Sunday, May 06, 2007

Hi all,

Below is yesterday’s---Esi, Annie, and Old Soldier just left. I went to church with Esi and Annie---to the Catholic church. Really nice service, and I appreciated that Father Paul summarized his sermon to me, during the service, in English. Great music. Esi spoke a few times during the service---she’s really a gifted speaker, I think. She also introduced me and mentioned WCHH which I appreciated. I spoke briefly with Father Paul and both extended the invitation James had asked me to extend for him to join the WCHH Board, and also asked him to contact Jerome with a specific project with objective, problem that would be solved, bill of materials, costs, etc. He laughed and said he would, and that he knew Americans always wanted all the details. Yes, we do!!! Then I brought the three of them back here for lunch and a good talk about many things, esp. politics, water in the community, etc. It was fun, a day of rest and relaxation which I was really feeling the need for, and informative, too. Such great people---we call ourselves “the four old soldiers.”

Here are my notes from yesterday. The power was down, the internet finally came up, but so weak a signal that I couldn’t get anything, so. Here you are:

First THE HIGHLIGHT DAY OF KUNDUM IS OFFICIALLY SEPT 15. WE WILL PROBABLY HAVE A DEDICATION FOR OUR FIRST BUILDING THE 12TH OR 13TH. We've having a WCHH Board meeting on Wed., and I will try to get the dedication date nailed down, but Kundum is for sure, per Bentil..

I'm typing this off-line and hoping it will paste. My internet bill has been mounting. Finally got the "office" computer updated---107 updates. The power failed 7 times and I think Leif is a total hero for getting the UPS battery gadget in place! It took 13.5 hours to just to do the updates! I am now the Update Queen of Axim. To celebrate, we are going to have a durbar, and we will incinerate every Windows 98 and earlier computer within 50 miles of Axim. We will put the ashes in a fancy Ghanaian coffin, go down to the beach, and head it to America. Kind of a spiritual home for the souls of obsolete computers and perhaps the most appropriate moral resting place for the hazardous waste therein. Watch for it!!

The day started with a call from John A at 5:40 am, asking about how it went with my journey to find "veronica buckets." He was disappointed I hadn't see the biggest one, but I think I get the idea. It's a little bit challenging to wake up and appear engaged over veronica buckets at that time of the day! He's very energetic and passionate, though, about his work. So who was I to complain?

Then came the perfect breakfast, which I have discovered: koko (sour maize porridge), fresh pineapple juice, and Milo with a touch of instant coffee.

About internet--today the ABH got wireless back. The 35? km radius is not yet in place, but Jonas and James talked today about a signal sharing deal, so...moving right along.

Today James and I went to WTI, met Hajara (first time for us to meet), and had a nice little ceremony with the three "scholarship girls" -- Elizabeth, Gifty, and Matilda -- that Diana is sponsoring. They all three want to do catering, but they may change their minds when they see the options. James discussed the practical aspects of catering with Hajara and the girls, per Diana's comments that the restaurants need people with practical hands-on cooking experience and not just theoretical. We made it into a nice little ceremony with the certificates Diana had made, and the check for whatever $645 is in cedias at 9100. Diana, James had not passed on the earlier wire to Hajara, because he thought it would be nice for me to give it all at once. James giving a little speech of welcome and encouragement, and Hajara and the assist. head mistress weighing in as well. Hajara was wearing her "HIV/AIDS avoid unprotected sex" t-shirt. We also visited the computer lab, which inspired the above comments. 20 computers, Here are the models: IBM 433x/s and Dell 425s/NP. Anyway, also gave Hajara pens and your package Diana. She was extremely pleased with the whole thing, I thought. She gave me costs, etc. for the girls for a three-year stint, which I'll share with you later, Diana.

