Ghana Update II
I’m at “Busy Internet” in Accra right now. We’ve been calling the people who did and didn’t manage to make the program. It seems that instead of taking 50 kids, we’re going to try and take 100 kids, doing two sessions a day. Clara had indicated that we’d be “totally fried” trying to do just 50 kids, so God only knows how intense this upcoming week will be. It sounds like I’m going to be doing the technology teaching, so I have to prep for doing four presentations a day (!) for Monday-Friday. Thankfully, we did manage to find a local sponsor for our lunch money, so the kids will be able to eat.
One thing that really amazes me here is that even though most of the streets are dirt
(and all are unlit) and everything’s a hodge-podge insanity, a full THIRD of the local businesses are computer-related; either offering IT classes, Internet access, computer repairs, computer sales, etc. These people are clearly stoked for computing, which is a tremendous boon. Teaching people who want to learn is a bajillion times easier than trying to persuade folks that they want to learn.
The food is really good; I was honestly a little worried, since I had never sampled Ghanaian fare, but the sauces, plantains, etc, are all very yummy. It’s pretty funny being the only white guy around. I think everyone should go somewhere where they’re a stranger – it helps give you perspective on strangers in your own land.
Everyone has cell phones and TVs. As might be expected, labor and food are much cheaper than the US; gas is about the same price in $US and electronics are considerably more expensive. Taxis, surprisingly, are *everywhere* and are at least as common as cars. The taxis are uniformly in just-about-to-fall-apart condition, with seats tipping as you sit
down, doors mostly-closing, and the exteriors having clearly endured more than a few dozen knockups. It seems that everyone is selling everything by the streets – coffins appropriately intermix with motorcylces on roadside displays, and throngs of men and women approach the car to knock on the glass and present everything from the daily paper to hubcaps to chewing gum to yams. Some of the more entreprising streetsalesmen tape their product to themselves; one man approached our car with a tie freshly fronted by taped-on Gillette razor blades. There are a wide variety of streetside stalls hastily erected wherever a wide-enough sidewalk permits. Measuring about three or four feet per side, you can buy phone cards, questionably fresh fish, cooked meals, or even haircuts in these little huts. Several have dire warnings spraypainted on by the police about when the huts must be removed.
I’m very happy to be here and I hope we can make a difference. These people want to learn about technology and we want to teach it, so it feels like a match. 🙂 Keep your fingers crossed for us (or pray, if you do that). We need it.