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A Secret Mountain In My Backyard (T-minus 3 days…)


Josanna Lewin | Posted August 4th, 2010 | Africa

Thirteen years ago, I found myself crammed into the backseat of a two door Mazda 323 that had clearly seen better days.  With my life possessions precariously teetering half way out of the trunk and my body crammed into the back seat of a car full of sticky strangers, we sputtered (heavily) off into the suburbs of San Jose, Costa Rica where I would spend the next 6 months of my life.  I was 16 years old and experiencing minor shock.

Liceo de Alajuelita, Costa Rica, 1998

I’ve looked back on this particular day and the subsequent weeks many times in my vida.  At the time, I had not been outside of the United States before and found myself mentally inundated with the superfluity of culture a developing country had to offer.  In a phone call home to my parents not long after my arrival, I was asked about the geographical surroundings of my new neighborhood called Alajuelita.  Known as a suburb of commoners and farmers, Alajuelita was a fairly densely populated, impoverished area set along the hills surrounding San Jose.  As I recall, however, it took me nearly a week to become aware that directly behind my new home there existed a lush, green mountain.  It’s humorous to think about now, as I had actually failed to acknowledge there was a massive piece of earth residing in my back yard.  And while that might seem next to impossible, I have learned how remarkably selective the mind can choose to be during times of mental stress.   My glaringly apparent lack of experience and knowledge of a developing country had left my brain more or less feeble in processing the entirety of my surroundings.  For weeks, the sordid details of a 3rd world city had literally blinded me from the beauty and spirit of Costa Rica and its people.

You might wonder what my journey as a 16 year old has to do with a summer spent living and working in Accra, Ghana.  Well, aside from the fact that my work and studies are a direct result of a life path set in motion by my trip to Costa Rica, during my first few weeks in Accra I admit to humorously catching myself check now and again whether there was a secret mountain in my backyard.  Coincidentally, while Alajuelita and Accra do not share similar backyard mountain geography, both locations do have persistent, early rising roosters that are apparently blind.

My usual form of public transportation, the Tro Tro

I drink water from a bag.

Transitions are never easy and despite being a far more experienced traveler than I was during my teenage years, Accra was no exception in giving me a good, healthy dose of culture shock.  Wiser than I was at 16, however, I’m now self-aware of my addiction and confident in my capability to dive into another world foreign to that of my own.  I knew it was only an inevitable matter of time before the veil of dirt (and sweat and smog and DEET) was wiped from my eyes and I was writing home my intent to potentially remain/move to Ghana. Maybe not much has actually changed since I was 16, afterall!

An African Sunrise

When I first arrived in Accra the following adjectives might have come to mind:  sticky, dirty, loud, crowded, bustling, dusty, smoggy, smelly, stomach-achy and intense.  Months later (and with the “mountain” in my backyard now visible), I describe Accra as a vibrant, bustling, city full of smiling, dancing, hardworking Ghanaians who are full of pride and hope.  In my opinion, the brave traveling souls that have chosen to live and work in Accra proper are the fortunate ones.  So few visitors to Ghana truly give the city a chance and upon initial inspection, I certainly can’t blame them.  Ultimately though, it is the interactions that we have with people and the relationships forged that make up the true beauty of an experience and place.  Time and time again I’ve found this to be the case and Accra, Ghana is no exception. The charm and vibrancy of Accra and its amazing people simply snuck up on me and I find myself helplessly hooked.

Mother and Child

A boy in Ada Foah

A Senagalese man in my neighborhood

Dinner

Which brings me to the reason why I came to Ghana in the first place – to work with the Eagle Women’s Empowerment Club in partnership with Vital Voices and The Advocacy Project.  It has been a summer of learning, sharing and laughing with some incredibly, incredible women.  And while EWEC may be a young organization faced with real challenges in growth, resources and sustainability, it is the women of EWEC that will no doubt persevere forward and create real change for women in Ghana and Africa.  The remarkable and inspiring women that proudly call themselves Eagle Women have repeatedly astounded me.   So many of EWEC’s members have risen from humble beginnings, conquering a great deal to become the successful businesswomen they are today.  Yet their work does not stop there.  Eagle Women strive to share their knowledge and experiences with other women, with mentorship at the core of their beliefs.  They are beautiful women, inside and out, and it is these women, these mothers, these sisters, these leaders, who are the future of Africa.

