Monday, June 21, 2010
You'll find out how much they can take
Boys will be strong
And boys soldier on
But boys would be gone without the warmth from
A womans good, good heart
On behalf of every man
Looking out for every girl
You are the god and the weight of her world
So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
1. I really wish I could bring a baby goat (kid) back with me, they are so cute and adorable. I could already imagine a kid playing in my backyard and eating all the vegetable that my mom has planted in our backyard. Maybe I could bring one along with me on the plane. Although the cold Canadian winters would be a problem.
2. My name is Abna is Twi ( local language in Accra). Names are given here based on which day of the week you were born on and I was born on Tuesday and therefore my name is Abna.
3. Even thought I have a Canadian name Kate and a Ghanian name Abna , I am mostly refered to as Obroni by people. And what does Obroni mean? it means...."white man" aka foreigner. It's the funniest thing when little chidren call me that whenever they see me. They would be going about their daily work and as soon as they see me they would shout Obroni, Obroni. Ironically, I even find it amusing when I see a "white" person.
4. When they say the rainy season in Accra lasts from May to beginning of August, they really mean it and now I know how true it is. It has been raining for the last 3 days and I have not seen the rays of sun in a little while. I really love rain so I am enjoying the weather. My tanning speed has decreased due to this reason though... not good.
5. I have gotten some marriage proposals. They all have been of the funny, silly kind. The funniest part about it is when I try to make funny excuses of why I don't wanna get married. Although there has been two cases when I had to lie majorly to get out of the situation, I had to lie and say that I have a boyfriend in Canada and he would be very upset if I cheat on him, I hate lying but sometimes it is necessary.
David and Jess have also gotten marriage proposals. Sometimes a person would ask David if they could either have me or Jess to marry, mostly because me, Jess and David are at times called sisters and brothers and they would wanna ask David if they could have one od his sisters.
One time Jess told one of the guys who wanted to marry her that he first had to fight a lion and then ask her to marry him.
6. I live with Papa Jacob who has a guest house and usually foreigners stay long term at his place. I am renting a room there. My place is between Jess and David's places. Whenever I come home from work I sit with him in the yard and he tells me stories about his life. He served in the military for nearly 40 years. He was first a nurse and then a physiotherepist. My favorite story so far has been those of his wife and how they met at the military, she was sick and so they brought her to the military hospital and guess who cared for her? Papa Jacob. She passed away seven years go. He is a very happy man, as a matter of fact whenever I ask him how he is , he always says he is perfect. I admire his enthusiam and appreciation for life. I don't know why but I randomly was thinking about how I would deal with missing him when I come back home.
7. Yaw, precious and little Jessica are the three females that live with Papa Jacob and help him with keeping the place nice and clean. Yaw is Jessica's mother , she is about 30 years old. Does not speak English. She also takes care of Precious who is about 10 and Jessica who is turning 2 soon. Precious is one of the most humble girls that I have met. Not only does she do well at school but she always helps Yaw with the house chores. The first couple of days of my stay at Papa Jacob's she would show me where everything was.
8. And as for little Jessica, she couldn't speak at all when I first moved in. But now she can say Kate perfectly. She runs to hug me when I come home from work. Sometimes I would say "Sa Sa" which means dance and she would move her tiny legs and dance.
10. Yaw is a very quite woman and it was very hard for me to communicate with her. Although our relationship changed majorly when we watched a football(soccer) match together. She really surprised me with her massive amount of passion for football, and now we have something huge in common. She relies on me to call her when the football matches start and it is always good times when football is on TV.
9. I'm very happy about the fact that I am in country whose football team has made it to the world cup. People just go about NUTS when Ghana is playing. They have a pretty good team actually. They beat Serbia on Sunday and I'm pretty sure that 80% of Accra's entire population was in the streets sining and dancing, celebrating Ghana's victory.
For all of you whom I've promised soccer jerseys, no worries I have not forgotten.
10. I am getting a dress made to wear on Friday. At Zoomlion everyone at the office is to wear traditional clothes. I gave it to Mazy (don't know if I spelled her name right) to sew me a dress and it is supposed to be ready on Thursday I'm so excited to wear it. Mazy is the seamstress that has a store near the Madina Marker where I live and I find her very talented.
