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.

Zoomlion's head office consists of the following departments: finance, research and development, operations, communications, transport unit, human resources technical, internal audit, safety and security , monitoring and evaluation and landfill department.

Zoomlion's work expands over a wide variety of areas. They not only provide residential and communal waste pick but they also provide serives regarding beach cleaning, street cleaning, oil spills, waste water collection, Cissept service, beautification and landescaping, forestation and fumigation, janitorial assitance and landfill management. They either do this using their own resources or by hiring private contractors. I had no idea Zoomlion covered such broad areas but now I realize there is a reason why Zoomlion is the leading compnay in the waste management sector.

My work here is tied to the Development and research department of Zoomlion. The R & D department consists of a head supervisor Mr. Meizah, and 5 officers that work on different areas but have the same work status within the department.

The two weeks that I have been here, we have visited three landfills, a number of communical dup sites, spoke with sub office managers and dicussed the challenges, limitation and possible areas which could be improved. In addition we visited Zoomlion's sorting and composting plant which is in its construction stages.

Zoomlion has built a sorting and composting plant, and now they are looking into building a plastic recycling plant. Of course prior to construction, a study on the feasibility of the plastics is required. They are counting the amount of plastic wasted at three final disposal location being mainly landfills. But the data collected from landfills do not indicate the percentage of waste coming from different sources. So we are now looking into residential plastic waste inventory to figure out what percentage of plastics is generated by residences, households. We are distribuiting pastic recycling bins to specific houses and collecting their plastic over a period of seven days and analzying to detemine how much plastic is being produced. Of course the experiment is run for households of low, middle and high class to increase accuracy of the data collected. As part of this experiment we also needed to educate and raise awareness on the topic recycling itself. Althoug most people know what "recycling" is, many ( mainly low and middle class) do not understand what it means when plastic is recycled.

I have learned alot during these past few days. I don't want to say that the path to development is completly different than what I had originally thought, but I was definetly underestimating some factors and influences. I will write about it in my next post because this one has turned out long enough. Hope you all now have a better understanding of what it is I'm doing these days.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Coco Beach !

My love for beaches influenced me to dedicate a whole post to this very topic. Hope you enjoy looking at the pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them.

So the Coco beach is one of the most beautiful parts of Accra that I have seen so far. We stopped by during work. And yes I keep on saying work and you probably have no idea what I'm actually doing here but I figured the "work" topic needs its own post. So ya I took these pictures during work and let's leave it at that for now.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

New Day in Accra!

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

Leaving Canada!


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......