May 7, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Sarah D. in Ghana

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ghana: Peace Corps Ghana : The Peace Corps in Ghana: May 7, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Sarah D. in Ghana

By Admin1 (admin) on Wednesday, May 07, 2003 - 8:49 pm: Edit Post

Sarah D. in Ghana

Sarah D. in Ghana

June 28

Went into the capital city of Accra on some sort of Peace Corps scavenger hunt. It was rainy, dirty, and in generally very poor condition. Kind of like Morocco, but only more so. Went through a market and a man grabbed Sarah's arm and wouldn't let go. He kept yelling for Sarah to give him a bible or cash. Sarah's partner in the scavenger hunt tried to rescue her but the man wouldn't let go. A crowd started gathering and Sarah and her partner were demanding that the man let go of her arm. He finally did when Sarah raised her arm high enough so that everyone in the crowd could see what was going on. Not a good introduction to Ghana. No one else in the Peace Corps had anything bad happen to them and went on and on about how nice the people were there. Very hot in Ghana - constant sweating.

Everyone carries stuff on their heads, even huge amounts. Sarah has not yet seen the ocean. There is an access point in the city but you have to pay 1000 cedis just to walk to it (2500 cedis = 1 dollar). Coke costs 800-1500 cedis. Beer costs 2500-3500 cedis. Taxi ride is 3000 cedis. People ride the"tro-tro" there (a very crowded small bus) for 350 cedis. There are no defined bus routes there so it is hard to figure out where you will end up if you take one.

Saltpond is the Peace Corps training center in Ghana. They have a big field next door, perfect for Ultimate. There is only one other Ultimate player in the group of Peace Corps people (of 35). There is another Sarah in her group and our Sarah hates that because of the name mixups.

July 2

Peace Corps people told her to number her letters to avoid confusion caused by unexpected mail delays. The Ghana postal system appears to be less efficient than the US system. Mail takes about 2 weeks to arrive both ways.

Sarah did her laundry by hand - her technique is to get them wet and soapy. The Peace Corps training center is the nicest building in a very dilapidated town. Sarah is sharing a tiny dorm room (12' x 14') with another Peace Corps person from North Carolina. Sarah has the bottom bunk. She leaves for a 2 week stay with a homestay family. She is nervous because in Morocco she got lots of preparation on handy phrases and expectations. The Peace Corps hasn't prepared her well for anything. She has hardly learned any "Twi" yet (the native language) and what she has learned doesn't appear to be useful. Everything gets really muddy when it rains as it has the last 3 days.

Kids in Ghana yell at her and other Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) "Obrunni Obrunni!" which means "You are white! You are white!" She was told by her homestay mom to yell back "Obebinni Obebinni!" which means "You are black! You are black!"

Went to her homestay family. 2 kids living there - 11 year old boy and 6 year old girl. Luckily they speak a lot of English. Sarah went with her homestay mother to a funeral dressed up in her mother's clothes and a head wrap. Unfortunately, Sarah left her camera at the PC training center. Much different than any funeral in the US. Lots of singing and dancing (in the back yard) and only crying around the body which was laid out on a bed in the house where the funeral took place. Everyone was trying to get her to speak in Twi. Sarah discovered that everyone was speaking Fante, which is similar to Twi, but has many different words and pronounciations. So what she learned no one actually uses. She is constantly hot and sweaty except in the morning when it is actually cold. Her homestay family has an american style toilet. Croaking frogs keep her up at night.

Sarah got accepted into Georgetown medical school but they won't let her defer for 2 years so she'll have to redo her application when she gets back.

She helped her host mom prepare "fufu" which is made of plantains and cassava(?). Her host mom likes to drink beer so they had 2 Guinnesses to drink while they made it. Billboards in Ghana say "Guinness is good for you!"

She drove to Cape Coast with her host mom (a town a half an hour away) so that her host mom could buy some batik (cloth that's been sort of tie-dyed). Her host mom trades batik to women back in her hometown. Cape Coast is very crowded and dirty. Everything looks like it is about to crumble to the bround. The tro-tro (a Toyota van which holds about 16-20 people) went so fast and nobody has seat belts and there are potholes everywhere. The nearest hospital is 1-2 hours away and probably lacks good doctors and equipment. Frightening to think about the possibilities.

There are many vultures in Ghana. Ugly birds. Sarah drew a picture of a vulture, shown below. They circle areas where livestock has been butchered. Lots of lizards and geckos - some with cool colors. Found a spider with black and yellow markings in her room that was the approximately size of her hand balled up. Hasn't seen any cockroaches or rats like other PCVs.

