Posted by: devonhamilton | November 29, 2010

Boti Falls Adventure

I am proud to say I have conquered Boti Falls. We ventured there on Saturday with about eight or nine mentors. We hired a tro-tro and all piled in for the 20-minute drive. Once there we started with a hike to Umbrella Rock. It’s only a 40-minute hike, but from what I read, pretty challenging. There were some very steep downhill parts (which made me dread the walk back) and a fairly steep uphill climb at the very end. I needed a few breaks, to say the least! I was actually a bit stressed going into this hike, and worried that I wouldn’t be able to complete it, so I am proud of myself – but also aware that I need to get into better shape! The funniest thing about this is that all the YCI volunteers brought backpacks, and wore hiking clothes while the mentors were wearing their regular clothes, ie. Jeans and a t-shirt.

 

The views from Umbrella Rock were pretty amazing. Once we got there I drank two sachets of water and dumped one over my head. There are a few vendors there selling water and coconuts, and there is also a bamboo ladder which you can climb to stand on the top of the Umbrella Rock. Since the fee was only 50 pesewas, we all opted to do this. It was very picturesque but the ladder wasn’t the sturdiest I’ve ever climbed and I got nervous on the way down.

After Umbrella Rock we continued to see the palm tree with three trunks. This was a fairly short hike from Umbrella Rock and mostly flat, although we had to walk through a small cemetery to get there! Here they also had a ladder to climb some of the tree but Teddy, one of the mentors, is the only one who did.

I found the hike back a bit tiring but I think I was feeling pretty accomplished by that point. The last thing for us to see was Boti Falls. This required descending 250 stairs. There were two falls, and it was nice to cool off, although there were signs everywhere stating that swimming was not advisable. Along with a couple of others I did a short walk to stand behind the waterfall, which resulted in me becoming absolutely soaking wet. This walk was over large rocks which were quite slippery, and I was worried about falling into the water the entire time. Afterwards we had to climb back up the 250 steps, but this was actually easier than I anticipated!

After climbing the 250 steps we rested in a gazebo at the top, and it started pouring rain! As thankful as I was not to be caught in the downpour myself, I was worried about some people we ran into who were climbing to Umbrella Rock as we were descending – I hope they didn’t get stuck there because the descent would be very dangerous under slippery conditions!

On the work front: besides our regular workshops, our other project this week is putting an event together for World AIDS Day, on Wednesday, December 1. YCI, along with the YMCA, have decided to hold an event at the YMCA in order to mark this occasion. This fits in with our project focus of the MDGs, as MDG 6 is: “Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases.” As previously mentioned, the Peer Mentors have been thoroughly trained in HIV/AIDS so they have a strong interest in this area.

We formed a committee of four YMCA Peer Mentors, and one YCI volunteer, Lisa, to organize what we would be doing on World AIDS Day. The Committee decided to plan an event at the YMCA from 9am-12pm and to invite 150 students from 6 of the schools that we have run MDG workshops with. Working with a budget provided by YCI, we commissioned two banners to be made and placed them in town; we ordered food and refreshments for our guests; 4H generously provided us with a nurse; and we had a few guest speakers, including a person living with HIV/AIDS (PLWA).

The theme for our event at the YMCA is “Kick HIV/AIDS out of Koforidua.” It is particularly significant to have an event in the Eastern Region because of all ten regions in Ghana, the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is highest here. I have also heard that Koforidua has the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence in the Eastern Region, but I have not been able to find this information online so I’m not sure if it is still accurate. The national prevalence rate in Ghana had been falling steadily until 2008, but has been increasing again in the last few years.

One challenge in planning this event has been the distribution of the invitation itself; we are working with around ten schools so we chose the ones that either had a school bus available or were within walking distance of the YMCA. Another challenge is making sure that only 150 people attend the event. When we offered our MDG workshops we requested groups of 30-40 students, and we are almost always greeted with a lot more than that, in one case around 120 students for one workshop!

Other YCI volunteers currently on project are also planning events to mark World AIDS Day, so I would suggest you check the YCI website or blog to find out more.  I’m sure there are events happening in your community (especially since I know a large number of readers of this blog are in Toronto!) so I would encourage you to become involved!

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