Sunday, April 20, 2014
#worldmalariaday #peacecorps #Ghana

#worldmalariaday #peacecorps #Ghana

Friday, April 4, 2014

If I made an impact at all, I made sure Kwame became a qualified cashew grafting expert!

One of the biggest problems facing cashew farmers in Ghana is that their yields are very low. The average farmer sells about two 86kg bags of raw cashew nut per acre (based on data PCVs have been collecting over the past two years).

The issue is that cashew orchards are overcrowded with trees so they compete for sunlight instead of producing fruit. Pests and low flower production is an issue as well. 

To overcome this problem farmers should prune out trees and space them 10m by 10m. They can also top-work trees they cut down. 

What is top working? Basically, a farmer chops down a tree and grafts on a cion from a certified improved cashew variety to a new shoot from the trunk of an old cashew tree. Once the cion is successfully attached the old trunk will grow into the cloned improved cashew variety! 

Last year Kwame and I made a small cashew grafting nursery outside our house. We used it for a training and Kwame mostly kept it to practice on his own. He attended 4 grafting trainings in two months! After all that training Kwame paid for the fuel and an agrig extension officer provided a chainsaw to cut down 9 good-for-nothing cashew trees on his farm Then Kwame grafted many cions onto those trees. 

I hadn’t been to Kwame’s farm in over a year so I was very surprised to see how successful he was with grafting and top-working. One of the trees he grafted last year is already starting to fruit!

I have high hopes for Kwame. Today we began planting 300 cashew trees for the cions he plans to sell this year. He showed me where he’ll grow his cion bank and he even told me about where he’s going to put a beehive! In casual conversation I asked him, “What would you do with a lot of money?” his response, “Top-work my whole farm.” lol

The significance of this is huge. Kwame is the only farmer in the community who is top-working and utilizing the benefits of grafting cions. People will see how successful he is and “maybe two or five year peoples will follow,” in the words of Kwame. This will be a small business providing Akete with quality cashew saplings!

Can the bedroom of a child really explain how much they suffer?

A facebook friend of mine posted this link.  The page shows photos of bedrooms all around the world. On face value these photographs are crisp, vivid, and powerful. What caught my attention was the reaction from my friend about these pictures. “…My heart reaches out to those children. It’s infuriating that some people have so much and those children are left with barely anything.”

I beg to differ that viewers can conclude that children are suffering because they have nothing compared to themselves (Americans). In Ghana I’ve seen bedrooms of both adults and kids (often times they share the same room) that resemble the photos of children in Nepal, Brazil, Ivory Coast, and Senegal. Even my old counterpart, who is college educated, lives in a shack which the inside looks exactly like the rooms of the little boys and girls featured in James Mollison’s photos. 

A couple a days ago I posted a photoset of pictures including one inside the room which my landlord and his two sons sleep. It’s minimal. The boys sleep on a foam mattress with a little sheet barely spreading across it. The foam mattress lies on the bare concrete floor. In comparison, my room is adjacent to his and I have decorated it in such away to make myself feel the comforts of American materialism. Based on the physical differences of our rooms does Kwame and his children have less things than I do, of course! However, does Kwame and his sons need more things? Do they want more things? And if they do want and need more things what are those things? These are not questions anyone can answer by simply looking at a picture of people from another culture assuming they want and need the exact same things we do.

The point of Mollison’s Where Children Sleep project is to capture the life of children from their bedrooms and make us think about how our bedrooms have defined us and others. It’s possible a bare room could represent a person from a culture with values different from materialistic cultures. It’s also possible a room messy, small, and dark could reflect people that spend more time outside.

If someone had shared photographs of American children sleeping in a dark room on a concrete floor, with a dirty mattress, clutter everywhere, and not a toy in sight, taken within the US I would say that child is probably suffering, in poverty, unhappy, oppressed, in need because that is not the common living standard for a happy, healthy and prosperous life in America.

On the other spectrum, well being isn’t defined in money or number of things one has. For example in  Ghana being happy may be defined by how much fufu you ate in one day, how much you’re loved by your family and the community, or whether you can go to school.

That being said, we shouldn’t be so quick to judge and reflect our own culture onto another unless we have the real story behind the scene. What may look like abject poverty and suffering to me may be joy and freedom to another.  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

#TIG #smallboys #smallthings #toycamera #canon I gave it to Bismark who let everything happen

#clothesyougavetogoodwill Kofi’s junior brother has it.

#villagefabulous #glamshots

School grounds #afterhours #kickoffthekicks relax a bit #teapotsforALLAH

#nokia #brick #throwback #Ghana2014

#freshkids #ghanacloth #woodin #batik #duku #twi #foodinabag

#curtains #decor #thisisghana

What does it really mean? #Thesimplelife #villagelife

#barenecessities

And #friends = #happiness

#hashtagjournal

Photo cred. Bismark, 11 years, Brong Ahafo Ghana.

Friday, March 21, 2014
Cold China House
Outside of Bole I was hanging out with a few friends at a spot underneath a grass canopy which shaded us from the unforgiving northern desert sun. I had noticed it, but Ralph (my closest Ghanaian friend) made sure I was aware of the house behind us. He nodded his head up, “what do you think of this?” Next to us was a tall rusty barbed wire fence that guarded a seemingly cold and abandoned house in the middle of nowhere Ghana. 
          The house was pieced together by metal containers propped on cinder blocks. The roof was made of metal sheets and placed in such a way to resemble a modern home with a high ceiling. And dead fallen leaves surrounded the property. The more I looked at it the more odd it became. This was not a Ghana home, rich or poor. 
           Ralph explained to me that “China men” once lived there. For good or bad, I understood why the house was so uninviting. Instead of building the house of local materials, they imported all their possessions in a box which could be assembled into a house. Maybe it was for time’s sake; efficiency. Or maybe it was for keeping their luxuries of home. I saw it as an excuse not to integrate, an excuse to not become friends with the people and place of whom they’ve come to take, may it be wood or gold. 
          After a few drinks down and a passion in my voice I asked, “how can you allow someone into your country without them paying their respect to you? How can you allow them to treat your people as if you are dangerous animals to keep out?” 
          The answer simply was, “They paved the road.” Anyone could be silenced by such a fact, it was the truth. Ghana needs better roads. The road that led us to the spot and to the abandoned house was nearly perfect compared to the dusty, pothole, rocky roads that extend through most of Ghana. 
          In reality its common here to see the homes of the wealthy protected by tall concrete walls and doubled door gates. So I’ll blame my first impressions of the property on its aesthetics for giving that out-of-place and cold vibe.
          Nonetheless, this house is just a sliver of an example of how foreigners (namely the Chinese) interact with Ghana. And it makes me asks these questions which the rest of you, readers, can ponder on. 
          When entering a foreign county how should ones interactions be with local citizens? 
          If one is in a foreign country to take something (resources of any kind), should one go about it with force, efficiency, or mutualism? 

          Should countries make an effort to become best friends forever or see each other only as a means to an end (the end being gold)?

Cold China House

Outside of Bole I was hanging out with a few friends at a spot underneath a grass canopy which shaded us from the unforgiving northern desert sun. I had noticed it, but Ralph (my closest Ghanaian friend) made sure I was aware of the house behind us. He nodded his head up, “what do you think of this?” Next to us was a tall rusty barbed wire fence that guarded a seemingly cold and abandoned house in the middle of nowhere Ghana.

          The house was pieced together by metal containers propped on cinder blocks. The roof was made of metal sheets and placed in such a way to resemble a modern home with a high ceiling. And dead fallen leaves surrounded the property. The more I looked at it the more odd it became. This was not a Ghana home, rich or poor.

           Ralph explained to me that “China men” once lived there. For good or bad, I understood why the house was so uninviting. Instead of building the house of local materials, they imported all their possessions in a box which could be assembled into a house. Maybe it was for time’s sake; efficiency. Or maybe it was for keeping their luxuries of home. I saw it as an excuse not to integrate, an excuse to not become friends with the people and place of whom they’ve come to take, may it be wood or gold.

          After a few drinks down and a passion in my voice I asked, “how can you allow someone into your country without them paying their respect to you? How can you allow them to treat your people as if you are dangerous animals to keep out?”

          The answer simply was, “They paved the road.” Anyone could be silenced by such a fact, it was the truth. Ghana needs better roads. The road that led us to the spot and to the abandoned house was nearly perfect compared to the dusty, pothole, rocky roads that extend through most of Ghana.

          In reality its common here to see the homes of the wealthy protected by tall concrete walls and doubled door gates. So I’ll blame my first impressions of the property on its aesthetics for giving that out-of-place and cold vibe.

          Nonetheless, this house is just a sliver of an example of how foreigners (namely the Chinese) interact with Ghana. And it makes me asks these questions which the rest of you, readers, can ponder on.

          When entering a foreign county how should ones interactions be with local citizens?

          If one is in a foreign country to take something (resources of any kind), should one go about it with force, efficiency, or mutualism?

          Should countries make an effort to become best friends forever or see each other only as a means to an end (the end being gold)?