Victoria Welsh – first report from Ghana

Victoria Welsh 2

I live in a small village called Lolobi Ashiambi in the Volta region of Ghana with my Project Trust partner, Chloe. After 2 months we are finally beginning to settle into village life. Everyone here is so friendly although trying to learn the dialect is a real struggle. The village itself has one road running through it and we are situated right in the middle across from the crèche.

After some decorating and cleaning our little house has actually become really homely. We have two rooms, a shared bedroom and a living room filled with chairs, and even a TV and fridge (just a shame they do not work!). Our compound has three different houses. Across from us is a deaf woman who is amazing at Ghanaian hairstyles and then next door there is Suzy or Suzy sue as we like to call her. She is a very interesting character but we’d have her no other way especially since she keeps our long drop in tip top shape.

Overall our accommodation is pretty great and I’ve even begun to love outside bucket showers especially under the stars at night.

The transport and roads here are crazy. Our little village is surrounded by forestry and the roads from Hohoe (our nearest small town) are rather bumpy especially if you’re sitting on the back row of a tro tro whose seats tend not to be fully connected to the floor! Tro tros are the main transport. Imagine in your head an old mini bus, then it being in a head on collision and being deemed as unfit for use in the UK, and then you got yourself a tro tro. Often the sliding door falls off and during periods of rain you are bound to get a wet bum from leaking ceilings. It’s all part of the fun.

Our main object in coming to Ghana was to teach. Upon arrival we were introduced to the primary school and Junior high school head teachers along with the owner of the crèche who also happens to be our host. After a few issues and later than expected we started teaching in all 3 of the schools. Teaching is fantastic, when you manage to get a class!

Timetables are almost non-existent in Ghanaian schools; they have them but do not follow them. There is also a student teacher programme in our village which means at times there can be up to 4 teachers in one classroom so you sometimes feel unneeded. I am currently teaching mathematics in form 1 and 2 of the JHS as I feel they seem to get the most out of my help. During lessons the kids are exceptionally well behaved. It’s great to see their fresh enthusiasm for learning and sticker rewards seem to work a treat! Everyone loves a good sticker. Like everything in Ghana, it’s a slow process but hopefully by the end of term I will have my own timetable completely sorted.

The Ghanaian food is a whole new experience in itself. If I’ve had any culture shock so far I’d say that it’s definitely been from the food. For the first month Chloe and I had 2 meals a day cooked by our host. We experienced everything from basic rice porridge to fufu and spicy fish stew. Spice and fish, neither of the above I am a fan of so you can imagine how well that went down!

During month two we swapped to fending for ourselves due to illness caused by not eating enough. Our compound has a little room with nothing but a gas stove but it does the trick. Most meals are based around eggs, which come from the chickens running around the compound – that fresh that they’re warm in your hand. We have however managed to stumble across a little pizzeria in Hohoe called Carlitos. It has since become our favourite restaurant and our saviour on nights of hunger. It not quite Dominos but we are loyal customers nonetheless. I still continue to try Ghanaian food when possible but not on a daily basis.

We have found that being situated in the Volta region of Ghana is great as there are lots of attractions to go visit. Hohoe also seems to be the base for any journey with tro tros going far and wide. Our travelling began with a trip to the monkey sanctuary. It took one hell of a smelly tro tro ride to get there but we made it…just. The monkeys were adorably small and it was amazing to see just how human like they were. Jumping up and eating bananas out of our hands was incredible.

Victoria Welsh 1

Next on the list was Ghana’s tallest mountain. Only an hour climb but at an almost completely vertical incline. With a half dozen rests, few feelings of sickness, only 500ml of water, sweat dripping out of every pore possible, burning legs and lungs and a very helpful guide I made the incredibly steep and exhausting climb. It’s safe to say that the spectacular views were well worth the hard work and pain. All around you could see the mountains in neighbouring Togo standing tall in comparison to the one I’d only just managed to climb (will not be attempting them!). It was so peaceful and the only noise piercing the silence was from the waterfalls. After a photo shoot came the descent which was more of a run than a walk due to the steepness. Felt like Tarzan’s apprentice running, jumping and swinging round trees as I followed the guide to the bottom. Tagbo falls situated only 45 minutes from the mountain bottom were incredible! It was one of those moments where no matter how many pictures I could have taken nothing would have justified the true beauty of the waterfalls. Truly stunning.

Ghanaian life although very different to back home is turning out to be pretty great. I miss my family always but I know they’re only a phone call away and always will be. Despite the few issues we had with teaching at the start I hope by my next post I will be teaching regularly and loving it even more. The next few weeks should also see Chloe and I adventure the Wli falls for more incredible sight-seeing.

Goodbye for now.

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