The end of an adventure.

November 26, 2014 | Ingrid Bachner, CRM, CWY, India, RMKM

I remember my first two weeks in India, how slowly the time passed by because everything was new and exciting. Since then, time flew by, and I have now nothing but three little days left in India. Looking back on my experience, it has definitely been quite a journey, filled with adventures and life lessons. Not only did I learn to be resilient, I also got the chance to visit Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Ajmer, Pushkar, and New Delhi (as well as the little village in which I spent most of my internship.) I’ve seen fantastic places, met wonderful people from all over the world, rode overcrowded city buses (for 20 cents!), bargained with rickshawers, bought more hippie pants than one should be allowed to own, took overnight sleeper buses for about 5$, and slept in wonderful hotels for about just as little. I’ve seen cows, buffaloes, peacocks, dogs and puppies, cats, pigs, lizards, camels, frogs, elephants, katydids, parrots, goats, sheep, and many more animals that I’m forgetting about right now, all wandering the streets, sharing the road with the people, the cars, and the tuk-tuks. I’ve had chai with fantastic people, hitchhiked on motorcycles, danced to Indian music, and ate green mandarins.

During my time here, I’ve also realized how little one needs. I’ve worn the same black t-shirt for 12 weeks, ate on the floor with my hands out of tin plates, didn’t see myself in a mirror for almost an entire three months, had no shower or hot water, shared my room with more spiders than one can count, wore my flipflops until they broke (and after they broke too), and ate the same food for lunch and dinner, week after week. I’ve grown so fond of this simplicity that I’m afraid going back home is going to be extremely overwhelming, as I am not used to the same luxuries anymore.

I hope to get the chance to come back one day, to visit a bit more, and to immerse myself in the hippie vibe once again. ‘Til next time, India!

A hard reality to overcome

November 26, 2014 | Rachael, SVS, South Africa, Cape Town Refugee Center

As I am working directly with refugees every day, I have had the privilege of seeing what their world is like and enabling them to face the challenges of their reality. I have heard their stories, seen their homes and got to know their children. So many of the refugees come to South Africa from traumatic pasts consisting of violence and corruption, only to find a hard life, struggling against poverty, unemployment and xenophobia. Although there are many other factors, I find that these are the most detrimental to integrating and finding a better life in South Africa.

Most refugees that come into Cape Town Refugee Center are living in poverty. They come in to the refugee center visibly hungry, tired and wearing torn, dirty clothes asking desperately for anything we can give them. We can only offer them assistance for one month’s food vouchers or one month’s rent. The mothers bring in their children who are crying for no apparent reason, so I conclude they must be hungry or unwell. Some have been in South Africa for a decade and are still trapped in poverty. Living off pay check to pay check has kept them from building any kind of savings. The poverty prevents the children from succeeding in their own schooling as the cheaper schools do not offer as good of an education, therefore preventing them from making it into any kind of university in their future.

The unemployment rate for all of South Africa is 25.2%. So you can imagine what the statistic would be for refugees. A huge majority of the refugees I work with are unemployed and nearly all of the ones who are working have unstable jobs in which they barely make enough to provide for themselves or their family. The refugees may be very educated in their countries but come to South Africa and must start all over again, which is a very frustrating loss to deal with. The women work as housecleaners or in salons plaiting hair while the men work in construction, security or small odd jobs. There are a few who have managed to keep their own businesses selling different products. Cape Town Refugee Center sponsors their new businesses and has had quite a few success stories.

Xenophobia is one of the biggest problems for refugees in South Africa. Xenophobia is the dislike and intolerance towards foreigners trying to settle in South Africa. A lot of local people do not welcome the refugees; on the contrary they commit acts against the refugees to prevent them from integrating and building a secure home in South Africa. There is a lot of injustice and discrimination against the refugees. One of the reasons the refugees cannot find good stable jobs is because no one wants to hire a foreigner when they could hire a South African. The shops and houses of refugees are robbed and burned down regularly to demonstrate that people do not want them there. Many of the refugees coming into the refugee center have been attacked simply because of their ethnicity. So even though the refugees no longer live in their war-torn countries, they are still in danger in South Africa. Facing xenophobia is a very difficult part of the reality of refugees.