Bridget and Mercy, my co-workers at EWEC

An Eagle Woman

And so as I finish typing this and things from home start returning to me, I’m reminded that summer is over. The evenings in Accra have gotten cooler, the breeze has picked up and now it’s time to go.

I’ll see you soon Ghana.

Thanks for reading.

Sunset from my apartment in Accra

2 Responses to “A Secret Mountain In My Backyard (T-minus 3 days…)”

  1. Josanna Lewin says:

    Agreed, mom!

    And btw….. Thank you.

    What a gift you and dad have given me. I am the product of both of you and my courage, compassion, and commitment to contribute something, anything, to this funny and beautiful world is because of you both. And so I also thank you for bravely allowing me to go to Costa Rica so many years ago. It was the beginning of a wonderful life adventure…

  2. Sandy says:

    May we all check to see if there are secret mountains in our back yards!

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Meet Hilary, An Eagle Woman


Josanna Lewin | Posted July 29th, 2010 | Africa

While working as the Program Director for Women in Law and Development in the Volta region, Hilary became aware that many problems faced by women had a strong base in their economic vulnerability.  Without a position of economic stability, many women were forced to remain in unhealthy domestic situations with little hope of escape.  In Hilary’s effort to find a nexus between human rights, women’s economic empowerment and development, she began collaborating with Vital Voices in 2009.  Following her participation in the Cape Town Conference “Leveling the Playing Field”, Hilary initiated the program “Women on the Move”, a yearlong program in Ghana aimed at empowering young entrepreneurial women.

As co-founder and Rector of the Law Institute, the first vocational law facility in Ghana, Hilary trains young advocates in legal studies that include coursework in criminal, land, family, and human rights law.  In the courses that Hilary and her associates lecture on, a point is made to infuse a gender dimension into curriculum, ensuring that students understand the importance of registering their business, for example, or that they have knowledge of family law and how to protect themselves. Hilary believes that with the knowledge and support system that The Law Institute can provide young women, they will then be able to have the boldness needed to launch into entrepreneurship.

With an impressive background in human rights law, entrepreneurship and women’s economic empowerment, Hilary adds to EWEC Board’s already eclectic mix of competencies a very powerful skill set.  Together she hopes EWEC will be a driving force in changing policy, encouraging women, and positioning the hub of the ABWN to better understand the way women do business across the west African region and Africa.

One Response to “Meet Hilary, An Eagle Woman”

  1. Sandy says:

    Well, Knowledge is power and to empower women, you need to give them the tools to navigate their environment. Educating women on their economic, social, and family rights is essential to creating confidence and the willingness to take economic risks.
    Great program.

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My journey to work each morning…


Josanna Lewin | Posted July 15th, 2010 | Africa

Over the past few months, many of you have inquired about some of the basics of my daily life in Ghana.  Specifically, what I eat, how I get to work in the morning, or what the EWEC office environment looks like.  In an attempt to give you a glimpse of my daily life, I’ve put together a short clip on my morning commute to work.  As many of you know, my commute varies day-to-day and can consist of taking a taxi, a Tro Tro, walking or even all three means of transport.

This particular video will take you from my apartment in Osu to the EWEC office in Labadi.  To give you an idea, a commute by taxi takes about 15 minutes while a commute in Tro Tro and taxi takes about 50 minutes.  Fortunately, I live fairly close to the EWEC office and I do not face the 1-2 hour commute that most Ghanaians face each morning and afternoon.  You’ll notice as I drive through the Labone neighborhood, the roads are wide, empty and lined with greenery.  Living in such a central location is not feasible for the majority of Ghanaians.

As I mentioned in my previous post concerning Ghanaian Time, conducting business can be quite difficult when travel times are long and unreliable. A developing country faces a multitude of social, political and economical issues and like most businesses in Ghana, EWEC is often hurt by a lack of solid infrastructure here.

As Ghanaians like to say, however, “small, small” or one little step at a time.  It’s a phrase I hear often and I believe it accurately depicts the determination of Ghanaians to push forward despite the many obstacles they are challenged by daily. I plan to devote an entire blog to the saying, actually, so keep your eye out for it!

