The Ghana Tree

My journey to Ghana. An account of what I see, learn, feel, and experience. My Story and the Stories I come across.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas in Tamale

Even though it had little of its normal feel or run up I was looking forward to Christmas very much and as I finished my last session of training in a village on December 23rd it had the feeling of finishing my last exam in school. My arrival back in Tamale marked the beginning of the Christmas Season for me and it included all the hectic run up as back home. We were once again celebrating with a big dinner, but thankfully this time the dishes had been split up with each person or country cooking something. This would be taking place on Christmas Eve and I was in charge of the meat. I had located another expensive turkey and had also bought a giant rack of beef ribs in the market. This was done with the help of Garry, and Irish volunteer who had worked as a butcher back home—I never know what I’m going to get when I venture into the “meat market” and search among the piles of raw beef being hacked at by men with machetes; bone fragments flying. Other items on my list were to buy my remaining cooking supplies, check on the progress of my Secret Santa Gift and write the poem that went along with it—an idea insisted upon by one of the Dutch volunteers which while initially was not met with much enthusiasm did turn out to be really fun. This doesn’t seem like a large list but nothing is ever easy in Ghana.

The first thing I needed to tackle was my Secret Santa Gift, which I had been working on for the previous week. Just after Thanksgiving we had drawn names for the game and I had drawn Sabrina from Belgium who was very proud of being Belgium and had the reputation of cheating at everything—just a running joke. For her gift I had decided to commission a traditional smock done in the colors of the Belgium flag with the words “Cheat To Win Ghana 2010” stitched onto the back. This process involved three different people and I was severely concerned about the fast approaching deadline, as it would require several Ghanaians being on time. Luckily after several extra cidis my gift was completed well ahead of schedule on Thursday morning. Some gifts were picked up between dinner and the opening of the gifts.

Thursday night we were also going to try cooking some Christmas cookies. As the dough was being prepared it was discovered that there was no vanilla. This prompted a search of all five small stores in Tamale plus asking at several restaurants which prompted no results. When you are searching for an item in Tamale it is infinitely frustrating because you always have the feeling that you have seen it but you can never remember where you saw; this is especially true if you are in the central market but here even if you remember where you saw it it will be unlikely that you will ever find it again in its maze of tiny alleys. The cooking of cookies not needing vanilla was also thwarted by the gas for the stove running out. This also prevented the other desserts from being made. The two Belgium girls were planning to make chocolate mousse plus two other desserts. So the kitchen would just be a little more crowded the next day.

Friday morning I went to the market to buy the supplies that I would need to cook the meat with. I had decided to go for a tropical flare and bought a pineapple, lots of pineapple juice, and had found a Jamaican Jerk recipe for the ribs. In my long search through the market looking for spices I also discovered vanilla. Fresh vegetables and meat is very cheap in the market—my rack of ribs costing about fifteen dollars—but packaged items are very expensive with a small block of butter costing three dollars; there was also a plan to make macaroni and cheese but this was thwarted when the cost of cheese hit fifty cidi.
Following my shopping spree I had to complete my poem which was all about cheating and was done in the form of a riddle and clues. During this time I also received a call from Katie informing me that there was no gas in Tamale for the stove but that her host mother had an extra tank, she just needed a way to get it to the house. So I went and picked her up and we set off for Christmas on an extremely overloaded and explosive motorcycle; a propane tank strapped to the back with old bicycle tubes, Katie holding one of the giant metal basins the women carry on their heads which I was using to marinate the ribs in, and me wearing Katie’s backpack on my front—we just needed a small child or two and a goat and we would have truly been Ghanaian.

Cooking went smoothly throughout the day but the kitchen was extremely crowded, luckily I was able to do most of my work outside. This included marinating the ribs, preparing a dry rub and glaze, cutting a pineapple, gutting another turkey, and grilling it all. And by six o’clock we were sitting down to eat the first course which was a delicious soup prepared by Luuc and his visiting girlfriend from Netherlands. Following this the main course was prepared with the turkey just making it off the grill in time. The main meal included the turkey and the ribs, croquets, green bean and mushroom casserole, glazed carrots and garlic bread. Everything was delicious but the turkey might have been a little old because parts of it were rather tough. Everyone was completely stuffed so we decided to open gifts before dessert.

