Hello, this is the second part of my volunteering experience with Volunteer Service Overseas in the Jirapa district of the Upper West region. If you missed the first part, you can read it here. 🙂
The people in the Nimabare have beautiful culture from welcoming their visors to their food. Few of their cultures I would talk about are their games, food, housing and other things that will come up. LOL. Even though I had my expectations for the life there, I was intrigued by what I witnessed. They are very hardworking people from the children to the parents. They break their back to make ends meet. It was there I understood what exactly market days meant and how they calculated it; these where the days’ people will send their livestock and their farm produce from the neighboring towns to the marketplace. People go on foot, bikes or with motorbikes. In their markets are very much orderly arranged with groups under their shed or outside so it makes it easy to find what you are looking for. The market days are 6 days apart.
There is a very intriguing game played in the community. It is played by two people but the unity among the people makes it possible to be played by two or more people who will be offering advice on your next move. This game is very strategic like a South Korean Army General planning an attack against an enemy. The strategic nature of the game doesn’t make it fun for the dull mind; the people aren’t naïve as we may think of them.
One of the things I also noticed about the culture of the people is how women are marginalized and have them believe that its culture! Though there have been attempts cross the globe empowering women but it reverses at this end. During meetings and durbars, the women sit afar or back of the meeting and can ask questions or share views through a man. I remember I wrote on my Facebook I would love to be a stay-at-home husband and look at the situation and think if they’ll even understand it if I told them I will look after my kids; the women take care of the house and the children and all the men do is drinking and coming back home for them to be served first with the lion’s share of the food. Women are still expected to crawl on their knees when offering food to their husbands, In-laws and other members of authority in the community. The culture of the people don’t allow men and women even husbands and wives to even hold hands in public where’s the culture here?
The architecture of their housing is simple yet fascinating; they build with a yard or a forecourt in their household. This gives them the opportunity to have night talks with the family or eat together. Also, their houses had very little windows which would be equivalent to not having one at the hall. Also, you have to bend whenever entering the doorway so imagine a short person like me bending to enter a room. Ha-ha.
Their food was amazing and very healthy which will be good for vegetarians. I tried foods like belebele made from beans and their koose with pepper too. They grow everything they eat and nothing goes waste in the village which is a plus. Shea butter is used as oil for their food and most of them eat Tuo Zaafi most of the time; they have a variety of it which they made some from beans. They didn’t use many spices in their food so it was challenging for me sometimes which I had to cook sometimes. Aside from that, everything was good in terms of food.
The energetic dance feels like a bulldozer passing around. They perform this dance during special occasions or they sometimes come together and have the dance to entertain themselves. I believe they don’t dance it regularly because of the energy used. The dance I would recommend to those who got anger problems or someone who would want to free his/her pains. The dance brings unity among members of the community among the young and old, the men and women. It is been passed on to the younger generation by involving them in the dance by singing and clapping when the dance is being performed. It is beautiful with the synchronization of body movement. The dance portrays the exclusivity of the people and how strong they are with their dance moves and the strength and energy invested in it.
THE FULFILLMENT & THE LITTLE THINGS
“It doesn’t take much to make something big happen.”
On December 21, 2017, was the end of my journey. and will take this opportunity to THANK everyone who made this possible from my family to the amazing team in Jirapa. I look back and feel l so proud of what I achieved and learned within my 3 months stay. Some of the things I will carry with me as I live on are getting electricity wiring in the school awaiting connection from the main line to the school which I look forward to being done by the next volunteers. The school had no electricity so it was difficult to have any I.C.T lessons- they don’t even have computers, to begin with. I believe the access to electricity will help them go a long way.
Before I went on placement in my village, I didn’t know what I could add to the lives of the people but getting to the end of my stay, I knew there has been a great impact in their lives. Some of the positive I will take from my stay was when we, the volunteers contributed some monies got some uniforms for some students; went to the market, bought the materials, and gave it to a seamstress to sow for us. This gave me the chance to work on my own with no supervision and saw through that the uniforms were delivered on time. It was during this time that I started to care for animals more and wanted a pet for myself because of a relationship I had with a dog called Zapirrio; it was the only time I have come close to a dog and petted it till it gave birth and had to bring a puppy to Accra! There was a little boy called Modesto who felt safe around and didn’t respond with the chorus, “We are fine. Thank you.” but, “I am fine. Thank you.” When asked, how are you? He was also able to say what he was called in English. I loved the kid when I go to the village the first day. He had little but was willing to give me some of his biscuits. Our friendship grew day-by-day till he wet my bed one afternoon.
I also learned the basic Dagaare which is to be a plus to my personal development. Working with a team from many different backgrounds helped with teamwork as well as the community. Cross-culture work comes with its challenges and being able to deal with everything that came up professionally gives a hope of my maturity level in terms of working with different ideologies and visions working towards a goal. Question the cultural norms of the people made a lady open up to me about how she was forced into marriage because she had a kid while in school and how she will fight with her last blood to see her daughter to climb educational ladder to the highest level. Her revelations made me understand their culture more but not for the better as the men lord over them and not willing to challenge that. I am happy girls were included in our sporting clubs and P.E activities – This helped to develop their interest in sports and gave them some confidence on what they can do in relation to sports.
Furthermore, the successful completion of our Community Action Day; this is an event where we bring the community and the school together to talk about our progress and importance of education and how they can help their kids in school. They say the little things make the world go around. Nimbare had a lot of little things that make the world complete! Things I noticed when here was how their broom was different from what I knew from home. The brooms are different because they don’t grow palm trees; brooms are made from dried leaf branches sweeps all it dirt away. The children are always happy with their self-made cars from gad used to produce calabash. I wish everyone experience the life in the community.
Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.
This is very important to me and I would be glad if you can help in any way. During my time in the village, I noticed the kids write the same exams with the privileged one in our cities yet they don’t have all that they need to make it complete. In view of this, I am pleading with you to buy a picture or some the picture I took and those I have taken before so I can raise some money to buy at least a desktop computer to help them learn I.C.T since we are in a global village they are part of. Your support will also help me take up my passion for photography and become better. I am willing to do family photography in a way of helping raise funds to support these young ones. If you would want to support in kind with textbooks or other materials that will aid teaching and learning, please get in touch via e-mail, email@example.com or call 0206186286 / 0263161964. Thank you for the LOVE and SUPPORT.
Reuben Griffiths Bekoe.