Thursday, July 21, 2011

Day 5 - Cocoa Beans!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Maadwo! (pronounced like “ma-ju” = it means good evening!)

Hi family! Man, what a wonderful day in Abomosu. I am starting to get tired because we do so much in the day, but I am still loving it here.

The day started off with most of our group walking to the clinic to work while I stayed behind with my instructor and another student to welcome our prestigious guests. The medial director over all of the clinics in the Ashanti region was going to meet with us, as well as the chief midwife, Paul (the medical assistant of the clinic) and Brother Stephen Abu. Bro Abu was the pioneer of establishing the LDS church in Abomosu – I think I told you that already.

P.S. – Ghana is split into regions, kind of like states. Ashanti region is like a state in Ghana. So this medical director is over all of the clinics in the Ashanti region, kind of like a big state. So he’s a big deal. ;)

The people were late to pick us up of course, because the culture in Africa is totally different than ours. They get there when they get there. It’s very different than our time-driven society. They picked us up and drove us to the clinic where we all met in a giant meeting to discuss how to use the donated funds in fixing up the clinic.

It was interesting to see how the politics of everything worked. The meeting started out very formal, with introductions and everyone warmly welcoming us (akwaaba!). Then the medical director started the conversation about what would be best for the clinic.

I love that my instructor kind of took a back seat and let the people discuss what would best benefit their community. I think a lot of Americans swoop into a third world country, do what they think is best for the people, then leave, feeling that they did a lot of good. It’s interesting. In my classes we talked about how we need to let the people decide what changes THEY want made. This helps to make them stronger – it helps to empower them. If someone comes in and makes all of the decisions and does everything for them, then it doesn’t really help them that much at all. It’s the whole “teach a man to fish” principle.

So Karen kind of sat back and let them do all the talking and debating. It was wonderful to see her do that, I admire here so much for that. There is a new maternity ward that World Joy (a humanitarian organization) built for the health clinic, but it is not finished. They want to use the money to finish up that ward and move the maternity ward into that newer, cleaner building (which will be SO much better for the mothers and the newborns, let me tell ya!)

Brother Abu was very gracious. He made sure that the medical director knew that it wasn’t the church or Karen who raised the money, but that is was “the children” (us students and our families) who were giving the donation. I love that he wanted that medical director to know that. He was very grateful and said thank you over and over again. So really - he was saying thank you to YOU guys! They are very excited about getting that new maternity ward up and running.

So, after that meeting and decisions were made I worked in the clinic for a few hours. I worked with Gloria, Salomey, and Flora in billing. Oh my goodness. It was a nightmare! So the people of Abomosu can have national health insurance, and if they have insurance then we need to send the claim to the insurance so that the clinic can be reimbursed. But it is not on a computer or anything. It’s all by hand.

We have to look up the codes, the medications, the prices for the medications, all on this big list. It’s crazy. It takes so long. Kevin, you would have died because it is a business nightmare. Not very efficient. However, I do see that they’re doing the best they can. It would cost way more money to save up and buy a computer than it would for them to just pay the people low wages. Plus, by not getting a computer it keeps people in jobs. But it is a laborious process, let me tell you that. Salomey was very patient with me and my millions of questions. Holy moly, it was tough!

Salomey on the left, me, Catherine. Billing was tough, but Salomey was a pro. She was VERY patient with us!

Loretta was excited to see me again, and I was excited to see her! She’s so sweet. She wanted to know where we lived so she could come and visit us. I wasn’t sure if that was allowed, so instead I invited her to church with us! She said she couldn’t go because her uncle died and his funeral is on Sunday. Sad day. However, I talked to the missionaries later and they said she’s had a lot of uncles die recently… hmmm…. ;) They said she isn’t progressing because she won’t read the Book of Mormon.

After that we walked home and had even MORE kids waiting for us and following us home! Again, they hung out outside of the gate and whenever they saw us they would say, “Abruni! Come play with us!” So so funny. I kind of feel like we’re in a zoo sometimes. A sweet girl named Portia (who is 14) tried to teach me some new words. She taught me how to say “I love you”, but now I don’t remember. Rats.

Me with Portia on the left and two other girls. I've noticed that Ghanaians are always so serious in pictures...

