All students have arrived safely and are ready for an amazing program!
The staff at the Building Healthy Villages Homebase are excited that all of the students have finally arrived, we’ve been preparing for some time now. We ate a delicious dinner on the deck and then are heading to bed so we can get a fresh start in the morning!
our previous discussions about sanitation in a global context. This
took the form of beginning to build a compost toilet for a family in
Dzita village. At first I must admit I was hesitant about building a
toilet. I could think of so many other commodities that would benefit
a community, and quite frankly a squatting, non-flushing toilet was
not one of them. However, as we further developed our understanding of
sanitation through a TED talk and a bit of context about the community
we’re staying in, it became evident that this compost toilet was
perfectly suited for the needs of the local community. Squatting
toilets are already culturally integrated in to the rural Dzita area,
so it did not provide a drastic transition in habit. Though it did
provide a much more beneficial alternative to squatting in the fields
where it is unavoidable for hands and feet to be contaminated by the
heaps of faeces on the ground, and thus disease to spread at great
efficiency. It does not require any electricity, and so prevents
disease and inherently large medical costs at a very small monetary
contribution from the family when it is first built. All of the above
reasons and many more all allowed the group to see the capability of
such a simple design, and the power it can have over a community.We began our toilet by carrying water over on our heads in tin basins
as the locals do, to create a plaster. After this, we learned how to
manipulate building tools to glue the stone bricks together with the
plaster we made. I can speak for all of us when I say we certainly
felt accomplished after seeing our end product. We also came to
realize the degree of craftsmanship that goes into realizing the
simplest of designs. Over the course of 4hours we managed to only
construct 4 rows of brick wall– building an ordinary 12 floor building
made out of tiny red bricks starts to seem like an incredible (and not
to mention unachievable) feat. However, creating everything from
scratch using local materials surrounding us is and will be an
unforgettable experience unlike everything we will ever encounter
again.After lunch back at home base (of fantastic rice and a spicy tomato
chutney mixture type thing) we took a guided tour of medicinal plants
that they use in the local area. We were astonished to learn about how
common illnesses such as fever, headaches, stomachaches, colds, and
even insanity could be relieved by the manipulation of a few leaves.
Finally, after dinner we had an impromptu class on Ewe, the local
language taught by the homebase staff. We learned the phonetics of
common vocabulary that we would need in our different environments:
homebase, service, market and a few in between. The language is
fascinating, though difficult for our western tongues to carry out
properly. We had loads of fun laughing about our incorrect
pronunciation and our obvious accents.
Hope you’re all enjoying your summer, we sure are! ☺ –Luca Leung
Ghana! These last few days have been extremely tiring, but enjoyable. We have spent hours building our eco-compost toilet – and it is really exciting to see such rapid progress!
It may be hard to imagine this, but a toilet can actually change the lives of a family – because improved sanitation increases the life expectancy and can empower all young Ghanaians (especially girls) to regularly attend school. A lack of sanitation and education are the central problems faced by the people in Ghana. The toilet aids in sanitation, can help children regularly attend school, and can assist farmers (majority of people in the village) in increasing their crop yield with the compost produced from the toilets.
Overall, however, it’s safe to say that everyone in the group has fallen in love with Ghana. Ghanaians are some of the most hospitable, generous, and genuinely kind people at I have ever met! Time is flying by!
July 7, 2015
Not only have we spent our time in Dzita helping to build a compost toilet, during these past two week we have plunged into the culture that Ghana has to offer. We first experienced the Ghanian culture through the food (courtesy of Mama Rita). The food is typically filled with spices and is quite flavorful and never fails is satisfy us. We became fully emerged in the culture here when we were brought to the local market on the bank of the Volta River. We were originally brought there to complete a scavenger hunt but we had an entirely new experience with the fast paced crowded streets. Here we were able to buy goods such as handmade fluorescent fabrics. We have been given the opportunity to make use of our fabrics that we purchased to create clothes that are sewn together by seamstresses (we are excited and anxious to receive our newly made clothes). We were given another burst of culture thanks to the chief of Dzita. We were given the opportunity to create our own fabrics using batik methods that were taught to us in a workshop. In addition, thanks to Ballo (a local helping us to construct the toilet), we danced away the nigh† and learned all the “hip” moves used in Ghanian clubs. Next year, I can assure you, our proms will be a ton more fun!
