I want to apologize for my lack of entries these past two weeks. Internet was a very limited commodity for me in Ghana so I decided to focus on the research and enjoy my time there. That being said. I left Africa yesterday morning and I am now sitting in my hostel in Denmark once again plugged into the outside world. My time in Ghana was an amazing experience but it was made that way as a result of the people. The Perpetual Prosperity Pump Foundation (they will soon be changing their name to the MORE Foundation) is a mix of Americans and Ghanaians with a passion for sustainable deelopment and the hope that someday they can use their methods to “feed all of Africa.” They recently set up their MORE (Modular Organic Regenerative Environment) Research Hub to develop farming techniques that produce ample food for farmers while eliminating the impact on the natural environment. It is very much a foundation in its youth but if it continues in the direction it has been headed it will likely help many in Ghana while promoting environmental health.
I want to spend the rest of this blog discussing the many amazing people who made my time in Ghana. Each had a different and unique view that helped shape my opinion of the organization. I think they deserve as much attention as anything else as this Circumnavigation would be nothing without amazing people like them.
First is the man behind the organization, Jim. Jim has been working in Ghana for a number of years and has started this organization by using his own experiences in sustainable agriculture and his love for Ghana. I never got to meet Jim as he still lives in the US, spending a few month each year in Africa. I did have a number of phone conversations with him and he is definitely one passionate guy. The team in Ghana says that whenever he visits it is like a whirlwind of new ideas and advances for the organization. This foundation is his baby and it truly shows.
The day to day operations are run by Elaine or “Mamalaine” as everyone calls her. A former paster, she came to Ghana on a mission and ended up staying and working in an orphanage, starting her own operation called Hope for Our Future. Unfortunately, one of the partners in Ghana got a little too greedy and she was forced to move on from the orphanage, joining PPPF as site manager of the Research Hub. She is hoping to start a drop in center where she can teach disadvantaged kids how to be farmers using the MORE foundation’s techniques.
Then there are the researchers. Vera, Carietta, Annabelle, and Clara. They are all Ghanains with degrees relating to agriculture. Each one is caring and considerate and took me to villages with them to conduct interviews. We would discuss their thoughts on the foundation and its direction in the hour plus long bus rides to the village sites.
Three farmers live at the compound and help to maintain the crops as well as serving as a layer of security. Nash, Moses, and Prince love to laugh, sing, and joke in the compound. They loved to share the country’s culture with me and helped me find all the local Ghanaian dishes to try. At night we would all sit around and talk about the differences between our two countries. You could see how much they, like many Ghanains, admired America and the many opportunities it provides that their country does not.
While I was there, there were also two volunteers there. Kate was there helping with administrative duties while Joe was there helping with video production for a new website. Both had been to Ghana before on an NYU study abroad program and helped me learn my way around the city and meet people. Kate was passionate about human rights issues and dreamed of someday working for the UN.
Joe also introduced me to two boxers living in Jamestown, one of the poorest communities in Accra, who he had met while filming a documentary on their gym in 2009. Mosquito was up and coming and was hoping to raise enough money to move to the US and study art while pursuing the sport. Mike on the other hand was struggling, having a hard time getting funds for training and not really receiving many fight offers. These two men showed both the hope and continuing struggle that so many face in Jamestown and other impoverished communities.
The final two friends I made while in Ghana were Nafesa and Lizzy. Nafesa worked at the market selling the tomatoes and mushrooms grown on the compound and Lizzy served as the cook, making amazing local dishes like okra stew and banku (crushed yams made into a dough like food that was eaten in the stew). These two women were bubbly, charismatic and lighthearted, always making the days more fun and offering up wonderful insights into the life of a young Ghanaian women.
With this diverse group of people, I learned more about the culture than I ever could have from reading or going to tourist sights. Each one really believes in the organization and loves the interactions with community members as they teach their new farming techniques. I only wish that I was able to share with them as much as they shared with me. With people like this, it was hard to not fall in love with the country and believe in the motivations and goals of the organization.
I am now off to the developed world, spending the next month in Denmark, Sweden, and the UK, where I will look at their strategies for sustainable development and the complexities surrounding projects in already built up nations. Unfortunately, I have once again been having some problems with uploading pictures so hopefully I will be able to share some Ghana photos with you shortly!