relevant and so on.

I think it’s also important to note that the groups are getting something tangible from AEAs in the form of fertilizer coupons which are subsidizing the cost of fertilizer (other groups and individuals are also receiving coupons, not just farmers involved with AAB). Groups are also discussing and planning with us through AAB, and receiving encouragement and information. Whether I like it or not, or accept it or not, I’m a white man in Africa working with an NGO - that means a clear wealth/power difference exists between farmers and myself. One of the implications or effects is that I’m treated with a certain amount of respect and prestige that a prominent older man would receive, therefore groups are somewhat encouraged to meet with us and participate in this program; they listen to what we have to say, and when I encourage groups or give my opinion my voice carries a little weight (definitely more than it should). I do struggle with this ‘white privilege’ and power disparity, but I try to be altruistic about it all and “use my powers for good” by encouraging and giving recognition, trying to understand and be open about what I’m doing and why I’m here, and leverage whatever weight my voice or actions carry to motivate farmers and AEAs.

I truly believe that this AAB program will help farmers earn more income, and one of the main reasons is because of the people involved. Most of the AEAs are good at what they do, they want to help farmers and do a good job, yet I can’t speak too much about this because of my limited time here and I don’t have the greatest understanding of all AEAs since I’m only working with and regularly communicating with 4. On the EWB front I can speak more confidently because I’m closer to them and communicate better with them: we have amazing people working here who are incredibly thoughtful, caring, hardworking, dedicated and motivated, and critically analyzing and reflecting to the extent that just about anyone you ask will explain how they’re not doing enough, things are happening too slow, or not enough progress has been made. They most likely will speak of their challenges and short coming more than their successes, but I like to quote Levi, our EWB director of overseas, on his description of EWB overseas volunteers: “insecure overachievers”. My coach the other day also said something along the lines of ‘we’re always undercutting our successes and whatever successes or progress we admit is usually an understatement.’ We are making progress and farmers are working their way out of poverty, but its hard to measure, it’s a slow process that takes time, it happens in different ways, and all the while we are always looking to improve and questioning our actions, assumptions, decisions, and ideas – hence, it’s complex and difficult for me to explain or understand clearly.

The approach we’re taking with AAB might sound flaky or not very concrete as we are always second guessing, and questioning our approach to see if it’s appropriate, relevant, and effective, but that’s the way it should be I think. People’s lives aren’t static they are dynamic and their surroundings are as well, therefore ‘development work’ must also be constantly changing and adapting to assist people in the changes they face. This changing atmosphere leads us to try new approaches and ideas leading to successes, insights and of course failures and shortcomings. We can learn just as much or more from our shortcomings and failures and use the learning to improve, the problem is that donors large and small always want to see results, which can lead to projects that show short term immediate gains that can fall apart soon after the project ends.

For instance, a project manager I interviewed at the local bank said the main problem here with NGOs is that they come for a short period of time, run their project, then leave, and when the project is over so are the benefits. He basically said there is no long term or sustainable projects happening in this district I’m in. However, it’s understandable why donors want to see direct and immediate results, if you donate 10, 100, or 1000 dollars I’m guessing you won’t want to hear about how the project didn’t produce the expected results, and how the NGO/charity learned valuable lessons that they will put into practice to ensure long term sustainable improvements on the ground are achieved, or the NGO/charity trying to explain the complexities involved on the ground and how concrete results may take 1-5 years, and the like. I think it’s much more comforting to read or hear about how your money went into the bricks of a school that was built, or the wages for labourers and materials that built a latrine or borehole, or polio vaccinations, etc. All important in their own respect, and I’ll be the first to admit that I enjoy reading a fuzzy letter with pictures and results from a charity I donate to, it makes me feel like I did something good – donate money – and people benefited – like a health center opened, or a family received livestock. But the point I’m wandering around here is that other types of projects that won’t produce immediate concrete results and focus on long term results are just as important, yet not as appealing to donors.

Here's a few photos of farmer groups involved with the Agric as a Business program:

The Kakungu Farmer's Association

The Zenga Farmer's Group

The Abulu Zenga Wopolo Women’s Group proudly standing in front of their almost finished building they constructed on their own to hold meeting in

Children of the Street

Children of the Street

By Lora Akati

(published in The Daily Graphic July 19, 2009)

Hear now, the voice of the voiceless,

Of us, who have no representatives.

We are the children of the street

With nothing but dust to eat.

Policies have promised to save us

But instead like maladies,

We are stuck in the abyss of hopelessness.

Education is alien to our world

For though we have heard of rights,

They are meant for the bright.

Despise us or dismiss us,

We are still the homeless, children of the street.

We may not have homes,

But we do have hopes.

Just as the earth has never ceased in its orbit,

So our dreams grow each passing minute.

We do not beg for respect, for it is foreign to us.

All we seek is a tomorrow,

Where education will replace rape,

Where food and shelter will exist.

Where we will be bright enough

To demand the respect of our ‘rights’.

This is the dream we hold on to

As we wake up each morning under the bridges

And bare our souls to the dangers of the street.

This is our silent prayer,

That one day, our voices shall be heard

By none, but ordinary people with respect for lives.

Ordinary people like you.

The writer graduated from Keta Secondary School in 2008, where she read General Arts. She has been admitted to the University of Ghana, Legon, and looks forward to reading political science, English, and social work. Currently, she is studying French at Alliance Francaise, Accra.