A few things have changed in my life here in Kpandai that I want to send a quick update on.
My work is starting to come to a close. AAB is rolling forward in Kpandai – all the AEAs have been trained, I’ve been going to the field with most of them, and the majority of them are understanding and appreciating the program concepts and valuing how it works with their farmers. Sorta. That being said, if the office staff are not on board, the program will not be sustainable. Therefore, over the past several weeks and for the weeks remaining, I have been developing and implementing a sustainability plan to ensure the program continues in the district. This means working more with office staff and less with field staff.
In addition, I am working extensively with my District Agric Officer (DAO) of Extension. He will be championing AAB when I leave. We are also working together to develop a new training program for all the AEAs, one that includes more than just one-off workshops but also includes monitoring and evaluation and a hands-on approach. Modules include Understanding Group Dynamics, Facilitation Best Practices, and Quality Reporting. Will this be sustainable? Probably not, but I do think getting the ball rolling is important, and identifying new, more effective training strategies with the man responsible for training is valuable. Finally, I am working with my DDA small to talk about different leadership styles.
Kpandai is also receiving a professional short term EWB volunteer in the fall. Two districts in the Northern Region have been given this opportunity, and Kpandai made the cut. Therefore, in the next few weeks I will be trying to prepare for this transition. The hope is that he will only be monitoring and supporting AAB, bumping up sustainability, but focusing more on management level changes. I must say I’m jealous.
My home life has changed quite dramatically in this past week. My goodbyes here have unfortunately already begun. My Mama Monica left to Accra almost two weeks ago. She will be spending a month there because her daughter is in her final month of pregnancy. She left with her son Richard and the chief. The day after, Sister Fidelia went to a village to farm soybean for a few extra cedis. I don’t think I’ve introduced you to her – she’s Mama Monica’s daughter, 26, and finished her schooling in Tamale (she’s going to become a teacher), so she’s been in Kpandai for about a month. Anyway, she left on Friday.
Because Mama Monica left, Rachel left to her village. Brother Paul also left. Brother Lazarus is often working his tractor in a village in Kitare. Since Madam Phina stays at her bar, and cooks there, and doesn’t stay in the house, I am now the oldest female in the house.
Basically, that leaves me, Nana (or Miriam), and Joefere in the house. Ah, but what about Jessica? And here is where it gets interesting. I debated sharing this story, but it’s my life, so here goes.
Jessica’s father is a fairly wealthy man that works for Ghana Education Services. He lives in Kpandai town. He is married. Jessica’s mother lives in her village, Kabonwule. The mother is not the wife.
Jessica has stayed with Mama Monica for a long time. The wife and father have their own young children and cannot have Jessica in the house. Mama Monica and the father do not want Jessica in Kabonwule with the mother. Apparently the mother will then consistently demand cash from the father – enough not only for Jessica, but also herself, all her children, and her sisters. Mama Monica felt the mother could not take proper care of Jessica. SO Jessica was going to go to the grandmother in Kabonwule. She would be leaving two Thursdays ago at 1pm (I meant to post this a while ago).
I returned from work on that Thursday, prepared for the 415th chapter of my time here in Ghana to begin. And saw Jessica sitting around the cooking pot with Nana. Apparently, the father had said that he didn’t want me to be lonely so Jessica should stay with me until I leave. [Some background: When Mama Monica left that morning and I learned Jessica and all the others would also go, there were obviously some waterworks, but I remained dignified]
My initial reaction was obvious panic. Nana would be running Mama’s stationary shop during the day and cooking for me, her and Joefere. Joefere is in exams. I am working at MoFA. The others are all scattered, who would take care of Jessica?
I biked to Jessica’s father’s house (I know him fairly well – he is not negligent, he comes to the house often to see Jessica and ensures her well-being). Jessica insisted on tagging along on the back of my bicycle. I also received a flat tire, as icing on the cake. I wish I didn’t mention cake.
I caught him just as he was leaving to Accra. He would be gone for a little while but would be back shortly. I told him that I definitely wouldn’t be lonely and didn’t really need Jessica to keep me company, we can’t really speak the same language anyway, plus she’s 5. I said that I could take her to Kabonwule to her grandmother if he couldn’t. He told me he wanted Jessica to stay with me in Kpandai, handed me 10 GhC, and drove away. This sounds pretty bad, but he has been calling continuously to ensure she’s okay, and I understand she wants to stay in town where the water is readily available and clean, the latrines are many, and the food and treats are plentiful.
She sleeps in my bed (or did until I kicked her to the mat on the floor, don’t ask), I take care of breakfast and lunch and Nana cooks dinner. She often turns up at my office if she’s bored, sitting outside on the porch with her ‘baby’ (doll). When she says she has a tummy ache, I’ve discovered that means she wants a pity biscuit. I have to yell at her if she doesn’t bathe. I wake up Nana, Edith (Mama Phina’s daughter who works and stays at the bar but sleeps in the compound) and Joefere to help me sweep the compound in the mornings. I go grocery shopping with Nana and decide what our little, weird dysfunctional family will eat that evening.
I am now amazed how Mama Monica does it. She’s a teacher, she owns a shop, she has a grown and growing family on the other side of the country, but doesn’t want to live there because she has grown to love Kpandai and there are tons of children like Jessica who have come to depend on her. When I asked her if she likes cooking, she laughed harder than I’ve ever heard. “Sarah!” More laughter. I realize she’s probably never been asked that, and I probe. Finally, “Me, no, I don’t like to cook, but I do it, because who else will do it? These children need to eat!”
Mama Monica will be returning to Kpandai two weeks after I leave. L My time here is drawing to a close, so this week Jessica will take her 2 bags that hold all her worldly possession out of my room and head to her grandmother until the school break has finished and classes resume in Kpandai again.
¾ of my family leaving has been sad, but it has helped me spread out goodbyes. I hope it means my last few days here will be a little less tough and I’ll be able to focus mostly on wrapping up work. Ah who am I kidding…
Less than two weeks in Kpandai! That means only one or two posts left, and possibly one when I’m in Canada, so let me know what you want to hear!