Working at the Cape Town Refugee Center has permitted me to get to know the refugees very closely and to understand through their point of view what their life is like in South Africa. Although they are all vulnerable and struggling, they are happy to be a lot safer than where they have come from. It is amazing and inspiring to see they have a strong faith and joy through all they go through.

Living in Poverty

November 26, 2014 | Rachael, SVS, South Africa, Cape Town Refugee Center

When I first came to Cape Town I thought I knew what poverty was, but I learned that is a lot more complicated. I also found that the poverty in South Africa is very different than the poverty in Canada.

I believe that the poor people in South Africa are trapped in their poverty while in Canada there are so many more opportunities to escape poverty. During my commute on the bus and train to work and home every day I am approached by at least 10 people asking for small change or food. They follow me persistently claiming God will bless me if I help them, that they have a small baby to feed, that their mother is very sick or that they will not use my money for drugs or alcohol. They will continue to persist until you either give them something or you jump onto the bus leaving them behind. I come from the inner city in Edmonton where people beg, but in Cape Town it is not the same at all. So at first I was nervous and didn’t know if I should help them or how to act at all. I would usually give them a little money or buy them something to eat. As I do this, I have built several relationships with the street people who live around the train station. I really enjoy seeing them every day and getting to know them. Saying bye to one couple around my age with whom I connected a lot, was actually really hard for me as I feel so uncomfortable just going back to Canada to my nice life while they continue to suffer.

In Canada a beggar is rarely actually hungry and usually only wanting money, but in Cape Town they appreciate even a small biscuit. This shows the level of poverty they are at, that they are genuinely hungry and in need. So I tried to make a habit of buying food for someone if they asked me for something. But some friends, other foreigners, were telling me I shouldn’t be helping them, that they should be going out to find jobs and that me giving them food or money only enables them to keep begging. In some ways I agreed with them, but as I started learning more about the reality in South Africa it was clear that most of these people were trapped in poverty and begging was maybe the only option.

I am so used to school being free in Canada, it was a huge shock for me to learn that parents must pay for school fees for each of their children, and it is not cheap at all. There are many children that beg on the street and are not in school. Their parents, who they themselves have no education, cannot afford to put them in school. So these children will grow up begging, without attending school and will never be able to get a good enough job to get out of poverty. The cycle of poverty then continues. As Mandela said “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”.

The poor live in townships such as Gugulethu, Philippi and Delft. Through my work at the Cape Town Refugee Center, I visited the homes of many refugees and saw the reality of poverty in the townships. Families live in tiny shacks of metal, sleeping on dirt floors, sharing one blanket in the cold nights. Others share one house with maybe 5 other families, still pay high prices for rent. The homes are dirty and smell bad and do not allow a healthy environment for children to grow up in. Because the youth have such a low level of education it is impossible for them to get a good job so it only makes sense for them to turn to crime as it not only offers money but also a sense of community. Gang culture is the way of life for the youth growing up in the townships which give an illusion of “success and power” when really it leads to death and imprisonment.

The poverty was shocking and I still have not seen enough to be able to properly analyse the complications of the reality of the people in South Africa living in poverty. But I wish to continue to get to know individuals to build a better understanding of the life they lead and see if there are durable solutions at work in the community to stop the cycle of poverty.

Clap de fin

November 25, 2014 | Rose, DVM, AFS, Philippines, Institute for Negros Development

Et voilà le troisième et dernier mois de ce stage aux Philippines. Ce stage à l’étranger représente pour moi une véritable expérience de vie. C’est un alliage parfait entre ma soif de découverte du monde qui m’entoure et ma carrière professionnelle. J’ai pu découvrir une nouvelle culture, un nouveau pays et surtout j’ai pu travailler avec eux.