During the intervening time the kitchen was cleaned up and some last minute gifts were picked up and I also played Santa for the neighbor kids who were from South Africa. Their father had come over and asked if anyone could play Santa because he had a suit and the American volunteer he had hired earlier in the day had called and said he was going to go to the bar instead. That was kind of fun but they recognized who I was.
Following this we opened the presents. Before you could open your presents you had to read your poem. They were all very well done and always funny. I had Sabrina as my Secret Santa, so we had each other, and I got a very nice poem that was written in the same form as my first aid handout—Sabrina was one of the girls who came out to a village with me and took part in my training—and every product that could be purchased in Tamale that was made in Ghana including a can of peas, a bottle of non-alcoholic sparkling cocktail, and a jar of hazelnut chocolate spread plus a black yellow and red shirt with I Love Belgium on the back; this was locally made and fits extremely awkwardly. Following this dessert and drinks were served and it was once again a very enjoyable evening following a delicious meal.

The next morning we set about putting the house back into shape and tackling a mountain of dirty dishes and pots and pans. Luuc has a housekeeper but I am sure she dreads the sight of us arriving with cooking ingredients and crates of beer and I know her best Christmas gift was not having to come back Christmas morning. After this I returned home and ate lunch with Walisu and gave him my gift. Following this we met back up at Luuc’s to prepare to go to the orphanage which several people work at. They had bought gifts for all the kids and wearing the suit from the previous night I was once again to play Santa. The orphanage is close by but still required a short ride there on the motorcycle. We made quite a sight driving down the road with a Santa and two white girls holding large bags of gifts. At the orphanage the children sang songs for me and I gave out individual bags of small gifts along with some larger gifts. I think a few of the older boys knew who I was but the majority of them had a genuine visit from Santa, a very sweaty Santa. This was very fun and will defiantly be the highlight of my Christmas in Ghana.

I am taking a short break from the villages and am spending most of my time working on things here in Tamale. The new year will see me finish up the first aid training in the communities, I will continue to fix bicycles and also start on some new projects including doing an in depth education assessment of the communities with the aim of getting more children into secondary and high school or a vocational school.
Happy Holidays and thank you for all the support which you have been giving me.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Zenab and the Snake: Adventures in the Tamale Teaching Hospital

I have been working along the edges of the health care sector in Ghana but I had not really experienced it until last week. While I was as staying and working in Wovougu I was told about a girl who had been bitten by a snake four days ago and was still sick. I visited her compound and found a girl who was unable to walk due to an extremely painful and swollen leg. She was also very weak and nauseas. It was obvious that she needed to go to the hospital but since it was late in the evening I decided we would undertake that the next morning, so I bandaged up the leg—the fang marks were gone but the skin was papery thin and one spot had already been picked at by a chicken while she was sleeping.

Following training the next morning Walisu went back into town to find a taxi. When this arrived we loaded the girl into it along with a neighbor lady who would look after her. It should also be noted that while Ghana has a “free” health insurance program almost no one in my village is a part of it. This is because there are 13 cidis worth of fees involved in signing up. Zenab did not have Health insurance.
Tuesday morning: Upon arriving at the Tamale Teaching Hospital we were met with a labyrinth of lines. Thankfully Walisu has a friend who works in the Hospital administration and he was able to fast-track us through the registration and triage lines. Triage was handled in a cramped room by a Ghanaian and a visiting Cuban doctor. This examination was done entirely with out speaking to Zenab or looking at the bite—Zenab does not speak English, the doctor did not speak Dagbani or Spanish, and the Cuban doctor did not speak English or Dagbani. After the doctors manage to write down the needed drugs and instructions we were admitted to the Medical Ward.

Since Zenab did not have Health Insurance the nursing staff does the bare minimum for the patient; IV’s and drugs, the rest is left up to the patient’s family. So after getting Zenab settled in we set off to deliver blood tests to various labs, buy all the needed drugs and to pick up two units of blood from the Blood Bank. Since we were also on the “pay as you go” plan all of these items also involved a visit to the accountant’s desk. 

First stop was the pharmacy where we were able to purchase the majority of drugs needed; all except the anti-venom that we would need to purchase at a pharmacy in town. Next we delivered the blood samples to the lab where we were given the instructions to come back later—we will also need to pick up the results. The most interesting stop of the day occurred next, the Blood Bank. Zenab needed a blood transfusion and in order to get two units of blood one needed to deposit two units. So along with a very hesitant Walisu I donated a unit of blood in a very run down government hospital in a developing West African country.  With this over I made a trip into town to visit the bank and to purchase a snickers bar and a carton of orange juice.

