Volunteering in orphenage

Since I was asked if I could tell more about how to be a volunteer, how to choose a reliable association, I decided to create a dedicated part with several point to help you for volunteering in Ghana !

 

Why and how to be a volunteer?

There are different steps and questions to answer yourself before starting to be a volunteer:

1. You have to know how long you will stay and propose your help

2. Decide what type of volunteering you want to do

3. How many hours by week you want to give

4. What type of association you will like to give help and time

My personnal experience as a volunteer for Beacon House orphanage in Accra :

I decided  to start helping Beacon House because a friend of mine, Sophie, a young french girl (it was her first expat in ghana)  used to be the nurse helping kids in the orphenage. During nearly a year, she  was a volunteer but unfortunately,  she had to go back to France because of her husband work .

So she is the one who introduced me to the director, Romana, who is such an amazing american woman who created this orphenage.

There, I met also the wife of Bolloré Africa Logistic country manager who was also a nurse and volunteer there with my friend.

As to the consequence, there were enough good reasons to believe in the good and reliability of this orphenage association  called Beacon House, located in East Legon not far from french school in Accra.

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When my friend Sophie unfortunately left Ghana to go back to France, I started to replace her. It was this January 2016.

I met and worked during about 2 months with Bolloré country manager’s wife  (called also Sophie) but then she moved also in March. (Expats’ life is like this… you moove every 2 or 3 years…).

Right now, I’m working with an american student, Sarah,  who is learning psychology in the ghanain university of Accra. She  comes 3 times a week on afternoons to teach them english well and read books. We get along very well.

My registration and actions as a volunteer for Beacon House:

I “registered”  and signed a legal paper to Romana giving the days and hours I wanted to give as a volunteer and when I will come in her orphenage (twice a week on afternoons).

 We discussed about the missions I wanted to do : I could help for many things ! So we decided together that I would replace Sophie with preparing medecines set for kids having HIV each week on wednesday,  and that I would go to hospital with them when they needed to see the doctor and renew their medecines.

As I wanted to give time to kids playing with them , and since  I love music and dancing, I proposed to give Zumba lessons to them on fridays afternoon too.

How is life in Beacon House

Who is Romana, the creator of Beacon House?

Romana created this orphenage in 2005. She is an american woman and has adopted 2 ghanaian chidren too.

She lives inside the house with kids.

Her dedication is to help children making them believe that they are loved, that they matter and, despite what they have faced in the past, their dreams can come true.

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When Beacon House was created?

Beacon House has opened in 2005, and has served the Ghanaian community through fostering orphaned and vulnerable children and assisting at-risk families in their communities.

How many children is living in the orphenage?

There are about  20 children in this family in April 2006 in Beacon House (as you can see on pictures on the link before), from 9 months to 20 years old. Solo is the oldest because he is blind and has mental problems so unfortunately he will stay here his entire life.

Theses kids used to be malnourished with developmental delays and chronic, life threatening illnesses.

The last orphan baby called “Benji” who Romana is helping right now to survive is only 9 months. She put him in hospital because he has a critical illness : she is paying aghanain woman to take care and be with him all the time in the hospital. He will go soon to an orthopedic center because he was operated and need rehabilitation for his back before coming to the orphenage one day when he will be cured.

How are orphans there?

With the help of volunteers (students from Accra University exchange with USA) and local staff (one house manager, one cooker/ housekeeper, one ghanaian”mummy” taking care of the baby Matthew 8 months only, one driver to go to buy food, take kids to hospital) and of course the director of the orphenage “Romana” who lives inside the house with them.

I can see from inside that orphans (or children rejected by their own family who could not afford them) are now in good shape, having a normal life and are happy living all together as brothers and sisters.

Children are happy there, eating well, going to school, having healthcare, and most of all having LOVE  from students and volunteers, woman working there and Romana since she lives with them and has her bedroom upstairs…

Which are Beacon House last and recent projects?

  • Become self sufficient in a new house outside Accra :

Beacon House will soon moove to another “house” near the Dodowa Road, 30 mn drive from Accra. They will live there next October normally. They want to become self sufficient, eat properly a diversification food. They will not have to pay a rent in East Legon anymore.

There are a few things already on the land: a wall marking the property, a guard house, a chicken coop, and fruit trees have been planted and also orange, lemon, avocado… and mango trees will  provide nice fruits to the children and staff  of the orphenage.

A mother from my school gave me also 3 rabbits too for them (and you all know that rabbits make lots of babies!): so that they will put the rabbits on the land (some to play with kids but also to eat its meat).

Funding from an american college in the US and other association help them to build a chicken coop, so they bought 200 chicks and upkeep them until they started producing eggs

The chickens are now producing eggs; these not only supplement the nutritional protein needs of our growing children and those children who come to Beacon House malnourished but they also provide Beacon House with an income … an income to help off-set our other food purchasing expenses and some household supplies.

WHY do I have chosen to help a small orphanage and not a big and famous ONG who woulf be in Ghana?

I like being a volunteer for this “Beacon House” orphenage because it is “human size” and that each child is imporant for Romana, and she takes care of them as if it was all her own kids. It is important for me to see actions from inside, meet the donators even if they are small like neighbours giving a cake for a birthday kid.