Dorénavant, je suis capable de comprendre les mentalités et mécanismes internationaux. Non seulement j’ai acquis des compétences professionnelles, mais aussi le stage peut aider à développer une aptitude à communiquer internationalement dans le monde professionnel. De plus, maintenant, ma force de caractère a été consolidée, car je n’ai plus peur de partir à des kilomètres de chez moi pour avoir un bagage professionnel hors pairs.

Ici, j’ai rencontré des gens formidables, les filipino sont très chaleureux et abordables. J’ai pu me fondre dans la masse facilement, car je vis actuellement en famille d’accueil. Alors, mon adaptation a été facile et j’ai pris le « rythme ». Au début, on tombe facilement dans la comparaison avec le Canada ou le Sénégal, mais après on se rend compte que ce sont des pays différents et qu’il est important de vivre pleinement ce stage!

Un stage qui tire à sa fin

November 25, 2014 | Stéphanie, DVM, Uniterra, Botswana, Stepping Stones

C’est incroyable de penser que j’entame ma dernière semaine de stage et que je vis au Botswana depuis déjà trois mois! Je trouve difficile d’exprimer les divers sentiments que je ressens lorsque je réfléchis à mon expérience.

J’ai dû m’habituer à la culture, à l’environnement, à la langue et à la chaleur. Une fois que ces défis ont été surmontés, je dois dire que je me suis facilement intégrée à ce pays. J’ai créé des relations proches avec mes collègues ainsi que les participants à l’ONG Stepping Stones International. Malgré les quelques défis avec lesquels l’organisation doit composer, c’est vraiment une ONG qui a beaucoup de succès dans la communauté. Étant quelqu’un qui a toujours aimé les enfants, je trouve très valorisant de travailler avec des jeunes vulnérables et à risque. J’ai pu jouer un rôle important au sein de l’organisation, en aidant à développer un nouveau programme qui aidera un groupe de 25 participants, âgés de 13 à 15 ans, à améliorer leur compréhension de l’anglais.

Aucun livre ou cours magistral ne pourrait remplacer ce stage. C’est réellement une expérience unique et que je crois fermement que chaque étudiant devrait en faire l’expérience, surtout s’il étudie en Développement international et mondialisation. En entamant mon dernier semestre de mon baccalauréat, je me sens davantage préparée pour le monde du travail. Plusieurs employeurs cherchent des employés ayant de l’expérience de travail à l’international et je crois que j’ai réussi à accumuler des connaissances et des compétences recherchées, dont la logistique et la gérance d’une ONG ainsi que la participation active dans la communauté. De plus, ce stage m’a permis de déterminer ce que je voulais faire avec mon diplôme. Sans ce séjour outre- mer, je n’aurais pas pu confirmer mes aspirations futures.

Les relations que j’ai créées, les voyages que j’ai faits et les choses que j’ai apprises durant mon stage m’ont permis de vivre une expérience enrichissante comme nulle autre et elle me sera toujours très chère. Maintenant, je me prépare à entreprendre le cours intensif et à revoir les gens qui m’attendent à la maison.

Stéphanie

Au revoir Cape Town…

November 24, 2014 | Anne-Marie, ECH, Gender at Work, Afrique du Sud

J’en suis déjà aux derniers jours de mon voyage. Après trois mois passés ici, j’ai l’impression de commencer enfin à être à l’aise. Certaines choses qui me paraissaient étranges au début, comme les taxis mini-van, me semblent maintenant indispensables. Et je dois partir! Beaucoup de choses vont me manquer : la chaleur des gens, la mer, la diversité, les montagnes… Et certaines choses m’inquiètent pour mon retour : j’ai un peu peur de la routine, du froid, du coût de la vie même!

