A lot has happened this month, to say the least. I said goodbye to a friend. I had my first meeting as a new member of the Cashew Initiative Executive Committee. I had a fabulous Fourth of July party. I called my parents letting them know I was safe and okay. I gardened, smallsmallsmall. I chased some ducks. I had at least 8 different Volunteers visit me at my house. I had a showdown with the Union. And I got to see all the Brong-Ahafo volunteers at a meeting.
Earlier this month my friend left for America. It is so hard to say goodbye to your friends. Especially from Ghana. At least half of the people ending their service are back home now. Back in America. Back in the land of burgers, pizzas, brownies, cookies, grocery stores, bacon, and burritos. They are celebrating spending 2 years devoted to a community to Ghana by seeing old friends, eating good food, and soaking up time with their families. I am sure the moment I do the same will come too soon and not soon enough.
My Fourth of July party was a huge success. I feel like my family here got a great taste of what an American Fourth of July is like, minus the fireworks. Although we did give them something pretty close. I drank way too much and had a little too much fun. But that’s life. You live and learn and don’t mix drinks. I was always safe though, and my friends did an amazing job looking out for me. I have such a wonderful group of friends here. I am so honored to have met these people and get to call them my friends.
My hair is getting pretty long. If my neck wasn’t so long the back would almost be to my shoulders. It will be by October. I can actually put my hair in a ponytail now. It is so strange. I am so glad I am growing my hair out though. In Ghana, long hair is a symbol of womanhood. Anyone with short hair is considered a small girl and not given the same respect. My integration into the community has increased with the length of my hair.
As most of you have heard, some thing happened in Peace Corps Ghana that got international attention. All I have to say is, I am safe in my community as long as I am vigilant and aware of dangers. Situations like what happened in Ghana can happen anywhere regardless of sex, race, continent, or Peace Corps status. The Peace Corps and myself take safety and security very seriously. I take the necessary steps to remain safe. My neighbors also have my security always in mind and have promised to watch out for me.
I had a meeting with the Union and Peace Corps. I’m not thrilled with the results of the meeting, nor are my fellow Volunteers to be honest. All obstacles can be overcome and it is attitude towards a situation that makes a difference. I just have to keep that in mind.
Great news! I have completed 6 trainings in my community with at least 10 groups of farmers. I have trained 108 farmers on business literacy skills. That includes assets/liabilities and income statements (in very basic forms). I have also trained them on how to increase their profit by applying improved practices, such as pruning, thinning, organic practices, using the cashew apples instead of discarding them, and creating firebelts. The farmers asked questions, participated, and were able to accurately respond to my evaluations. So far 70% of the farmers have completed their financial statements and my counterpart says that all of them appreciate and are planning to implement improved practices to increase profits. The trainings are long, tedious, and exhausting. But they are so worth it. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing old Ghanaian farmers get excited about income statements and pruning. I love it. I’m planning to do the trainings at my fellow volunteers sites in August. This is why I joined the Peace Corps. This is what I wanted to do. I wanted to share my passion and knowledge with people who really need it, with people who can dramatically change their way of life by learning basic principles. I joined to Peace Corps to give back.
When I joined the Peace Corps I had one goal in mind. One goal only. I don’t want to change the world, that’s not feasible or likely. I just wanted to impact one person. It didn’t matter what it was, I just wanted to impact one person’s life. My philosophy is, you never know what that person will go on to do. Who they will impact.
I think I realized who I have impacted. Myself.