After WTI, on to stop in at the government resident of Mr. Ellimah, the mayor. Wasn't sure whether or not to thank him for the barracuda, so I kept quiet. James said we were just dropping in, but he did come out wearing his GCJ shirt, must have been planned. He was very very cordial. We sat on his little covered area, overlooking the town and with ocean view. He said the British had built the place as the governor's house, and chose a good vantage point. We discussed the Town hall results, and I think he was a little surprised, and maybe slightly amused, when I hauled out the thirteen pages of notes which I have been carrying around for days in case such a meeting should happen. ! I told him I was aware already of two achievements: the lights on the boat problem has been solved according to many reports (people are sort of reporting to me as I walk around town...) and believe it or not, the streets are being tarred! Of course, I'm sure it was in the works long before our visit, but I brought it up that it was one of the top priorities that came out of the meeting. And this is true: main street, the street by Bentil's office and the other one leading from the castle are or are being tarred. The dust is really controlled a lot by this! It's amazing. The only drawback, which I brought to his attention, is that the taxi drivers are even going faster, and people have to be even more vigilant. I suggested perhaps thinking about speed bumps. I thought that was about enough of suggestions from me. We discussed the WCHH building project, and he was very positive. Said the town is growing rapidly in that direction, and it's a good addition to facilities. I asked him about that---growing rapidly??? He said yes, and I didn’t prob too much. I brought up my two main concerns: water and the road to the WCHH facility. But he assured me the pumping station at the turn-off is close enough that a pipe will do it, and indicated they would fill in the road with gravel until it was permanently fixed, because of the new residents going in up there. I hope he's both right and sincere. He thanked us and, like the king, said he appreciated our practical modest approach. I told him that a friend (Barbara, your friend James B) had suggested cataloging the native plants, esp. herb types, as a possible labor-intensive cash crop. He told me who to contact. Meanwhile, after we left, who should knock our own car window but the very guy who handles the "Parks and Gardens" facility, so I think Mr. A had called him to flag us down.

Also, was flagged down by OLD SOLDIER! He was happy to see me and will come to see me at ABH after church tomorrow. I'm going Catholic tomorrow, with Esi, so I can connect with Father Paul to both invite him to be active on the WCHH Board, and also with Jerome's request to put together a specific need and accompanying budget.

Back to Mr. A because I also brought up the water situation in the town and our desire to extend water availability. He said the good news is that the World Bank is going to do a major water development project to encompass the town (Ravyn, do you hear the drums pounding?). But, he also said that perhaps we could get some help in some very poor Muslim neighborhoods, or mixed Christian/Muslim that are pretty far from town center, and won't get water for a while, even though World Bank is funding it. They have to start with existing pipes and build out. Anyway, he said on Monday he would get someone to contact me and give me details. I told him that might be something we go work on through Ravyn etc. Conversation ended with Mr. E saying he'd come to the ABH with more info on this. A good meeting, I thought. He said he had the Town Hall notes, and seemed pretty familiar with the contents, considering his position, etc. I told him I'd heard him speak briefly at the durbar in Nkroful, which seemed to be something positive for him.

Anyway, then to pick up a bunch of chicken and rice lunches for the workers and then to the building site. The far part is completely done now as to walls, windows, etc. The masons and plasterer were working today. The walls on the Manye side are just about at full height--I'd say two more rows will do it. James seemed pleased, but he is pushing, which I'm glad to see. He said he will come on Tuesday to make his presence felt.

Then we went out to Lou Moon for lunch, which was about half as good as lunch at the ABH---I wasn't very impressed. It's a nice resort, with a really nice beach, but I like the ABH better, in terms of view. It's run by a Belgian guy who has designed it himself.

Wanted to say I met Henry and Veronica Tetteh. I think he is a pastor who does literacy work. They knew Mahara, and he mentioned her "strength", and by the way he flexed his muscles, I don't think he was referring to spiritual strength! "My God," he said, "she walked miles! "

I forgot to say earlier that Esi is on the Board of Advisors for Manye Academy, so that is good for our kids.

My goal in the next couple of days is really to prepare for the Board mtg. I have a lot of concerns about going forward, plans, responsibilities, etc.

So, dear readers, another chapter. Oh, BTW, Patrick has formally discussed with Esi, Annie, and Anastasia that in his opinion the "Christian" should be dropped from WCHH! They are in complete agreement, Esi esp. because the headmaster of Manye is Muslim and expressed his concern, she said. They approached me, but I told them they'd have to petition the Board and make their wishes known to all of us. I'm personally entirely positive and Rich and I campaigned for this at the get-go, but....the wheels turn.... And speaking of Patrick: I've heard lot about death and funerals, which I'll share when I get back. Most of our folks seem to have had multiple funerals since we left. I made the unilateral decision to "help" Patrick with some extra food and water, etc. which he seems to really appreciate, because in my judgment, the funeral thing is just too complex for us to get involved in. It's just basically a family thing and I kind of feel it's better if we don't get directly involved in it because it's really complicated and we inevitably would not be fair to all, or get it quite right. Hope that's OK with all of you,.

Goodnight for now! Maryanne