Kristina's Ghana Blog

Friday, June 01, 2007

Caution

Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to let the people who are reading this, interested in the Peace Corps, should read the first few months of my service first. October, November, December. The last 4 months were really difficult, so read the first months, first! :)

Also, I'm back in the States. I arrived on August 18th, 2006. My apologies for not updating the blog sooner. This should be the last post to this site.

Please visit http://www.myspace.com/ashanti_carvers to learn more about my time in Ghana and what I'm currently doing in regards to my service.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Upper West End (things looking better)

OK so I’ll try to sum up the last two weeks in 6 min flat. Think I can do it? me either....

July 4th, it was all right. Went to Jirapa to spend it with Jenell and the other upper westers but it was hard getting out of James’s village and then getting to Jirapa was a long ride. But it was fun and I got to see Jenell's site, she's the one that offered me to be site mates...but Jirapa is a small city of 15,000 people...too big for me...I def'ly don't want to upsize......

Oh did I write about biking 30 km in one day? haha, that was fun, it was the day before the 4th, so that would make it the 3rd wouldn't it?
Anyway, we had to go to Loggu to ask the nurse if he could help with our HIV talk and James had to talk to the masons about the latrine project. Man did my buttocks hurt from that trip. If I move up here I’ll be in much better shape :)

Ok, the HIV AIDS talk.....Friday, it went really well 74 men and 65 women showed up. We had a male nurse talk to the guys and a female nurse talk to the women. We did condom demos and passed condoms out.
The old ladies didn't like it but the men and the younger women enjoyed the talk. Some interesting questions were raise like "Can a woman have sex after she stops menstruating?" Apparently the women believe if they have sex after menopause they'll fall sick because the semen won't come out (apparently, menstruating helps cleanse all that semen out of their bodies) and they didn't believe the nurse when she told them that they can have sex after menopause. And they asked “Can you have sex when you are three months pregnant and going?" And again, they thought it was bad for the baby to have sex. Now this explains a bit.....Men go after young women cuz women refuse sex after menopause, plus the men pro'ly think the women can't have sex either. And if a woman won't have sex while she pregnant that's a long time for a person to without....anyway, it makes more sense, even if it's not perfect.... So it went really well and made me have hope that I could be a good PCV given a half way decent community.....

Oh and there's a teeny tiny community called Motigu that about 757 people that's looking for a PCV and is connected with the Carter Center so I’ll have more structure and stuff, but I don't know. I need to see it. Who knows? These are all just options. But the technical assistant for Carter Center up here seems to really like me and is pushing for the house to be ready and also talk to John, so we'll see
:)

Let's see what else, oh! We were searching for condoms in WA on Thursday and we couldn't find boxes of them, then this dude at a cell phone store asks us what we're looking for. me feeling safe with a white man by my side (thanks James) tell me "boxes of condoms....we need condoms" and lo and behold, he knew of a place....it's an STI clinic in WA we got 100 condoms for 4,000 cedis...that's basically 50 cents :) so we could give them away and use them for demonstration....just a nice example of how important it is to ask :)

Ok, so I think you can see I took longer than 5 minutes, I added some.....

But I don't know what to write anymore. I feel back to my old self. I feel like I can do this again. Now we just gotta talk to the bosses and stuff......this was an incredibly therapeutic trip :)

Kris

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Upper Best : )

Hey guys,

I'm in Wa right now the capital of the Upper West region of Ghana. It's wonderful. It's a very nice quiet town. It makes me loathe Kumasi even more than I already do :) So I got 17 min of Internet time, lemme try to dqueeze it all in.

Monday, I bought my ticket to Wa at 930am, the bus did not leave Kumasi until 2pm. Fun fun. The bus breaks down twice on the road, luckily while it was still daylight. Whenever the bus stoped I got up or out and walked around.....everyone thought I was in a hurry, no my legs were just cramping up......When we reached the Upper West region, it was 830 or so, i think, anyway it was dark and it'd been a long journey....we stopped for food and when we came back to leave, the mate and some passenger started fighting.....(why do i always see fighting? watching violent films, i can't do anymore cuz i've seen enough real violence that it just gets to me) serious fighting, the driver started driving away and the mate climbed on and the passenger was trying to pull the mate down....me and my wonderful thoughtfulness, told them in Enlugh and in Twi to "stop, i don't like that" which recently has worked for me, but not this time, so I wnated them to stop so bad I srayed my ginger and red pepper drink in the passengers eyes! thank god he didn't know it was me....what was i thinking? i wasn't.....anyway, this was even more close seeming as how the mate sat on the stairs of the bus and i was sitting directly behind the stairs....so it was righ in my face....anyway the bus doesnt pull into Wa until 230am....but James was a great friend and was waiting for me since 10pm! so i waasn't out in the dark alone :)

Now. Tuesday, i got to walk around Wa see Sarah B, Lexie, Jenell, and Mike and we watched the Ghana Brazil game......tsk tsk tsk on the refs....there was at least one goal that Brazil was offsides and the refs ok'ed it......so that was a real bummer. And then it was too late to catch a car to kulkpong James' village so we spent the night in Wa again.