July 16

She had to prepare two 30 minute lessons this week and teach actual Ghanaian students. It is hard and time consuming and she doesn't have much guidance.

She received her site assignment. She will be going to "Mim" in the Brong-Ahafu region of Ghana. It is 30km southwest of Kumasi in the west part of the country. Supposedly there are a bunch of towns named Mim in Ghana so this last sentence is important. Sarah will have electricity and running water (which she will have to filter and boil). She replaces a PCV who just left. This PCV sent her a letter saying that he was distrustful of the people at the school and in town. He left Sarah some stuff and he was afraid it would be stolen by the time she arrived (including a refrigerator). Sarah will have 2 rooms in a 4 room bungalow. The school is a regional science resource facility, meaning it has good laboratories and probably a few computers (no internet as of yet though). The school does not have enough textbooks. The Mim timber company is in town (the largest saw-mill in West Africa). Mim also has a health clinic.

Although her homestay family did not have a TV, other homestay families did. They watch X-files and ER episodes from 5 years ago, just like in Morocco. Sarah wanted to watch the Womens World Cup final but the person at the home she visited wanted to go out on the town instead. She missed the game and she was pissed because it was a game to remember.

Sarah has had to turn down a few marriage proposals already. The ring she wears is coming in handy as evidence of her "American husband."

July 27

Sarah visited her site in Mim - it tooks 7 1/2 hours to get there and some of the roads were pretty bad (no highways in Ghana). The countryside is pretty (very green) yet most of the forests have been cleared so only a very few tall canopy trees remain - reminding you of how cool it must have been. I believe Sarah drew a picture of a canopy tree, shown below. It is hard to get used to the dirtyness and dilapidation of the cities. There are open sewers along the side of roads and it is gross and smells. Goats, chickens, and sheep are on the roads too. Crazy tro-tro drivers and women carrying hundreds of eggs, or biscuits, or soaps on their heads. Trash is everywhere. Mim is like that except for the tiny enclave near the edge of town where the pool and tennis court are. The school campus is fairly nice too. Sarah's bungalow is the last one and faces the football (aka soccer) field. There are some flowers outside the fence and noisy goats and roosters. She shares a bathroom and shower with 3 male neighbors - Sarah is thinking of putting up curtains for the shower windows. On the way back, she saw lots of people holding up bushrats they had caught for sale along the road (Sarah drew a picture shown below of a Ghana guy with a Nike shirt on who is holding two huge rats - look like oppossums).

On her birthday, she travelled to the next town over to meet and stay with a PCV who has already been in Ghana for a year. It took a long time to get there and when she arrived it started pouring. She got soaked trying to get to the guy's house. The PCV made her pasta and beans for her birthday dinner. She anticipates eating a lot of pasta and beans while she is in Ghana.

If anyone happens to send her a package, she would like:

* Alfredo sauce packets
* Primavera sauce packets
* Garlic sauce packets
* Spice packets for making tacos, or chilli, etc.
* Compact easy to make brownie mix
* A small mirror

The 4th of July celebration will be held on August 1st in Ghana. I believe that Sarah meant that the PCVs celebrate it then, not the country of Ghana. However, I could be wrong. They are making BEEF burgers (not goat) - this must be a big deal (Heidi Scott, who went to Botswana, later assured me that this was a very big deal).

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Ghana; PCVs in the Field - Ghana



By Anonymous ( - on Monday, April 02, 2007 - 6:13 pm: Edit Post

listen this is Bullshit i lived in luxury more than freakin cheap ass motherfuckers that i have seen here in America don't come here painting Ghana black u punk

By perry brown ( - on Monday, July 30, 2007 - 11:31 am: Edit Post

You sound rather ignorant for somebody who is supposedly on this trip to help the poor you came our pretentious and judgmental.

By Anonymous ( - on Monday, July 30, 2007 - 1:49 pm: Edit Post

Respondents can, of course, be critical and that
is easy. Hopefully the critics have some personal
experience themselves with truly drastic changes
in life style/experiences. Hopefully, also, re-
spondents are intelligent enough to use language
that shows intelligence. The very fact that
Sarah has not terminated in the face of culture
shock - as a % of volunteers-to-be do within one
or two weeks of arrival-is a sign of her deter-
mination to succeed. There is nothing wrong with
a factual description of what is. It is just
noting something so very different from any
previous life experience. Stick with it Sarah
and you will ultimately do fine. The whole world
is a critic when sitting in their own little

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