Je pense que cette expérience m’a changée. Je dis « je pense », car bien qu’il soit impossible que je n’aie pas changé depuis mon départ en septembre, il m’est difficile d’identifier en quoi exactement constitue le changement, et dans quelle mesure celui-ci m’a affectée. Mon retour au Canada et la reprise de mes relations interpersonnelles habituelles me permettront sûrement de constater l’état des choses. Mais je crois bien être de ceux qui trouveront le retour davantage éprouvant que le départ. En effet, je reviens officiellement le 24 novembre au Canada, mais je doute être réellement de retour avant Noël.
Faire ce stage était vraiment la meilleure façon de terminer mon baccalauréat. À travers les gens que j’ai rencontrés, les expériences que j’ai vécues et les choses que j’ai vues, je pense avoir appris plus que ce que je ne l’imagine; dans ma vie académique, professionnelle et personnelle. Je ne sais pas quand je vais retourner en Afrique du Sud, mais, comme plusieurs personnes me l’ont confirmé : « I can see it in your face, you’re coming back ».

Faire des miracles avec peu, ou bien comment s’armer de persévérance et de patience.

November 18, 2014 | Roxanne, ECH, MAC, Nepal, Ban Landmines Campaign Nepal

Les semaines continuent de s’écouler à leur le rythme habituel, mais ce n’est pas l’impression que j’ai. Chaque jour qui passe me rappelle que le décompte tire à sa fin. Ainsi, je profite de chaque opportunité d’apprentissage qui m’est présenté, que ce soit dans mon milieu de travail auprès de Ban Landmines Campaign Nepal (NCBL) ou encore dans le quotidien que j’ai réussi à me forger à Katmandou. Un certain adage dit qu’il faut au minimum trente jours pour adopter une nouvelle habitude de vie. Je ne peux pas dire le contraire, puisque les deux derniers mois ont su me prouver que je me peux m’adapter à de nombreux changements. Ce qui pouvait me sembler des plus étranges au départ, tel que les fréquentes coupures de courant, prendre mes douches avec un seau d’eau bouilli ou interpeller les gens comme étant mes frères (Dai) et soeurs (Didi), me semble à présent tout naturel. Au cours des dernières semaines, j’ai eu l’occasion de mieux comprendre mon organisme et mon pays d’accueil. Toutefois, au moment où je crois avoir saisi la nature de la culture népalaise je me rends compte que je suis encore bien loin d’entrevoir les racines profondes de l’histoire et des mœurs de ses citoyens. Trois mois ne sont définitivement pas assez pour assouvir ma curiosité!

L’un des projets de NCBL sur lequel j’ai eu la chance de travailler est le Réseau des Survivants, un projet qui rassemble des victimes d’incidents impliquant des mines anti-personnels ou d’autres types d’explosifs, que ce soit pendant ou après le conflit interne. Ce projet est autogéré par les survivants eux-mêmes, sous la brève supervision et le support financier de NCBL. Ce projet a permis de rassembler des victimes de différents milieux (armée, police, groupes maoïstes, civils, etc) et différents âges. Ce réseau leur offre une opportunité de se rassembler sous le même toit deux fois par mois pour discuter de différents enjeux et des façons dont ils peuvent sensibiliser leur entourage afin d’avancer peu à peu dans la direction d’un Népal plus accessible aux personnes handicapées. Par ailleurs, l’un des projets gérés par ce réseau fut la distribution d’un appui financier à 50 survivants. Cet appui a permis à quelques-uns de démarrer une entreprise, tandis que cela a soutenu l’expansion du commerce de certains, ou encore de fournir du matériel, tel que des ordinateurs ou téléphones cellulaires pour faciliter leur communication. Après avoir visité quelques survivants et leur famille, j’ai pu constater de quelle façon ce soutien financier les a affectés. Pour certains d’entre eux, ce support représente un léger coup de pouce pour maintenir un niveau de vie décent, alors que pour d’autres, ce support a une valeur sentimentale puisqu’il démontre qu’un ensemble d’individus pense à eux et les soutient dans leurs efforts quotidiens.