Wed we caught a "tro" it was a pick up with benches in the back, to Kulkpong. that was fun, but a little long and my legs we cramping up again . haha. And it was market day, I got to try Pito! if you swallow it fast, it leaves a taste like Cider, but it you swallow it slowly to savor the taste, gross! We also bought pig meat and made light soup that night.....pork is good :) espeocially fresh pork and damn i can make a good light soup now :)

Thursday, didn't do much started p[lanning our HIV/AIDS talk and stuff. I got to try T-Z, it was good!

and this morning i had milk....cow's milk....they just boil it up here and add sugar and milllet.....it was tasty......not pasturized, but i'm ok right now......

NOw i'm in Wa and James has to help some ghanaians write a monthly report on Trachoma, or Guinea worm, i forget....anyway, so i'll get to experience what writing with Ghanaians is like. That reminds me, this morning, there was a suspect case of Guinea worm, so i got to go and see....the worm hasn't come out yet, so we don't know for sure, and the woman claims to have only been drinking bore hole water but you can't be guinea worm from bore hole water, so she's lying, anyway, it was fun.

So that's the jist of my week. Oh i'll be herer until next friday......

happy 4th everyone

Krisi

Friday, June 16, 2006

Wait, maybe not so soon

Hello all,
THank you for all your emails regarding my last email. Here's the update:
I went to the sub office to collect my mail (yes i got your package mom and dad, thank you thank you thank you) and Jen, the PCVL was there (PCVL just means she's in charge of the office, she lives there and stuff).....and i wasn't gonna tell anyone my problems, cuz i didn't want to hash it all out again, but the good lord (however you want to bleieve in it) works in mysterious ways.....I ended up telling her about everything, and she asked if she could call john and advocate for a site change for me.
So she did. and John told her, he's behind me, the only problem is there's no sites available right now. He's doing site development for the new volunteers coming in in September, so he's working on stuff. and he told her to have me call him the next day.
So I did. and He told me the same stuff, and he gave me permission to get away from site for a while so here's my itenerary: tomorrow, June 15-june 20 i'll be in cape coast with dixie and angela and ang's boyfriend. June 21 to June 24 I"ll be in Anumso with Sapisco (my best friend from Foase, also my boyfriend) June 24-26 I'll be back in Foase with Sapisco to collect some woodcarvings for people who ordered. June 26 to who knows when i"ll be in the UPper West region near Wa with James doing HIV education with the women in his community and visiting Lexie, Sarah B, and Mike and Jennell......
Someone told me that if you ET in Ghana, they send you home immediately, that you don't even get to go back to site to pack......i don't know how true that is, but that puts a bit of a damper on my plans (is that even a word?) so I'm not sure......
Right now......I don't know if I want to give the energy of being the new Bruni at a new site. But I think the next couple weeks away from site will help me out and possibly give me more energy and get my mind ready for more Africa.....or it could just let me know that 2 years in Africa is too long for me......there are plenty of things i like in Ghana.....and plenty of things i don't like.....Let's just say that i'm confused, and as of right now i still want to go home, but i have small hope of regaining the optimism i once had. SO anyway, i need to have a real chit chat with John.....cuz basically, it's like oh you're not happy, let's switch you sites, cuz you're a good volunteer and you integrated so well into your first community, etc......but it was never, is switching sites the best option? so i guess i'll come to that after i travel....at least PC gave me permission.
We'll see,
Kris

Monday, June 12, 2006

Tough Times

Hello everyone,

Last week from Monday to Thursday morning, I spent with Sapisco at the village where he teaches, it's called Anumso. It's a small village with no electricity :) The highlights of the stay are:

  • bathing in a bathhouse that is made of sticks and tin.....open roof so if it rained I could have bathed in the rain.....
  • also the latrine was funny, I took pics of it....it's a big hole in the ground, with two by fours over it, so I got to stand on two by fours, squat and shit in the space between the boards, lol......let's just say it took my body a few days to get used to the idea, haha. And how funny to be able to talk about my bodily functions with a man, who never once thought it was disgusting or that women just don't do that, lol....
  • I saw the most pregnant goat ever, I also took a picture, I'm telling you, you will laugh when you see how pregnant she was.
  • The people of the village have to cross a river to go to farm so there's a canoe at the riverside (also took picture)
  • there was a traditional priest doing an offering to the river, so I got to talk him for a second, also took picture. Sapi does not like traditional priests at all....he says the people worship the actual priest and not the the "river god" or "sun god" or something, I don't know. I don't think Foase has any traditional priests left....
  • I caught a baby lamb....still with its umbilical cord...also took picture! yay! lambs are very beautiful but when they turn to sheep they get dirty and ugly.....
  • Sapi's school is run down, but it's very nice in size....his class is only 28 students.....wow. I wish Foase was like that....but no the smallest class size in Foase is 45.....(why don't African men realize that having babies is NOT productive? god.....that's their excuse, "god will provide. the bible says to be fruitful, that women should bear as many children as possible and not to worry about the environment cuz god will provide. I got this explanation from the Foase P4 teacher who told me if I didn't have children I was going against the bible) Anyway, Sapi's school is nice and small :)

