Sustainability and Safari

Our focus for this past week was on ensuring the sustainability of the projects that we are introducing and continuing. In short, we wanted to make sure that the projects that we are working on could be continued without our direct presence. This was also the week that we went to Mole National Park (pronounced like the end of guacamole) for a safari.

The main project that we wanted to look at the sustainability of is the women’s health project that has been run for the last several years. The project teaches girls how to create reusable sanitary pads out of fabric so they don’t need to resort to makeshift alternatives like parts of old mattresses. Typically, the girls have been supplied with kits containing enough material to create three reusable pads with the hope that they would be able to create more as needed. Ideally, the girls would also be teaching their friends and family how to create the pads so that the knowledge can be spread to people that we can’t reach during our time here. In order to make sure that this is possible we needed to make sure that the fabric that we provide, fleece and flannel, is able to be found in the markets in Ghana. If they are not, we wanted to try and find alternatives that the girls would be able to get ahold of and use.

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One edge of the Central Market in Sunyani

To find out what materials were available to the girls, we went to the markets in Sunyani. It was not the first time that we had been to the market but we had not really looked for these sort of fabrics before so we were not entirely sure what we would find. The group started at the Wednesday Market, which true to its name is a market that only gets together on Wednesdays. We had been there only once before, during our first week, so it was fairly easy for us to get turned around and lost outside of the Wednesday Market on the streets of Sunyani. It was during this time that we got a bit of a lucky break. In a roadside stall not far from the market we found fleece blankets that could be used as material for the kits. We bought a few to supplement the fabric that we had brought and figured that if we could find them at a random stall outside of the market, then someone who knew the area better could probably find some as well. As we continued to try and find our way back to a familiar area, we saw several more stalls selling fleece so we felt confident in this choice of fabric.

Our wanderings eventually lead us to a part of Sunyani that we were much more familiar with, the area outside of Sunyani’s Central Market. The Central Market is in full force everyday, so we go there fairly often to get food and other necessities. We managed to find a few more stalls selling fleece and visited a fabric store that Nana had shown us earlier in the week when we went shopping for African fabrics we are getting tailored into clothes for us. We were unable to find flannel, but Lianne felt confident that by layering cotton, which is by far the most common fabric we found, that the same effect could be reached.

Of course, we also worked towards sustainability in other projects. We found local technology shops that we are planning on checking out to see what future groups may be able to buy over here instead of bringing from the US. Charles and Josh met with a contact at the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) who was able to put us in touch with more people who should be able to help with the folklore project. While this was going on, Sonja and Lianne were meeting with Dr. Emmanuel Opuni-Frimpong, our main contact and the Pro-Vice Chancellor of UENR, to look into bringing a Summer Youth Program to UENR, similar to the one at Michigan Tech.

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Savanna Lodge in Larabanga where we spent the night

By far, the highlight of this week was the trip up to Mole National Park for a safari. We went up on Friday with a driver that Emmanuel knew and stayed the night at the Savanna Lodge in the village of Larabanga. The Lodge was great and it was as close to the park was we could stay without staying at one of the hotels inside the park (which were all full). The next morning we got up bright and early for a 7AM safari. The safari lasted about two hours and gave us the opportunity to see lots of animals in their natural habitat. Among the animals we saw were elephants, warthog, kob (a type of antelope), and monkeys along with a wide variety of insects, lizards, and birds. I could spend pages writing about everything we saw, but a picture is worth a thousand words.

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The first elephant we saw

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A small family of warthogs

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A baboon

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Some kobs hiding in the trees

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This elephant was blocking the road

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A beautiful view of Mole

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Jeep selfie

We had a fantastic time this week, and we look forward to what our final couple of weeks in Ghana have in store for us.


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