I like to be next to them, know their names… know all their age…what they would like to be later (many wants to help children as a doctor). And start to share love together.

I could not maybe see that in a huge association who helps thousands of orphans from all Ghana. It is why I prefered myself to choose small.

But for me, I prefer to give clothes, food and time to each kids and givin love to each…

It is my choice but everybody can do what the feels is better of course! It will depend from your point of view but the objective will still the same :

Helping to give the opportunity to have a Happy and Healthy Life and access to Education and have good food everyday.

 

See now my actions to find donators for beacon House orphenage !

follow me on this post !!

You will see first co-operation between :

“Bolloré Africa Logistic” and “Numero Uno”

Start of a new good energy vibes !!!

 

 

 

 

ARTS CENTER in Accra

Arts & crafts in Accra

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AFRICAN ARTS AND CRAFT in Accra, Ghana

West Africa is rich in arts & crafts, and you can see this art in Ghana, in Accra, the capital.
Art for real fullfilment and love does not traditionally exist in Africa : everything that was crafted had some purpose behind it.

In Ghana, you can find beautiful hand woven textiles, old and new beads, brass works, gold jewelry, ceramics, paintings, sculptures, and wood carvings.

ARTS CENTER  is not the only place to buy regional art, but where that sale takes place depends on what kind of story you want to tell about the purchase. ARTS CENTER, TETTEH QUARSHIE ART MARKET near Airport area., village Markets, Wild Gecko (a shop mostly dedicated to expats), Global Mamas (clothes shop in OSU) are the places to find it.

ARTS CENTER

The Centre for National Arts and Culture, popularly known as Arts Centre, is located next to the Kwame Nkrumah Musoleum, off the High Street in Accra. The center became very popular in the 80’s for its leisure and entertainment.

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Arts Centre is a wonderful maze of more than 100 stalls which have all a number on the top of their roof for te ones outside.

When my car’s door opened, handshakes and a hearty welcome to the Accra welcomed me in Arts Center.

However,  it does not look like very nice, big, orderly building…. Rather, it is a crowded collection of vendor stalls who will do anything to invite you to come and see their products: joke, sing, tug at sleeves… from your car parking.

TIPS TO HAVE A GOOD SHOPPING EXPERIENCE 

Visiting the Arts center may be an exciting experience for tourists who are not used to the aggressive but thrilling negociation process … Hawkers attack from all sides as soon as you arrive, but if you’re not exhausted by the scrum you can find cheap and nice gift to buy!

A tips : if you say nothing, theses vendors will  take you to their stall unless you asked them nicely several times. So try to be hard when saying NO because after that you will have one then 2, and 3,4,5 vendors following you saying “Please, sister, have a look at my shop!” !!

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Tourists equal big money and for market sellers, this competition for foreign dough can easily turn into shouting matches about somebody’s mama. Most of all, they sell the same products among craf staf, jewelry, fabrics…

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Personnaly, I have been there several times there ewith friends and last time (for this article) I had Thomas, my driver. He came inside the Arts Center with me who was especially helpful in negotiating with me in their local language and also to take me pictures while looking to crafts product and negociating too:)

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We walked along the “building,” which is really a cluster of stalls, towards the back, past old men leaning on scraggly wooden canes and bored children sitting in the dirt, glancing our way with feigned interest.

All kinds of handicrafts imaginable may be found in this market.

The items range from wood carvings, traditional musical instruments, cane and raffia products, leather ware, gold, silver and bronze jewelry, beads, clay products, antiques, paintings to ivory products, and many more.

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These items are brought to the markets from various parts of the country and also from other countries within the West African sub-region including, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Senegal and Nigeria.

The arts and craft market provides employment opportunities for many people. Skills have been developed in carving, painting, designing, metal works to service the market.

The buyers are made up of those purchasing a few items to customers who place orders for large quantities of various products. A lot of buyers are tourists and other foreigners visiting Ghana.

CRAFTS CHEAP PRICES

I already bought many craft things for my family, friends and ourselves.

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For exemple, I bought a “Chief Chair” for less than  400 GHC (100€) in a beautiful wood.

You can negociate a lot because they have the same products in different stalls and also you will n ot find many other tourist in the market!

 

For a salad tongs you will pay 5€, for a small elephant (6 cm) 8 €, I also bought a table for 10€ and a big giraf cost 75 €.

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These african comb or stick cost me 4 € each.

All this is very well made and is cheap I think.

BUYERS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD

Art center is in fact one of the most important tourist attraction sites in the City of Accra and in Ghana. For this reason, some international famous people visiting Ghana for  official assignments are taken to the market to see and perhaps buy some of the crafts on display. These customers spend hundreds of thousands of cedis including foreign exchange at the place.

Because the craft market is very old and there’s been no investment in infrastructure, the structures housing the exhibits are very dilapidated. It is expected the safety and comfort of visitors would be better guaranteed when the rehabilitation and expansion takes place. The multi million dollar project would include the construction of market stalls, workshops, storerooms, restaurants, communication centers, show rooms and modern places of convenience. The Greater Accra Handicraft Dealers Association was formed in 1994.