That is all for the list, I have probably left alot of other things that have happened but I'll write them as they come to me.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
1. I am running low on thoughts triggering motivation and energy
- usually it is due to work related frustration but non has occured since I've felt this way
- usually detectable
2. I am getting sick.
- I have a stuffed up face (ears, nose and throat) which is not very pleasent in the morning
- muscle pains in my leg
- not signs of fever
One of the most fabolous things I enjoy here has been the fact that I go to bed very early... by 9:00 p.m. I am usually in bed and falling asleep. Hopefully as I continue with this schedule I hope I'll be able to defeat whatever it is I have.
I have stopped eating dinner... because the food is too deliscious. Yes I said deliscious.... and that is why I had to make sure I stop eating one meal of the day to keep a normal balance. The food is really good so I eat larger quantities for lunch and breakfast. And this is aside from all the bananas, mangos, banana bread and cookies that I eat as snakes. So ya the food is really good, and that is my problem.
It has been a tiring day here at work and I am just looking forward to going home and talking to Papa Jacob who always lifts up my mood. He is over 70 years old and yet his enthusiasm at times beats mine. Some people are just inspirational.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
So we have decided to expand on the first project and continue to extend our work on it until the end of our stay here. The main reason for this decision was due to the fact that the two projects are similar when it comes to their overall objective, and working on the second project will give us the same overall experience that the first one is already offering us. With the extension of the recyling project we would also be able to look into areas that we are more interested in.
So what does the extension of this project include:
1. Operations: coming up with an actual method to recycle the plastic ( also the part that I am very excited about). Knowing how to plastic recycle will take considerable amount of research but it is very much related to the "appropriate techonolgies for international development" course that I took last semester. I will also get to do some "engineering" work.
The actual design/technology that will be used for recyling of the plastic in the central location is going to be brought either from China or Iran. I'd be really beneficial to see the design and know how plastic recycling will be done on a large scale.
The method we would come up with would be used on a much smaller scale and perhaps be placed in locations far from the central plastic recycling plant ( if it is to be used at all).
2. Come up with an educational program that will continue to raise awareness on the importance of plastic recycling either in the areas where the experiment is being run or throughout the whole city.
The plastic recycling bins are in the process of being collected. During the course of next few days we will look at the plastic collected and categorize them and determine what the data collected mean when it comes to the feasibility of having a plastic recyling program in place.
That is all for now when it comes to my work stuff. I will keep you all updated with the data we gather from the plastic recycling bins and what conclusion we come to ( a week or so from now).
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
Working with Zoomlion has been one of the most important parts of my learning experience so far, not only in terms of technical work but also in terms of social and cultural . It was necessary for me Jess and Dave to be properly introduced to the various parts of Zoomlion and get to know all the different departments and their associated managers and officers. As a result a clear and specified work definition of the project we would work was not defined until later on.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Hello Followers, Ette Sin (how are you in Ghanaian)??
It has almost been a week since I have arrived to Ghana. I still can’t believe it was only last week when I was in Toronto going through the pre-departure training, trying to predict what Accra would be like, but I must say the guessing game is officially over.
Days in Accra begin very early in the morning; people are up and working on their chores almost from 5 am. It is perhaps because the weather becomes very hot here around 8 am and so people find it easier to get some of their tasks done earlier in the day. I wake up everyday to the sound of alarm clock.... and roosters.
Night time begins quite early as well; it gets dark here at around 6:30 which I’m definitely not used to, as I recall during summer time it does not get dark until 9 pm in Canada. By 6:30 I am usually back to the guest house from work, taken a shower and writing in my work log book.
I have been sharing a room with Jess ever since we came to Ghana, and David’s room is across our room. One of the things that I noticed early on is the fact that you only see hotels (Canadian version) near the Accra urban centre, and as you as you zoom out from this central location there are no hotels and guest houses become the common place people reside. Guest houses usually have one floor with a big yard and a hallway that has a number of rooms. The guest house that I am currently living in is more luxurious that it should be, we have running water, a/c, tile floors, TV, fridge and a tiled floor. My adjustment to a permanent & “less development” address is still the challenge ahead.
The main roads in Accra are paved and asphalted, but again as you get farther from the urban centre, the roads are no longer paved and you drive on bumpy roads. Seat belts are not worn here but everyone usually holds on to something when a car starts to drive.