Anyhow, I hope you enjoy a small taste of what my eyes see each morning on my way to work.

Thanks for reading and watching!

13 Responses to “My journey to work each morning…”

  1. Josanna Lewin says:

    Thanks! Glad you liked it.

  2. Josanna Lewin says:

    Hi Helah! I will most certainly tell Bridget you said hello. Glad you enjoyed the video. It was fun to make:)

    And being flexible is part of the job:)

    Thank you for reading. -Josanna

  3. Josanna Lewin says:

    Hi Tess. Thanks for reading. I’d be happy to talk to you about Ghana and Accra when I get back to the states. I have a lot of helpful info for you when you’re ready to deal with logistics. Working with EWEC has been a wonderful experience and I wish I had more time to do more. Anyhow, keep me posted on your travel plans.

  4. Josanna Lewin says:

    Will do :) Thanks for reading and watching.

  5. Josanna Lewin says:

    Thanks!

  6. Abisola says:

    What a great idea! Love the video and the music :)

  7. Philip says:

    I like your videos, Jos! Please do more.

    In the Middle East they have a similar saying to “small, small”. They say “slowly, slowly”.

  8. Tess Perselay says:

    Hi Josanna!

    I’m Tess and work with Helah and Janet at Vital Voices’ Africa Program. I was just looking through your blog because I’m hoping to study abroad in Ghana (based in Accra, though going to other cities and villages) and find this video really useful! I love your blog and can’t wait to hear about your adventures in Ghana and especially with EWEC!

  9. Josanna, this was a blast to watch. Especially for me–I’ve never been to Ghana and have never seen the EWEC office. :) Tell Bridget hi!!

    Thanks so much for all the hard work and for being flexible and plans developed throughout the summer. Very much appreciated.

    Have a great end of the summer and keep up the good work!

    :) Helah

  10. Alisa Goldman says:

    What a great video, Josanna! Thought it gave a great feel for a small part of your life there!

  11. Josanna Lewin says:

    Glad you enjoyed the video. Yes, the issues facing a developing country are complex. Small, small…

  12. Advocacynet says:

    Advocacynet…

    [...] all about advocacynet [...]…

  13. Sandy says:

    Incredibly fun to watch. I have a much clearer picture of your surroundings and what parts of Accra look like. Interesting observations about infrastructure and the success of businesses.
    You’ve got to have the successful businesses to raise the revenue for the infrastructure, but you need the infrastructure to help the businesses succeed.
    Sandy

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A video on Fulera…


Josanna Lewin | Posted July 13th, 2010 | Africa

A few blogs previous, I introduced everyone to Fulera, an Eagle Woman.  Take a look at Fulera live on camera below.

Thanks for watching!

2 Responses to “A video on Fulera…”

  1. Josanna Lewin says:

    Hopefully we can make that possible. While she does not yet have an online website, I may be able to help with some transactions locally!

  2. Sandy says:

    Great video! I’d like to buy some of Fulera’s wonderful jewelry.
    Sandy

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Meet Sheila – An Eagle Woman


Josanna Lewin | Posted July 7th, 2010 | Africa

When Sheila Bartel-Sam, CEO and founder of Platinum Technologies, walked into Ghana Oil two years ago, she was not prepared for what she would be asked to do.  Impressed with Platinum Technologies proposal to set up electronic payments and improve upon customer experiences, Ghana Oil requested that Sheila set up a customer payment system within two weeks.  Sheila was up for the task.  As she recalls, it was the hardest two weeks of her life, “I am a very daring person.  At the time, Platinum Technologies didn’t have any systems in place.  I didn’t have anything.”  Six years later and with over 25 employees, Platinum Technologies has gone from 6 payment locations to over 80 nationwide.  Ghana Oil remains one of Platinum Technologies primary clients.

A self-starter with a natural talent in IT Technologies, Sheila’s keen sense for recognizing market needs led her to start Platinum Technologies in 2004.  Over the years and following emerging market needs, Platinum Technologies has shifted from IT Training to providing corporate electronic payment services in the area of card program, loyalty management and services enhancing productivity and efficiency in payments. Moving forward, Sheila hopes to not only work with large corporations but also revolutionize the way Ghanaian organizations such as churches and schools collect payments.