This was also a very interesting trip. Walisu had driven the motorcycle out to the village that morning and had not brought along a helmet, so when I followed the taxi into town with the bike I did not have one either. This only became a problem when I visited the town center. This is the one location of police officers in town and all they do is stop people for not wearing helmets. My plan was to avoid the main street and enter Barclay’s from there back entrance. This plan did not work I stopped and purchased some OJ at a small store and proceeded into town. There was a police officer in the Barclay’s parking lot. It was a really hot day, I had just donated blood and I was not feeling the best after a night in the village; needless to say I was not 100% at the time. Using his wooden club he flagged me down. And told me he was arresting me for not having a helmet. My attempts to explain were useless. The vast majority of police officers in Ghana are simply fulfilling their civil service requirement of school, so these types of stops happen most commonly around lunch time and are easily resolved with five cidis. During this process I had also opened my OJ and started drinking it. After informing him that yes, I could ride a motorcycle without a helmet where I come from I said the code words of “Is there anything I can do for you to take care of this here?” This was met with a reply of “20 cidis.” One wouldn’t think that you can haggle over a bribe but you can and after a few moments I had him down to five. And then as I was handing the money to a “friend” of his he said “Also you will not see your juice again.” At first this did not register in my slightly hazy brain but eventually I realized that my juice had become part of the bribe. Say what you will about bribing police officers but it was really the juice that made me upset about this situation.

After returning to the hospital I met up with Walisu and his friend and they went into town to purchase the rest of the drugs and I went to check on the blood tests and deliver the bags of blood up to the ward.  After this I was informed by the nurse that I would need to buy a variety of items. After several trips out to the road side  I had bought, a cup and bowl, a plastic pail for washing and another one to use as a chamber pot, soap, pillows, a sleeping mat, water and some dinner.

By five o’clock Walisu had returned and our work for the day was done. This had been a very hectic introduction to the health care system. I was left angry and frustrated and I even had help from Walisu’s friend. I can only assume that this experience must be overwhelming for someone coming from a village on their own and I can easily understand why many do not. Also the costs for day one were approaching two hundred cidis—a fortune in most villages. The health insurance would have covered everything but the anti-venom. The insurance covers hospital and doctor fees and most drugs as well as operations.

Wednesday morning: The next morning we delivered breakfast and then returned to the village where we finished up training and I quick fixed a bicycle. After this it was off to the hospital again. The security guard at the bottom of the stairs did not let Walisu up so proceeded up alone. Upon arriving I saw that the wound had still not been redressed or even looked at. So I decided to dress it myself. This was not received well and I soon had both head nurses and the doctor yelling at me, along with several other nurses. After some time I apologized and went off to purchase some more drugs and deliver another blood sample, the results of which I would pick up later in the afternoon.

This was general pattern for the rest of the week. Arrive at the hospital around 9 or 9:30 meet with the nurses and doctor and pick up any supplies that were needed. I would also return in the afternoon to check again and to pick up any lab results that I had delivered in the morning. During this time I did manage to get the nurses to redress the wound and had the doctor look at it. Nurses in Ghana do not receive much education and they appear to be rather lazy—this is confirmed by other volunteers who work in hospitals and spend a large amount of their day waking up nurses from naps—during her six day stay Zenab’s vitals were taken a total of four times. Also most of the nurses and doctors do not speak Dagbani so bedside manner was rather low. This also made it difficult when I visited without Walisu; I relied on a lady who was staying with the patient in the next bed to translate.

Throughout the week Zenab had been improving; the pain and swelling were reduced and her blood work was improving. And on Sunday morning she was discharged and I was thrown once again into the madding bureaucracy of the Hospital. This involved paying for all the fees accrued over the week. And since it was Sunday the only accountant was in the maternity ward and when we arrived he was at breakfast. He eventually did arrive and he began adding up the charges. I was rather apprehensive about this but luckily the Tamale Teaching Hospital is a rather cheap place to stay with the six day total coming seventy-five cidis. This along with the drugs, cab fares, and other items purchased brought the weeks total to three hundred and five cidis. After this it was another two hours of retrieving forms and receipts from around the hospital.

