Thursday, February 2, 2012

Day 13

I’m sitting here in a day hotel room they have booked for us to use as we come and go on our own schedules this afternoon .  It’s our last day in Ghana.  We leave for the airport and then England later tonight.  As a bonus, we will be attending a reception at the Canadian High Commission before ducking out to the airport.  Cutting it a bit close, but how can we pass up that opportunity?!

We all noted how it’s hard to believe that two weeks have passed.  For most, the days were long. The conditions rough (but not so rough as those who live here, especially in the villages and remote areas).   Coaches were up and going by 8 am, and often working on their reports and recommendations til later in the evening.  A bit of food and refreshment and then off to bed to start it all again.  My own schedule didn’t involve coaching, but I was averaging 3-4 visits a day (one day five), which was challenging all on its own. Still … looking back, the time just flew by. 

So much we have learned.  So much we realize that we didn’t see or experience.  Plus … we all realized the privileged existence we have had here in this country.  We had dedicated drivers, essentially cultural liaisons, to get us around and help us navigate a very foreign culture – and to help us avoid the bigger mistakes we could have made.  (Let’s not talk about all the tiny ones we probably made along the way!!)  CUA - the Ghana credit union central - and CCA worked hard to pre-plan as much as they could and work out the biggest kinks.  (Not always successfully, but they tried!)  If we’d tried to come in to as individuals, our level of access, mobility and general comfort would not have been nearly so successful.  And our results would have probably reflected that, too.

This morning was spent at CUA, briefing the management team there on the experiences of the coaching teams and the key recommendations they made to each of the local credit unions.  I also was granted a few moments to reflect on my learnings, and didn’t realize til then what I had, in fact, experienced.  It will take me a few more days, possibly weeks, to process it all.  I took copious notes of the coaches’ stories, so this should help to round out some of my own reports and possible articles.  We will have our own team debriefing in London when we hook up again with the teams from Uganda and Malawi. That is when I will help the teams focus the key elements of the stories they’ll be presenting to various audiences once they are home.

Also in the morning meeting: we sang the credit union song (a truncated version of It’s a Small World – seriously!!), had an opening and closing prayer and a few of the CUA staff made some presentations.   CUA also presented us with thank you gifts, lovely ceremonial scarves.   Then, off to lunch at a local restaurant.

Once we’d eaten (90% of us had chicken and rice, our fall-back meal), we dispersed to savour our last moments in Accra.  I joined the Irish contingent and went to a market to see what trinkets I could purchase. Notice to my nieces – you SCORED!)  Others went swimming, while still others found food and drink to pass the time.

I am sitting here in the common hotel room just getting ready to head to the Canadian High Commission.  I have packed and repacked, and managed to get my two suitcases into one weighing marginally less than the maximum allowed. It will be so much easier to navigate the tube in London as we make our way to the hotel from Heathrow using only public transit.  I am in my travelling clothes – long pants and long shirt.  The air conditioning is keeping me comfortable; how soon will I regret my clothing choices when I venture into the city again, I wonder.

So sad it is over.  I will miss this place. The  things I have seen and done here have made some preconceptions of mine soften, and given me a new part of the world to explore, if only through Google and the Internet.

Talk to you soon,

Day 12

Up and out by 7.30 am. Visited a local credit union that had received coaches a number of years ago, and then visited a tiny, tiny credit union that had sent its women manager to Canada as part of the Women's Mentorship Program.   Then ... literally drove til 10.30 pm to get back to main hotel in Accra where all the Ghana coaches were assembling before heading off to a local debrief, our visit to the High Commission and then the flight to Heathrow.

Was absolutely exhausted from sitting so long.  Drove through some great rural areas at night where the road side stands were lit by candles, flaming torches or the occasional CFL light bulb.  So nice to see the spots of lights near the road and further back.  It was soccer night - Ghana was playing Guinea in the African National championships.  The game ended up tied 1-1.  In every village we passed, every stand with a TV had a crowd of locals gathered around watching the game.  Houses that looked like the most primitive shelters glowed from the light of a TV.  It made me smile. And another reminder that all is not always what it seems.

Passed a number of nearly empty outdoor church services.  Football/soccer beat out the Lord by a long shot, at least for this evening.

Got back to the Paloma hotel and met up with my buddies, who had been drinking for quite a few hours.  Nothing more needs to be said there!  :-)

Am looking forward to my last day in Ghana.  So there will be at least one more post on our adventures here.  Plus ... I will have a few posts on my reflections ... and a summary of my trip to London.