On the Ghanaian way ......

Newsletter Februari 2012
Tuma Viela

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 done.
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 good for!

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!


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