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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.

Accra Panorama

Taken from the top of the University of Ghana in Legon

Some Portraits

Click on the thumbnail below to view portraits that I took of some children in Kissehman. I’ll be posting more over the next few days as I organize and post-process the 800+ photos that I took while working on the documentary.

The Children of Kissehman

Heading Home

We return to the US tonight. Check back over the next few days as we post some of our thoughts about our last days in Ghana. I will also be posting photos shortly after getting to a fast Internet connection. The video editing process will take about two weeks. Once we have a finished product, we will post a streaming version on the blog.

In my post yesterday, I pondered the symbolism of the destruction of the bridge in Kissehman. This was done mostly in jest, but unfortunately turned out to be all too prophetic. The heavy rains that Aisha blogged about this afternoon put Paco Stand under four feet of water, destroying all of MGYN’s newly purchased books and school supplies. This is the second time in six months that the organization has lost everything because of flooding.