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We would like to thank everyone for their support and encouragement over the past few months while working on this project. Aisha, Anna and I hope that you will enjoy the film.  Your feedback and suggestions are always welcome.

News

Thanks to everyone who attended the premiere of our film, Under the Mango Tree, at Gibbs Library on September 18th. Leann and Paulette from Gibbs did a great job helping us organize the event. We raised over $300 for the kids of Kissehman that evening.

For those of you who were not able to attend the event, we will be posting a final cut of our film in the coming days on this blog. Check back soon to see our film.

Upcoming Events

O’Naturals Community Night – Monday, September 15

Join the Maine-Ghana Youth Network Oral History Project at O’Naturals in Portland on September 15 from 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Pictures taken by the kids of Kissehman will be on display. MGYN will also be selling baskets. Ten percent of O’Naturals’ sales from the evening will go directly to MGYN.

World Premiere of Under the Mango Tree – Thursday, September 18

Join us at Gibbs Library at 40 Old Union Rd. in Washington, ME on September 18 for the world premier of our film, Under the Mango Tree. The film begins at 7 p.m. Maine Ghana Youth Network President Erin Rhoda and I will give a brief talk before the showing. Refreshments will be on hand.

I’ve completed the editing process of our documentary. It is entitled Under the Mango Tree. Work over the past month has been a long and challenging experience, but I think the end result does justice to our time in Kissehman.

We will be announcing the date and location of the premiere shortly. Later, I’m going to try to find a way to post a version online. This could be a bit tricky, though, as twenty-two minutes of HD-quality footage takes up quite a bit of bandwidth. Stay tuned.


Join us on Thursday, September 4 at Gelato Fiasco in Brunswick, ME for great live music and photos taken by the kids of Kissehman. Jazz for a New Society’s Frank Mauceri’s Trio will begin playing at 7:30 p.m. The show is free, but donations are welcome. Proceeds go to MGYN. To learn more about Jazz for a New Society, please visit the group’s blog at http://www.myspace.com/jazzforanewsociety.

We will be posting more information about the premiere of our film shortly.

Through Their Eyes

Given the somewhat invasive work of filming and photography, we thought it was important to give the children of Kissehman the opportunity to capture images that they found most compelling.  Thus, we gave a number of children disposable cameras during our three week stay in Kissehman.  Our only instructions were this: to take photos of things that we did not see, and of things they found most important in their daily lives.  Without fail, all of the kids captured interesting and often quite artistic photographs.  Click here to take a look at Kissehman and Christian Village through their eyes.

We will be sending prints of the photos back to Kissehman to each of the kids in the upcoming weeks.

Work on the documentary is still progressing. Aisha and I made good progress on it over the last week, but there is still a lot to do. Video editing can be a very time-consuming process. I expect to have everything done by the middle of September. Check back for more information about the date and location of the premiere.

From The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuscinski in 1957:

I’ve been here for a week.  I am trying to get to know Accra.  It is like an overgrown small town that has reproduced itself many times over, crawled out of the bush, out of the jungle, and come to a halt at the shores of the Gulf of Guinea.  Accra is flat, single-storied, humble, though there are some buildings with two or more floors.  No sophisticated architecture, no excess or pomp.  Ordinary plaster, pastel-colored walls–pale yellow, pale green.  The walls have numerous water stains.  Fresh ones.  After the rainy season, entire constellations of stains appear, collages, mosaics, fantastical maps, flowery flourishes.  The downtown is densely built up.  Traffic, crowds, bustle–life takes place out in the street.  The street is a roadway delineated on both sides by an open sewer.  There are no sidewalks.  Cars mingle with the crowds.  Everyone moves in concert–pedestrians, automobiles, bicycles, carts, cows, and goats.  On the sides, beyond the sewer, along the entire length of the street, domestic scenes unfold.  Women are pounding manioc, baking taro bulbs over the coals, cooking dishes of one sort or another, hawking chewing gum, crackers, and aspirin, washing and drying laundry.  Right out in the open, as if a decree had been issued commanding everyone to leave his home at 8 a.m. and remain in the street.  In reality, there is another reason: apartments are small, cramped, stuffy.  There is no ventilation, the atmosphere inside is heavy, the smells stale, there is no air to breathe.  Besides, spending the day in the street enables one to participate in social life.  The women talk nonstop, yell, gesticulate, laugh.  Standing over a pot or a washbasin, they have an excellent vantage point.  They can see their neighbors, passerby, the entire street; they listen in on quarrels and gossip, observe accidents.  All day long they are among others, in motion, and in the fresh air.

It’s Easy to Forget

Beauty sitting outside of Dada's house.

Nine-year-old Beauty

It’s been almost a week since we left Ghana. In that time I have recovered from hand, foot, and mouth disease (acquired in Ghana), gone to the dentist for a cleaning, and grown impatient with the small inconveniences such as waiting in long lines in supermarkets and sitting in traffic. After spending three weeks in Ghana, I gained a better appreciation for the amenities of living in one of the world’s wealthiest countries, where we are fortunate enough to worry about convenience instead necessity.

While I’m certain that my time in Ghana has changed my perspective, I have also realized how easy it is to sink back into my daily routine. I didn’t even notice that my perceptions of reality were changing until I picked up the prints of my photos from Ghana.

On top of the pile was a picture of nine-year-old Beauty sitting outside of Dada’s eating rice and stew from a bag. Beauty’s face was illuminated by an ear-to-ear smile. Her characteristic grin reminded me not only of how grateful I should be for what I do have, but also of how the kids in Kissehman could find happiness despite economic hardship.

It’s easy to forget. I think that I will keep the photo visible so that I don’t.

The following photo was taken by Victoria Quarshie, a sixteen year-old girl who has been a part of the MGYN program for several years.

Victoria is one of twelve older children to whom we gave disposable cameras while in Ghana.  We asked the kids to take pictures of significant people and places in their lives, parts of Kissehman and Christian Village that we might not have had the opportunity to explore.  The images they returned with are impressive, and we are excited to share their compelling work with you.  Click here to view more of their photos.