J’ai fini par conclure que ce réseau est à l’image du ‘’chautari’’. Les ‘’chautaris’’ sont de grands arbres, bien souvent entourés de pierres. Ces arbres occupent généralement une place centrale dans un village ou sur une route entre deux endroits. C’est à la fois un lieu pour se réfugier, reprendre son souffle lors d’un long trajet, ou encore un point de rassemblement. Le réseau des survivants permet aux victimes d’avoir un lieu et une raison de se rassembler régulièrement. Ainsi, ce projet est plus qu’un simple support financier ou matériel, il a une valeur sentimentale et se base sur l’entraide entre pairs.

Par conséquent, cela m’inquiète beaucoup de savoir que le financement de ce projet arrive à son terme. NCBL est présentement à la recherche de sources de financement pour renouveler le projet pour une seconde année, afin de maintenir les relations bâties et de rejoindre davantage de victimes de mines et autres explosifs. Au cours des deux derniers mois, une partie de mes efforts ont été dédiés à la recherche de potentiels donateurs. Cette tâche m’a permis de constater à quel point la compétition est forte parmi les organismes non gouvernementaux pour recevoir des subventions. Il y est évident qu’il devrait y avoir plus de collaboration entre les divers NGOs locales et internationales. Cependant, c’est plus facile à dire qu’à faire que de rassembler tous ces organismes à la même table! Donc, il faut que les organismes s’arment de patience et de persévérance pour atteindre leurs objectifs. Il n’est pas surprenant qu’un organisme écrive une vingtaine de demande de subvention avant de recevoir une réponse positive. De plus, il faut être prêt à faire des miracles avec peu de ressources. Comme me l’a dit un jour ma superviseure: ‘’S’il fallait constamment attendre après le financement avant d’entreprendre quoi que ce soit, nous aurions peu de résultats. Il faut être comme une route et s’adapter à ce qui se présente devant nous; contourner les montagnes, traverser les rivières et se rebâtir après un désastre naturel’’. Bref, une philosophie que je devrais appliquer dans la vie de tous les jours– il faut continuer de mettre un pied devant l’autre malgré l’incertitude qui caractérise notre avenir!

Enfin, à chaque fois que j’entends les moteurs des avions survolées mon appartement, mon ventre se serre à l’idée que mon départ est imminent. Cette ville et mes collègues occupent désormais une place privilégiée dans mon coeur. Bien que je n’aie pas toujours l’impression que mon passage aura fait une grande différence auprès de mon ONG, ils auront au contraire eu un grand impact sur moi, ma façon d’envisager mon avenir et le monde de la coopération internationale. Les organismes internationaux ont chacun leur points forts et leurs faiblesse, et ce stage m’aura appris à les reconnaître, les étudier et ‘’faire avec’’. À ce moment-ci du stage, je commence sérieusement à me questionner sur mon avenir dans ce domaine. Cette expérience m’aura permis de constater qu’apprendre à gérer des habitudes de travail différentes, des budgets limités, une forte compétition entre les organismes de coopération et un environnement en constante évolution sont des prérequis. Mais une chose est certaine en ce qui me concerne; cela en vaut la peine! Le Népal n’a peut-être pas encore signé le Traité d’Ottawa et la Convention contre les armes à sous-munitions, mais au cours des dernières années, de nombreux efforts ont été consacrés à l’assistance aux victimes, la prévention des risques auprès des citoyens et au nettoyage des terrains. Ainsi, petit à petit, NCBL a entrainé des changements positifs dans sa communauté et c’est ce qui compte!

A Greater Appreciation

November 18, 2014 | Lindy Delmage, DVM, CWY, India, RMKM

The campus was extremely quiet surrounding Diwali.  All of the girls from the teacher training program who study at RMKM went home to be with their families in various parts of Northern India.   I never realized how much they make this place feel like home until they left.  I found the quiet too much and missed their laughter and voices that usually fill the hallway.  I even found myself missing the loud music that they put on in the morning when I’m trying to sleep.   Thankfully this quiet is not permanent and they will be back in another week.  At this point I can’t even imagine what going home is going to be like.  I think it will feel very overwhelming.  I will have to adjust to having so many choices such as what I eat, what I do, where I go etc. in daily life back home.