One of Sheila’s greatest obstacles as a businesswoman in Ghana has been access to capitol.  She is hopeful that in the future, women will have greater ease in obtaining sufficient capital to get their businesses off the ground.

2 Responses to “Meet Sheila – An Eagle Woman”

  1. Josanna Lewin says:

    Thanks for reading, Iain. That’s a great question. I’m meeting Sheila tomorrow and will ask about her opinion on the subject. Being that Platinum Technologies is quite large now, microcredit will likely not be helpful to her. But it might have been helpful when she was trying to get her business started. Many women at EWEC are working with micro-businesses and access to any sort of credit would be greatly beneficial. EWEC is hoping to start a revolving fund for members in 2011.

  2. iain says:

    Very interesting. There must be so many opportunities opening up in IT for women in Africa. Mendi will have some ideas…!

    A question for you: what do businesswomen like Sheila think about microcredit for women, as a way to jump-start women’s business? Does this get women started, or does it make it harder for women to compete and succeed in a man’s world – as Sheila has so obviously been able to do?

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Meet Fulera – An Eagle Woman


Josanna Lewin | Posted July 7th, 2010 | Africa

Several years ago, Fulera got off the bus in Accra with her daughter and 10 pesawas to her name.   Through a great deal of perseverance and passion, today Fulera is the proud owner of an artisan business that she has operated out of her home since 2008.  While the road has not been an easy one, an ever-growing client base and unique artisan designs have allowed Fulera’s business to experience a great deal of growth in the past two years.

Fulera prides herself on her unique designs that are made out of natural materials found across Africa.  Traveling as far as Burkina Faso and Mali for leather, seeds, and beads, Fulera has learned to reuse materials left for waste and create environmentally friendly yet fashionable designs. Often traveling long distances with her office carried on her shoulder, a studio to create and display her work is Fulera’s next step in expanding her business. With enough capital, Fulera is hopeful that she’ll be able to open a studio and purchase her own stone and leather cutting machines.

Eagle Women Empowerment Club (EWEC) has helped Fulera become a more confident businesswoman, specifically training her in strategic planning and providing her with valuable networking opportunities.  In the true spirit of an Eagle Woman, Fulera’s ultimate mission is to share her design knowledge and skills with other women less privileged than her.  A mentor at heart, Fulera hopes she will be able to give other women the opportunity to also be proud, independent businesswomen.

6 Responses to “Meet Fulera – An Eagle Woman”

  1. Josanna Lewin says:

    Janet, thank you for clarifying that. Both BeadForLife and Strawbags.org could be helpful to Fulera as well as some of the other EWEC members. I’ll investigate further.

  2. Janet Akao says:

    Iain, I assume that you mean Benedicta Nangoya – the leader of Kinawataka women’s group in Uganda. Check them out on http://www.strawbags.org
    Fulera could also see BeadForLife and many more artisan groups for ideas and collaboration.

  3. Josanna Lewin says:

    Thanks for reading Marilyn. Take a look at the video of Fulera as well. Let’s spread the Eagle Women around the world!

  4. Josanna Lewin says:

    Iain, I’ll contact you regarding information on Benedicta. That’s a great idea. Fulera is here at the office and I’ll mention the idea to her.

  5. iain says:

    I notice that Fulera is using “waste” materials for some of her handicrafts. Is there some way she could cooperate with Benedicta in Ghana, who makes products out of old drinking straws? There must be a lot of international interest in this: you Fellows might be well placed to find out and tap into it.

  6. Marilyn NGUEMO says:

    Hello Josanna,
    Indeed, the profile of Fulera is great!
    Her work is a true reflection of her boldness!
    My next move is to share her story with the largest number of women.
    Cheers,
    Marilyn

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Do you know your Ghanaian name?


Josanna Lewin | Posted June 29th, 2010 | Africa

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Last week I finally learned what my Ghanaian name is.  In Ghana there exists a tradition where ethnic groups base the first name of their newborn on the day of the week in which their child was born.   This tradition has widely spread throughout Ghana and West Africa and the majority of Ghanaians have part of their name taken from this tradition. An example that everyone would know is of ex Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan.  Born on a Friday, he was given the first name of Kofi.

