Posted by: devonhamilton | November 23, 2010

Aburi: Shopping and Botanical Gardens

Last week we began our workshops in the schools with the YMCA mentors taking a bigger role – eventually they will be running the workshops completely independently. Unfortunately I did not attend any of the workshops last week; the first workshop was at a church and was “rained out” (when it rains everything stops, and this was a fairly big storm!); and the second one was on Friday at one of the high schools here in Koforidua. In this case, we had spoken with the principal and given him our letter of offer with a request to run a workshop for 30-40 students. This suited the principal and a time was booked. However, when we arrived at the school not only was the principal now on vacation but the message hadn’t been passed along that we were coming. Another staff member suggested that we run the workshop for the first year students, which we agreed to until we were informed that this would be a class of 500. I am happy to report that we did run three successful workshops; I was just not a sitting YCI volunteer on any of them as we have divided them up between us. At the moment we have five workshops scheduled for this week (Week 8!), and we have a lot of follow-up phone calls to make in order to secure more.

On Saturday we did not end up going to Boti Falls, we have rescheduled it to this upcoming Saturday and are going to bring some of the mentors with us. Instead, on Saturday we went to a town called Aburi where there is a large botanical garden. We took a taxi there – its maybe an hour or so away – and a very scenic drive. We tried to book a guide for our tour once we arrived but we were told that one of the guides had passed away so no one was around to give us a tour. The trees all have labels and sometimes an information board nearby, but I really would have liked to have a guide since there are signs at certain points warning visitors not to go any further in the garden without a guide. The temperature was cool inside the gardens and some of the trees were absolutely massive.

Yesterday, Kelly, Jenna and I returned to Aburi to do some shopping there, as there is a large market which we evidently missed when we visited on the weekend. We all used our bargaining skills and managed to get lower than quoted prices, although the quoted price given to us was most likely largely inflated. I picked up a purse for myself along with a wood carving map of Africa – the Ghana one would have been more meaningful but wasn’t as visually appealing – and a few gifts as well. I was looking to get more oware sets but I just couldn’t find one that was as nice as the one I already have!

At night, we had two workshops at two separate Churches. My group presented to a crowd of around 30 people, who were very engaged and had a lot of thought provoking questions for us, particularly around the issue of women’s empowerment. The men in the audience argued that Ghanaian women are already empowered, while the women in the audience argued that they are not! We had two YMCA mentors present with us and they both did a great job. The entire workshop was translated into Twi but the majority of the discussion afterwards was conducted in English. This group was eager to learn more so we left them with a list of resources, since we only had an hour to give a very basic introduction to the MDGs.

I have two more weekends in Koforidua so I have been consulting the Bradt guide to see what things I should see while I am here. I previously mentioned going to Mole but apparently its 10 hours or so away, and we would only be able to spend two days there at most. Right now a couple of us are thinking that it might be easier to go to the Volta region as there are some nature sanctuaries there (although no elephants like Mole) and some traditional kente-weaving villages. Any advice is welcome!

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