Monday, October 30, 2006

Blogging today for all is Diana from Seattle --

Even before sunrise, the day was eventful, and continued on throughout the day.
During the late night/ early morning, we heard loud thunder clap and rain pour down. The rain was not like at home in Pacific Northwest where the downpour occurs and moves on through, it instead just kept going for a long time, lulling many back to sleep.

So what happened here today? We've just wrapped from a circle this evening where we heard from many about things today.
- Jackie returned from a overnight stay with Dina in her Ghanaian home and reported a great experience. The two together can be seen laughing a lot together and having a good time.
- School visit: Jackie & Jerome, and from Ghana, Dina and J.C.
Three classrooms were brought into one room where 60 children ended up, some sharing three to a seat. Jackie provided a social studies session, Jerome taught about the continental drift. Jackie and Jerome enjoyed seeing Ghanaian delegate J.C. in action as a retired educationist (who actually also taught at the same school as Jerome when he lived in Ghana for 9 years in the past.)

- Computers: Bentil & Frank from Ghana, Leif and Tom
Leif and Tom spent time with Bentil in his office "downtown Axim" and now 3 computers have been set up. Frustrations seem to exist more in technology area about needs for stuff than for expertise. Power went out in Axim, and the guys went for a trip to Takoradi to search for some equipment needed.

- Nursing college: Jeanie, Susan H., Ravyn joined by Mustafa, Ghanaian delegate
All waited early to be picked up, then ended up with "taxi" arriving at the nursing college after the designated time. Ah, this time thing, definitely a cultural difference. The person who was to pick them up was surprised to see them because she was getting ready to drive to take them to the college. The students were split into two groups. This way both groups were manageable and got to be with both Jeanie and Susan for the information. Jeanie taught infection control and Susan H. talked about HIV/AIDs with the students where she enjoyed the students being open and telling her about AIDS in their culture.

-Women's workshop: Gifty, Anna, Annie, all from Ghana, and Diana, Tom and Susan H,
Workshop to start at 9:00am, 60 written special invitations to specific women. None there start time. Ah, Ghanaian time..... by 9:10 we had a few and began singing and dancing in circle started by Gifty, and aided by Mahara and Susan P who had come to see the start. The women enthusiastically start singing and dancing. I wish we had recording equipment. In the King's Palace room we were using, the voices sounded wonderful, full of life & smiles were infectious.
Gifty was a master facilitator speaking in Fanti (spelling?) language and shared wisdom about time management that made an impact on the women who at end of day said they were seeing their time as an asset now and they'd use it differently.
Tom had brought a chorker video from the US about smoking fish. It was watched with interest by the Ghanaians, affirming they were doing something good since they saw it on the computer screen, and lead them to have much discussion.
Anna and Annie were the great women of Axim for us -- when lunch was late, they set out to find the caterers and what was occuring. Lunch arrived 1.5 hrs late. (That power outage in Bentil's office that sent the guys to Takoradi had impacted the caterers, so food didn't arrive until cooked, after the power came back on.) When the food did arrive, all were hungry, and wanting food. However, the 60 invited had grown to 130++ attending. As concern and arguments grew about receiving food, especially for those intended, I could see this was getting out of hand fast. How does one repeat the 5 fishes and 7 loaves? This was a question in my mind. So with Gifty's help, the group was quieted and I spoke with her translating. Said something like this: "As I spoke this morning, we are women of the world called to solve problems together, and we can, no need to argue. We're sorry the food arrived late, and thank you for waiting and being here. however this is what we have. We as women can solve the problem. We can share so all get some." I offered my own lunch out to make sure they ate and said 2 or 3 could have it together. Rest of food distributed, with harmony and all was worked out. This story got around to many of the delegates who were amazed at how the "almost battle" was ended. A reflection of my own is that this shows us that in our world where we have imbalance, some with food and some without, that if we all pull together, we can help each of us to participate in taking care of all.
I was called on to speak with the women more than planned, on short notice. It turned out fine, and the message sent through me from Spirit was perfect in the a.m., and got reinforced settling the food issue at lunch.
In the afternoon the women received accurate HIV/AIDS info from Susan H, translated by James (JJ, our journalist). This had it's comical moments as Susan led the presentation and JJ tried to convey the information. A missed Kodak moment was when both were in front of the room demonstrating how to use a condom.
Some of you may wonder what the women took away from day. Here's a snapshot of their thanks: for the accurate HIV/AIDS info; for learning they don't have to stay away from people with AIDS and they can go near them, (which is great since our orphans designated for the orphanage are parentless mostly due to AIDS); will treat their time differently and use it wisely; will not take/spend money from the income in business until all bus. expenses are paid; and one who said she learned that when her husband didn't fish and bring back fish for her to smoke, she could learn to do it herself and go fish.
Sometimes the session felt very chaotic, then to hear their learnings, I knew Spirit was working.

Our videographer, Louise Wilkinson, started with the women's group and then set off on a schedule to make it to some of the other happenings today. We missed her at dinner tonight as she is trying to get over a cold -- something that most of us from N. America have come down with while here.

James, our journalist from Ghana, was called into action numerous times to be a translator. A fine job done!

Prep for Town Hall tomorrow: Susan, Dennis, Mahara, and from Ghana, Bentil, and Old Soldier;
All spent some time in afternoon working last minute things out especially given the experience of how the women's session had started and was going. Lessons learned applied quickly for the next day. A big one tomorrow is coming for Axim to focus on it's future and what they can do for themselves.

Maryanne and Barbara were finding themselves in many places, and especially enjoyed sitting in on the women's session in late afternoon, hearing some singing, and seeing the master duo of Susan and JJ with the HIV/AIDS presentation.

If I've not mentioned someone, forgive me -- I've tried to pick up the highlights from a day that had us scattered all over.

And since this is my first blogging time, I'll add a few extra comments:
People are so hospitable. The children are magnets, or maybe we are, as if they find us, and with camera, they hang on. Food is wonderful. Heat and humidity, well, I'll save that for later.
Signing off as my timelimit runs out and not time to check typing....
Good night from Ghana
Ablema Mensah Diana from Seattle