July 9th - Travel to Sunyani and Kranka

Trip Start Jun 30, 2008
1
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Trip End Aug 04, 2008


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Flag of Ghana  ,
Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Today we killed a goat.   Not on purpose but I'll get to that when it
actually comes up in the story.  We
started our day very early in the morning. 
One of the coolest things about waking up this earlier was seeing what
time the sun actually came up in the morning. 
The sunrises around 5:45 to 6:00a.m. 
None of us got to see the sun rise. 






We were supposed to leave by 6 am. but in Ghanaian time that
really means at the earliest 6:30.  At
that time we got a little surprise.  We
had thought that Emanuel would be driving so there would be plenty of
room.  Instead, we had a driver so it was
the three of us across the back seat. 
Let's just say that it is a good thing that we are quite small because
otherwise it would have been a very long trip. 
All three of us piled into the truck's back seat for the long ride
ahead. 

The drive through Kumasi was pretty similar to all the other
drives that we have taken.  However,
because we were leaving so earlier we got to see all the children walking to
school.    We found out later in the day
that just a year ago Ghana passed a new school legislator.  This new legislator makes education available
to all students ages 4 to 17 and then places them in either an university or
trade school.  They want no student to
drop out.  This act does put a lot of
strain on schools to be able to have the available resources for all the
students.  The student's uniforms are so
much brighter than the school uniforms in the states.  The people here are not afraid of color at
all.





After exiting the surrounding area of Kumasi, most of us
were in and out of sleep while we drove. 
It was very interesting to see the biodiversity present within the
forest overstory.  We also found out that
Ghana has tolls similar to many other large cities.  The tolls are differing amounts of
change.  While we were stopped at one of
the tolls Emanuel bought us donuts.  We
were a little skeptical at first but one bite into the warm fried dough was
enough to change our minds.  It was so
good. 

We then continued on our 2 hour drive to Sunyani.  Once at Sunyani we noticed how much quieter
it was in this city.  The city still has
a population of up to 100,000 people living within the city.  We had found out that we would be staying in
the KNUST Forestry building.  This is very
similar to what Alberta is to Michigan Tech only that the KNUST is increasing
the amount of degrees and moving them from associates to bachelors.  The school had just had this change two years
earlier so there is a lot of excitement on the campus.





The campus is very beautiful but that beauty is contradicted
by the sanitation problems.  Plastic and
waste disposal seems to be a problem in every area of Ghana.  The campus is beautiful with many flowers in
bloom and some of the largest cacti that we have every seen.      We were all very thankful to get out of
the truck to not only explore the campus but also to stretch our legs a
little.  The trip from Kumasi to Sunyani
is just about a two hour drive.  We got
out and headed towards the dean of the school office.  Throughout the short walk Emanuel was running
into many different people that he had went to school with or knew some
how.  It was very interesting to see how
friends usually shook hands more than once. 
One of the people that we met was an old classmate from high
school.  He was now an accountant for the
school.  He was very interested in what
we were doing and wanted to help in anyway that he could. 

We then entered the dean's office, Dr. Lawrence B.
Antui.  His office has been very
different than most of the other offices that we have been in before.  It was almost regal and seemed so similar to
what a dean's office looks like in the U.S. 
There were many different awards honoring him and many pictures of him
and honored guest around the room.  The
book shelfs were filled with bound books and pictures.  The chairs that we were escorted to was a
burgundy velvet with gold crosses.  We
said in those chairs and did not know how formal that this meeting would
be  Emanuel introduced the program and
left it to us to introduce the projects. 
We each took our turn explaining the XO laptops for school children,
looking into water quality and cooking issues, and searching for different
projects.  He sat there very quietly
taking everything that we were saying and considering them each.  At the end he talked to us some time about
the opportunity that Ghana has for our help. 
He agreed and brought up the issues of sanitation and waste disposal.  There is not much environmental
sustainability with all the plastics that litter the ground and are used on
every single purchase.  He then brought
up another issue; the increased fires used by hunters and farmers.  Farmers use fire to try to clear fields and
hunters use it to try to trap animals. 
The increase use of fire has started to take a toll on the biodiversity
of the forest.  Many of these species can
not come back quick enough which causes massive erosion of the soil.  They have started doing afforestation
projects that include planting nonnative species.  One of these species that have really been
helpful is Teak.  Teak is a nonnative
species that grows extremely fast.  This
allows for Teak trees to be harvested an a quick rotation.  After this discussion, he welcomed us again
and told us that anytime we want we should stop by to talk.