Interestingly, it has taken me 4 weeks of living in Ghana to finally figure out what day of the week I was born on.  This is surprising being that 75% of locals I have met here have inevitably asked me what my Ghanaian name was within minutes of meeting me.

After some Internet investigations, I learned that February, 5th 1981 fell on a Thursday.  In terms of my Ghanaian name, I am called “Yaa”(pronounced “yeah”).  Being that there are limited choices for a person’s Ghanaian name, additional names are often added for originality. Sometimes the additional name might have to do with what number child you are in a line of siblings.  Other times, friends or family might unofficially add a term of endearment to your Ghanaian name.  On that note, the incredible women of EWEC have recently deemed me “Nana-Yaa” which translates to Queen Thursday.  Initially, I was unsure about being called Queen Thursday, particularly due to the “queen” part.  But I’ve since been assured that this is a good name and has nothing to do with staff members perceiving my behavior to be queen-like!  My new name has taken off with ease and I’ve found it brings big smiles to everyone’s face.

Being given my name was a reminder that as with any new situation, it takes time to grow and cultivate a relationship.   Respect can come slowly and requires hard work on both ends of a relationship.  It wasn’t until my coworkers warmly gave me a Ghanaian name that I realized I’m slowly becoming a true member of the EWEC team.  Similarly, as a young organization trying to build a network of businesswomen, EWEC is also learning how to best cultivate long lasting relationships with Ghanaian businesswomen.   Through mentorship, leadership and training EWEC is slowly building upon its relationship with each member. And while this process is slow going and requires a great commitment from both EWEC and its members, ultimately, a common goal is shared by everyone:  To provide meaningful change in the lives of women and their families by creating independent and financially stable businesswomen.  I’m proud to be a part of such a great organization.

For those of you who are interested in what your Ghanaian name is, I’ve included the below information from Wikipedia for you.  Enjoy!

First figure out what day of the week you were born: http://www.fi.edu/time/Journey/OnceUponATime/dayofweekbirth.htm

Males
Monday: Kojo, Kwadwo, Jojo, Cudjoe
Tuesday: Kwabena, Ebo, Kobena, Kobina, Kobby
Wednesday: Kwaku, Kweku
Thursday: Yaw, Ekow, Yao, Yokow
Friday: Kofi, Fiifi, Yoofi
Saturday: Kwame, Ato, Atoapem, Kwamena, Kwami
Sunday: Kwasi, Akwasi, Kwesi

Females
Monday: Adwoa, Adzo, Ajoba, Ejo, Adjoa
Tuesday: Abena, Abla, Araba, Abina
Wednesday: Akua, Akuba,
Thursday: Yaa, Aba, Yaaba, Yaayaa
Friday: Afua, Afi, Afia, Efie, Efua
Saturday: Ama, Amma, Awo
Sunday: Akosua, Esi, Kisi

Characteristics of Each Day

Monday’s child is the father or mother in the family; nurturing in nature, dependable and organized, and protective of his/her family.

Tuesday’s child is the problem solver and planner of the family. They are structured in nature, neutral in all matters and never takes sides.

Wednesday’s child is fully in control of every situation, does not want to be told what to do, knows it all, is spontaneous, vibrant and cordial. Be sure not to cross his or her path though…

Thursday’s child is quiet in nature and incredibly observant. They are generally listeners, not talkers, and analyzes situations very well.

Friday’s child is a leader, not a follower. He/she is very temperamental but has a big heart. Generally the instigator of everything.

Saturday’s child likes to take control of family situations. He/she runs the show and make the rules, but will go out of his/her way for others anytime.

Sunday’s child is the passive, sensitive and warm member of the family. He/she tends to be shy and likes to keep to his/her self, but is very aware of his/her surroundings and usually is the secret keeper of the family.

3 Responses to “Do you know your Ghanaian name?”

  1. iain says:

    Another very nice posting. I agree with Sandy: building respect between cultures starts modestly. Thursday is a relaxed day – well into the week, so work is humming, but with the weekend looming…

  2. Josanna says:

    Three Cups of Tea was an excellent book and I recommend it for everyone. Greg had a great way of putting it and I’ll remember to keep sharing tea with my friends and coworkers in Ghana. Thanks for the response.

