We’re starting our second week here in Ghana (the trip’s about 3 in total), so I wanted to share some photos from our first week with you all. We’ve been having a great time, save some minor GI bugs that we’ve encountered in more recent times.
While the teaching began in earnest yesterday, week one was filled with settling in, preparing the team for the launch of the now-arrived smartphones, and a team retreat.
On our way into town we stopped on the side of the road to see the Human Factor Leadership Academy campus. This school was started by a former professor of ours, Senyo Adjibolosoo, who also introduced me to Akatsi in 2008. Dusk is my favorite time of day in Africa as the wind starts to calmly blow and the smell of food being prepared on the roadside fills the senses.
Once again we are staying with our incredible Ghanaian hosts, the Sefe family. Our meals are prepared for us, leaving us free to spend our time thinking and planning for the many activities of every day.
We of course hit up the Akatsi market. It occurs every 5th day, which means the day of the week rotates. We were lucky it fell on our first full day in town. The walk is nice and the red earth is striking in Ghana.
We arrived at a time of mourning for the Kekeli family. Several Kekeli have lost husbands, children, and parents recently. In the early morning on Thursday we traveled to their communities to pay our respects, as is custom here.
And Friday we attended a funeral of the husband of a Kekeli Woman. Always difficult to describe and explain, funerals in Ghana are celebrations. While the grief is deep, the community comes together to celebrate the life of those they have lost. I celebrated by putting on a colorful skirt, trying to keep up with my new dancing partner.
On Saturday the executive team traveled north about 5 hours to the Wli waterfalls for a getaway retreat. On the way we stopped at the monkey sanctuary and met some banana-loving Mona monkeys. (from left: me, teaching director Comfort, executive director David, our driver Dada, Olivia, communications director Alnice, and monitoring director Georgina)
The setting is stunning. And so is our Ghana team.
The hike to the falls is a flat 45 minutes.
We’re soaked, not from swimming but from the mist coming off the falls. The rainy season just passed so the water levels are still quite high.
Both Saturday and Sunday we spent a couple hours discussing our mission, values, and vision for RHC. Olivia led the “workshop” and did a wonderful job.
If you can see on the left, Alnice is wearing a blindfold. This minefield game helped us all understand what it is like to lead and be led when you can’t always see what the other person can. This applies both to communication between team members but also between teams (Ghana and USA), as there are many cultural differences and understandings we can’t take for granted.
Filling out individual papers and pasting them on the flipchart was a great way to surface each individual’s ideas. We will be taking the values and visions of the Ghana team back with us as we embark on our own strategic planning meeting in September with the USA team. I’m really excited to bring the voices of our Ghana team into this setting for the first time in such a concrete way.
And yesterday the teaching began! The kickoff including all the Kekeli Women, with just the Kekeli 3 (pictured below) remaining for the next 2 weeks to learn the entire HBLSS curriculum. The really cool part? Kekeli 1 and 2 will be their teachers. Oh, and Steph arrived! Just in time for the start of the program.
Check back next week for some photos of teaching and smartphone planning. Also check out our instagram page (@rhcollaborative) for daily photos and stories.