Visitors at the market told that the market is very popular in Europe and America because of the variety and quality of the handicrafts available. Some of them said the items that they purchase are sent home as gifts for their loved ones and relations while others explained that they buy and resell in America and Europe.

HOPE YOU ENJOY THE JOURNEY!

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AND THAT YOU ARE WILLING TO DISCOVER THIS TYPICAL ARTS CENTER IN ACCRA !

Ghanaian fantasy coffins

Ghana “where anyone can get out in style”

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Which coffin do you fancy?
Who wants to visit death on vacation ?

Believe it or not, a visit to Ghana’s coffin makers is on most tourists’ itineraries here!!

imageI would have never find alone the Kane Kwei Coffins oldest shop in this road near Labadi Beach without Accra Accueil visit last year…
In European cultures, we cremate our dead or bury them in a simple pine box.

But coffins are a lot fancier in Ghana, where the Ga people believe that life continues in another world after death, and they want it to carry on in style.
And while a funeral lasts just a few hours, since eternity is, well, eternity, it’s important to spend it in style!!

In April 6th, 2016,  I had an interview with Eric whose grandcather created the first fantasy coffin. You can learn more on their Ghana coffin history website.

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He explained me everything and i will share it now with you :

First: its ORIGINS BELIEVES

The reason why mostly all ghanaian use such coffins is their religious beliefs regarding the afterlife.
They believe that death is not the end and that life continues in the next world in the same way it did on earth.

The social status of the deceased depends primarily on the importance, success and usage of an exclusive coffin during a burial.

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During the delivery to the customer, the coffin is enveloped of kraft paper or cloth because tradition wants work to be revealed only at the time of funeral.

AND ITS MEANING

They often symbolise the dead people’s professions. but also what they did for a living, their hopes, their vices…

Certain shapes, such as a sword or stool coffin, represent regal or priestly insignia with a magical and religious function. Only people with the appropriate status are allowed to be buried in these types of coffins.

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Some animals, such as lions, cockerels and crabs can represent clan totems. Similarly, only the heads of the families concerned are permitted to be buried in coffins such as these.

A fisher will be buried in a coffin in the form of fish or in a fishing boat, a professor in a fountain pen balk, etc.

The one who used to ask for a “beer shape “coffin was first not well seen by ghanian…but these years now, it is no more seen as an hard drink person but a person enjoying festivity in life. The ghanaian who asked the bottle of coke or fruit juice were working in theses companies.

The aspirations of the missing person are reflected by the coffin which is intended for him: the plane for instance was never ordered to bury a pilot, but resides a symbol of distant trips testifying a social success. Same for luxury cars.

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Fish are very popular designs–the fishing industry is big here–as are Bibles, the only fantasy coffins allowed in churches in this deeply religious country.

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Making the coffins

Fantasy coffins are produced only to order. Carpenters have several apprentices who allow the them to make several coffins simultaneously or all work on a single one in urgent cases.
imageThe coffins are generally made from white light local wood and not very expensive as the wawa or Nyame Dua. It will take two to six weeks to produce the coffin.

The woodworking is done using the simplest tools, without the aid of electrical ones.
Building is more or less complex according to the form of the model, the desired level of details.

The coffins of cylindrical or approached form (fish, mammals, fountain pen) are accomplished as a model of subject without worries of the opening intended to accept the body. This one will be later cut up.

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The painting of the figural coffins can take up to two days to finish and are painted by the head of the workshop, local sign writers…. who usually decide together the coffin’ s patterns and colours.

imageOne shop may produce 20 coffins by months. There are about 10 in Accra.

In a country where many people live on barely $2 a day, no expense is spared for the most important part of life: death. With prestige riding on the size and extravagance of the funeral, family members collect, borrow, and donate money to send their loved ones off to the afterlife in style. Funerals can cost up to a year’s salary.

ERIC COFFIN EXHIBITIONS ABROAD

Eric’s grandfather was the one who had the idea of such coffin, first for himself and then it spread in all the villages around …until Accra.

Now Eric is proud to open one more studio in Kumasi this year 2016.

In 2009, he was asked to participate in a moovie for coca cola ads for Spain to explain ghanaian coffins  can see on youtube the Coca cola coffin TV ad.
Since then, he travelled a lots and still makes exhibition all over the world : in Russia in 2010’s (he did a Vodka bottle ;), Korea …. he sells one for $5000 to $10000 dollars now but it takes him a month to create it himself alone in the host country !

Eric also wants to deliver “messages” to people thanks to its fantasy coffin :
For exemple, in the US, in 2011, he created a coffin in shape of a gun, and they cut it in 2 during the exhibition to show and ask people to stop violence.

Another one was to preserve environment : it was a “fish coffin” with plastics inside. Plastic kills fish when they eat that in the sea…and coffin means death of course..
A very symbolic art !

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The coffins cost between $300 and $1000 for ghanaian defunt with trees from kumasi uch as “wawa”and galeries or museums buy coffins up for $10,000 with wood from mahogany or “emery” wood.

