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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Jurassic pork

home hog roastWe went to visit the Bolgatanga team at the weekend, and they roasted us a pig in the garden! Have you ever sausage a tasty looking meal? Of kosher haven’t!

Here’s a picture of Molly hogging the glory by helping to baste just as I was taking a photo. What a babe. I’d have done the same but it’snout my sty-le.

Ok, we’d best stop slaughtering these puns before you get boared. Hopefully we won’t barn in hell for them…

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!!

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…

Hello Tamale!

by Zoe

Well, we’ve arrived! Things that I learnt on our 15 hour bus journey from Accra to Tamale:

Bus station Accra

It turns out that everything, including the hairdresser’s sink, fits in the luggage hold.

  • The luggage hold under a bus can hold a phenomenal amount of stuff – more than Mary Poppins’s handbag.
  • Even if there is a nicely cemented road, the driver may choose to drive off it and onto a parallel (phenomenally bumpy) dirt track.
  • It is quite annoying when the bus driver decides to turn on the TV screens in the bus at midnight.
Bus breakdown Ghana

No bus replacement required, thanks.

  • If the bus breaks down, the driver and other people on the bus have the capacity to fix it, and don’t need to call out engineers/replacement buses (Ghana 1-0 UK).
  • What a gizzard is (after we had eaten 2 gizzard kebabs each).
  • Everyone here is exceptionally friendly. Although they may laugh at your reaction when you find out what a gizzard is.