In Country Training

Our last evening in Canada was spent at EWB head office where they held an awesome send off party for the JFs. How. By the time I had awoken the next day the house seemed empty the JF’s headed to Uganda, Zambia, and Malawi had already left for the airport not to be seen again for 4 months.

Before stepping off the plain in Accra I was greeted with the familiar and pleasant combination of 30+ degree heat and 100% humidity which was the first thing I noticed or should I say felt on my previous arrival in Ghana. It is an unforgettable feeling for a person who use to climate consisting of freezing dry winters and scorching dry summers. This feeling is quickly followed by another, which I am all too familiar with and don’t have such fond memories of, that is the feeling of uncontrolled and never ending back sweat.

After making our way through border security, collecting our luggage, and lastly customs we were greeted by some fellow EWBers. In classic Accra fashion the power was out across the city so when we arrived at our guesthouse to find it devoid of people, closed due to the power outage we set off again to find a place to stay with a running diesel generator. Now please don’t get the idea that Ghana is a country without a functioning electrical grid on contrary it produces more then enough electricity for itself and even exports power to neighboring countries. Power outages are rare outside of Accra and as a result when in Accra you get use to the constant hum of generators.

After a nights sleep we were off to Kumasi for our in country training. Kumasi is only 250km away from Accra no greater of distance to travel then from Saskatoon to Regina so would expect to arrive in about 2 ½ hours. But in actuality the drive takes almost 6 hours because of the never ending traffic and “road construction”.

In country training felt a lot like pre departure training only the classroom was a lot hotter and what we were learning all of a sudden seemed a lot more relevant. Highlights of in country training included meeting the African Junior Fellows who were selected from various universities across Ghana. Meeting the Voto Mobile (www.votomobile.org) crew in person that only a few weeks ago the entire usask chapter was talking to over Skype in my living room. Mark and Sean Boots are a big part of the Voto team and are fellow usask boys.

In country training was over all to soon and it was time to say our goodbyes. I was amazed how close the group had become after only knowing each other for 2 weeks. But it was time to leave the safety net of the group and start the next chapter in my JF placement. Early in the morning I set off for Accra looking forward to catching up on some much needed sleep while in the relative comfort of the air-conditioned bus.

But what I had forgotten was that it was Sunday morning in Ghana. Ghana is often considered one of the most if not the most religious country in the world with 96% of the population claiming to be actively religious. Previously living in the north of Ghana an area composed of a majority Muslim population I had gotten use to the song like call the prayer that was heard every day 5 times a day. I was much less familiar with the not so passive ways of preaching evangelical Christians often employ in the south of Ghana and I imagine similar to the style commonly found in bible belt of the USA. I may not have signed up for it and whether I liked it or not for the next several hours I was about to experience an early morning mobile bus sermon.

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