Zenab is back in the village again and appears to be doing better, she can walk now and does not feel sick anymore. There continues to be swelling in the leg and her skin is still blistered and stretched around the bite.  I am continuing to check on her every couple of days and hopefully she will soon be 100%. The first time I checked on her Monday morning I caused a bit of a scandal. Her parents gave me a rooster and a sack of yams and I said that I didn’t want them and that they should sell them and use the money to buy health insurance. A unhappy compromise was made when I “bought” them for thirteen cidis.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fire Festival

Yesterday was the Fire Festival, a celebration based on the Muslim holiday but like many aspects of Islam in Northern Ghana this one has taken on a much more traditional feel. And this feel is a huge moving block party that originates in all the communities that make up Tamale and then moves to the Chief’s house in central Tamale. I walked up my street to where the Kalpohin group was gathering when I heard drumming, trumpets and what sounded like cannon blasts. At a crossroads there was a huge moving mass of people illuminated by bundles of flaming reeds. At the center of this group were a group of drummers and dancers and then the remaining members of the group circulated around this. Also within this group were several people firing off ancient muzzle loading rifles, most often seen strapped to the bicycles of farmers, these were the origin or the cannon blasts, and when they were fired they enveloped the group in a shower of sparks and a thick cloud of smoke.

I followed this group into the center of town as more and more people joined in. Once arriving at the Chief’s palace, along with other groups, they began moving back and forth down one of the main streets. They were also joined by people shooting off badly aimed fireworks and people igniting aerosol cans. And if you did not have a gun you carried a machete, hatchet, or sword—groups of young boys with machetes would run around the outside of a group scraping their blades on the group creating a shower of sparks. In front of the Chief’s palace there were also erected several huge columns of reeds that were periodically lit on fire and then replaced.

In the past few weeks I have had a few sketchy experiences here in Tamale, including giving blood on Tuesday, but the Fire Festival might find itself at the top of the list. I cannot count on my hands the number of times a gun was fired within ten feet of me which would cause a crush of people diving away from the sparks and smoke—I can count the number of times I saw an aerosol can explode though. It was a wonderful experience and I will also rank it at the top of my crazy festival list—it’s a crazy feeling to be part of a huge over-excited group of people. A more accurate description would be a huge moving block party with multiple burn victims.

It also appeared to be an opportunity for all of the Queens in Tamale to put on their finest and hit the town with groups of children following them around and cheering them on.

I have also added photos to last week's post.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Chairman and Jewish Men

I apologize for the delay in posting anything about my village stay last week, so here is a brief recap of what took place. I was staying in Wovouguma this week which is the sister community to Wovougu and the “ma” indicates that it does not have a chief; the chief being in Wovougu. The two communities are close together and in addition to sharing a chief they also share a water source and primary school. I was excited to be back in a village after my early departure the week before.

Wovouguma would not be the idea reintroduction to village life. My three days there were occupied with a constant fight with the village chairman. He did absolutely nothing to aid me in my work and appeared completely uninterested in what I was doing. As a result the training and the week went horribly. By Wednesday I was completely worn down and nearly caused a riot as I left. After rescheduling training sessions and arguing with the chairman I finally just canceled the student training on the last day and left. I kind of felt like I was “getting out of Dodge.” I have completely adapted to “African time” while in the village and understand that my training will not be attended by everyone that it should but this week were past the norm. This was largely caused by the lack of work by the chairman, whose job it is to organize the community for RUSODEF activities. A combination of not caring and laziness resulted in horrible training sessions. This by far was the worse example of African apathy and entitlement I have experienced. First they placed little importance on the training but then when it was not delivered to them—at their convenience, when I left it was two hours after the training was suppose to start—they became upset. Before I left I did give the training to one boy who had always been on time and both days had rode his bicycle back and forth between the school and the community looking for students to attend.

While I was in a constant and frustrating battle with the chairman Sabrina and Sophi two Belgium volunteers were enjoying and learning about village life. Walisu had previously trained women in the villages to host visitors and I had extended this opportunity to the volunteers that I am friends with, and after several months in Tamale most are looking for a new experience. They spent one night and two days in the village shadowed the women in their host compound. They carried water on their heads from the dam, cleaned the compound and cooked, and went to the farm and harvested rice which in the course of doing received several blisters which were of great concern to all the villagers. They really enjoyed it I am going to try and expand this side of RUSODEF by word of mouth and by putting up flyers in the volunteer organizations in Tamale. The money that they paid went directly to the women they stayed with and is a huge help to them.

