Sunny in Sandema

It’s been one week since our team triumphantly tro-troed into our home-sweet-home in the town of Sandema. After a scenic (aka snail pace) twelve hour bus ride, we are settling into rural life in the Upper East Region. The sun is hotter up here, but our saving grace is the giant leafy trees that line the dusty road into town and the villagers who stop to greet us and welcome us at every step. Our big pink house is neighbouring Horizon Children Center, so visiting the boys and sharing smiles and stories is something we look forward to everyday. 5am runs to the hillside and conditioning workouts conducted by the boys, followed by reading programs and games nights are already underway.
Even with our ups and downs, we have definitely become a funky family. We all look forward to market days when we can stock up on local ingredients and make groundnut curry, chili and apple pancakes together in our kitchen (well, after taking care of a slightly out of control ant infestation that is). Between visits to the Disabilities Center and helping the director, Gilbert, organize his office and writing grant proposals, we get our hair braided and bike ride around town, which is a chance to chat and get to know the community.
Next week the first ever Sandema Girls Football Tournament organized by OG kicks off and we have the banner ready and are rounding up the referees with the help of our good friend Yaw and the eager high school students. Yesterday we visited the village of Kadema to see the farming site set up by G-Roots. We met three of the four beneficiaries who were able to farm and feed their during this past dry season. It was an incredible experience to hear from these farmers and the community about the impact the ability to farm during the dry season is having on their families, because in the past farming stops when there is no rain meaning these farmers are without income until the next season. We will continue to survey and gather information and feedback which can hopefully help to make dry season farming more successful, and its benefits reach more people. If only we didn’t have to leave in two weeks.
Our main challenge has been to tackle the question: What does our presence here mean? Sandema is changing and growing, and year after year we wonder how we can best make use of our stay, how we can learn and contribute most effectively. As a group we have been having regular discussions, creating mind maps and brainstorming the direction that we see the Discovery trip heading and if there is greater need for our presence elsewhere. It is difficult to wrap our brains around those often used key terms: sustainability and development, but as a group we are realizing that the textbook is not where we need to look to get answers, and that six weeks in Ghana is not enough time to save the world. But that it takes only a moment to plant a project, make a friend, and revisit a lost idea. The next step is to remember everything we have learn and bring it with us.