Rebuilding Foundations

An exploration of international development work in Africa

Archive for the tag “Perception”

1/4: Introduction

Warning: the next few blog posts are a bit more emotional than usual.

During my second week in Ghana, I was mugged while returning to my host family’s home after having dinner with my colleague.  I didn’t blog about it then because I didn’t want to worry anyone back home.  Furthermore, there are enough fearful stories of Africa: if I tell people about this, it will be the one thing out of all these posts that they fixate on.  At the same time, though, the mugging (and dealing with it afterwards) was part of my experience over here.

I wrote the following posts right afterwards, so they’re overly melodramatic.  As time moved forward, however, I relaxed about the experience.  I decided to leave posts in their original dramatic words because that’s what people like, right?  The exciting stories.

These posts will become live as I leave this country and start the long journey back home.  Everyone, please don’t worry!  There is nothing to worry about and I’ll see your beautiful faces soon.

Swimming Pools

In Johannesburg, most white people’s homes have pools.  I lived in 3 places and all of them had a pool.  I didn’t use them much, though, since I often swam in the super nice Olympic-sized pool at Ellis Park Stadium in the mornings before work.

In Ghana, very few people have swimming pools.  There are two houses in Tamale with personal pools (that I know of) and at least three public pools.  I haven’t been in the any of the public ones, however, since I’ve heard that they’re gross.

Most expats are here for international development work so they don’t want opulent lifestyles.  They don’t want Ghanaians to say, “That’s what our tax money is going to?  To fill salaminga’s pools with our water?”

It doesn’t look good.

But they’re still fun to visit.

Last weekend I went to an Oktoberfest party at a guy’s place who had pool.  My group arrived around 10:30pm and I immediately ran to the pool.  It looked like there was one person swimming around so I went back inside and told a coworker, “You want to swim too, right?  Are you ready?  Because there’s one person in the pool and it’s awkward if I join, but less awkward if there’s two of us.”

Basically I’m just a little shy sometimes.

As we approached the pool, however, we realized the “person” was actually a giant black dog having a time.  Once we jumped in, the dog crawled up the ladder and ran off to play with other dogs in the grass instead.

My friend and I stayed in the pool the whole time we were at the party.  We only got out when our group left to go home 3 hours later.

It was wonderful!

If I was to redo this Junior Fellow placement all over again, I would have made a greater effort at the beginning to befriend the people with swimming pools.

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