So Wednesday or Thursday I will be traveling to Cape Coast to visit my friend Dixie and Angela and her boyfriend from the USA. Dixie works at Kakum national park or forest or something like that. Anyway it's supposed to have swings bridges up in the canopy, I can't wait :) I will come back to Foase around Tuesday. Unless I talk to John about Foase then I'll go to Accra to talk to him and then back to Foase.....

The last week in June I will be heading up to the Upper West to do a Sexual and Reproductive health talk with James. He wants me to talk to the women while he talks to the men. Good idea, no? :) So I’m really excited about that.


After doing some major thinking, soul searching, and problem solving, I have decided I must come back to the US sooner than planned. I came to do work in Ghana and with the way my village operates, the men who are my counterparts, and Kumasi being my market town, I have no energy left to even try to change sites. And after emailing with the previous volunteer, I don't think my peace corps boss will move me anyway....there's something fishy between him and my landlord.....A man that I hate and have visions of beating his head in with a stick and watching him bleed to unconsciousness.....bad huh? Def'ly need to get out of there. But, I have these fun things to look forward too...and I’m building relationships and contacts for the next volunteer. ...Also before I leave I must get carvings made for people :) (sorry, I’m very broke, being a volunteer and all, so I can't get EVERYONE something, but I’ll do my best) So wait for more updates, maybe a miracle will happen and I’ll be moved to live with Angela or something, but that's highly unlikely.

Don't get me wrong, I love Ghana. but I simply cannot stay here for my physical, mental and spiritual self......

I will travel after I quit being a volunteer for a month or two, just to spend time with Sapi and Angela and a few others before I leave.
....


I love you all and miss you.....

Kristina

Monday, June 05, 2006

Forgive me, but the Ashante people as a whole...

@#$%!......

How racist is that? What's sad is most non-Ashanti’s feel the same way in Ghana and the Ashanti's don't like anyone else.....

SO why do I say that? On top of all the violence I've already seen. I got to see two men fight each other while sitting on a tro riding to Kumasi yesterday. They even got themselves in the middle of the road one sitting on top of the other punching the other dude face. Damn human beings, why? why?

Not only that, but I have been emailing with the previous PCV at my site. I'm not crazy. I'm having the same problems he was and John did nothing for Jeff (the previous PCV) in terms of moving housing, etc. SO that means I have to put my foot down and say, look, move me. I must be moved. I will not work in Foase, you leave me there, I will travel like Jeff did and never be in the village. And if it comes to being Admin Separated or ETing, I think I will choose ETing (early termination is on my terms....I think an Admin sep would be worse on the record)

Good news? My good friend James (a Master's International PCV, from Mich Tech U) has invited me to do a Sex/Health Ed seminar with him for 4-5 days at his site in the Upper West Region. So I will be able to leave site, and still work :)

Also, I believe Erin posted some new pics. You can see me again :)

http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/binghamkristinal/my_photos

Woodcarving is going well. I've stopped learning, but I’m selling :) and I think I’ll be able to continue it after I leave Foase.....

SO that's that,

Kris

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Medical, Cultural Issues, Rednecks in Africa....

18-05-06

Time for super mass email, since it's been about three weeks now?

My housing issues:
1. Everyone in my house thrives off shouting and yelling,
2. I've been woken up in the morning more than once because of yelling and shouting in the courtyard.
3. My landlord is a power hungry controlling demanding bitch of a man.
4. My ear got to witness him beat his child, while minutes later my eye got to witness the child's busted lip.
5. He has told me in several non-direct comments that he expects me to raise his child, that's why he brought me here. (I'm in Foase because of HIM, yes siree didn't you all know that?)
6. He also has a gun that he likes to shoot off in the mornings to scare away the armed robbers. You know, so the Armed Robbers will be scared of a person being armed with a gun? Dear lord…

Thus, I don't feel like I have a home, there's no quiet place for me to run too, and the walls are thin, so I've woken Akwasi up in the middle of the night with my asthmatic coughing…..And, I don't feel entirely safe….