I was told that the middle of the internship period can often feel like it is the longest, but that the last few weeks will race by.  The middle of the internship was the most difficult for me in terms of homesickness.  Unfortunately I got sick and ended up visiting a doctor in Ajmer.  He was very knowledgeable, however I still wished for the health care system back in Ontario.  I know that I will appreciate the comforts of home so much more as soon as I get back to Ottawa.  I also know that there will be many things from Canada that I will appreciate even more such as the comforts that I have in my home.  When I think about some of these things now they seem quite luxurious (ex. hot water, washing machine, my bed).

Since my last blog post, I have gained a deeper understanding about my host organization, as well as the culture in Rajasthan.  I am getting to know the inner workings of the ngo that I am doing an internship for.  While I can’t say that everything about my stay here has been easy, I can say that I have learned a lot on a personal level.  I think my self-confidence, and problem solving skills have increased a lot from having to live without my immediate support system within physical reach.  This has also helped me to become more independent since the beginning of my internship.

I enjoyed a trip to Agra with Ingrid (fellow intern from uOttawa here at RMKM), to see the Taj Mahal and many other beautiful sights.  After Agra, we visited Jaipur.  We were gone for a total of five days.  It was very nice to be able to see sights outside the compound in which we work.  A few weeks later we had another few days off due to a holiday so we decided to visit Udaipur.  This has been my favourite place in India so far.  We were able to visit a lot of the city on foot, we had wonderful food, took a cooking class, and even visited an animal rescue center where the street animals of Udaipur are provided with medical care.

India has been a roller coaster ride with many ups and downs.  I never know what is coming around the bend.  I am looking forward to the last few weeks and finishing off my projects at work before heading back to Delhi.

Ghana Part Two

November 13, 2014 | McKenzie, SOC, AFS, Ghana, HRAC

I have officially been living in Ghana for two months. I now live in SSnitts Flats, which is located in Dansoman, a suburb of Accra, Ghana. My host family consists of a father, mother, sister (25), sister (14) and a brother (11) - they also have another brother (18) but he is currently on an exchange in Japan for a year. My stay with them has been amazing. Living in Dansoman has also been an interesting adjustment because it is much further from my workplace in Osu, so I need to wake up around 5:00 am to be able to grab the tro-tro to work at 6:00 am- in order to make it in time for work at 8:00am. Also, power outages occur for a few hours almost daily, and the water is completely shut off on Tuesdays and Fridays- which also tends to be most of Wednesdays and Saturdays- this has increased appreciation for my apartment in Canada.

I have spent some time exploring Accra- and have really enjoyed Makola Market, Jamestown, and Labadi Beach. Makola market is a market and shopping district in the centre of Accra, they sell everything that you can imagine. Car parts, backpacks, giant snails, mirrors, fabrics, etc. One of my favourite things about Makola is that its not frequented by tourists, so the vendors always give you the real price and not the oburoni price. Jamestown is a fishing village, just outside the centre of Accra that  contains pieces of Ghana’s colonial past. While here you can visit the James Fort, the Jamestown Lighthouse, pieces of the old railway, the inside of the fishing village, and fishing boats. Power outages at work are frequent, and we are to leave at lunchtime if there is no power. Therefore, I now bring my bathing suit to work everyday so if the power goes out I am able to go to Labadi Beach, which is really close to the office and popular with locals. The beach vendors can be overwhelming, but at this point they know me and tend to just come over to say hi. I have also visited Kokrobite - which is about 30km outside of Accra. The area is known for its sea fishing and is popular with tourists because of the beautiful beaches. we stayed at a place called Big Milly’s Backyard- which is a cheap resort that is known for its hostel and restaurant located on the ocean. Here we made friends with other volunteers from Norway, Togo, and Holland.