  3. Sandy says:

    Building strong relationships, especially with people in other cultures does take time. I liked the way Greg Mortenson described the process in his book, Three Cups of Tea. A village elder in Pakistan told him that when you share one cup of tea with someone, you are a stranger. When you share two cups of tea, you are an honored guest. And when you share three cups of tea, you are family. So get the teapot out and start brewing!

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“Ghana Time” and Eagle Women


Josanna Lewin | Posted June 29th, 2010 | Africa

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Like Ghanaian clockwork, the meeting started very late. “Ghana Time” is a concept that has taken me some getting used to.  Whether you’re going to a social event, an appointment to get your hair cut, or a very important business meeting, inevitably things will start later than anticipated.  Much, much later.  I’ve had several weeks to consider why exactly this is the case and while some of it can be attributed to a relaxed Ghanaian culture, a large part of it is due to unpredictable weather in a developing city that battles unreliable public transportation, bad roads and heavy traffic.

On Thursday evening of last week, Accra experienced very heavy rains that persisted throughout the night and into the day on Friday.  With a city largely webbed together with dirt roads and a lack of efficient drainage systems, this can mean travel that is slow going and at times impassable. It can also mean long and uncomfortable Tro Tro rides met with muddy walks and more rain.  Particularly in a country where people greatly pride themselves on their crisp attire and spotless appearance, traveling a few miles in the rain might appear daunting.   What is remarkable about days like this, however, is the people who bare the weather, mud, and long journeys to arrive at their appointment, albeit often late, looking sharp and ready to go.

And so on Friday evening of last week, I had the great pleasure of meeting some of Eagle Women Empowerment Club’s most committed members.   Coming from as far as eight hours away and bravely traversing the elements in dresses and heels, approximately 30 proud Eagle Women members gathered together at The Hotel Wangara for one of EWEC’s quarterly meetings.  Set in a small conference room with chairs, a podium and projector, we discussed EWEC’s previous activities, introduced several new programs (me being one of them!) and conducted a brief informational session on taxation and an EWEC Rewards Card.

I was able to introduce to the group the Vital Voice’s Baseline Survey and member profiling that I’ll be starting later this week.   I received a very warm reception from members and am excited to get into the field to better understand their backgrounds, struggles and successes.  There is certainly a diverse mix of Eagle Women, however one thing is very clear.  All of these women are strong, independent women who have conquered a great deal to be where they are today (weather issues aside!).   I look forward to learning from each of them over the next few weeks.

Thanks for reading.

2 Responses to ““Ghana Time” and Eagle Women”

  1. Josanna says:

    Janet, thank you for the response. It is truly amazing to see the development taking place in Ghana. In Labadi, where the EWEC office is located, there is a great deal of construction going on. While the roads are rough, progress is coming.

  2. Janet Akao says:

    Thank you for writing Josanna

    True, your observation on poor time management, especially the latter is very true yet often ignored or isolated from related barriers. You just made a concrete case for EWEC and traders in Ghana. I am sure they all have stories of losses from bad roads or poor transportation. Better infrastructure: greater productivity: greater profits……

    I hope that your blog readers find these stories useful as I do. A life journey marked by struggles and accomplishments cannot fail to be inspiring.
    Enjoy Ghana!
    Janet

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Ghana Scores!


Josanna Lewin | Posted June 16th, 2010 | Africa

I was surrounded by hundreds of sweaty men screaming, leaping, chanting, and going absolutely wild.  I admit this wouldn’t normally be a situation I would actively choose to put myself in.

Determined to be where the action was for the World Cup 2010 game between Ghana and Serbia, I set out on Sunday afternoon to find the men.  In Ghana, while both males and females have great pride for their country and soccer team, it hasn’t been hard to miss that when a soccer match is televised, you’ll find a good majority of males, regardless of age, closely huddled around the nearest TV or radio in rapt attention.  With the city streets of Accra lined with local food vendors and merchants, this often means two dozen men packed around an outdoor food stall watching a mini TV that receives less then satisfactory reception.  Regardless, rain or shine, day or night, you’ll see this image repeating itself throughout the city.  And so is the commitment of Ghanaian men to their beloved soccer.

