If you've ever been in the middle of remodeling, you will know the ups and
downs that come with it: materials don't get delivered on time, weather can
throw a spanner in the works, you are confronted with problems you weren't
expecting and it always takes longer than initially planned. In Ghana it is
pretty much the same...it's a good thing I've been living here for years now
and don't immediately stress out when things don't go my way, because that
is the case on a daily basis! So I show a genuine smile when I see someone
busy with a spirit level and who then still manages to construct a crooked
wall...I easily turn the switch in my head when I've looked away for a
minute and the doors, which I explicitly explained I wanted to open to the
exterior, for good reason, are now opening inwards...
I shrug my shoulders in resignation when Tamale is without water for weeks
on end: making mortar without it is impossible!
A big sigh helps when the extreme drought is causing the cement to crack and
I let the painter convince me he has a special product which will make these
cracks invisible. For the umpteenth time I patiently explain my logical and
efficient work-order to the workers but they do as they please anyhow...
But like a true Ghanaian, I finally spit the dummy when I think the landlord
should focus on one particular job that he estimated, 'wishful thinker' as
most Ghanaians are, would take three days, but has nothing to show for
itself after 2 months but some minor adjustments here and there. Now he
wants to put his energy into a whole new project!!! Sorry, I am Dutch and
there are limits to my patience and understanding. He gets the message. A
few minutes later we are high-fiving, speak the wise words: "it's not easy"
even though we both probably have different opinions on that, but promise
each other happily that we will celebrate with a STAR beer when the job is
But...and this I almost forgot to mention: IT IS GOING TO BE BEAUTIFUL!!!
I won't bore you with pictures of a half-finished product but hope to
shortly post pictures..if all goes well of course...of the end product!
The whole team went to encourage Ayisha when she participated in the
tricycle race here in Tamale. The race was due to start at 7 am, and keeping
Ghana-time in mind, we arrived at 9 am and waited in vain in the scorching
sun until 11...At this point we had to get back to the workshop so we didn't
see her compete. But knowledge of our support made her go like lightning she
told us when she came to show off her gold medal!
Last week we had a very unexpected and special visitor. A man from Mali came
past the workshop with his camel, to pray in our mosque. I was ecstatic and
thrown into a flashback to India where I enjoyed riding one of those beasts
through the desert of Rajasthan..." You should really have a seat on that" I
said to my colleagues, but nobody dared except for Sumaya of course, who is
up for anything! Searching in my viewfinder I laugh and take her photo when
she tries to climb on as elegantly as possible and then another one proudly
sitting on top of this gorgeous animal. I missed all the commotion around
the camel and I was probably the only one to watch Sumaya go up in the air
because the rest of the spectators were more interested in the animals
backside. Camel urine and fresh camel-turds are apparently excellent
medicine for all kinds of ailments. The opened water sachets were grabbed
and held under the non-suspecting peeing camel....What those sachets aren't
Daily, beautiful kids come by the workshop and I always enjoy
capturing them on camera. Abdellah, Amina's little boy is becoming a
wonderfully adventurous toddler and without him knowing, I often take his
picture wearing one of our head-dresses that he grabs from our shop. First
he studies himself intently in the mirror, then he shows it off to us, only
to forget he is wearing it and then discard it somewhere and then to appear
with a new sample..Fantastic to watch!
January was a record month for the amount of customers and the amount of
items created and even a short month like February seems about to break this
record! We work hard, sometimes recruiting extra help to meet demands and,
most importantly...we still have so much fun in doing this!
Haruna does not miss a day and is becoming very efficient in his tasks.
Lizzy and Faruk work with us every Saturday morning and they find this a
welcome change from the school benches!
Speaking of school benches; in the meantime in the Netherlands, a lot of
work is done for our project! I spoke before about the money that is
collected at various schools for Tuma-Viela. One of the schools also wants
to start selling our beautiful postcards during there spring market and at
this moment, the "Veenpluis" in Zevenhuizen has a 'Wecyle" project where
students collect the money from deposits on bottles of which the total goes
straight to Tuma-Viela in Ghana!
That is fantastic news! In this manner we work together, in Holland and in
Ghana, towards a better environment...WECYCLE TOGETHER!