Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Africa Day 5: ER-D in Bolgatanga

I wasn't sure what to make of today. It rained. A lot. It stormed last night--so much so that I thought I was back in Fairhope bracing for a hurricane. Actually, as Sam Candler put it, it only sounded that bad because of the windows that weren't quite tight in their seals. Still, though, I thought it sounded like someone was standing outside my window spraying it with a garden hose. 

So because of the rain our activities were curtailed. We drove to see a rice mill--a piece of equipment that made it possible for women to bring their unmilled rice to a facility 5km closer to home in order to make it ready to sell. If 5km doesn't sound like a lot, it's not. Unless you're carrying 50 lb of rice. I can barely carry my 20 lb child a mile without wishing for a wheelbarrow to toss him in.

After looking at the rice mill, we went to the Anglican Women's Development Center. This is a place where local women apply and are accepted to train for a career. Most of them women train to be seamstresses. That's a 3-year program. By the time they are finished, they are ready to open a dress shop, which means that they're learning about more that sewing. It's also about business education. Other women come to learn about bead making or batique (sp?) dying, which are shorter courses. Still, the focus is on training women to be independent. There are 25 students taking part in the program, and, to my astonishment, there is only one teacher. She does it all. Amazing.

At dinner tonight, someone asked my what my favorite part of the day was. I had to search for an answer. That's because yesterday we went non-stop to so many different places. Today, because of the rain, we spent a lot of time just waiting around. Initially, I answered the question that my favorite part of the day was the goodbye with ADDRO. Not because I was glad to say goodbye--quite the opposite. But because I realized in our exchange that, in order for places like the Diocese of Tamale to be more than just an anonymous need, we need personal connection. The gift of this part of the trip was building a relationship with people like Bishop Jacob and the program directors. That's what makes the work of ER-D real and reportable.

But after my dinner conversation, I think I'd change my answer. Today was about the power of women. We saw how women have the power to transform a community from poverty to sustainable living. It's not easy. It takes time--sometimes lots of time. Today we saw women who stand by themselves. They aren't waiting for a man to introduce them. They aren't looking for a husband to give their work validity. They were strong, independent women with work to do, and the Anglican Church and ER-D are making that work happen.

1 comment:

  1. So was it difficult for you to slow down today after a busy day yesterday? In my experience last summer I wanted to be busy "helping," but eventually I realized that the most fruit came when I was unbusy and present with those with whom I worked.