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Saturday, July 24, 2010

By road with a pick axe

Submitted by Rosina Maku Matey
Saturday 24 July 2010, Paul Michael and Rosina (me) set off from Kpong Airfield at about 07:15 to Battorkope. Our mission was to inspect airstrip progress, donate pickaxes and machetes to the community as well take 50 children's books to start the school library. We got Asesewa about 09:30 and started the dusty craggy and gully ridden descent into Battorkope. Thankfully Paul has a Land-cruiser which made it easier but it still took a long time to cover the last 18 km. We arrived in Battorkope at around 11:00, as we came in to the town we saw AA lying above - piloted by Hisham, who only took 20minutes to get there. The whole community was out and homes, no how simple, they came to see the 'MoM inspectors'!

9G ZAA circled around and waved its wings at us now that it was clear that we had arrived safely.
We were welcomed into the church hall in the middle of the settlement. The Chief of Battorkope, Togbe Bosoka and the Queen Mother, Mamaga Rebecca Awuitor lead the village leaders in the welcoming committee. They were very pleased to see us in their village once again, and expressed grateful thanks for the assistance being given in the way of moral support and practical encouragement. After speeches Paul presented the tools and books, which the chief and two elders received with big smiles.

The people put on a special cultural drumming and dancing display for the land-MoMmers after the welcoming ceremony. As part of our visit we were schedule to see the progress on the airstrip. It took about 20 minutes to walk to the strip, and Paul managed very well despite still recovering from his motorcycle leg-breaking episode. What we saw on the airstrip took our breath away as we witnessed the work of a Liebherr bulldozer done by the mere muscles of a few determined, self-realizing men and women - without any mechanical or motorized interventions.

We praised them for the work done and encouraged them to complete the remaining challenges of final stump removal, leveling and compacting. One of the community leaders has indicated that the remaining work will be completed within a few weeks.

Battorkope is a village 18km east of Asesewa and the people are farmers and fisher-folk, they grow and sell rice, groundnuts (peanuts), potatoes, pepper, onions, aubergine, okro (ladies fingers), fish and charcoal.

One of the elders told us they do communal labour every Saturday when they weed, clean and sweep around the village; but for now they are concentrating the communal labour on the airstrip to make it easier for MoM to take support to them. This explains why the village is very clean and neat, because during earlier visits it was pointed out the airplanes don't like rubbish - and the best way to keep plastic bags from blowing onto the airstrip is to keep the whole village and surrounding areas clean.

Before we left we took samples from the five boreholes in the village because there is a possibility that there may be some compromise to the safe drinking water supply (ask Capt. Yaw how sick he was from sipping a little water from a bore-hole here!) - results will take a couple of weeks and then we will know if any action is needed to ensure a continuous safe water supply.

As we left the village around the village 12:30, it was clear the people of Battorkope would need special exemptions from the charges of GCAA if their airstrip is to become functional.

To the Chiefs and People of Battorkope a special well done and congratulations for the efforts and energies put into this project have brought about a positve change for an entire community.

Ariving back at Kpong Airfield in the mid-afternoon. We were all tired but happy and received a warm welcome from the airfield team as we shared the excitement of our trip...

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