Developing a just society based on equity and equal opportunities for all with respect for diversity.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Just the two of us

As we are now well past the half-way point of our time here in Tamale, I thought I would take inspiration for my next post from a family friend called Claire Boxall. Claire is currently living in India as a VSO volunteer (read her blog here). Throughout her somewhat lengthier stay in India, Claire has regularly sat down and asked herself the same set of questions. Although we’ve only been here for a quarter of the time, I thought it would be a great way to reflect on some of the things I have learnt. Hopefully some of my answers might prove helpful to future volunteers – so here goes nothing!

In other news,  it is unfortunate that another one of our volunteers, Beccy, has decided to go home. We will miss her, and hope that she keeps in touch. For now, it’s “just the two of us!” rattling around our huge house!

 Things I have done that I didn’t know I could do…

 - Haggle….effectively: Over here, you haggle for pretty much anything that doesn’t have a price stuck on the front of it. Although we definitely got ripped off for our first few taxi rides, Sophie and Myself are now seasoned hagglers. If you charge us more than 80peswas for a trip in to town you will feel our wrath!
 - Work in an office and manage my own workload: Unlike Sophie, I had never really worked in an office before. Over the course of the past two months I have learnt how to adapt to office life. It’s not easy! We have early starts, and big jobs to get stuck into- but overall I am loving it.
 - Write for enjoyment: During my time here I have experienced a bit of a personal writing renaissance. Having so much down time and space has given me a new found creative energy!
 - Travel independently, and with confidence. 

Things I brought which turned out to be helpful… 

- Earplugs: 4am calls to prayer are no joke when you live 100yards away from a Mosque!
- Eyemask: Yeah, it gets sunny real early too.
- String: Very, very useful – can turn into temporary washing line, temporary mosquito net holder.
- Nail scrubber: This is actually something we inherited (new) from Laura, as the weeks go on, the Ghanaian red soil seems to be more unwilling to get off my tootsies!
- Body Shop handcream: My hands are much drier than they are at home, probably because I am washing them all the time.

 And things that weren’t… 
- My beloved IPAD: Yeah, it’s barely been used. Out here, charging electricals from the plug is a bit of a dangerous move as they tend to flood the battery causing it to get damaged and not hold its charge.
 - Anti-diarrhoea/constipation medicine: I brought loads of the stuff and haven’t had need to use it at all. Even if I did I could buy it all out here.
- SO MANY CLOTHES: I brought a ridiculous amount of clothes that I really didn’t need. I pretty much wear the same skirt and trouser combo 99% of the time.

Things I wish I had brought but didn’t… 
- Good coffee: Pretty much all I can get out here is Nestle, which is ironic considering the amount of good coffee beans that Ghana exports.

Things I now carry in my bag that I didn’t before….
- USB Stick: You never know when you are going to bump in to other volunteers who have a wealth of films on their laptop!
- Toilet Paper 
- Deet based insect repellent 
- Plenty of Hairbobbles 

Things I am still getting used to…
- Unwanted male attention: There is plenty of it around here, and whilst most of it is kind hearted, it can get annoying.
- TroTros: A form of public transport in which the bus driver tries to double the holding capacity of a small minibus. It’s a bit of a squish!

 Things which are now more precious to me… 
- Reading books which are set in England: For the first month whilst I was over here, I read the diaries of the Queen Mother. I found the whole experience strangely comforting!
- My few remaining episodes of The Thick of It: I’ve nearly watched them all, so I’ve been trying to eek them out over the last few weeks.    
- The NHS: I have received brilliant, but very expensive medical treatment out here. Realizing that free healthcare is not an automatic entitlement has made me appreciate just how brilliant the NHS is.

 That’s all for now folks’!