We then walked over to where we will be staying when we are
at KNUST.  It is a completely brand new
dormitory.  They are still finishing up
the parking lot and the construction sign is still up.  A cool part of the building process in Ghana
is that every project list what the project is for, the consultants, the firm
doing the work, where the money is coming from, etc.  We walked into the building and Mitch and
Cory had a choice to make.  They could
either share a room together or get their own separate room for the same
price.  The rooms there are set up a
little different.  It is similar to a
suite.  There is two rooms that share one
bathroom.  Each of the rooms have their
own set of bunk beds.  Mitch and Cory
decided to share a room and Marcie was right next door so they shared the same
bathroom.  We quickly dropped our stuff
off in the room and then headed for the school in Suyani. 

The school was less than a five minute drive.  When we turned into the road for the school
it was more like a two track road with lots of erosion.  The red soil was filled with many different
trails for water to run through.  Our
slow speed allowed for all of the children to be able to see us.  They started running and waving yelling
"broni."  Broni is the Twi word for white
man.  There were children of all ages
running around.  The school system is set
up is that students start school at the age of 4 and have two years of kindergarten
education.  They then move into their
Primary education for another 6 years. 
They then have 3 years of junior high school.  Followed by another four years of senior high
school.  At this time they are 17 or 18 when
they are finishing everything up.  The
country of Ghana just instituted a new program for school.  This is the FCUBE - Free Compulsory Universal
Basic Education.  This allows students to
have access to basic education for free and then they are either accepted into
the university or go to a trade school. 
They want to have no drop outs so every student is given the right of
basic education.





The school that we visited in Sunyani is the Ridge
Experimental "A" Junior High School
There are about 268 students at the school with 158 of them them being
female.  The average class size is about
45 students in the classroom.  Each of
the classrooms are hooked up with electricity. 
The school currently has 8 old desktop computer that were donated. 

We met with the head mistress of the school who just
happened to be in the same church as Emanuel. 
He said that church is a place where a lot of these discussions come up
after mass and it is also where business gets taken care of.  She was very interested in the computers that
we were going to show the students.  She
said that this would help out the school very much especially if future groups
come to donate even more computers.  She
then showed us the classrooms.  At the
first class room she told the students that we had promised them computers.  The class of 45 9th graders all
started clapping.  The three of us looked
at each other like did me miss something or same something wrong during our
discussion.  Emanuel then told us that is
just how business is sometime done. 
Explain to her again the next time you are there and remind her than
there are three schools during this testing period and only one of them will
get the three computers.  We then walked
into another classroom where it was a similar speak but this time she through
in that the children needed to be good to get the computers.  She then asked about how many students had
handled computer before.  About a third
to a quarter of students had used computers before.  We thanked the headmistress for taking her
time to show us the school and that we would be back sometime next week to
began the official testing.





We then headed over to the the hospital at Sunyani.  Emanuel describes the hospital very similar
to the Portage Lake Hospital in Hancock and driving into it we could see the
resemblance.  The hospital is relatively
new and almost the exact opposite of the hospital in Kumasi.  Everything looked very clean and
sanitary.  There were not massive amount
of people sitting waiting for service. 
Instead the reception areas were always half full and it seemed to be
moving at decent pace.  We again met one
of Emanuel's good friend who took us on a tour of the hospital.  This hospital was much more confusing because
of how spread out the building was.  The
hospital really took care to make the areas aesthetic.  There were many court yard filled with
flowers and bushes so patients could relax if they had a longer stay.  We ended over toward pediatrics where we met
with Dr. Paulina.  Dr. Paulina is going
to be the main doctor that the IBV team will be in contact with.  She will direct the students to the birthing
ward.  She was quite busy today because
she was holding clinic hours so their was a line of children and parents
waiting to seem here.  However, she did
have to nurses to run through all the basics before the parents and the
children got to here office.  One of the
scales that they were using looked similar to a scale in the grocery store that
we use to measure fruits and vegetables
She had us explain the infant heart monitor and then asked for the IRB
information.  That was all! 

