21 Jan Rise Up Ghana
Posted at 16:05h in West AfricaI am extremely excited to be bringing the Operation Groundswell West Africa Discovery Program volunteers to the village of Wli Todzi this summer, a place very close to my heart. Since over 2 years ago now, I have been working with the Rise Up Development Collective to build a clinic in the village of Wli Todzi in Ghana, West Africa. Wli Todzi is on a 1000 meter high mountain with no roads or hospital clinic. The people of Wli Todzi are incredibly strong people; even some of the older people in the village will walk up and down the footpath to the village twice in one day. Sometimes people ask me, “why do they choose to live there at all? Why not move to the base of the mountain?”. The people of Wli Todzi have lived in their mountain home for nearly 400 years and if you ever get a chance to see it, you will understand why. The wide plateau of the mountain’s peak is covered in grassland and forest, within and around which the people of Wli Todzi plant their farms. Three different rivers flow through and around the village. The land is fertile, and the game plentiful. The place is quiet, and cooler than the valley below. It’s beautiful and most importantly, it’s their home.
Climbing up to Wli TodziHowever, the path up the mountain is steep and long. For women with complications in labor, small children, or the elderly who become suddenly ill, the trip to the hospital in the nearby district capital Hohoe is too long, and can ultimately be fatal. In response to this, we began working with the village of Wli Todzi in 2010 to start building a health clinic in their village. We are proud to have, so far, finished the walls and roof of the structure and to be working on installing the doors and the windows. We hope to have the clinic constructed, equipped, and staffed by the end of 2016. Sometimes working on the clinic gets tough. It’s confusing to work across languages and cultures, and in Ghana, things often go wrong: a storm blowing part of our newly completed roof off (we have since then fixed the issue), misunderstandings that cost us precious time, or even having one of our interns falls in the latrine (yes, this really happened. She was a really good sport about it, though). But what keeps us going with the project is the chance to connect our community here in North America with a community far away, and what we learn in the process.
Enjoying the music this community has to offerThere was one day in particular that really stood out for me. We had spent a long day hiking from Wli Todzi to some nearby waterfalls. The waterfalls were amazing, but after 2 days of organizing, I was feeling exhausted and discouraged. When we got back, I went inside my room to collect my thoughts, when suddenly, I heard drumming outside. I stepped out and saw a wonderful sight: the children of the family we were staying with had set up drums and were playing a local song–borborbor–and everyone was dancing. The visitors from the USA, the kids, even the mother of the household, Auntie Charlotte, jumped in. I felt suddenly content. For that moment, everyone was laughing together and dancing, forgetting that we didn’t speak the same language or even share the same culture. We were just laughing together…people dancing, nothing more and nothing less. This is the power of travel, the power of BEING together, the power of sharing experience in the world. Sometimes, it brings us a tiny step closer to the change we’re trying to make. Sometimes we can understand each other for a brief, wonderful moment. I’m excited to share with others this place that I love. I, and the other members of the Rise Up Development Collective will keep working until the clinic in Wli Todzi is completed, with the help of our friends, and with ample dancing to keep our spirits high. We are excited to have Operation Groundswell’s network of incredible changemakers involved. Together we will all Rise Up! With love, Jeremy OG West Africa Discovery Trip Leader