I am scrambling to get out the door this morning but want to give you a brief overview of my weekend trip. We returned to the Kintampo area that we visited several weeks ago. This trip was organized by one of the volunteer organizations and would include several stops as well as spending the Saturday night in a guest house. A TroTro was rented and we set out at 6am Saturday morning. The first stop was the town of Boyum which is set in an almost mountainous valley. Here we hiked to a rocky outcrop and to a very beautiful waterfall. After this we drove about an hour to our guest house. This was located at Operation Hand in Hand, a center for handicapped children.

This is an incredibly well run and nice organization and something that is desperately needed. It was set up in 1992 by a Dutch women and her American husband and while they no longer run they have built a house in the grounds and spend most of their time living there. I wish I could fill you in more on the organization but I am short on time—it is wonderfully well run. I do want to quick tell you about Bob. Bob is an eighty year old retired Jewish banker from Chicago who loves to sing Frank Sinatra songs and tell jokes. That is a good way to describe him but he is one of those people’s whose personality is so huge that it is impossible to do it justice with just words. When I returned from the village this week I will try to do a better recap of the weekends activities and post a few pictures, also I might make another trip down to Hand in Hand in February.

This week I return to Wovougu and hope that the early successes I had there previuolsy continue because after last week I need a good village stay. I will also be joined by the two American volunteers, Katie and Nikki, as they are coming out for a stay in the village and I hope they enjoy it as much as Sophi and Sabrina did.   

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Without anything planned for Saturday I decided to drive my motorcycle into the bush and see where I would end up. The route was to continue past Kulaa and Walisu had informed me that there would be a river crossing and at least one village. At two o’clock I picked up Katie—the American volunteer from Thanksgiving—and we set off. Katie lives right next to the road that leads to the villages that I work in but she had never been down it before. As we set off we dodged taxies, bicycles, motorcycles, walkers, sheep, chickens, and a herd of cows but as we continued down the road the small shops along the road disappeared and we saw fewer and fewer people and those that we did were mostly farmers or their wives walking to and from their fields. After passing through Kulaa we continued downhill into a valley and bounced along a heavily rutted road showing the recent end to the rainy season—this valley is completely flooded in the rainy season and the villages on the other side almost completely cut off from Tamale. The river was located at the far end of the valley and we made it across the water and up the steep bank where three women waved and offered us some water.

Out of the flood plain we were now in a more wooded area and the narrow red road threaded its way through the trees, its only traffic women carrying water on their heads and groups of farmers riding slowly along—all with a friendly face and greeting. We soon arrived in the village of Moya and were greeted by running and waving groups of children shooting “Hello Saminga.”
Leaving Moya we continued to climb out of the valley and soon the plateau opened up before us but then disappeared again hidden by twelve foot high grass on either side of the road—now a single dirt foot path that bounced across the ruts of recently wet areas. We went along for some time on this road and eventually came upon a small sign that simply said “Chisugo” with an arrow below. Following this we soon came upon a group of women harvesting rice in a field and were once again greeted with smiles.

Winding around a corner we came upon the village. A village that was as different from the ones I stay in as they themselves are to Tamale. Chisugo is located in a thick grove of trees and its compounds are not walled but instead clustered around the large trees. We chose this as our turn around spot and as we stopped for a drink next to a compound we were greeted by a group of young children—this greeting was different as well; instead of screaming “Hello Saminga (white person)” this group came up one by one bent down and said “Antidre;” the local greeting for “Good Afternoon” And while I am sure they know of and have maybe seen a white person before you got the impression that we were a rare appearance and instead of greeting us as different or outsiders they simply greeted us as they would anyone else in their small village.

And while this situation might seem wonderful—especially since we had not seen trash or a plastic bag for quite some time—but the fact is these kids are a very difficult thirty-five minute trip by motorcycle (which they don’t have) to the closest primary school and over an hour to the nearest secondary school or hospital. It’s hard to imagine any meaningful change happening to this community for hundreds of years—maybe a health care worker stopping by or a farm extension worker checking in—by far the most important development being the bicycle.

Heading back through the alternating trees and tall grass we were surrounded by various types of birds and the path ahead of the front wheel was always host to scrambling lizards of different size and even a bandicoot—a small hoping squirrel like rodent that lives in the bush. Just past Moya we were admiring this scenery when we came around a corner and dived into a section of deep and loose gravel which grabbed the front wheel and sent us flying. Luckily the cause of the crash also saved us in a sense, the gravel provided an amazingly soft landing pad—and I provided one for Katie. After dusting ourselves off we realized that we had crashed on the only populated stretch of road and two stunned farmers were stradleing their bicycles and staring at us so we quickly piled on the bike which was also undamaged and  set off down the road. After a short time we stopped and did a more complete check over with the only results being a small scratch on my left elbow and the realization that we had just crashed the motorcycle.

