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Friday, February 10, 2012
Michaela’s Blog: February 9, 2012
Submitted by Michaela Hayes
I would be tempted to say that it’s hard to believe we’re finally here…if it weren’t for the thick Harmattan dust, bucket baths, and spiders the size of trucks which remind Ben and I on a daily basis that we are most certainly NOT in Oz anymore. And yet, it is SO good to be here! It’s what we’ve been preparing for over the last year or so and what I’ve been hoping for ever since I left Ghana in 2002. We are so excited at the opportunity to have an active field-based role here at MoM and can’t thank the team here enough for their thoughtful preparations and tireless efforts to have things as in place as they can be. By the way, to give you an idea of just how heavy Harmattan is, note the difference in the photo we took of Krobo mountain last year and a similar shot just yesterday.
This week has been a bit like trying to drink from a fire hose! If you are familiar with the expression, good for you…if not, it just means that we hit the ground not so much running as we were sprinting. In addition to battling jetlag on my part, settling in, getting a feel for airfield and MoM-based operations, we have already had so many opportunities to network within the communities and continue building the stage for all that is to come in 2012.
Some highlights from the week:
We visited the port on Monday and had the chance to explore the Yapei Queen, upon which we will be traveling next week. This ferry transports people and goods in a North/South manner along the majority of Lake Volta. It takes almost a full 5 days to travel all the way up to Yeji and back to Akosombo. During that time, we will be talking with passengers and collecting demographic and health-based information to help guide some of our programs for 2012.
On Thursday, Ben and I had the pleasure of being
introduced to one of the sweetest supporters of MoM when we met Manye Esther of the Queen Mothers Association. For those of you who, like me, weren’t sure exactly what a Queen Mother is…she is a person who would have been chief if she had been born a male. She commands a great deal of respect and influence in her community and after meeting her, I understand why. She is certainly a character and I look forward to building a relationship with her as we explore how to best support the local communities. She has become an invaluable ally in our efforts to gain support for our health education programs and is teaching me things already (i.e. the reason why, when asking about marital status of a participant, I need multiple definitions for “married.” Apparently, there is simply a live-in where the man can’t afford the dowry, a situation where partial dowry has been paid, and finally, where the full dowry has been paid and traditional rites have been performed)
This coming week, Ben and I will spend most of our time interviewing passengers on the Yapei Queen and we look forward to sharing our findings upon our return. Stay posted, there’s lots on the horizon for MoM!