We then headed up to the director of the hospital.  We waited for a few seconds before being
escorted into the room.  He had an office
that was similar to the offices of directors of hospital programs.  If you have ever watched the House then you
know what we are talking about.  We sat
down and Emanuel introduced the program and also the IBV team.   Then then introduced ourselves and boy was
he interested in here about what we want to do in all of our areas.  We first focused on the IVB team.  When they would be coming for, how long they
wold be staying for, and other design set up questions.  He was very helpful and said that there are
about 10 babies born each day at the hospital. 
The majority of the babies are born at night so the students could
either wait around or they could come back in the morning to test the
device.  Because of the potential late
nights he just made one rule that one not drink beer while at the hospital or
before they come to the hospital.  This
seemed like a reasonable request.  He
also made another suggestion that the IBV team not tell the mothers if the
heart beat is normal or not but to just let the midwife deal with that.   He did not want the students scaring the
mother and he also did not want to deal with the language barrier. He did not
just focus on the infant heart monitor but also each of our individual
projects.  He even made suggestions of
where we could use our majors to help in the hospital.  He told Mitch and Cory of all the exciting
opportunities working with air conditioning units and other machinery.  Marcie which he took a liking to said that
Emanuel should just drop her off in the forest to talk and hug the trees. He
handed us each a card and said that he could not wait until our colleges would
be joining us.  Also, all he wanted was
the   IRB about the device and that there
have been successful test done in the United States.  





We left the hospital and grabbed a quick lunch at a
restaurant not far away from our dormitory. 
We then started on our drive for Kranka. 
It would be about a 1:30 minute drive. 

Part way through the drive we were heading through a town
when all of a sudden a herd of goats runs in front of the truck.  Mitch was just waking up as this accident was
about to happen.  There had to be at
least 8 goats on the road at the time. 
Some how our driver was able to swerve to miss all but 1 goat.  The truck easily rolled over the goat and as
we all looked back we couldn't believe what had just happened.  We waited for a second to see if anyone was
coming to yell at us but no one came.  We
drove away very slowly and all we could think was only in Ghana could this
happen.  Goats are like the deer of the
U.P.  They are pretty much every where
and do not think once about heading in front of a moving vehicle.  This can cause many problems because often
times the driver is trying to avoid hitting monster pot holes and adding in
another variable makes driving in Ghana very interesting.  There were a group of young children that
witnessed this accident and they were more interested in looking at the white
people than the fact that we just rolled over a goat.





We made it to Kranka without anymore interesting
adventures.  The road leading up to
Kranka is a dirt road.  We got into
Kranka about 2:30 in the afternoon and all the students were playing or watching
soccer.  They all turned their head to
watch us as we drove up to the school. 
In the school yard there was so much erosion.  One future project for this area can be do
erosion control by planting grasses and a student garden.  The students can learn about biology as it
happens right in front of them.  There
would also need to be educational succession for the families to leave the
grass and not to sweep everything away

As we got out of the truck the Chief and two consul men went
to greet us.  The chief is also on the
the major principals at the school.  He
is a chief of the county.  We then met
the head of the junior high school.  We
sat in a tiny little room  about the size
of a small office in the United States on foam chairs that were missing their covers.  All seven of us crammed into this little room
along with the three teachers in the door way. 
The door was just a sheet. 
Children kept passing by to get a glimpse of what we were doing.  It was a relatively short discussion.





We then headed back to the truck and told them that we would
see them again next week.  We continued
down the road to the monkey sanctuary. 
It was only 6 km down the road but because of the condition of the road
it took us about an half hour to make it down there.  When we pulled up Emanuel told us that he
would introduce as students at KNUST so that we would be given a better
rate.  It was only 4 cedis instead of 5
cedis.  We got our guide and headed back
into the truck for a short drive to some trails.  Our guide was not very knowledgeable about
the project so Emanuel explain that the resound that these monkeys are still
around is because the people respect and almost worship them.  They said that the monkeys bring them luck
and protection, so they treat them just like people.  When one dies they have a burial ceremony and
erect a tombstone.  When the church heard
about the people's belief they tried to get them to kill the monkeys but they
did not.  The monkeys allow for so much
biodiversity to be saved.  We started
walking into the forest and we have never seen trees like that before.  They had to be over 100 ft tall with
diameters around 50 inches.  For any
natural resource person the dbh had to be close to 50 inches.  It was gorgeous seeing this kind of
environment.  Everything was so lush and
green.  We really can't describe the
beauty that this place holds except in the picture we will post.  Right away we were able to see a black and
white monkey high up in the tree tops. 
As we continued on our walk we saw a few monkeys behind some shrubs on
the ground.  They were very fast and hard
to see at time.  The best sites that we
got of the monkeys where right at the village edge.  They were eating and sitting.  There were probably 10 monkeys all together. 

We soon began our trip back to Sunyani for the night.
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Comments

gcampione
gcampione on

bright uniforms
Nice photos of the children and their bright color uniforms. Parents in our community would just be out raged if there were 45 students in their child's classroom. I truly enjoyed you comments and insight in regards to Ghana concerns over farmers and hunter burning to clear land.

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