Challenge week complete

By Molly

So, it seems that surviving in Ghana without the luxury of carbohydrate foods is actually possible. Who would have thought?

To say that it was easy would be a lie – not only because we spent the majority of the week with very little energy but because of the sheer inconvenience it caused to have a no carb diet in a country that is so dependent on the food group.

This was especially difficult at lunch times. Our fellow team mates would stroll around the corner to the rice man and tuck in to their fried rice and chicken while myself and Zoe would be roaming the streets looking for something we were actually allowed to eat. The majority of lunch times would consist of meat on a stick and some fruit (followed by a look of utter confusion by any Ghanaian that happened to walked by).

lunch time delights

lunch time delights

Leftover beans brought to work in a butter pot... Casual

On a more positive note – being unable to eat carbohydrates meant that we became a lot more adventurous with our meals at home. Our weekly market shop actually had some order to it and we even made a meal plan for the week.

home made chicken soup

Every cloud really does have a silver lining…

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Killer Kenkey

By Ali

Challenge 3

Kenkey is a staple dish of West Africa served with a soup, stew, or sauce. Two days ago, brave souls of the RAINS office were given the challenge to be the first to finish two servings of Kenkey. Although I was no match to the Champion who ate it all in less than three minutes, I still managed to finish one serving in 10 minutes, and that was the second Kenkey I ever had!

Kenkey

What were the chances I’d live to tell the tale?
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Week #5 – CHALLENGE WEEK

By Molly

Week #5 here at Team Tamale has been declared the week of the challenges. Each team member has been assigned a challenge they must complete/stick to within the week and there will be forfeits for those who fail to succeed in their challenge. 

Challenge #1 – ‘No carbs in Tamale’

One of the main questions asked by friends and family about our time here in Tamale is ‘What’s the food like?’. To say that Ghanaian people love eating carbohydrate foods would be a massive understatement; carbohydrates make up about 80% of every meal. Whether it be fried rice, plain rice, jollof rice, banku, fufu, TZ or kenkey – the carb is always the most important part of the meal.

So, myself and Zoe decided there was a little incentive here to run a ‘no carbs in Tamale’ challenge. For one week (and one week only!) we will be eating no carbohydrate foods to see if it is actually possible to survive in a country that is so dependent on the food category and we will be blogging about it at the end of the week to update everyone on our progress.

Just to give you a sneak peak of what our week will entail; Monday morning commenced with ‘egg in a bag’. A more traditional Ghanaian breakfast from a food stall would be an omelette between two thick slices of bread served to you in a plastic carrier bag to take back to the office… but without the bread for us ‘no carbers’ it was literally just egg in a bag.

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Wish us luck friends…

Drumming and Dancing at the Youth Home Culture Group

By Molly

The brand new batch of volunteers for the International Service Ghana team had the delight of spending the final night of an icebreaker-filled induction week indulging in some traditional Ghanaian food, music and dance.

The evening started with some of the local cuisine. Around the table we saw numerous plates of Jollof Rice (a new personal favourite of mine), Banku (fermented corn dough) and not forgetting a variety of different local meats including goat, guinea fowl and chicken. The meal would not have been complete without, of course, an obligatory ‘lights out’ (more commonly known as a ‘blackout’)… something we have adapted to very well upon arriving in Tamale. Various torches/other light bearing concoctions were put into place and the meal carried on as normal… (as you do).

Following on from this was something we had all been very excited about – our evening of watching and participating in some local drumming and dancing.

The whole team headed over to the Youth Home Cultural group which is situated in the centre of Tamale where, just like everywhere else we have been so far, the atmosphere and the people we had the pleasure of meeting was so warm, friendly and welcoming.

Drumming and Dancing

The Youth Home Culture group

We sat and soaked in the overwhelming cultural experience we were being given, learning about the traditions and stories behind each song and dance and seeing the spectrum of different colours each persons costume entailed. It was so liberating to see the passion and feel the energy behind each routine.

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And then …it was time. Each and every member of the IS Ghana team took to the stage to learn a small dance routine from the group’s leader. Let’s just say that some of the team have been blessed with slightly more rhythm than others…

Shazia and Natalie of the Sandema team showing off their dancing skills

Shazia and Natalie of the Sandema team showing off their dancing skills

So, if this was our introduction to our time here in the northern region of Ghana, I think I can speak on behalf of the whole IS Ghana team when I say I am thoroughly looking forward to experiencing and learning about an incredibly traditional culture as well as being able to work closely with our project partners and to ultimately embrace every moment of the next 3 months of our Ghanaian journey. Dasiba Tamale!!

3 fish that died

Kenkey with fish, Tamale, Ghana This fish died, dried and then hung around (for probably a bit too long to be hygienic) in a glass cabinet, before being served with our favourite lunchtime staple, kenkey (made of fermented cornmeal).
Groundnut soup banku and fish, Tamale, Ghana This fish unfortunately drowned in my groundnut soup. And was served with banku (which is made with a mixture of fermented corn dough and cassava dough).
Boiled rice, stew, fish, Tamale, Ghana I’m not sure how this fish died, but he wasn’t happy about it.
(Served with plain rice and stew).

Flip or flop?

We didn’t think that we could let pancake day pass by unnoticed this week… unfortunately, we had to improvise somewhat as we couldn’t find normal wheat flour, milk that wasn’t in a can, or a non-stick frying pan.

So we prepared our unique concoctions in a baking tray.

We’ll all be adding ‘adapts well to challenging circumstances’ to our CVs…

A fruity language

pineapple Ghana Tamale Dagbani alaafee

How are you? Pineapple.

We’re not pros when it comes to Dagbani, the local language in Tamale, but we’ve got the standard greetings down. And we know that the answer to ‘How are you?’ or in fact the answer to any question asking ‘how is/was..’ (how was your weekend, how is your family, etc.) is ‘Alaafee’ – meaning, or so we thought, ‘fine’…

But it turns out that, bizarrely, ‘alaafee‘ also means ‘pineapple.’

I now intend to carry a pineapple around with me all the time, and proffer it as a response to all questions about my well-being…