 

Last Eric ideas for a tourist gift:

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Recently, ghanaian have recognized the quirkiness of their coffins design and have reacreated them in gift size for tourists.

There is now a roaring trade in the smaller version !

Hope that if you come one day in Ghana, you will take time to discover this art with fantasy ghanaian coffins and talk to  Eric in his coffins workshop !

My 1st safari in Mole national park

 My first safari in Mole national park

Continue reading “My 1st safari in Mole national park”

Being volunteer in an orphanage

Let’s help those in needs in Africa! 

Since I did not work all day, I had time to give to an association …

I decided to help in an orphenage since I like being with children, playing with them and teaching them things .

A friend of mine was already a nurse in Beacon House orphenage…

So one day, I followed her in this orphanage and I started a “love and helping” adventure.

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  • What I do in Beacon House as a volonteer :

My friend who introduce me had to moove out  from Africa… so my first mission in the orphenage was to prepare the medecines for those kids who have VIH (25% of the orphans in this orphenage). She explained me and since then I do it all wednesday for the whole week. I also go to hospital with them once a monthe to see the doctor who take car of the one with VIH.

But after this, I started to find games such as puzzle, and also dancing on zumba style!

Volunteers can help with school (homework, tutoring, reading ), they can propose arts and crafts, organizing a game, sports and other projects per their skills. If you have other hobbies (such as me music and danse) you can propose it to the orphanage director for approval and just start !

I already started to have idea to collect some clothes, toys, shoes, and medecines because they were in needs og basic ones.

I send a letter to Accra to be publish on their own website and I had so many respond after that at school! And by word of mouse, I get even more that I could imagine!

After this, I put  an album on my facebook page for sharing photos of kids playing with toys and wearing clothes they gave me for them.

Many friends from France also answered my call by sending me medecines, clothes, toys…so that I can return it when i will be in France ( in the end of  April for holidays ).

It is wonderful to see their smiles, energy!

  • How is everdyday life in Beacon House orphenage ?

They are 23 lovely children there : the smallest baby  is 6 months and the oldest child is 21.

Most of them are about 5 to  7 years old.

I also learned their everyday life such as duty :

Each day, 2 or 3  kids have to clean different parts of the house inside and outside. So there is a planning sticked on the wall to kwnow who do what and when ! Good organization! However, sometimes, one kid refuse to do it, since this is the way, the director of the orphenage give a punition : he will be forbidden to go to school the day after and he will have to clean even more!

Morevover, after school both girls and boys have to  wash with hands their clothes since they do not have a washing machine here.

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One lady prepare food for dinner for the 23 children. Most of the time they eat rice with something else like chicken, eggs.

Their plates are filled very well!   However, they ask donors  to give fruits and vegetables for having vitamins since it is expansive here.

They have a land 35 minutes from Accra (where they will moove on in few months) where they already try to become self- sufficient and they have built a chicken coop  (thanks to american donors) : they produce eggs for them to give protein for energy  and even to sell now to get an income for them to spend in other food expenses ! Other projects such as producing  their own food are in progress :they have already  planted orange, lemon, avocado, and mango trees to provide fruits for the home. A great idea !

They all go to the ghanaian school wich is not far  and they go there by walking. They start at 8am and finish around 3pm. They both learn english and french (since Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso,  are close to Ghana).

  • Rules for adoption and link to help all around the world

Adoption is limited in Ghana right now. An american lady asked for adopting th 6 months baby (Matthew) but governement refused. It is so sad for him to miss to have parents and better condition of living , education and hobbies…

  • Changing myself, and being aware of reality 

This experience makes me grow and gives me a great joy, each time I enter the orphanage, a little boy or girl is running to kiss me and giving a big hug, and the others are following with their “mumies”working there with big great smile.

It is like if I was a Mrs Santa Claus giving love, hugs, cuddles and bringing  fruits, toys, clothes..

Helping the most disavantaged is really a self-fulfilment for me. I feel like growing into a better person, and changing my point of view of the world, being more aware of the opposed lives on earth.

Poverty or / and being an orphan is hard to see but their everyday smile gives me a beautiful lesson of life!! How wonderful they are inside and their courage, strenght to struggle.

I you feel like being to be a volunteer, here is a link of a website to  know and find how  to be a volunteer in all the world:   workaway.

It is really wonderful to see how love is strong from them to you and the from you to them !!

“LOVE IS EVERYWHERE “

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TK BEADS

In Accra, not far from the center, you can visit a manufacture of ghanaian beads which exist since 1989. It is called  TK BEADS INDUSTRY.

It is really interesting to see how they do it from the beggining with bottles in glass to the necklaces ! They manufacture glass beads of high quality using the rich African processes; everything is handmade from molding to painting !

I went there with Accra Accueil, it is 15 mn far from Accra, on the road to Madina.

  • BEADS MANUFACTURING STEPS AND EXPLANATIONS

Here are the steps in photos for getting beads :

First, all the  all manufacturing takes place outside, only a small shop  with beads and necklace, bracelets has a room.

They have divided the place according to the activity and steps :

First, the collection part where thousands of glass bottles are piled up. These bottles are collected or given by people.

