Well my next life adventure is beginning. I’m training for a spectacular Grand Canyon hike next April. It’s a Sierra Club women’s backpacking trip for eight days, March 29 to April 5. My friend Nancy and I have begun training for the trip. We have to carry 40 pounds and climb 1000 feet over 1 mile. We’re on the trail every week and at the Cathedral of Learning at Pitt to climb the 36 floors with our packs. It should be an real physical challenge, but with great rewards. Let the adventure begin!
Daniel and the crew from Africa ICT Right continue to install the computers we delivered and to train the teachers, administrators and students. Keep up the good work!
The aim of Africa ICT Right is to uplift rural communities in Ghana by providing educational and technological resources and training to empower the youth to improve their lives and also bridge the digital gap.
Banku is Daniel’s favorite food and it is quite a ritual to eat so we made a video explaining how to eat Banku. Check it out on YouTube.
Daniel, Kwaku, and Eric from Africa ICT Right have been hard at work with the remaining computer installations. Here are some of their reports.
On Tuesday, 30th Oct. 2012, Madina No.1 school picked up their computers from Pig Farm at 2pm. On Wednesday, 31st Oct. 2012, Gomoa East also came for their computers from Pig Farm at 3:15pm. On Thursday, 1st Nov. 2012, West Gonja also came for their computers from Pig Farm around 4:30pm.
We have been providing training for Jubilee Int. Church volunteers for the past three (3) days. The volunteers are 11 in number. We will conduct the last training for the Pig Farm site on Sunday from 1pm to 5pm.
Jubilee Church Training
Today, Monday 5th Nov., we donated 10 computers to Madina No.1 School and also set up their lab for them. We will start with the training from tomorrow. Please find an attached pictures for the donation as well as for the setting up of the school lab.
Daniel and the Delivery
Eric Hard at Work
Kwaku Hard at Work
Ready for Training
Dave/Computer Reach is busily documenting the trip. Check out the Ghana YouTube video and the photos Dave put together.
The data upload for photos was so slow I didn’t even try to upload videos. Here are links to the YouTube videos I took along the way.
Amazing Women - I was so amazed at the women and their capacity to carry things on their heads. I just caught this lady with a huge basket of things on her head. They could walk everywhere with it completely balanced and even reach up to hand you things from the bowl, basket, or box. Amazing!
Makola Market - This is the big attraction for shopping. Be sure to pause and watch for all the women carrying things on their heads. Amazing! This market went on for blocks and blocks.
Street Academy - Students and a lesson
Street Academy Game – The girls were playing a game called Ampe. They tried to teach me, but I couldn’t figure it out. It seemed like a follow the leader kind of game. You had to stomp or clap like the other person.
Street Academy Schoolyard – Pickup game of football (soccer) at recess. Notice the ball is simply tied rags.
Out the Taxi Window – this is a very clean area of Accra
Out the Taxi Window 2 – This is another view of out the taxi window. It shows the dirt and shops at the beginning although it isn’t nearly as crowded an area as most places in Accra. It moves into some nicer areas with actual grass and boulevards. This is not the norm either!
Out the Taxi Window 3 – I guess this was my favorite thing to video. This one shows smaller, more crowded streets. It is most like what I experienced in Accra.
Keep checking back for another video. We taped Daniel teaching me how to eat banku. I have to edit the pieces and upload it so it will be coming soon.
Our last day in Ghana turned out to be a huge success. The computers were finally out of the dock and stored safely at the Jubilee Church in Pigfarm. We headed over there first thing and with the help of Eric and Kwaku installed 10 machines quickly in their new lab. Soon the lab was filled with IT folks, teachers, and administrators and we moved from student to student training them on Edububtu.
Jubilee International Church
Training on Edubuntu
I’m confident Daniel and his group can successfully install the remainder in the next few weeks.
We had time to shower and head out for lunch. We went back to Daniel’s favorite banku restaurant and videotaped Daniel teaching me how to eat banku. Watch for it on YouTube next week! After our late lunch we packed up and headed to the airport. We had to take two cabs because our luggage doesn’t fit in the ‘boot’ of most cabs. It was a sad goodbye to Daniel, Eric, and Kwaku. These are such fine young men giving of themselves for the children of Ghana.
They all should be admired, especially Daniel. He is only 31 years old and he has built a school and an NGO. He has a vision to make things better in Ghana through education and he is getting it done. That’s Ghana for you!
This is the second to last day before we leave. Because we are taking the red-eye we have a full day tomorrow. I’m definitely ready to go home, but it is a bit melancholy for this adventure to end.
Beth and I visited Ayorkor Korsah at the Ashesi University.
She is a graduate of CMU and teaches robotics at the University. Ashesi students are required to do community service and they have been teaching ICT (Information and Communication Technology) to the neighboring community Brekuso school children. It seemed like a promising location for installing computers next time. Of course it was a new adventure getting there an hour plus from Accra. The road is dirt and in terrible shape so we took the University shuttle in the morning with the teachers and staff from Accra. I can’t imagine commuting up that road every day. We met with a few students to learn about the training. They teach in the local schools two days a week and then bring the children to the University computer lab one day. Other groups do reading and math support. Last year only five of thirty Junior High students passed their exams to get into Senior High and this year they all passed! Those are amazing results. We then visited a senior high school that just opened that the university might support
‘New’ Senior High School
and the junior high school that they’ve had such success with. Daniel will need to visit to see if either location is a possibility for computer deployment. Ayorkor kindly drove us closer to Accra so we could catch a taxi back to the hotel.