The rest of the trip was enjoyable with a stop at a wooden bridge crossing a stream and going off in a different direction which while tempting did not get the better off us. After a two and a half hour trip we arrived back in Tamale very dusty but with smiles on are face and saying, “That was really enjoyable” followed up by “And we crashed the bike.” And a new appreciation of rural communities that left us wondering what was past Chisugo.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chicken Herding

The herding of chickens and Guinea Fowl into the special round roust in the compound is a common sight in the villages each evening but at my compound in Wovogou it was a little more exciting. This was by far the biggest compound I had stayed in and had easily thirty people in it, including about seven or eight elementary school age boys and it was this crew that was responsible for bringing the chickens in. Now usually this is a rather controlled affair with one or two people making quite sounds as they walk behind the chickens, but last night it was a little different. It’s hard to tell who caused the enitial excitement—if it was the boys’ overenthusiasm or if they were just in charge of an unusually excitable group of chickens., but this involved about fifteen chickens and five boys raising a dust storm as chickens darted left and right and broke for the bush or made flying escapes over the heads of the herders and avoided flying tackles. The goal was finally accomplished but not before one chicken made a daring escape from within the compound—and scene that had more in common with a soccer match than anything else—with a chicken rocketing into the air and just passing through the raised hands of jumping goalie standing between the goal posts of the compounds gate and darting into a group of bush with three or four boys in hot pursuit. The outlaw was finally brought in after a successful tackle and scuffle and was unceremoniously carried into the compound.

Wovogou is set in a stunningly beautiful location being set amongst a section of rolling and lightly treed hills with a rather large pond nestled in a valley close by—whose trails are covered with lines of women walking back and forth from it with pails of water balanced on their heads. It is one of the smallest villages in RUSODEF with about four hundred people living in its compounds.
My arrival in Wovogou started out normal with a visit to the chief and then I began working on the first bicycle as FuFu was prepared. After finishing up the bicycle and eating lunch it was time to start the training, but that simply meant that it was three o’clock and I had little hope that it would start by four o’clock. So we headed off to the school and flagged down any girls we saw, and the chairperson set of on his bicycle to find a few more. And by three thirty we were starting—this is largely due to the fact that while Ghanaian women walk everywhere they never go anywhere fast; it’s as if they turn every walk into something to be savored and not rushed, maybe it is because they are often walking towards work and are attempting to make the walks bookending the labor as enjoyable as possible. Not only was the timing here a big improvement over the previous villages the class itself was much better—I had mentioned that it seemed impossible to get the young girls who the training was targeting to attend—but here two-thirds of the class were young girls; even a few newly married women attended but they had to leave early to cook. I was really relishing the walk back because we had finally had a good student training session.

Upon returning to the compound I talked with Walisu about the training before he returned to Tamale. After this I sat around and played some with the children in the compound. After the sun set, which was one of the best I have seen in Ghana—the compound was on the western edge of the village and looked out over the rolling hills and I looked out upon a herd of cattle being brought home for the night and tied down on the edges of the village—I went and washed and then hung my mosquito net. As I returned to the central area of the compound I could tell something was wrong. There were several women crying loudly, my host’s father, an old man was visibly distressed and even the children seemed to know that something was wrong with them sitting quietly around the compound. It was a very strange moment for me, I could tell that something had happened but had no way of knowing what it was and I did not know if it was ok for me to be present because it did have the distinct feel of a personal tragedy and I felt as if I at once both part of it and distinctly separate from it, because as I sat there some of the children came and sat next to me with one through hand motions asking if I could hear the women crying.  When my host returned from the Mosque I called Walisu so I could figure out what was going on. One of the women from the compound had been in the hospital and had just passed away after a difficult childbirth several days ago in which the child was stillborn.  After learning this and not knowing my place I went to bed rather early.

The next morning Walisu arrived early and said that we would be leaving soon because the whole village would be mourning for the remainder of the week. So after visiting the chief once more we set out after saying good bye to a teary eyed chairperson, it was his sister who had died. I will be returning to the village to complete the training in two weeks time. I was both very impressed with the beauty and people of this village and look forward to returning to them.

The repaired bicycle and school supplies.