Right now things have been very busy at the HRAC as the Human Rights Clinic is working on a high profile case, and it is almost the end of the year so we are finishing up current projects and writing proposals for projects next year. I have recently returned from a 5 day trip to Koforidua and Kumasi. In each city we held four Empowerment Forums which were focused on Improving Access to Healthcare for Key Populations. Each forum was targeted towards a specific group: men who have sex with men, female sex workers, people living with HIV, and at risk and survivors of gender based violence. The goal of the empowerment forums were to educate participants on their human and patient rights and their responsibilities as outlined in the Ghana Health Services Patients Charter. Due to stigma, discrimination and lack of adequate knowledge about their health rights, most at risk populations and survivors of gender based violence face challenges accessing healthcare services in their communities and this results in violations of their health rights. Apart from our presentation there was a health care representative from the community present to inform participants of healthcare facilities and services available to them. There was also a “model of hope” there to talk about their struggles and how they have overcome obstacles. Afterwards there was a discussion, and participants were given our contact information if they wanted more information or to seek redress at our legal clinic.

This past month I have had the opportunity to participate in a some cool activities such as Oktoberfest and a Nigerian Engagement Ceremony. The bar and grill at the Goethe Institute in Accra, which is a non-profit German cultural association, was hosting Oktoberfest- and we were able to enjoy German food and music. We were early, so we got to the meet the man who was running the event- and he was actually from Canada. He used to be vice president of Four Seasons, but 19 years ago he went on a business trip to Ghana and never left. He is now married to a Ghanian woman and together the run the bar and grill. The Nigerian Engagement Ceremony was for a woman who used to work at the HRAC. We were told to arrive at 10 am, so we showed up at 10:30 thinking that we would show up just in time. Unfortunately, I underestimated Ghana time.. and the ceremony didn’t actually start until around 2:00pm.  The ceremony was in Nigerian so I couldn’t understand what was being said, but it was beautiful, guests were all wearing white- with pink or blue hats, which were the brides chosen colours for the party.

I have only a few weeks left, so I have decided that it is time to visit Northern Ghana. I am planning on going up north. During this trip I am hoping to visit Kumasi, Damongo, Dalun, Tamale, and Mole National Park.

Running Out of Time

November 11, 2014 | Kyle, DVM, AFS, Ghana, HRAC

I have been here in Ghana for over two months now, but I still have not had the time to do everything I had originally set out to do. There are so many places I really wanted to go visit, but with only weekends to travel, unfortunately it is impossible to see and do everything. That being said, I have managed to see and do a fair bit so far, and I am really happy that I have had the chance to travel here. This month I took one weekend to travel to a beach town named Kokrobite, which was really cool. They had live reggae music, and good local and foreign foods. I also went to the Shai Hills nature reserve, which was unfortunately a miss. While I saw monkeys, which I was super excited about, unfortunately the guides told us that they did not feel like giving any tours that day and that we should come back another day. Seeing as you are not allowed in the park without a guide, that basically shut down any hopes I had of being able to tour the park. However, from what I was able to see, I looked really nice and I would recommend it to anyone travelling to Ghana if they are more persuasive than me and are able to convince the guides to do their job.

I have also had the opportunity to travel through my work a few times, which has been interesting. I helped plan a training designed to educate and sensitize journalists on human rights and human rights issues. We hosted the training at a hotel in the jungle, and overall it was a pretty good experience. I really enjoy my work placement, they give me a lot of freedom in terms of the work I do. They tend to trust my judgement on projects and with regards to work, and a lot of my work ends up actually being distributed to other agencies, journalists, and other people the organization I am working with comes into contact with through their work. This has really exceeded my expectations, as I did not really expect to be allowed to handle anything remotely important. The work experience has been very interesting and helpful.

Although I have been away from home for a very long time and I am excited to come back, I have to say I am going to miss it here. I mean first of all, the fact that I will be leaving the beaches and tropical climate here just in time for winter does dampen my enthusiasm a little bit. And there is something to be said for how friendly and nice most people are here, to an extent you don’t really see back home. However, I have been daydreaming about poutine for the last few weeks, and I really miss the food from back home. While Ghanaian food is actually quite good, I have eaten more rice in the last 9 weeks than the accumulated total of all the rice I had ever eaten in my life prior to coming here.