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Here you can see that  glasses are  broken and crumbled.

Afterwards, they need to make it a ball and they bake it in an oven outside for many hours:

When it is done, and after the ball glass are cooled, they can put cooling agents :

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The final step is to paint each bead with hands of course, it is a  work of precision and it takes a long long time!

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An at last, they can make nice necklaces homemade with good quality beads!

Many expat go there and buy some beads to make their own necklace in the shop next to the fabrication.

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It is a very good activity for mothers and children!

  • KOLI OR NAMING BEADS

  • Beads in Africa have different  utilities, meanings and significations.

Ghanaian babies are born with soul name, which is the name of the day on which they are born. (for ex monday name = Adjoa for girl ; and Kojo for Boy).

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But when they are 7 days, the naming ceremony takes place and a formal name is given.

Then , they are presented to “the sun and earth” and given water, alcohol and salt to taste.

The ceremony includes the grandmother bestowing blue Koli or plain white beads on the child, by tying them on a cotton thread on the joints (waist, neck, ankles).

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There is language of beads : for example if the child is a member of a royal family, a gold nugget, yellow beads or coral may be added to the Koli beads. As babies grow, the tightness of the string of beads indicates whether they are growing at a healthy rate so that their mother are awared if their baby is under or overweight. And moreover, the string of beads is also used to attach nappied!!

  • WAIST BEADS

African women  wear waist beads for different reasons.

The strands of small, glass beads are often bestowed upon young girls who start to wear in the run up to puberty.

As the girls grow, so the tightness of the waist beads indicates whether they are growing at a healthy rate. As well as weight control, they are also worn for spiritual reasons, chastity and to document pertinent stages of a woman’s life.

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Beads colours are symbolic as well :

Yellow means royalty, white purity…. :

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Traditionally waist beads are a very private body ornament with only the wearer deciding what she wears, and are hidden under their clothes.

Nowadays, they are being appropriated by women all over the world, wearing beads in necklaces like a fashion accessories.

This is causing an offense among those with a traditionalist perspective.

 

Bojo Beach -40 mn drive from Accra-

WEEK END IS STARTING AT LAST  😉 !!!

It is time to rest out of Accra!!

Enjoy Bojo Beach !

 

At 40 minute drive from Accra,  just past krokobite beach and you get to is this little piece of paradise to escape at last from the crowded and noisy Accra.

Here is the nearest beach from Accra : BOJO BEACH !

Entry fee is Ghc 15 but be aware that  you are not allowed to take your own food or drink.

You will walk on a stone trail to a large canoe-type boat which will takes you across the lagoon to the white sand of Bojo beach.

Then it is time to rest and enjoy the sea with a wind …If you want , you can ask a table 10 meters from the sea, without nobody in front of you ! Just amazing 🙂

 

You can order food such as  tilapia, chicken, jollof, yam chips, but also french fries, octopus,  etc. Smoothie, Pizzas are also available. Prices are correst (around 35 GHC the chicken /french fries meal and 2 GHC the bottle of water).You should try to order as soon as you arrived so that you will get your meal for lunch -and not for dinner-     😉

You can also have fresh coconuts  for 2 GHC to quench your thirst after swimming or having a walk along the beach.

The sea is quite clean, the beach all around the restaurant also, but all garbage are hidden in holes under the sand…… you can see in front of you the man “cleaning” by digging a hole and put all the litter inside….

The “attraction” here is to see the fishermen firing their nets in front of you. They are about 20 men doing this :

 

 

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Small fishes to sale

You can talk to them and they will love to explain their work.

Today, I met Francis a ghanaian from accra, who come every week-end to Bojo Beach to go fishing from 6 am to 11 am. During the week , he works as a security guard in Accra Mall.

They sell their frying of fished on markets or to you if you want of course.

==>But what I saw is so so so small fishes ….

The waves tends to be strong and you have to swim well and dive under each wave coming to you … it can be quite difficult to stay along inside because of it. The sea is hot and you feel good inside!

Some people also play in the volley ball court but it is so hot that I did not even tried once!

Be awared also that music start from 2 pm from the restaurant : so if you feel like dancing, and love music,  it is perfect !! But if you want to rest in a quiet place,  it is no more possible. So you should choose to come early  and leave early !

On the afternoon, you can have a walk and discover all the colored fishing boat in wood, and meet ghanaian tidying up and folding fishing nets,  and also children collecting crabs to cook ! Since it can be far, I had the security guard following me.

At the end of the day, you can take advantage of the light turning down with the silver reflections of the sea…

Colored fishing boats along the coast are particularly wonderful at sunset.

Do not hesitate to  go to Bojo Beach !

Leave me me comment if you have liked this article ! Thank you !!

Shops and food prices in Accra

When you arrive in a new country, you have to find out the shops according to what you want to eat and above all depending on the money you want to spend for it!

Starting eating local food? Go on eating western meals?

There are several types of shops and places to go for it and of course big differences in prices…

  • AT ROUNDABOUT OR TRAFFIC LIGHT

Ghanaian are walking next to traffic light where cars stop with fruits, chips, water, bread but also electronic, telephone card, even paintings!! in order to sell it. They mostly carry it above their head which is particular from Africa!

