Hello from Team Six and the Village of Gbandu!
On Monday, our team had our opening day on which we unveiled our newly-built water treatment center to the Village of Gbandu. In the week leading up to opening day our team worked with some of the villagers to build a permanent stand that was accessible to the people of the Village. We had trained two women, Mariama and Abiba, to treat and clean dugout water to make safe drinking water for all the villagers. On Sunday, we had distributed safe-storage containers to every household (the blue buckets you see in so many pictures) and talked to them about the center’s opening the next day.
Our opening day got off to a slow start. Due to another group’s taxi driver being arrested that morning our driver, Husla, and our translator/ project manager, Peter, were running an hour and a half late. Perhaps because we were rushing, perhaps because Husla just wanted dinner, we ran over a Guinea Fowl on the road to our village. In the name of mercy (which Kelsey still contests), Husla and Peter grabbed Mark’s knife, jumped out of the car, and ran back to kill the Guinea Fowl. By the time Peter and Hulsa got back to the car, both Moriah and Kelsey were screaming at the top of their lungs—Kelsey about the immorality of roadkill, Moriah because she has a deathly fear of birds and did not want a dead one sitting on her lap. The rest of the ride our team debated about the rights of animals vs. children when it comes to being hit by a car.
The animal deaths that day did not end there— our team decided it was a good idea to bring a goat as a gift to the village and commemorate the opening of our water treatment center. In Ghana, though there are hundreds of goats running around, the slaughtering and eating of goats are very rare. Villages will do it only once or twice a year. Watching the villagers prepare the meal was a unique experience. Everyone on our team was affected by the sad noises the goat was making as he was tethered to a tree. He sort of sounded like a waling child to be honest. When they went to kill the animal Mark insists the goat sounded like he was screaming for help. We could choose to think of the experience as horrifying, but for those of us who are not vegetarians we found it was important to see exactly where our meals come from. Also the event was such a treat for the villagers, it is almost hard to feel bad for the death of the goat.
The Ghanaians have some incredibly interesting techniques that make the most of the meat they are preparing. We looked over once and it seemed as though a villager was sucking the blood out of the goat’s leg, but he was actually blowing the goat up through an artery. By doing this, the meat of the goat would separate from the skin and could properly be prepared. When they finished cooking the meat they separated it into three portions, one very small portion was for our team, one was for the men, and one was for the women. The men had a feeding frenzy where the man holding the bowl was jumped on and the meat scattered everywhere. The women were more diplomatic in their distribution- Mariama and Abiba were in charge of handing out portions. Mark and Moriah took small pieces and gave the big ones to our translator and drivers.
All in all the day was a huge success. Children seemed to pop up out of nowhere and clung to the closest Salaminga (white person) and we danced and laughed all morning. The women were thrilled, the kids were entertained and the men…well the men were stoic. There was some live music, we listened to drums (Mark tried but he couldn’t seem to find the beat) and everyone was dancing. We ended up filling 24 buckets of water one for every household in the village! Seeing the women walking back to the village with their baby blue CWS buckets on their heads is an image none of us will forget.
Soon after, everyone seemed to get the memo saying it was Market time and the crowd cleared out. We cleaned up a bit, bid farewell to our women and headed home. We ended up stopping at Swad for a celebratory meal. Nothing says congratulations on opening a water treatment center like some authentic Chicken Curry! We went with another team and it was great to just sit back and bask in the pride we all shared for our villages.
Following every team’s opening we rented a bus and drove four hours south to some waterfalls. It was really fun to finally be able to sit back, relax, and actually try to soak up some sun. The scenery was gorgeous! Yesterday we worked hard to monitor the households in our village, and found that many households understood the concept of keeping their buckets and cups clean. There are others that we have found still need a little work. We had a problem today with our stand, Mariama and Abiba had filled the Polytank without the water completing it’s twenty-four hour Alum process. The result was turbid water in the Polytank. Discovering this was frustrating, but it is exactly why we have a week here after opening day to look after our village. Now we will be able to tell households that need work certain things they can do to keep up cleanliness, and we can insure that the women know exactly what they are doing when they treat the water.
Over all Team Six has been having a wonderful experience together and cannot wait to get back to Gbandu tomorrow!!
-Mark, Kelsey, and Moriah