Thursday, March 24, 2011

Habitat for Humanity in Ghana, Day 2

The second day in Ghana Julie and I joined Semester at Sea faculty and students for a Habitat for Humanity service project. We piled into a bus and drove from Takoradi to Assan Fuso to help with a build involving five houses in various stages of completion.

There is something so intriguing about gazing out the bus window and seeing a new country, a new culture. Along the way I took lots of photos. The road traveled along the coast and we saw this group pulling in a fishing net.

Fisherman pulling out nets along Ghana's coast

Many of the houses in Ghana are painted by the local cell phone companies. The companies pay the owners a fee in exchange for using their house as a billboard. The companies include Vodofone, MTN, Tigo, and Airtel.

Village with electricity. Notice the red and white cell phone ad on the front house.

As you drive by various villages the houses look rather shabby with tin roofs some being held down by tires or haphazardly constructed plywood walls. However, Ghana is growing fast and the guides explained that one big improvement is that many houses now had electricity, evident by the many tv antennas sticking up out of the villages. In front of the villages the buildings along the road were shops selling food, hardware items, or fabric or beauty salons and repair shops. Behind that were the smaller houses and as you went further back into the villages the houses often got bigger and nicer. Really, not all that different from a U.S. neighborhood where the nicer homes are off the busy street and the shops line the main drag.

After a two-hour bus ride we arrived at the Habitat build site. It took a little while for them to get us divided and working, but eventually I was part of a crew of about 10 women who were responsible for moving bricks all day. There were large concrete/mud bricks that had been drying in the sun and needed to be moved to make space for the next house. We stacked a few hundred bricks for hours. It was hard, hot work, but we took occasional breaks to play with the kids, take photos, and drink lots of water.

Two students transporting bricks

Two students carrying water to be mixed to make mud for walls

Julie took a strong liking to one particular girl who was probably about 5 years old. She didn’t speak English and was a little shy, but she liked Julie. Julie kept asking me if we could take her home. I think her mom would have been very sad.

Julie's favorite kiddo

Julie with girl

By the end of the day our group had moved all the bricks and other groups had helped mud walls, dig trenches, mix mud, etc. It was a rewarding day of hard, sweaty work.

Our group in front of our pile of bricks

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