We really wonder how they manage to carry such heavy things on their head!! Their prices are quite low and you can negociate.

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Mobile recharge salesmen in Accra on the road

Unfortunately, it is not allowed by ghanaian government (except for telephone card because it’s their job for a mobile company).

I saw police coming and running after them in order to take all their goods so that they can’t sell it anymore. It is really difficult as my driver told me, because these ghanaians have nothing and only try to eat everyday with selling this type of product.  I was really angry and found it incomprehensible.

  • SHOPS IN STREETS

Ghanaian who can afford it have small shops (one room) where they sell vegetable, fruits and other things to eat. Their prices are quite low to and you can sometimes negociate. Moreover, I think it’s better to keep Ghanaian their business going than making the rich distribution group richer……….

  • MARKET SUCH AS MAKOLA OR MADINA MARKET

 

In these typical and dynamic markets, it is always very hot, noisy and crowded! The smell is sometimes very awful because of dried fishes… Bands play music. You will find food (big snails also!!)

snails makola market accra ghana
Snails in Makola market

, kithenware, fabrics, shoes, jewels, beads…….. and you can negociate prices of course! It is both in open air and in old buildings all around. There is a parking too.

 

You should not take photo. I tried one day but they wre angry about that.I will be better to enjoy the flow and enjoy and speak to them with smile. – a colourful open-air department store spread over several blocks.

  • SUPERMARKETS

palace supermarket accraKoala is a lebanese supermaket (in both Aiport or Osu area) where you can find easily food from everywhere and freezing things too. Prices are high but there is a free card with 5 % discount. It also offers you basic foodstuffs, bakery (french bread for 3,5 GHC). The Koala in Osu is bigger than in airport.

Palace is also a bigger supermaket on spintex road.

  • BAKERY FOR FRENCHIES!

Bread and Wine bakery and Delicatessen is located in OSU. It imports all his equipment and grain from France ! Bread and patisserie is baked each day and you will be like in France with your French baguettes your  brioche, raisin bread… There is also very expensive french cheese, pizzas…  I really like the outdoor and indoor setting . What’s more it is simple with nice classy decoration and you can rest easily next to the swimming pool since it is not noisy. Waiters are great and the strawberry cheesecake is heavenly !

D Café is also delivering good french bread and bakery in Airport next to Koala supermarket. One baguete is about 7 GHC so 2 times more than in France! Many expatriates and business man take a sit to drink coffee and eat a french croissant outside but it’s in front of the road so quite noisy…

  • MALLS

There are several malls where you can find supermarkets, pharmacy, electronic and phone shop, clothes shops, beauty shop, cinema…

It is Marina Mall in airport side, Accra Mall in Spintex road,  Maxt Mart 37 in Liberation Road and in East Legon, AC Mall in East Legon…

Marina Mall (airport area)

The newest and most popular shopping centre in Ghana is Marina Mall (in Airport). The supermarket in on the ground floor selling many expensive foreign goods but also good and cheap meat, fresh fishes and Deli counter. There are three floors of shops (expansive clothes, watches, computers, pharmacy), and a food court (KFC, DeliFrance). Well known french brands such as Benetton, Clarins, and Façonnable are here too.  You can also find to take you ID photos on the 3rd floor.

Accra Mall (Spintex road)

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Game supermarket in Accra Mall

In this mall there are clothing boutiques (african fabrics such as Woodin and Vlisco, or famous brands like Levis, Puma, Swatch). Shoprite is a food shop and Game has food, electronic,  fitness and cooking equipment, but also tools, bedroom, kids and bathroom staff…. You can have lunch in a fastfood or restaurant there). On the first floor,  book and music store are next to the cinema, showing current blockbusters, Nollywood and Ghanaian films.

Concerning Shoprite, it  is Africa’s largest food retailer and has a  wide selection of foods including imported meats from South Africa. There’s also a deli counter, and large selections of wines as well as household goods. Prices are cheaper compared to Marina Mall and Maxmart.

A&C MALL (East Legon area) 

You will find  A&C Square offering clothing shops (Woodin), coffee shops, entertainment ( a modern health club), Vodafone, food retailer,  and also health clinics and a vegetable/fruit ghanain shop next to a children’s play area.

Maxt Mart 37 (in Liberation road)

This three-storey supermarket has a good bakery and a large deli counter (with cold meats, cheeses). On the 1st floor, there are brands such as Clarins, Mont Blanc and Lancel ! On the second floor, there is a large selection of homeware such as bedding, glassware, candles and picture frames.

 

  • PRICES:

Now, lets see the prices of goods in Malls or supermarkets.

Some products are coming from South Africa such as meat. It is  really a good one and it’s very cheap! It is abour 30 GHC for 1kg of steak! So inviting friends for big barbecues here are cheap !! 🙂

Local fishes are also very good and is not expensive.

Chicken is known to come from Bresil and people say it is not good one but personnaly, I eat chicken very often and I never got sick ( 30GHC for 1kg)!