The streets of Accra are also occupied on both sides by stores, shops, beauty salons, restaurants and general markets and as a result the streets are usually full of people that are either buying or selling materials and running businesses.
And this is what is amazing about this city, if you want a banana, coconut, mango or fried chicken all you have to do is cross the street and buy some.
The main market is Accra is the Madina Market. It is definitely one of the crowded places I have been to. We spent approximately around an hour or two there but I could have spend another three hours there and not have been tired. The stores are located less than couple of metres from one other leaving enough space for shoppers to go walk through; the function is to maximize the number of stores. The market is like a maze that goes in so many directions and if you are new you could easily get lost. The amazing fact about this market is that you could literally buy what you need to buy as you think of it, from food such as vegetables, fruits, meats (pig feet, snails, chicken, fish) to fabrics, clothes, bags, shoes and jewellery. It is definitely one of my favourite places in Accra so far.
Some of people’s favourite foods here are Banku and FuFu, which is dough, made of cassava and plantain with a soup that goes overtop usually made of various meet types with spices and oils. The dough is placed inside a bowl and the sauce/soup part is poured overtop. The trick is to eat the dough and the sauce part simultaneously using your hands. I have tried both of them once and to be honest I had a miserable failure. One serving of Banku or FuFu is a lot more in quantity than I’m used to, I guess I just need a little more time to get used to the food. I love the bananas, mangos, coconuts and the Jallof rice (rice made with spices and vegetables) so far.
I will try to upload pictures and videos to help with the visualization of most of the things I talked about, even though the internet is slow here I will keep my fingers crossed.
Me da Si ! ( thank you)
Monday, May 10, 2010
It is Monday may 10th, a sunny day here at Toronto Ontario. I have fianlly managed to find some time to write about what has been going on with me. My flight is exactly 4 hours and 35 minutes from right now, that is only if our flight does not have any delays. I am all packed up, got my medication, my clothes and my technology aka mylaoptop, my camera, my mp3 player.
I have said my farewells to my family and friends and am ready to get on the air plane to enter the continent of Africa, and finally be in Accra. I suddenly realized how at this very moments my nerves have calmed down, my concerns have faded away somewhere out of the way in my brain and I am simply waiting to get my journey started.
I just really apprecitate the place that I am at this moment. I have no longer a a lister to refer to and comment on how much work is still left to do before I am ready, because RIGHT NOW I am ready to do and everything has been done, all the prep work of course.
I am done packing for one thing, I'm pretty sure I will get to Accra and think of an item that is absolutely essential to have and I'll just wonder how I forgot to bring one with me and how it managed not to end up on any of my "to buy" lists ( because there were alot of them and let's just leave it at that).
And I'm just really really happy about the fact that I think my parents are in more peace with the whole fact that I will be away from them more the usual amount. They are probably still more worried than they should be. But I will continue to have faith in them as they continue to have faith in me.
Me, Jess and Dave have been spending the weekend here at Toronto, there was a training session set up for us at the University of Toronto by Mike Klassen president of engineers without borders of the Uof T chapter) and Binnu ( returned JF/Mechanical Engineer), we covered a huge range of topics but what caught me off guard was the fact I realized most of my prep work was going into my adaptibility skills to new environments, but I think what most people don't realize is that, you have to exceed beyond that in order to reach out to the communities in are in need of real help and just being adaptable may not get the work done.
A couple of hours earlier, me, Jess and Dave took a walk around the neighbourhood, did a little bit of shopping, stocked up on sun screen and just enjoyed this sunny, lovely day. We also browsed this cozy little book store and I bought the book "does foreign aid really work" by Roger Riddell. I am so looking forward to reading it.
I guess that would be all for now. Hope you have a good morning as well. Only if I could hold on to this feeling forver.hmm......
Friday, April 30, 2010
1. A long sleeve shirt ( it's white, pretty, summerish, 100 % cotton which should be perfect for hot weather)
2. face moisturizer ( it was a very expensive one, but since I wont be spending any money on make up I thought I could invest in a good moisturizer)
So out of the the 100 items on my list, I have now narrowed it down to 97...!!! Shopping will continue until further notice !
Monday, April 26, 2010
So I guess the highlight of this week has been finishing exams, packing, and going through departure training with Dr. Robinson who is by the way the head of the organizing team.
