12.19.2018 Ashanti Region, Ghana
As I sit down to write this, I’m suddenly realizing that it has been more than two months since my last post. I honestly can’t believe it’s been that long, and so much has happened since I don’t even know where to start. Highlights include running my first and only 10K, going on vacation to a beautiful tropical paradise called São Tomé (Be on the look out for a separate post), celebrating the holidays with fellow PCVs, continuing all of the great work at the school, and finally holding the mushroom production training my community and I have been discussing for months!
Out of everything I have had the chance to be involved in so far, I’d have to say this mushroom production training is the one of the most rewarding. I am working with a trainer from a nearby community to teach some farmers in my community how to grow mushrooms and help them build a permanent structure to use as a production house. I am learning a ton in the process and feeling even more connected to my community members. Not only are mushrooms very nutritious, they are a great income generating opportunity.
It took weeks to have the initial interest meeting because of unexpected delays and community events, and it was quite the lesson on patience and flexibility. But ever since that first meeting, I feel like we have some real momentum behind us. People are excited about this opportunity, and it makes me so happy to see so many different people from the community getting involved. We’ve got men, women, and even children participating in the lessons. We started the training on Monday, and it will go for the rest of the week. Every day, more and more people are showing up to learn. The district has some awesome resources for people who want to start businesses, so I think this training could be a great foundation for some successful businesses in the future.
Another thing that has been exciting me lately about Peace Corps is opportunities for volunteer collaboration. I love being able to work with other volunteers on projects that have a wider impact in Ghana. Currently, I’m working with another health volunteer nearby to plan a Train the Trainer workshop on Reusable Menstrual Pads (RUMPs) with teachers and clinic workers in the area. We plan to give them each RUMPs kits, so they then can go back and train the young women and mothers they work with. Another way to collaborate in Peace Corps Ghana are working groups, which are essentially opportunities for volunteers to come together and work together on a specific issue and be a resource for other PCVs. I am part of SWAT Malaria working group, and we’re focused on malaria prevention in Ghana and supporting volunteers in their efforts. I am in charge of organizing the next World Malaria Month competition, which takes place in April and May, and allows volunteers to compete for prizes while educating their communities about malaria. This type of event planning activity is right up my alley. I love working in my community, but it is these opportunities to collaborate and support volunteers in the process that really gets me motivated.
Holidays away from family and friends aren’t the easiest, but I am lucky to have a wonderful community here to celebrate with. I spent Thanksgiving with some awesome PCVs from around southern Ghana, and thanks to several wonderful volunteers/chefs we had a turkey with all the Thanksgiving fixings. Last week, I also had a little Christmas celebration with my Ashanti friends with our gifts under the paper tree and Christmas card photo out in the blazing sun. It sure doesn’t feel like Christmas with this hot weather, but we managed to find some holiday spirit and enjoy the season just the same.
Happy holidays to all of my amazing friends and family at home! I hope your days are filled with lots of love, joy, and laughter. You’ll be hearing from me in 2019, where I’ll be reflecting on a year in Ghana.