The issue of sanitation is certainly prominent in Ghana, however, education is just as big a problem. Today, we visited the local school and saw first hand the way private schools are run in Ghana. (Very, very, different to those in America to say the least). We gave the kids, ages 9-14, a short lesson on the importance of sanitation and easy ways to prevent disease.
Although learning about the culture is fascinating and most definitely has enhanced our GLA experience, the most rewarding feeling we have had thus far was completing our compost toilet. All 6 us (minus a few on some days due to illnesses and hospital visits), spent every morning mixing concrete, carrying water, and constructing this structure. By the third day, the village we were working in became familiar of us and welcomed us every morning with smiling faces. Although, building the compost toilet was incredible, I’m sure all of us can testify to the fact that at times, our bodies felt tired and drained. Despite the dehydration, runs, mixed malaria pills, and hospital visits, the toilet was built in efficient time and looks stellar. Being able to be a part of something that will help benefit a community so immensely is an incredible feeling. Tomorrow is the ceremony of the toilet and our farewells to the Meet Me There Lodge. We are all excited for tomorrow but also a bit sad to leave here. You will hear more from us soon!
Frances and Azia
Yesterday was the day everyone had been looking forward to: the opening ceremony of our compost toilet! We woke up and headed over to Agledomi to our work site and the whole family that we built the toilet for and other people from the village were waiting for us with chairs set up and refreshments. The ceremony started off with us thanking all of our new friends who saw us working every day for being so welcoming and patient with us for the past two weeks. Then, Boots walked everyone through the proper use of the toilet and how to keep it up. This part was so important because for the compost toilet to be beneficial and successful everyone who uses it needs to be educated about it. During this ceremony I (and I’m sure everyone else) had a moment of reflection. As I looked around at all of the kids that we have played with every day and all of the adults that have welcomed us so kindly, I realized that we have actually done something really amazing. All of the people that surrounded me will benefit from this toilet for years and it could even save their lives from disease and unsafe alternatives of going to the bathroom elsewhere. The opening ceremony was truly gratifying and our hard work has undoubtedly paid off.
The day continued on with a boat ride down the Volta River and we all just marveled at the beauty of the last afternoon we had in Ghana together. There was a group singing and drumming in the back and we were all very happy and content. We stopped at a beach and walked around looking for shells and hung out with everyone we have come to know and love so much. As the day came to a close we all wore our clothes that Aunty made out of our fabrics to our last feast at Meet Me There. We sat with all of the staff and went around the table sharing our favorite memories from the past two weeks in Ghana.
We have now all ventured to Accra where we will be spending the night and waiting for our flights home. We have all had an absolutely life changing experience here and we have made the best friendships. I don’t think I have ever laughed or smiled more than I have here and we all have a great Ghanian happiness that we will be bringing home to our families and friends (of whom we can’t wait to see!)
So, we are now down to two students. The California group. The East Coast girls, Lex, Azia, and Casey, all left this morning on a 9 am flight back to America. Sahil and I have just spent today at the Accra mall with Kendall. We bought tickets to go see a movie but later learned that the movie was not going to start for an hour after they told us.. typical Ghana. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that going home is going to be an adjustment.
Although eager to reconnect with friends and family, the two weeks spent in Dzita was a very special time for each and every one of us. Every staff member at the Meet Me There Lodge welcomed us in with open arms from the very first day and soon our relationships with them turned into genuine friendships. Two weeks ago the six of us were complete strangers to each other coming from all ends of America, and now, I can safely say that all of us will be keeping in contact with each other for years to come.
Each of us came to Ghana with slightly different mindsets, however, we are all leaving with a new sense of humility and love. It is our job now to educate people as much as we can about the vibrate culture of Ghana that we had the opportunity to experience. Most people don’t have that same opportunity. It is our job to explain how significant of an issue sanitation is and explain how 6 teenage kids can make a difference. That doesn’t mean they have to fly out to Ghana, they can easily make a difference in their own community.
Anyway, thanks for keeping up with our blogs, if you have. Or maybe you just decided to read this last post. Regardless, I hope you got a pretty good idea our incredible, almost indescribable experience.
New photos are below!
All students have departed for home. That’s a wrap!