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Monday, 21 July 2014

Salaminga, salaminga…hello

Left to right: James, Iddi, Raheel, Mohammed, Majeed, Demy, Hinna, Alice, Tahiru & Lisa
Hello from the Resource Centre! We are the 5th cohort for the RCPWD – the UK team consisting of a James, an Alice, a Demy and a Raheel.
We’ve just finished our second week in Tamale, Ghana and are beginning to settle in among the goats, chickens, turkeys, pigs and various other animals that are all around the town. So now is the time to tell you about what we've been up to since coming to Ghana.
Our arrival in Accra taught us from the outset the importance of accepting “Ghanaian time” and keeping calm. Our internal flight to Tamale left over an hour late and with only half our luggage, but no one seemed stressed by this, least of all the airport staff! With no explanation offered (once the last of the bags came down the ramp the airport worker simply grinned and said ‘that’s all the bags’), we were told our luggage would arrive on the first flight the next day, which in fairness it did.
Our first week was time for training where we met our national volunteers who are co-writing this first blog entry. We’ll let them introduce themselves!
Training consisted of project planning, learning  about local tribes, James celebrating his 20th birthday by having water thrown on him (a Ghanaian tradition), a heated discussion on religion, language lessons, carrying water on our heads, a visit to the market and eating chicken and rice (every day, lunch and dinner). We also had a brilliant performance by a local youth dance group Dinani, who performed traditional dances from all over Ghana. During the performance they got us all up dancing (mostly by force) and although there were cries of horror at the prospect, most of us felt like Ghana’s version of Michael Jackson once we were up there. (It really doesn’t matter if you’re black or white after all.)
Throughout training we were wondering what our accommodation would be like and once we arrived on the Friday we were pleasantly surprised. All the walls were bright green, the hob didn't work and leaked gas, the fridge was room temperature and ants were running up the walls but after a week in the guest house it sure felt like home…
We should also take a moment to mention travel in Tamale. The roads are always very busy and everyone gets around town by moped or taxi. As travelling by moped is strictly banned by ICS we have got used to commuting everywhere by taxi. Highlights have included travelling in the boot of the car, the taxi getting stuck in the storm drain and another taxi going into the back of us. Since most of the taxis have seen better days anyway the driver didn't bat an eyelid.
Now onto the important stuff: we have high hopes for the work we will do over the next 8 weeks. We plan to continue the sensitisation programme with community outreach work (showing the presentations and screenings of Emmanuel’s Gift in order to dispel the idea that disabilities are caused by curses and foster greater social cohesion), we will finish another documentary that will be in the local language Dagbani and will eventually begin planning our ‘finale’; a showcase event for the local community of people with disabilities to highlight the work they do and also allow them the chance to network with other businesses.

So at the end of our first 2 weeks here Tamale has so far proved to be a great place to live and we hope it will also be a great place to work over the next 8 weeks. We are looking forward to getting stuck in this week with our trips to a local high school, school for the deaf and a community visit which we will update you on later this week.

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