Nancy, Ayorkor, and Beth
This afternoon we continued training Daniel’s IT guys, Eric and Kwaku. They are bright young men and will do a great job deploying the computers. Unfortunately this was Lyz’s last evening in Ghana and we took her to the airport. Tomorrow she’ll be back home. She had one last adventure before leaving, the port of Tema and releasing the computers. We have spent the entire trip trying to get the computers off the dock so we could deploy them. It turns out our shipping agent is less than reputable and we’ve asked everyone we know and everyone we meet to apply pressure on him. Today Daniel, Dave, Lyz, and Kwaku went to the dock to finish the paperwork and make the final payments.Just in time before we leave, but it is bittersweet. Lyz and Kwaku came back when the container had been released, but Daniel and Dave are still there well into the evening wrapping up the last details and delivering the boxes to storage. We’ll install here in Accra tomorrow and then Daniel’s well trained team will complete the other installations. Not the result we had hoped for but Plan B as we are calling it resulted in many great contacts and a better understanding of the process. We thought this endeavor would be very technical, but visiting the laptop installations has shown us it is more training and education. Lyz and I have developed materials for training. This time tomorrow I’ll be at the airport and my adventure will be winding down. There are deployments planned for next year, so who knows?
Today we visited the one and only valid e-waste recyclers in Africa, City Waste Management Company. They are outside of Accra and Computer Reach has contracted with them to handle the end of life for the imported computers. They gave us a tour of the facility outside Accra. They had bins and bins of sorted piece parts from computers, CRT monitors, cell phones, and other electronics.
Recycling sorting bins
They have relationships with corporations world wide that buy the separated and sorted materials to capture the gold, copper, plastic, etc from the electronics. There was a group visiting there from Belgium to train them on proper demanufacturing and sorting for better return in the recycle market. Vivian our hostess and the Public Affairs/Field Coordinator was vary passionate about recycling. She’s my soul sister here in Ghana!
They also work with the children at the Agbogbloshie dump who tear apart electronics on their own for copper and other precious metals. Unfortunately, they often burn the computers to more easily retrieve the metal. Burning computers creates toxic gas and the children are often sick and can die from this work. Waste Management is working to train them to salvage the piece parts safely. They provide them with gloves, masks, and safety glasses. They train them on procedures that make the parts more marketable. City Waste Group is planning some educational efforts too so the children working at the dump can go to school.
The streets and sidewalks are overflowing with people selling things. One of our cab drivers told us his wife was a petty trader. I’m especially intrigued by the vendors that carry their wares between the cars. I can understand the food and drink items. It’s so hot here a cold drink is welcome all the time although I don’t know how they keep them cold as they weave between the cars or store them in the sun by the side of the road. You can get water sachets, soda pop, and juice. Food is popular too with nuts, plantains, cookies, breads, and bananas at every intersection.
BUT the selling doesn’t stop there. Here’s a list of some more unusual items we’ve been offered out the taxi window. I stop and think, “Would I suddenly need this item on my drive home from work?”
Leave a comment with your VOTE for the most unusual item and an explanation for why you might need this while driving in your car.
Dog leash (goat leash?)
Rabbit ear tv antenna
Scrabble, chess, monopoly games
Reflective safety triangle
Children’s plastic chair
Tummy trainer exercise device
Men’s suits and ties
These vendors are on the sidewalk, but at the intersections they weave between the cars.
The ladies took the morning off to head out for some shopping. Dave and Daniel were busy with the shipments so it was the perfect opportunity to sneak away to the shops. We went to the Arts Center near the Street Academy. With Daniel’s help determining the directions and expected cost before we go we are becoming experts at hailing a taxi at a reasonable price. When we arrived at the Arts Center we felt a bit like shark bait. The shop owners greet us warmly and befriend us with hopes of enticing us to their shop. We were whisked back to a shop several rows back in the area. We found some treasures and began the long process of haggling over the price. They don’t like to give a price as you shop. They want you to accumulate all your purchases and then haggle. Once you’ve expressed interest in something it’s difficult to change your mind. They keep adding it back in to the bargain. They definitely jack up the price and leave lots of bargaining room. I was exhausted negotiating my price but they called me Yasantwa, Lady Warrior when we were done so I guess I did okay. At each shop there was a neighboring shop owner requesting we come to their shop so we had trouble ending and moving on. We finally made it out and had to sit down for a cold drink. Of course the restaurant was outside a shop where we found more jewelry and treasures!
Back at the hotel we did an afternoon training session with two of Daniel’s volunteers. We’re stepping them through covering all the necessary applications teachers need for the Ghanian curriculum. Eric and Kwaku were both quick studies. Tomorrow we’ll have them practice training us. All good!