T minus 2 weeks!

In less than 2 weeks me and my future partner-in-crime, Ilona will be setting foot in Ghana! It still feels quite surreal to me. I am getting progressively more excited with every new phrase I learn! Hopefully I’ll be able to speak a few phrases of ¬†Akan (Twi) and Waali before settling in, though I’m sure everyone will be happy to help. I am extremely excited to meet the kids, farmers, and the animals there. One word I know I’ll be saying quite often is, “Meda wo ase!” which means thank-you in Twi.

Attached is a doodle my friend did – the elephants represent my class at the Ontario Veterinary College (we’re the Emerald elephants), and the colours on the ribbon are the national colours of Ghana. It reminded me a bit of a band so I thought I’d have a little picture superimposed to the doodle!


Christmas Trip in Wa, Ghana

I am now back home, I have been home for two weeks. It took me a few extra days to get home because of flight mixups and closed airports but I made it and went straight back to classes:) What an abrupt change! The Ghana trip went very well, I made it out to all of the villages and had successful meetings in all of them. The attendance of the women was remarkable and their participation was invaluable. It was so good to see all of the villagers again and they were so happy to see me. It meant so much for them to see me again. I had sent some pictures in the mail to Wa which were then distributed to the villages after my trip last time and some villagers brought these to the meetings to show me that they had received them. That made me so happy! Of course, they were all hospitable and even as I left villages, chickens were put in the back of the truck for me. What wonderful people. In Wa my friends all now feel like family, I am very comfortable in Wa and feel as though it is a second home. I am involved in both the christian and muslim communities and attended church while I was there and was also invited to a muslim conference which I also attended.
One of the most unexpected benefits of my trip were the discussions I became engaged in with adults after visiting a very sick patient at a hospital-we had some very interesting discussions about AIDS and hepatitis. It is not common to talk about such issues in Ghana therefore I was more than happy to be apart of these conversations and answer their questions to the best of my knowledge. I believe that awareness is the beginning to decease the incidence of devastating diseases such as AIDS.
Now, we will be working on the poultry and guinea fowl proposal to submit to CIDA. I hope all goes well and it will be accepted. We are proposing a train the trainer approach and improved management/housing/nutrition/care for the chickens and guinea fowl at the village level while establishing local contacts for them with their local extension officer. We hope to strengthen local bonds between MOFA (Minister of food and agriculture) while educating. As well, since our samples were denied access into Canada and they are waiting for us to process them in Accra, Ghana we would like to incorporate improved lab facilities and testing in Ghana, both in Accra and then in the Upper West. We believe that these aspects combined would be a sustainable start to alleviating the severe poverty in the Upper West Region.
Overall, great trip in all aspects. I still cannot stop saying what wonderful people I have met in this special region of Ghana and I hope to have a lifelong partnership with them.

Christmas 2010 in Ghana

I am back in Ghana for the holiday time:) It is great to be here during the hamartime season-things are very different. it is very dry. It definitely feels like sub-saharan Africa right now! Even on the motorbike this morning the sand and wind just whips into your eyes.
I am here trying to obtain the final information needed for the proposal for CIDA. It is interesting to be here during the holidays. Ghanaians sure love their holidays! There is a lot of drinking and eating and visiting. The social culture is very rich here. Everyone has been taking wonderful care of me (too much:)) lol
I was even spoilt to have a christmas goat prepared for me next to a lake and a boat ride in a fishing canoe. The entire time was spent with many curious villagers as well. What a great time. Those village kids sure can dance! I saw some amazing moves. It was a great christmas.
I am still trying to get out to the villages, with the holidays and vehicle problems it has proven to be a bit tricky, but hey, it is Africa isn’t it? I hope to get out to the villages today, I am just waiting to hear about the condition of the vehicle we were suppose to go out there in, Yesterday on the way, it began smoking so we had to pull over abruptly and disconnect the battery. Hopefully it will be fixed today. I am looking forward to seeing the villagers again.
I hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday and I wish you all a Happy New Year!!

Peaceful Ghanaians

How the time has flown…it is sad…my time in Ghana is quickly coming to an end! I already know how much I miss this place and how I want to return:)
This Upper West region is very special, the people and the villagers are unique. They are honest, accepting, non-judgemental, peaceful and accepting. I have not yet heard a Ghanian say that someone “should” be a certain way other than what they are, they are accepted for who they are. As well, Ghanians seem to have been born with excellent conflict resolution skills, I still have not figured out exactly how they do it but I am trying to learn:)
As for the project we are wrapping things up. The next bit will consist of trying to get the local vet representative out to the villages to vaccinate. Some of the villages have never met their representative so this is quite significant. Steve and I will both go to our chosen village and stay for a few days so that we can truly experience villlage life.
We have just returned from a trip to Kumasi, the commercial capital and it made me so happy to come back to Wa:)
I must go and tether my goats (I have 5 now) and feed my chickens and guinea fowl:) Of course, it is sunny and gorgeous outside and the watchman for my place is sowing peanuts by hand (ground nuts here) outside my window.
Until next time….

One more day until Ghana!

After months of hard work and prepation the day is almost here. I will be flying out of Saskatoon tomorrow morning and will arrive in Accra the following day. I am extremely excited to be working with VWB/VSF and feel privileged to take part on this project. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me on this trip – Chicken Farmers of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Chicken Industry and Investment Fund, Fox and Hounds, the University of Saskatchewan and of course to all professors and staff who showed overwhelming support from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. I am thrilled to be representing the WCVM and to serve as an ambassador for Canada. Please stay tuned for further posts, I plan to document our trip as best as possible. To all my friends and family I wish you a relaxing and enjoyable summer and look forward to meeting you all upon my return.

All the best,


Realization #1: I am going to Ghana in Africa!

This will be the first blog for Ghana as I have just written my last exam this morning and now have the time to realize that I am off to Africa this summer:) It has been a very busy last few months with school and fundraising for the trip but it has all worked out very well. We were lucky to receive funding and support from the U of S, WCVM, AUCC, CIDA, The Chicken Farmers of Saskatchewan, My local Rotary Club in Winnipeg, the Fox and Hound for a bottle drive and we even held a pulled pork lunch!
I am just waiting on my travel visa and then I think the full realization of Africa will set in. It is somewhere I have wanted to go for a long time and the more I hear about Africa the more I want to go. Everything I have heard about Ghana sound amazing as well. I am looking forward to learning about their agriculture there and their guinea fowl! I hear they are feisty little birds. I hope we will be able to find out why their guinea fowl are dying each year.
I am looking forward to spending three months in Africa getting to know their agriculture, livestock and getting to know the villagers and their way of life:)