Told that the game would be televised on a large outdoor screen not far from where I live, I set out with enough time to have a local street artist paint the Ghanaian flag on half of my face (for less than a dollar!) and find a cozy spot on the street to watch the game (in the middle of hundreds of men).  I quickly learned that one of the keys to a Ghanaian’s heart is to paint your face with their country’s flag.  I was welcomed into the crowd of soccer fans with thumbs-up and high-fives, and was even picked up several times in moments of excitement.  My Ghanaian soccer support was greatly appreciated!  Needless to say, it was an intense and fantastic 90 minutes of soccer game, though I really had no idea of the utter mayhem that would take place when Ghana scored the only point of the game.  My calves, I admit, were slightly sore on Monday from the non-stop bouncing that took place throughout the game and when Ghana scored the only point, I joined the masses of men (and some women) leap with pure joy for 10 straight minutes.  It was a LOT of fun.

Interestingly, it was only after the game had ended that all of Ghana came out of the woodwork and fled to the streets to celebrate their victory. Men, women and children of all ages were out in full force sporting their country’s colors, holding their country’s flag, and truly celebrating Ghana’s win with great pride.   I spent much of the afternoon and evening smiling and laughing,  thankful to be able to join Ghana in such a great day of celebration.

While this victory was clearly important to all Ghanaians and to Africa, I still believe it is the men of this country that hold a special place in their hearts for soccer.  As I type this now, without even peering out my apartment window, I am comforted by the perpetual hum of the local mechanic’s TV playing its soccer and the voices of the boy, the friend, the father, and the grandfather watching their game together.

See you soon!

3 Responses to “Ghana Scores!”

  1. iain says:

    Great piece of writing. Bummer that Ghana didn’t get through. One question from this post: if socer is a man’s sport in Ghana, what do women support? How about pushing for a law like Title 9 – the US law that requires equal funding for men’s and women’s sports at universities?

  2. Sandy says:

    How fun. Go Ghana! (I think it is Ghana vs. Australia on Friday)
    Sandy

  3. Claire says:

    Beautiful photos Josanna! Enjoy the World Cup!

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The Arrival


Josanna Lewin | Posted June 11th, 2010 | Africa

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Accra welcomed me with some very thick, warm air on Sunday afternoon, May 31st.  While I had been mentally prepared for the heat, my body still experienced a minor panic as my hub Manager, Bridget, met me at Kotoka International Airport and led me out to her car.  Within minutes I could feel the sweat on my forehead and upper lip collecting.   Exhausted and confused about exactly what time it was for me, I was thankful to be taken under Bridget’s wing that evening.  She fed me a delicious home cooked Ghanaian meal and delivered me to my hotel.  I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

My first day of work began bright and early the following morning at 6:30am.  Accra is notoriously horrendous for its traffic, so morning commute starts early.  Traveling a mere few miles can take well over an hour during the heart of traffic hour.  I was lucky enough to commute with Bridget during my first week of work and I accompanied her to the EWEC office on my first morning in Accra.

EWEC’s office is set along the eastern side of Accra in a fairly quiet neighborhood called Labadi.  Upon initial inspection, the neighborhood appears a bit sparse, with large open spaces connected primarily by dirt roads.  A closer look, however, reveals a great deal of growth and development taking place in the neighborhood.  I would not be surprised to find the area bustling in just a few years.   As I sit here and type this, actually, I hear numerous hammers pounding away in the near distance.   In general, I’ve noticed a great deal of development taking place throughout Accra and it is great to see the economic growth the city is experiencing.

Founded in 2008, EWEC is a young organization with a full time staff of 5 people.   Currently sharing the two story office space of Eagle Productions Limited (staff of 24) until sufficient resources are available for their own office, the work environment is busy, committed and friendly.   I’ve noticed an eagerness from everyone on the EWEC staff to learn from the knowledge I have to offer and I’m excited to share some of my experiences with them.  I’ve also realized that I have a great deal to learn about business in Ghana!

Over all, my first week has been exhausting, fascinating, confusing and wonderful.  I’ve received such a warm welcome from Ghana, my new co-workers, and in particular, EWEC’s hub manager, Bridget.  It has been a great first week and I’ll be updating often as I dive into work with EWEC.

Thanks for reading and see you soon!

Bridget, EWEC's hub manager, shares lunch with me

EWEC/Eagle Productions Limited Office

EWEC staff member, Mercy, poses for a picture.

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Fellow: Josanna Lewin

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