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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Rains at RAINS

RAINS Tamale Ghana

Rains at RAINS

by Zoe

As someone who has spent most of my life in draich, damp, dour old Britain, one of the great attractions of Ghana was the weather. The sun! The heat! Bliss, I thought… But I’ll be honest, I’m not made to withstand daily temperatures of 40 degrees plus. So when it rained for the first time (and the temperatures dropped a little), I did a little dance of joy in the rain. Before sheltering inside when our security gate blew down.

When it rains here in Tamale, it POURS. It wasn’t just our security gate that blew down. Hundreds of houses were damaged or destroyed, and one man died the first time it rained.

But water is life in the local communities. And agriculture accounts for 90% of household incomes in Northern Ghana, so even though it only rains for around four months per year in this region, these rains are crucial to people’s livelihoods.

And what’s astonishing is how quickly the landscape changes with a little bit of rain. The first team would barely recognise the area around our house, which has transformed in just a few weeks from a dustbowl into lush green fields that our neighbours are now preparing for farming.

Dry season Tamale Ghana

Before the rain

Rainy season Tamale Ghana

After the rain

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!!

Introducing…

…Team Tamale #2!

team 2

Fatawu and Zoe have been joined by 3 new volunteers – Iyanu (who has been given the local name Chentiwuni by our colleagues), Molly (Timtooni) and Ali (Nasara).

Over the next ten weeks you’ll be hearing from all 5 of us about our project at RAINS and our experience of life in Ghana.

Meet the team.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Being a woman is not easy, International Womens Day Ghana

It’s true… but what happens if you phone the number?

by Zoe

Happy International Women’s Day from Ghana.

We’ve met a lot of amazing women since we’ve been in Ghana, and we’ve been privileged to be working with RAINS, an organisation that strives to make improvements in the lives of the inhabitants of Northern Ghana, particularly for women and girls.

But the fact remains that here in the Northern Region, only 25% of women are literate, and 60% of women have never attended school at all (2010 population and housing census, Ghana Statistical Service) – that’s a long way off achieving the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education.

In addition, women in the Northern Region of Ghana work longer hours than men, and earn significantly less than men.

International Women’s Day is a reminder of what a privilege it is to have grown up in a country where education is often taken for granted. Check out the USAID infographic in our previous post, to see just how important girl child education really is.

Always room for one more…

…seems to be the most popular policy when it comes to loading vehicles here in Northern Ghana…

Always room for one more, transport Ghana

 

What happens if you give a Ghanaian child your camera

by Zoe

As team leader, one of the key skills that I need to use on a day to day basis is delegation. And frankly, I think I’m a pro.

Last week, for example, we were in a village in rural Northern Ghana doing our fieldwork. So I delegated the interviewing to the other team members. Then I delegated photography to a small Ghanaian child who had never used a camera before, and started a slapsies tournament.

Here’s what happens if you give a small Ghanaian child  your camera: