Sandemania and Other Such Tales

Yes, it’s been a while since we’ve blogged. But there was so much going on that it became a little difficult to pry ourselves from the awesomeness for even a second to put it all up. There’s lots to catch up, so I’ll try.

Our last post was from Accra. That was definitely a while ago. Once we left Accra, we made our way to Kumasi, where we spent one night at the Bar Amsterdam, owned by our good friend Mike. It was a wacky trotro ride, with bumpy roads and very, very weird films playing on the TV screen (Google “Cannibal Holocaust” if you’d like to get some insight…it’s messed up). We spent the next day visiting KAWDA, a women’s development group located just outside of Kumasi, and navigating the great Kajetia Market. Then, we got home and made preparations to be on our way to Wenchi for IB’s brother’s wedding. Yupp, we decided to go.

The wedding was an amazing experience. We met up with our good friend Kristina Mansveld (OGWAD ’10) who was on her last few days in Ghana. She was also a little sick due to some funky fufu, but she powered through and attended the wedding. We had an amazing time, and IB and his family were such gracious hosts, housing us all in their home. It was a huge honour to have been able to share in their joy, and we definitely had a blast.

From Wenchi, we woke up super early in the morning, and caught a trotro to Techiman, where we got on our Bolga-bound bus. Yes, we finally made our way up to the Upper East. And from Bolga, we hopped on our bus to Sandema. We were finally home! And home it became for everybody, indeed. We lived with our amazing host families in Sandema, who made our stay there so great. Our days were spent at the Sandema District Hospital, and our afternoons spent exploring the town and hanging out with the boys at the Horizons Children’s Centre. Sadly, during our stay in Sandema, an OG Superstar wasn’t feeling 100% and had to be hospitalized. She’s out of the hospital now, but still recovering, so keep sending her your thoughts and prayers.

The group also had the chance to visit the Navrongo Hospital, and check out their research institute. Our time in the Upper East exposed us to all the difficulties in rural healthcare in Ghana, caused mainly by resource limitations. That’s why initiatives such as Ghana Medical Help, started by our very own Kelly Hadfield, are so refreshing for these hospitals. And the group got to see the effects first-hand, with Sandema District Hospital using the GMH-donated equipment throughout their facility. And it’s serving them VERY well!

For our excursion in the north, we went to Paaga, and visited the crocodile pond, followed by a visit to the Pikworo Slave Camp. The Pikworo experience was quite surreal, as the signs of the evils that took place there are still very much visible through all the natural beauty that now exists. After Pikworo, we hopped on over the border, and had lunch in Burkina Faso. We didn’t have our passports, but that isn’t something we couldn’t talk our way through. We ate delicious joloff rice and pieces of fresh-cooked, juicy goat meat.

To wrap up our time in Sandema, and kick off ITT, we decided to surprise the boys at HCC with an OG-HCC excursion to Wli in the Volta Region, where we had done our orientation. This made it the furthest the boys had ever travelled. And the longest. We decided to be adventurous, and took the Eastern road…which ended up taking a total 24 hours to reach there. When we finally reached Wli, we had a blast with everybody in the lower falls, then just the older boys and us climbed our way up to the upper falls. The record for the way up is 45 minutes…we did it in 55. Missed it by 10 minutes, but it’s got us all determined to train and possibly try to beat it some day. We decided that this wasn’t enough. The boys had never left Ghana before, so we needed to change that. We walked on over to the Ghana/Togo border, and asked the border guards to let us through..and they did. The boys didn’t need any paperwork since they’re part of ECOWAS anyways, but the guards decided to excuse us from having to get visas and show our passports. It was nice to have shared this first-time experience with them. But we couldn’t stop there. We decided to add a little detour to Accra. This made it the furthest south they’ve ever been! We made our way to Independence Square, and walked right up to the Atlantic Ocean, and played in it. Hands-down, all of the boys made it the best weekend of my life, and I’m sure this is echoed by many others.

That brings us to yesterday, where I finally parted ways with the boys, and the remainder of our OG crew. It is ITT, and everybody is on their own travel excursions now. Olivia, Jacqueline, Sam, Emma, and M-Rod are currently on their elongated journey to get to Mole National Park, which will probably finally come to an end tonight. Our superstar, now healed, is staying with our good friend and OG-adoptee Kathi in Accra. Kelsie has made her way to family friends in Accra as well. Martyna is on his way up from Accra to Tamale, where he will hopefully be doing some HIV/AIDS presentations at a school there. The last I saw of him was him getting tangled in a barrier rope before making his way off to catch his bus (yeah, bro, I’m totally calling you out on the interwebs). And D-Zaltz has started his coastal trek, making his way to Kokrobite today. Kelly made her way to Kumasi with OG Allstar Misbah (OGWA ’08,’09), and they come back to Accra tomorrow to visit me on my last day here before I hop on a plane back home. I’ll be missing disorientation with the group at Princess Town, but I know that they’ll have an incredible time.

It was great to have been able to come back to Ghana once again, and spend time with such an amazing group of people. We’ve definitely all grown as people, and grown together as a group. ‘Twas an honour serving with you all.


Taha and the OGWAGH 2011 Crew