in Wa!

It’s 6:30AM on a Saturday morning here in Wa and I finally have a bit of time to provide an update. It’s been a busy week for Ilona and I to say the least.

Wedding in Wa at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church
We were invited to attend a wedding last Saturday and it was such an eye opener for me! Admittedly, it was my first time actually attending a wedding ceremony. We made sure to dress up for the occasion as my usual attire of tshirt and pants constituted as “hiking clothes” the brother of the groom remarked. We were able to buy some last minute scarves at the market and wrapped it around our shoulders, and bought traditional Ghanaian dresses to go with them. Everywhere we went, the locals would ask if we were married (from the wrapping of the scarves around our shoulders) or just told us we looked beautiful in the outfits. The wedding was interesting to say the least, it combined Western and traditional African elements (where guests were asked to dance up to the front and greet the newly wedded couple, and there was also a traditional dance nearing the end of the ceremony). There was so much positive energy there!


Avian anatomy 101 with Dr Hunter
In our newly appointed lab room at MOFA (Ministry of Food and Agriculture in the Wa region) we were taught basic avian anatomy and how to perform a physical examination on a regular chicken or guinea fowl. Prior to this, we stopped by the market to purchase “normal” birds to learn from. Attached are pictures of the market where people bargain for the animals. After performing the PE, Dr Hunter (Bruce) taught Ilona and I how to collect blood from chickens: the jugular vein and the medial brachial vein are the two common spots for blood collection. Then we practiced killing the birds manually via cervical dislocation.


Settling in
It felt good to finally be able to settle in to our home (for the next two months)! Ilona, Jenna and I are staying at the University of Development Studies’ residence. We have our own room, common area and kitchen. Kirstin (VWB student volunteer last year) helped us a lot with settling in, where to go in Wa to purchase certain items, etc. She also suggested us to have our own goats in our residence, as we have a big field outside of our living quarters for them to graze on. The girls and I were thinking of purchasing three goat girls – they won’t be as smelly and won’t be “chopped” (killed) right away when we donate them to villagers after we leave. I am also contemplating about getting an Ashanti black pig and some guinea fowl to take care of while we are here….


Meeting people (and animals!)
Ilona and I have been attending meetings all week and was finally able to visit the four villages in the Nadowli area where we would be spending our summer in – Chang, Sombo, Nator and Charia. In the villages, we will be attending focus groups (women and men) as well as farmer’s cooperatives, where we will be talking to farmers about guinea fowl production and educating them on disease presentations. Last year, Kirstin and Steve did a great job in collecting samples to point directions in what types of disease affected guinea fowl and caused mortality during the rainy season – many birds were affected with infectious bursal disease, Newcastle disease, coccidiosis, Marek’s, and other forms of parasitic burdens. This summer, Ilona and I will also be continuing with the necropsy service for guinea fowl in these villages.

Other tidbits
Yesterday at the MOFA veterinary clinic an owner brought in a monkey on motorbike! It was quite a pleasant surprise as we never get pet monkeys on a halter back at home, let alone coming to the clinic on the back of a motorbike. Also, I trekked down to a local beauty salon and got my hair braided. The first braid she did was very painful – and that’s an understatement. I kept asking myself why I ever even wanted my hair braided in the first place during the two long hours of agony. However, the final product is very different from my usual styling of hair and I am very pleased with the result! So I think I’ll do it again, maybe in a month or so – but I’ll definitely be taking pain killers this time!