I'm in Accra, for medical, again.
I believe the mild asthmas that I was diagnosed with in high school and went away in college, has now come back full force. I have a very hard time breathing…..my smoker's cough is back, and I’ve had 3 chest infections since I’ve been here (none of which did I seek treatment, I know bad Kris) and I feel like I have a 50 pound weight on my chest. So I'm back in Accra so the One Peace Corps doctor for the entire region of West Africa can see me while she's in town.
Something interesting about the situation….We have two nurses. One American and one Ghanaian. The American nurse told me it's ok to go to the clinic in Foase for treatment. So, I went to the clinic on Tuesday because my lungs were not happy, oh and I found out I’m allergic to mangoes, at least the ones here……anyway, they give me drugs, but I want to double check with the PC nurse before I take them. Well when I call I talk to the Ghanaian nurse, and she says "Why didn't you go to Kumasi or Accra?" I told her I don't like traveling (which is true in Ghana, and I don't' like traveling every other week in the states either) Then she tells me to take my meds and call her in the morning. SO I do and she says, she wants me to come to Accra cuz the regional doc is in town. Ha! So I have to travel anyway (and I didn't budget this last pay period and ooops, I’m down to 150,000 cedis for the rest of the month! (we get paid 1.5 million every month, but they pay us quarterly. anyway that's approx 156 US dollars……sounds better in cedis doesn't it?)
So about those mangoes……a fruit which I LOVE…..I ate one and the next day my lips felt dry and itchy and so did the sides of my mouth. I reminded me of the time I ate too much pineapple many years ago and the doc said I had a mild allergy….anyway, so the next day I decided to experiment on myself, I said ok, I’ll eat these two mangoes today and if the "rash" gets worse, I’m allergic to mangoes. Yep it got worse, annoyingly worse, but luckily it was just an itchy rash on my face and so I have some meds to make it go away…..

break time, how nice just as the page finishes. must get ready to see the doctor…..

Can I just tell you. Praise the Lord for American University education? This Doctor is effin amazing! So…..apparently there's a compound found in poison ivy that's the same in the Skin of mango! so that's what I'm allergic too most likely….most likely I can eat mango if someone else peels it. And that would explain my reaction this time cuz I've eaten mangoes before but in Ghana they squeeze the juice out of them while sucking on one end…..so I did that way, so the skin touched my skin ….and voila "poison ivy" response….so Erin you should be able to eat mango skin just fine, right?

Now on to my mysterious ear…..remember the damned ENT who told me just to take some pain killers? Welll……I don't have any infection but my ear drum is dull and pull back a bit, indicating that there's some inflammation in one of my tubes…..pro'ly allergy related and if I take the psuedofed it should go away……that's my basic paraphrase of what she told me….but thank god someone figured it out…..

Now my asthma. It's most likely allergy induced. She gave me a new rescue inhaler, since the albuterol makes me crazy shaky, a steroid inhaler and suedofed. and if the pseudofed is not working well call the nurses and I'll put me no Allegra or something.

She also told me, that I am going to be one of those people who just has problems the whole time they're serving, and no matter what PC country I served in I'd still have these same problems. Looks like my body was made only for the rich, lol…..without modern medicine, I'd be in a lot of pain…..and then people wonder why I don't want to give birth (maybe my genes aren't too good :0) not saying that I'm not a good person, just saying maybe I shouldn't reproduce that's all)

oh and if things don't get better I may have to get rid of Obolo and Nestle….but they're such good hunters……cuz I'm allergic to the mites and stuff they have…but I told the doctor they're strictly outside cats, which is true. so she seemed less concerned after that….I just can't pet them so much. L

So that's that. If things only get worse, then I can't stay. no sense in killing myself to live in Africa. There's plenty of volunteer work to do in the USA too….but do NOT think that means I'm coming home early…..I’m just saying the possibility is there. so no one get excited or freaked out, ok? J

Foase:

They chopped down the trees at my house (not completely chopped down, but enough that the 6 trees look dead now). You know why they killed off their shade? Because the birds were too much disturbing. That's right, the birds were making too much noise, so they cut the trees down. (errrrrr…..killing dozens of unhatched eggs and just hatched baby birds in the process……dozens of nests were in those trees) Anyway, so now it's a little warmer at the house.

Sunday, Mother's day. Happy mother's day to everyone. I decided to make good use of the fallen trees and use part of a branch as a baseball bat. So I walked to the JSS which is on the outskirts of town and used my branch as a bat and rocks as balls and let me tell you it was fun J . Batting all by myself…..I miss that. I just wish I could swing the bat at something and damage it, without hurting it, like a punching bag or something. cuz if I do it to a tree I'll damage the tree, and I can't hurt a sheep or anything. I can now easily kill ants though…..easy as pie…..especially since they bite you…..


That's plenty for now. It's 1045pm…..very very much past my bed time.

write me back,

Kris