We have now gone through all the details of what we need to know in case of emergiencies, health related issues, what we need to be aware of in terms of culural and social interactions with others and how foreigners basically need to handle things in a developing country, I could go into detail with what we covered but that would take pages and pages of writing.
The outcome however has been quite comforting. I was and still am going through very different emotional phases when it comes to how I feel about going away to Ghana. Most of the time I am just excited and it seems like I couldn't leave early enough but at times and it is usually late at night when I come home and have some time alone to myself that I start thinking about what could happen that I just simply cannot predict. I have discussed my worries and concerns not only with people that I'm going there with but also with Dr. Robinson who has done alot of work in a develping country and also with students who have gone overseas to various parts of Africa before but for some reason I expect myself to be prepared in all ways possible. They always say except the "unexpected" but I think I try to not only define what the unexpected is but also how to deal with it. I think unconsciously I put this pressure on myself and now that I think about it, it is incredibly unrealistic.
But I as I mentioned this whole traning process has been very comforting, because aside from the general worry that comes with traveling to a place I have never gone to before, all of my other conerns have been shared and discussed.
It is now time for bed , I need to wake up early in the morning as usual.
I should also mention that I am very excited about tomorrow, I get to relax and enjoy the day with my friends whom I will be leaving for the summer, not looking forward to saying goobye. Tomorrow will be one bittersweet day.
Also, I will be deticating my next post soley to everything that I am looking forward to this summer, because the list has been sky rocking.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
So if you know me, you have probably heard me talk about my summer trip to Ghana this summer more than let's say a few times. You have heard me complain about the slow process of becoming prepared but have also seen me jump up and down from all the excitement that I cannot contain within me at times.
Below is a little description of what it is I will be working on oversea in Ghana:
Along with my partners Jessica Barker and David Marmor will be working with a solid waste management (SWM) company called Zoomlion which is currently the largest SWM company in Ghana. We are scheduled to work on two projects, the first one will be on a plastic recycling inventory - what plastics are used in the country and what the facilities are like to recycle them and the second one is working at the Korle Bu teaching hospital to categorize the waste being produced.
Continuing on.... I would like to get started on where I stand with everything related to this trip ....with the fact that there is only 21 dayssssss until departure time, which means I've got 21 days to actually wrap my head around that fact that I AM Going. Apparently all the planning/work that I have done so far for preparing myself for this trip has not been enough, at least not mentally. When it comes to every other way of being prepared however, I must say I am ready to go. From booking flights, getting vaccinated, travel insurance, passport application, organizing fund raising events to budget preparing and still on going work I must admit I still feel as if I wont be leaving in a long while from now, even though I will be leaving in TWENTY ONE days!
And the part that I find most interesting is that, due to the fact that I have such a vague picture of what life would look like 9452.19 kilometers away ( distance between Canada and Ghana), I keep on trying to picture life here.... without me. I definitely will not be going to Windsor to my family and I definitely will not be spending my late summer afternoons at Windsor's good old river front like I do every summer since I've started university.
And as for how I picture life in Ghana.. well.....the painted picture in my head is currently too good to believe. Me being in a different continent, country, city, with my parents being in peace (inside joke only some people will understand it) and be doing the kind of work that is of greatest value to me is just too much to ask for. And by work I don't just mean working with Zoomlion, I mean what I get to do since the time I would wake up in the morning to the time I go back to sleep (may or may not include me being very sick, hot and sweaty, me missing everyone terribly) !
I am going to end my second post here, I am noticing that I've been talking generally about everything and not specially about one topic. Maybe I should start posting material based on themes or specific topics, if you have any suggestions on how I should do this please let me know. I am very new to this and I feel like I need to talk about everything.
Also, I feel very awkward writing my thoughts away on this blog and having it fully exposed to the world but I am already starting to get over this fact.
I am hoping not only this blog allows me to enhance my communication skills but also provide some sort of reliable insight on what the process of traveling to Western Africa and working on development projects will be like.
ps: for those of you that do not know me, my full name is Katayoon Pejman, my first name means planet Venus in Persian and was apparently the name of one of the greatest queens in the Persian history. I love the connection between the meaning behind my name and the word Ghana which means the "land of warrior king", just a little side note.