On the other hand, fresh vegetables are more expensive. For tomatoes, you will have to pay 6 GHC for 6 very small ones. A small salad (for only 2 people) is about 3,5 GHC. Some are only available frozen such as beans, broccolis and spinach (25GHC for 500g) and it’s very difficult to find. There are often out of stock…so when there are available, you buy a lot to fill your freezer!

Yogurt are really unaffordable in my view : one solutionis to make it home! Many expat women bought a yogurt maker (as I did) and it’s very easy and quick to do!

500g pasta are about 10 GHC.

Chocolates (often delivered by the industrial Leader Price) is about 15 to 25 GHC for 100g…

Cheese (french always eat that!) do not come cheap neither : at least 100 GHC for 1kg.

Wines are also expensive and moreover the quality is quite bad for not saying very bad… The less expensive one is about 15 GHC (for cooking one). Mostly it is around 40 GHC the first level.

So be prepared to get used to life here or bring back products from France ! (I never had problem at the airport, even if my suitcase was smelling like feet!!!!

Here, you will see that women expat buy their food in different shops because prices are sometimes twice more from one to the other and some products have a better quality too. It makes shopping a bit complicated but you know women expat have time.

  • Recommended Minimum Amount of Money for food (Western food types)

For two people we spend about 3000 GHC eating western food (with cheese, bacon, ham… which are expensive). Underneath, you can see the prices for each basic product to make your own average.

Milk (regular), (0.25 liter) 0.61 €
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (125.00 g) 0.52 €
Rice (white), (0.10 kg) 0.38 €
Eggs (2.40) 0.46 €
Local Cheese (0.10 kg) 1.57 €
Chicken Breasts (Boneless, Skinless), (0.15 kg) 1.13 €
Beef Round (0.15 kg) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat) 0.91 €
Apples (0.30 kg) 0.87 €
Banana (0.25 kg) 0.51 €
Oranges (0.30 kg) 0.72 €
Tomato (0.20 kg) 0.47 €
Potato (0.20 kg) 0.56 €
Onion (0.10 kg) 0.28 €
Lettuce (0.20 head) 0.37 €
Daily  minimum amount of money for food per person eating at home 9.35 € (40 GHC)
Monthly recommended minimum amount of money for food per person
(assuming 31 days per month)
289.80 € (1200 GHC)

Ghanaian fabrics : batik, wax and kente

GHANAIAN DIFFERENT TYPES OF FABRICS: BATIK, KENTE AND WAX.

 

Ghanaian women wear typical fabrics which are beautiful to see in streets.

They are wearing well cut dresses with lively colours and complex patterns.

It is an essential part of the landscape in Accra.

P1010531
JOSEPHINE  wearing colorful dress with ghanaian fabric

Wildly patterned wax-printed batik clothes are extremely egalitarian in Accra since both street vendors and socialites wear it.

In streets, you can see gorgeous synthesis of traditional and modern fashion.

Let me show you the different fabrics which exist here in Ghana:

  • BATIK

One of the homemade fabrics is called BATIK:

P1020035

Esther is known to have the best batiks in Accra. She uses beautiful colours and patterns in her handmade batik prints.

She also propose to expat women to batik workshops with Esther at her home in Madina. Accra Accueil propose this activity with both mother and children. I did it and it takes about 3 hours to create your own batik to take it home !

As you can se below, you choose your  shapes of the different patterns you want to put on your fabric. After, the fabric is flooding to be dyed  into a barrel :

shapes for batiksbatik colourbatik homemade accra

At the end, you just have to wait that it is dried to take it home!

It is such a typical activity to discover !

  • WAX

In the late XIX , Wax was copied by english and dutch settlers in Indonesia from Java Island wax. They learned and reproduced  wax process and changed with vibrant colours. Then  it is said that ghanian soldiers working in Indonesia brought wax back to Ghana.

“African wax prints” are omnipresent and common materials for clothing in Africa and Ghana since 70’s. In Togo, this business done by women in the 70’s called “Nanas Benz” (because they had Mercedes Benz car), was very successful  .

They are industrially produced with  colorful cotton cloths with batik printing. Unfortunately, more and more chinese fabrics kills the original and local african market…

Normally, the fabrics are sold in 12 yards as “full piece” or 6 yards as “half piece”. The colors comply with the local preferences of the costumers. Mainly clothing for celebrations is made out of these.

Here is a shop selling wax, in a market such as Makola in Accra :

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  • KENTE

Kente is one of the most typical symbol . It is an Asante ceremonial cloth, representing numerous aspects of Ghanaian ethical, philosophical, social and religious heritage through variations in colour and pattern.

Although machine made kente is now widely available, it is still reserved for formal occasions. The dramatic colour and texture in kente is echoed in wax-printed fabric. Kente are sold in malls and in markets.

I also discovered the procesing steps with Accra Accueil activity :

First , they have to prepare the fabric thread :

P1050764P1050765

Then, they have to woven the fabrics all handmade:

P1050772

How Ghanaian women get dressed is essential for funerals, weddings and engagements which all require specific dresses.

P1020075
Thomas whith its typical ghanaian costume (for “friday wear”)

Most women employ a seamstress and choose a style from a ‘calendar,’ a poster showing photographs of models in outfits. These designs are usually variations of the kaba (blouse) and slit (long skirt), a common ensemble.

