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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Back Home in Kpong and Getting to Know the Fulani’s

Submitted by Erin Nolan

The 10 day road trip came to an end after a scenic and uneventful 8 hour drive from Techiman back to Kpong. It was approximately 450 km back to the airfield and it was decided to side step Kumasi to avoid being stuck in traffic. This route allowed us to enjoy the view of the rolling hills, valleys, and different views of the lake. Ghana is a very beautiful country with so much potential but it wasn’t hard to notice that the flood waters from the previous rainy season didn’t recede to normal levels as of yet. I have a feeling this tower wasn’t built in the water like this picture depicts.

Worth someone’s concern? Maybe? What will happen during the next rainy season?
 The route took us through basically “good road” we even hit a stretch of ”brand new road” and we all arrived in one piece and by some miracle the car still had all major parts intact. It was a relief to know we made it back to our destination but my instincts tell me our vehicle issues are far from over.
The next few weeks everyone’s focus was on three main goals; completing the roof on the Fulani Camp School, projects in the workshop, and getting ready for Fly Me Day. 
The Fulani’s are a nomadic tribe who settled very close to the farm house. We passed them every day to and from the airfield. Mathew has become very close to them and tries his best to provide guidance to them with whatever he can. Our first visit was a basic introduction and a chance for me to get an understanding of their way of life. They live completely off the land and handle livestock to make a living. Their children do not go to school and speak their own tribal language. I did find it interesting that one man also spoke French. Mathew explained that he had previously lived in the neighboring country of Burkina Faso where French influence is very high. Made me think of going back to refresh my French because it would have been nice to be able to communicate with him as well as Mathew did. I got a chance to see their homes; their livestock, the frame work of the new school, and meet their women and bright eyed kids.

Our visits were many over the rest of my stay. While we were on our road trip Mathew had taken one of the Fulani girls to the hospital for a bad infection in her hand and index finger. After looking in on her we saw that she needed follow up medical care.

We came by two days later with nurse Lydia from VRA.  She spoke to mostly the women of the tribe and tried to explain the importance of hygiene and getting medical attention. She also discussed the benefits of seeing the doctor so something simple doesn’t turn into a major health concern. Proper nutrition and the soon to be built school were also big topics of the day.

I took the older kids aside to give everyone a chance to talk without the kids distracting the women from the important discussion. I learned they already knew some English words like eye, nose, ear and mouth. So I jumped into the tough ones like arm, elbow, finger, hand, and stomach. I haven’t had too much experience teaching little kids but I’m hoping they couldn’t tell!

These kids hang on every word and are really starving for knowledge. They are so smart and just need someone to take the time to teach them the basics. I am also beginning to notice that the women are the ones taking care of everything. It seems most of the men enjoy their afternoon under the shaded tree while the women are working extremely hard on all the major chores.

Looks like Nurse Lydia is giving them a piece of her mind! I have to admit I enjoyed knowing she wasn’t happy either.

Our next visit was the day the roof was completed on the Fulani school. Cindy the Av Tech English teacher will be spending one day a week in the Fulani school once it is completed and Rex and Melissa had arrived and came along on the visit as well. Mr. Solo and Benard went to work while we all hung out with kids. Cindy sang songs with them, Rex and Melissa were taking photos and entertaining the kids and I tried to get them to write their ABC’s.

By the end of the day the roof was complete and soon all of the kids will have a place to start their education.

As you can see this little one’s finger is really in need of some medical attention.

 Since there had been no improvement Mathew decided it was time to make sure she got back to the doctor. He spent almost an entire day at the hospital and after an x-ray it was determined that her finger was both broken and infected.
This is just one girl in a huge country and there are so many people all over Ghana who could benefit from MOM’s services. She is lucky because she is close to a hospital and had a kind soul like Mathew to give the family some direction. Twice a day for the next week he stopped in to make sure she got the correct medicine and dosage at the correct time. These visits for me were a huge eye opener of how much something like MOM can change their lives.
I can’t wait to see how these kids do in school and maybe one day get to say to them how happy I was to meet them and share their way of life.

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