The girl on the left was spunky. She had some attitude, that's for sure!

Brother Stephen Abu lives next door to us and he took some time to show us his farm/garden. I LOVED it! I got to see a pineapple bush for the first time!! AAAAAH! :D It is so crazy. I’ve always wanted to see one. I took pictures, because I think they’re so cool.

Brother Stephen Abu in the front, showing us around his farm.

There it is! The pineapple bush!! It takes 8-9 months for one pineapple fruit to grow, and only one pineapple fruit grows per bush.

The neatest part was seeing how cocoa beans are made. Ghana is the world’s 2nd exporter in the world for cocoa beans, so we definitely owe them for our delicious chocolate. Cocoa beans are inside of a cocoa pod. He cracked open the pod for us and let us taste some of the beans. You don’t chew or swallow them, you just suck on them and then spit them out. They are super sweet – taste nothing like chocolate or even cocoa powder.

The cocoa pods.

The white fleshy parts are the actual cocoa beans.

Bro. Abu teaching us. Of course, my eyes are closed. ;)

So here’s how the process goes: the beans are taken out of the pod and are lain out on a stretcher-type thing for 6 days under palm leaves to ferment. Then they are lain out in the sun for about 6 days to dry. After that they are then put in little bags and exported. It was fun that he showed it to us. I took a video of him explaining it, it was way cool. He also teased us Americans about liking “so many sweet things. You Americans like things SO sweet!”

The cocoa beans after they are dried out.

Look at how different they look in comparison to how they start out!

Brother Abu's cocoa tree nursery. He grows the cocoa trees here until they are big enough to be planted in his farm.

Here are some videos of Brother Abu teaching us about the cocoa bean process. It's also fun because you get to hear how he talks. I LOVE the Ghanaiain accent!

Dried Cocoa Beans Video

Cocoa Beans Nursery Video



Other things in his garden are mango trees, orange trees, banana and plaintain trees, coconut trees, and avacado. His brother climbed up a tree and chopped a coconut off with a machete. We all got to drink coconut milk and eat the meat right out of the coconut. It was so neat.

A banana or plantain tree... I don't remember which one it is.

Brother Abu's brother, cutting and "peeling" the coconuts for us.

Coconut!!

Starting on the left: Desta, Becca, Elaine, Amelia, Me, Catherine, Chantal.

There were also a lot of chickens and goats running around on Brother Abu's farm. Goats are EVERYWHERE in Abomosu! The bleating of goats was constant while we were there.

Bro. Abu also raises snails. SNAILS!! EEEEWW! They were HUGE. Biggest I have ever seen. Why, do you ask? To eat of course! In soups! I held one and almost died. It slimed all over me. Sick sick sick.

See that big shell Bro. Abu is holding?? Yeah... that's a snail.

Look at how BIG that is?!!

That was so much fun today, to walk around his garden/farm and see all of the things he grows. Every morning he comes over with fresh pinapple or fresh avacodo from his garden. Wow… pineapple has never tasted so good in my life!

He also walked us over to his next door neighbor's house so he could show us how his people cook dinner. He showed us what Fufu is. Fufu is a very popular food item in Ghana. It is made from plantains and cassava mashed together to form a dough-like consistency. The Ghanaians then roll it up into balls and put it into stews or just throw it into the back of their throat and swallow it. No chewing, because it tastes like nothing. ;) They eat it purely because it's calorie dense.

That young man is pounding Fufu. The woman is the Relief Society president of the Abomosu branch!

Getting ready for dinner. The kitchens are all outdoors because it's so hot in Ghana. The only reason people go inside is to sleep.

The stew they were making.

Tonight we went to institute. We more than doubled the size – normally there are only 2 students who go faithfully. That was interesting to go to. The people here are so faithful, and they really do know a lot about the church. They know a lot of about church history too (which is what institute was on tonight). It was wonderful to be with them and hear their comments about the Gospel.

The teacher teased us about how we Americans say our T’s. Ghana was a British colony, so they have the British English and we have the American English – where we don’t really say our T’s. He thought that was so funny.

Sorry this is so scattered! I’m trying to type like a madwoman. Tomorrow we go to the clinic again and hopefully have some time at the market – it’s market day!

Love you guys! I hope you have a great day!

Love,

Jess

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