Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Ghana 2005

Welcome to the African School Advancement Program of Miami University Blog!

I am thrilled to bring you the pictures from our first trip to Africa. Created in the Fall of 2004, ASAP has accomplished great things in just two semesters. First I would like to start with some background information on the group.

Our goals include:
1) Advancing Education in sub-saharan Africa
2) Promoting cross-cultural awareness among students on campus

Tj Bittel created the group at Miami after starting it in his high school. He took a trip to senegal with the first supplies he collected, and was eager to begin again in college.


On with the pictures!

Here we (TJ and Meredith) are at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, rarin' to go!
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After we got there, I wanted a shower...and TJ, as i found out, has a tendency to try and be productive and ends up doing more of this...
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The first day, tuesday...or was it monday? I got really confused...anyways, we changed over our dollars to cedi. A ton of Cedi.
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With Phil as our trusty guide, we managed to deliver the 5 boxes we brought on the plane to the school via a taxi pretty early in the day. Phil is TJ's friend who studied abroad with the NYU program in Accra. Here is Phil, guiding us on a path to the computers at the NYU classrooms so we could email our parents back home. As you can see, there is a big problem with littering and the water in the stream along the path is heavily polluted. Most of the people drink sachel water, which is sold everywhere along the roads.
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After we arrived at the Elimina Cluster of schools, we talked with Janet Nugor, the proprietress, and set up tables to unload the supplies. She then gave us a list of other items which could be purchased in the market with the donated money that we brought over.
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Heading back to Accra, we set up lodging in the Gye Nyame Hotel. The people were very friendly, and we were pleased to feel air conditioning and take showers.
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The next day, we went to a bookstore and searched around for the correct textbooks for the school's curriculum.
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After we pretty much cleaned that store out of science and math books, we headed to the market to find the remaining Junior Secondary School Science and Math books.
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It was here in Makola Market that we got a chance to experience the day to day bartering and had time to converse with many different Ghanaians. One in particular was named Cynthia, and she actually helped me pick out fabric for a dress I had made to fit me all in less than 2 hours!
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Here is the food that we had for lunch in a little cafe. It had an amazing view of the market below.
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Even though we had spent about 4 hours in the market dealing with all sorts of people and different stores, we came away quite successful.

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Here are some of the schools in the immediate area around the school we donated to. TJ and I were pretty down after the "tour" we took, seeing as most of them had less than adequate rooms and books for sure. Then again, it was good motivation!

With the remaining time, TJ and I decided to take a trip out to some more rural parts of Ghana. It was well worth the bumpy trip, and i will never forget the AMAZING beach we ended up at (thanks to Phil's directions and the friendly people in Ghana).
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These were taken at the Green Turtle Lodge. It is located to the west of Accra. Along with just relaxing at the beach for a day or so, we stopped at several coastal locations to sightsee and soak in the local flavor.

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After our intriguing talks with south africans and miscellaneous europeans at the lodge, we decided it was time to leave. With less than 3 days left, we agreed that there was much more of Ghana to see. The south african gold miner drove us to a nearby town with a catholic church, and i coaxed TJ into attending the service. On the hike up a rather large hill, we encountered some exremely cute kids. I was seriously impressed by how much water these kids could carry on their heads.
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Here I am in front of the church....extremely hot and pretty hungry...and not all that aware of the fact that im in for a 3 hour mass. We had to leave early, but I thought it was a pretty cool experience. Yea, about that language barrier stuff.
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Our next stop was Cape Coast. We spent a pretty good chunk of time wandering around looking for food and some site seeing spots, and eventually, with the help of a random guy that insisted on walking with us, found the Cape Coast Castle.
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The castle had a pretty interesting/sad tour and museum, but at this point I was getting pretty travel weary....heavy bag....ahem.
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kind of hard to see, but this is the "Door of No Return". It opens out onto the shore with the fishing boats and many scantily clad people in this day, but back in the slave trading days it was the last thing the people saw before getting onto the boat to leave. The tour guide amusingly stated that we in fact would be allowed to return for the conclusion of the tour. ha ha ha.
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After the castle tour, we took a cab to a hotel and ate dinner on a stilt restaurant with some crocs and birds around. There is a nice picture of me after dinner looking extremely pleased at the lack of a locked bathroom, AC, and consistent power. Needless to say I wont scare you all with that one, but the jungle looking picture is from the next morning. On the edge of Kakum National Forest, we did the well known canopy walk. I was hesitant, but very glad that i decided to go.
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Since we woke up around 530, I was relieved to be on a rather nice bus back to Accra, and then say bye to Phil as he embarked on his trip to europe.
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me...filming stuff
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A billboard that says Aids Is Real...right next to one of Kelly Rowland from Destinies Child.
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Ok, for some reason I was surprised that the billboards didnt have white people. Seriously, it was one of the first things that I noticed when we got there. I got used to it, but it was one of those reminders that I wasnt "in kansas anymore".

We are very grateful to those who donated time, energy, and money to make our trip amazingly successful AND fun. None of this would have been possible without ASG funding, schools who donated supplies, and many charitable people. We wish you could have been there to see all of the smiling children and teachers, but hope that this website can be a means through which you can know in your heart that you have changed the world.

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