Yvonne koné

There is no lake of design in Accra. More and more people design exciting wax print garments.

At the moment, western silhouettes in traditional fabrics are very much in vogue.

Europeans expat are more an more wearing also these beaytiful fabrics and they make different as a  pure, shoes, and even earings!

Sewing is a lucrative business so you’ll find a seamstress operating an old-fashioned foot-operated Singer sewing machine in any busy area.

Here is one I saw in Madina market :

P1020067

 

Seamstresses tend to be very talented and they can interpret a western design or copy an existing dress. If the customer provides her own cloth, her dress usually costs between  8 GHC (2€) and 10GHC.

For expatriates, the prices are not the same but still very cheap .

First you have to buy the fabric (wax)  you love :

  • Woodin shop in Accra Mall is my best place because it guarantee a great value for money (100GHC -23 €-for 6 yards).
  • Vlisco is also another dutch company (created in 1846) but with higher prices (60 € for 6 yards).

Both patterns and prints  inherit from the African culture. Loincloth wax is also a means of communication to show political or social value.

Know that if you see one day the fabric you like, you should buy it right now because next time it will be finish ! Collections are renew very often!

Afterwards, ou have to find your seamstress to create for exemple 6 pillows for 10 GHC each (2,5€) , a dress for 40 GHC (10€), a short shirt sleeves for 30 GHC.

It was fantastic and well done !   Here is one of my skirt below :

P1020017

Hope you will enjoy coming to Accra and buy some fabrics from GHANA MARKETS !

 

Welcome to Ghana ” Akwaaba” !

DEAR READERS, AKWAABA !!! (WELCOME !!!)

Here are short direct information you should know about Ghana:

You can go to Ghana wikipedia information “Routard” french travel guide , Lonely planet Guide to know more.

The Republic of Ghana, located in West Africa along the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean, is a sovereign unitary presidential democracy.  It has a population of approximately 27 million, with different ethnic people, languages and religions.

  • DEMOGRAPHY

98% of ghanaian are Black Africans. In 2010, most of the 24.2 million inhabitants were predominantly citizens of the Ashanti territories.

The Government of Ghana states that the official language of Ghana is English, and is spoken by 67.1%. However, there are 11 other ethnic languages (Twi, Fente, Gâ, Mossi…).

In 2010, 71% were Christian (29% are Pentecostal, 18% Protestant and 13%Catholic). In 2013, 18% were Muslims. Traditional (indigenous) beliefs are also practiced.

Life expectancy is 65 years old. Ghana has a universal health care system strictly designated for Ghanaian nationals, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS)Ghana’s universal health care system has been described as the most successful healthcare system on the Africa continent by the renowned business magnate and tycoon Bill Gates. As of 2012, the HIV/AIDS prevalence was estimated at 1.40% among adults aged 15–49.

  • GEOGRAPHY

carte ghana routard

Its  geography,  since Ghana is located in West Africa along the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic ranges from coastal savannahs to tropical jungles.

Grasslands mixed with south coastal shrublands and forests dominate. But Ghana has also plains, waterfalls, low hills, rivers, Lake Volta (the world’s largest artificial lake).

=> You will see trough my “week end pleasures” category (in the expatriation part) some articles with photos of all theses landscapes!

 

 

  • CLIMATE

The climate of Ghana is tropical and there are two main seasons: the wet season and the dry season. Go and see more photos in the “Kiss the seasons Goodbye” part of my blog.

 

  • ECONOMY

Ghana’s economy prosperity is the 9th-largest power on the Africa continent. It has an economic plan target known as the “Ghana Vision 2020″to become a developed country between 2020 and 2029.

It produces petroleum and natural gas and export them, (it has the 5th  largest oil reserves and 6th largest natural gas reserves). 

akosombo dam
Akosombo dam

It is the 7th and 9th world’s largest gold and diamond producer, and tends to become the biggest cocoa producer in the world. It also produces coffee, bananas, pineapple, coconuts, yam,  cashews and  rice.

 

The Akosombo Dam, built on the Volta River (and others) provide hydropower.

 

 

contruction ghanaThe real estate and housing market of Ghana has become an important and strategic economic sector, particularly in Accra, Kumasi, Sekondi-Takoradi and Tema. The gross rental income tax of Ghana is withheld at 10%.

Ghana ‘s good economy has given birth to a boom in the construction sector generating billions of dollars/year  and a robust political stability.

 

  • TRADE AND EXPORTS

 

Tema and Takoradi Harbour
Ghana is one of the fastest growing and expanding shipping industry in West African Coast.

Tema harbour is Africa’s largest manmade harbour and with Takoradi harbour they handle goods and exports for Ghana. It is  where goods are transhipped by cargo. They export mostly cocoa,  manganese, diamant, gold, wood, aluminium.

  • EDUCATION

With over 95% of its children in school, Ghana currently has one of the highest school enrolment rates in all of Africa.

  • CULTURE

I speak about culture in several categories (food, typical things, places to visit…) in my Ghana part.

bandeau ghana cult