Farmer Trainings and Mango Trees

This morning I did my first farmer training. Technically, I am not supposed to “work” until middle of March. My counterpart arranged the training though and I wasn’t going to say no to farmer trainings. Especially, since it was something we learned the week before in a training.

So, after hearing horror stories of meetings being organized and no one showing up for 3+ hours. I was expecting to wait around for a bit. WRONG. We walked over to the place we were doing the training and there in front of me: chairs. Chairs were laid out and ready for us. We waited maybe 2 minutes for everyone to switch from prayers to our training. It was supposed to be only a few farmers, but it ended up being 25. They all sat down and stared at me ready for me to teach them something awesome.

And I did. I taught the farmers about cashew apple processing. How to make juice from apples. The apples are currently discarded and left for sheep to pick over. So, doing something with the apples makes lots of sense. I made diagrams the night before depicting each step in the process. After I explained each step, one of the secretaries translated for me into the local language the Muslims speak. All of the farmers were so enthusiastic and excited. They asked lots of questions and I was able to explain a completely new concept to them.

After my diagrams, we watched a video that another volunteer put together from our in-service training last week. It showed all the steps in cashew processing, quality control, and juice making. So the farmers ended up having the process explained in different ways a few times. It was perfect. I couldn’t have asked for a better audience and training.

After the training, I went with my other counterpart to register more farmers for the SAP project. These farmers wanted desperately to be included. They are so excited about the technology, unfortunately because of time and money we weren’t able to get out to their place. Well, today they chartered a car for us and pampered us like royalty. Which really just means, they bought me water before we left and had it ready for me when we got to the town. Also, they bought us drinks and snacks. We ended up going pretty far north and into the Bui National Park. I wanted to see the dam they are building so bad, but we went the other way home.

So, we registered some farmers at one town, then moved to another. I sat under an ancient mango tree doing farmer registrations in this tiny little town surrounded by rocky hills. It was incredibly beautiful. I sat there and just thought to myself:

I am in Africa. This isn’t America. This is Africa.

It is odd that it still hits me like that. It was really overwhelming actually, everywhere I looked it just oozed Africa. The kids at the school. The girl pumping water. The women with the kids strapped to their backs. The rolling hills. The taxi that stalled very very often. The dusty roads. The mango trees. It was simply spectacular.

After registering farmers, being out in the intense heat and sun we headed home.  (Oh, I got a sunburn yesterday. I have had less than 5 sunburns here and this one is intense.) I fell asleep in the car, because what else is there to do? We get back to Wenchi and I am dazed and confused and sweaty beyond belief. The Ghanaian that was taking us around all day – the chairman of the association up north – wanted a picture with me. It was really cute. He was so so happy that we were able to come up and register his farmers. He gave me 30 eggs!

30 eggs! I haven’t gotten any gifts like a lot of volunteers in smaller towns. Many people get yams left at their doorsteps. Me, nada. (Sorry spoiled rotten child syndrome popping through) So to get a gift from him was so sweet. It was amazing. All I did was fill out papers and snap pictures. 30 eggs is a lot of money too, well for me. That’s 9 cedis worth of eggs. I normally eat an egg a day, so this is fantastic.

It was simply a wonderful, albeit exhausting day. I truly felt like a Peace Corps Volunteer today.

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