I missed writing last month but as Willie Nelson says, “ain’t it funny how time slips away”… it does and it DID!
After months of work and mountains of paperwork, BL and I have finally received our driver’s license and our car has arrived from the states. It (the car) is giving us more freedom to investigate more of this country we have come to call home. This exploration is more of an adventure than one can imagine. There are very few, ok, no road signs indicating or naming roads. That means frequent stops to ask directions and NO Ghanaian will admit that they don’t know the way. So they’ll tell you to go a certain distance, turn left at the big mango tree, ask anyone there, and they will be able to direct you. Everyone has their own opinion on how to get somewhere. Like I say often, “we’re not lost, we just don’t know where we are.”
Adult Literacy Program
But all of our time was not consumed by personal troubles and foibles. We had a most exciting and wonderful mid-term celebration for the Adult Literacy Program. We had T-shirts with the slogan “Never Too Late to Learn” printed on the back for all the students. We decorated the library in purple and gold. The RMA (Royal Music Academy) attended with their choir. Nana Tafohene, the Queen Mother and several sub chiefs also came along with members of the District Assembly and important educators.
Three of the directors from Engage Now Africa, our partner in the Literacy Project, made the three and a half hour journey from Accra to attend. I designed a certificate complete with gold seal and ribbon and fancy script. It was, in many people’s opinion, a roaring success. Refreshments were served and the proud students were feted and dined and photographed to their hearts content.
It was truly an exciting evening and definitely a boost to the morale of the students participating in the program, just what they needed mid-point to boost their confidence and pride in what they were trying to accomplish.
The graduation ceremony is in November after BL returns from her visit to Kansas. This ceremony was such a success I cannot wait for the next one.
Water, water everywhere
Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink…never were the words truer than here. We do have several wells, some functional and some not. It breaks my heart to see children gathering water out of a ditch that I know contains so many bacteria and pathogens harmful to their bodies, but it is true. Often the family cannot afford the few pennies required to use the wells and just as often it is just plain easier and more convenient for the children to get the water from the nearest point and unfortunately this is often the ditch.
The Kwahu Tafo Progress Council does have a water and sanitation project that is directed by the most capable Nana Kattah. His energy is boundless and he is often called upon at all hours of the day and night to sort out some problem with the wells…often this is mechanical or electrical as a couple of our wells are mechanized. We are making an effort to mechanize more of our wells to facilitate water gathering but as always it is a search for funding. Presently, we are working on a well near the Durbur (meeting) grounds that will supply water to several hundred of our citizens living near there.
Our newest project is trying to install a public address system that will be used to announce funerals, weddings and general town business. We will be in direct competition with the gong-gong man who drives around the town with two speakers on the top of his car and does announcements. We won’t put him out of business as he ranges far and wide. The public address system is a dream of Nana Tafohene, our chief. Again, we are preparing a budget for this project and hope to have it up and running in short order.
Driver’s License Saga
Everyone assured us that as obronis (white people) we would have no problem getting a Drivers License. Well, I chalk that up to “the myth of being white”. With great confidence we marched into the office of the Drivers License Bureau only to discover that in order to get a license we needed a work permit and resident visa status.
Ok, so it is off to immigration and a visit with our friend Commander Asamoah who we have come to know since we visited him once every two months for a visitor visa extension. We inform him of our mission, i.e., to obtain a work permit and resident visa in order to get our driver’s license.
He produces the requisite forms and as I look them over my heart sinks…this is gonna be harder than I anticipated and a LOT of paperwork! We needed: a police report from the US, a letter of reference from our elementary school teacher (we are both over 65), all the documents from the Kwahu Tafo Progress Council (we are the development officers), the 501(c)(3) status of Yeko Anim, and just about any document pertaining to our personal lives AND a medical report from the regional hospital (blood test and x ray) stating we are in fine health and have no communicable diseases, vitae of our educational and work experiences…all in duplicate and sometimes triplicate.
It was a daunting task working without post office and limited Internet connectivity, but after a month we managed to get all of this together. Commander Asamoah fast tracked the work permits and they arrived in two weeks. Then he requested our passports. We freaked out as we were getting ready to receive our vehicle in Tema and we needed passports to get it out of customs. Again Cmdr. Asamoah stepped in and fast tracked our passports and we got them back in less than two weeks an unheard of quick turnaround for which we were extremely grateful. It was just a few days before we were expected to be in Tema.
Again, thanks to a very competent friend we were able to get our vehicle through customs in record time, 7 hours! Our friend Felix drove me back to Accra from Tema on a very busy Friday afternoon. There would have been no way I could have handled the traffic. Our friend Mark showed up on Monday to drive us back to Kwahu Tafo (we still did not have a drivers license). We stopped in Koforidua, Capital of the eastern Region to get our permanent registration and license plates…five hours later we drove out almost legal. We were still to get a first aid kit, flashlight, emergency triangles, fire extinguisher and of all things a machete to keep in the boot of the car. We have complied AND we have insurance so we are fully legal.
Last week we returned to the Drivers License Bureau. We thought we had thought of everything…we bought triplicate copies of all the documents that he told us he required and then some we thought to bring just in case, like copies of our passport and alien registration card only to be told that we needed a letter from the state of Washington stating that our driver’s licenses from Washington were still valid. Lucky for us it was a good Internet connection day and we were able to secure the document without much trouble.
Returning the next day the license chief tells us we need three passport photos…I almost, but not quite, lost my cool. We managed to get these within an hour, returned, paid a minimum fee and left there with a temporary drivers license good for three months by which time our permanent license should be ready.
There are surprises and more news but I will end here so I can have something to write in the near future. Again, I thank all of you, my friends and donors to YEKO ANIM and I encourage you to continue to follow our progress here in this lovely town of Kwahu Tafo.