Stories and pictures: Visiting Ghana with Sabab Lou

“It was my first time visiting the Sabab Lou projects in Ghana – ten amazing days, that I will remember always.” A travel report from Mandavi Axer. 

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29th October 2016: Arrival in Accra, the capital of Ghana. Everywhere you look it’s green. The air is heavy and humid. It is the end of their rainy season.

 

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All around, in every direction, you see banana plants and palm trees, and you can buy a plethora of delicious fruits and vegetables – oranges, bananas, pineapples, tomatoes at local stands. The majority (56%) of the population is involved in agriculture, which accounts for about one quarter of the country’s economic output. Outside of working on agricultural export goods like coffee, cocoa and fruit, most people live and work within the subsistence economy.

 

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Leaving the tropical rainforest behind, we head north. Passing the city of Kumasi, in central Ghana, we slowly make our way to Chereponi, in a fifteen hour drive. 

 

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The roads between Kumasi and Chereponi are largely unpaved and are periodically marked by deep holes. As we make our way north, the lush greenery of tropical, central Ghana gives way to the unrelenting dry heat of the northern region. There is nothing to be found here from the flourishing south – the heat and drought are at their height in the months from February to June. As we move north, into more rural regions, it becomes clear how many people are affected by poverty. We can’t help but notice that Ghana’s economic development seems to benefit mainly southern Ghana, leaving the northern and rural regions of the country behind. 

The disparities between north and south drive home the importance of the Sabab Lou Foundation. These are areas that not many aid organizations dare to work in or have left again, because of the harsh conditions – and this is where Sabab Lou mission is. 

 

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Just as we arrive in Chereponi, we immediately continue to the fields. The two agricultural students, Jessica and Ivan, from the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, had spent the last months experimenting with different ways to fertilize the soil and increase the yield.

 

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This visit, Jessica and Ivan are collecting data to evaluate whether the new fertilization methods used in the demo fields increase the farmers’ crop yield. In December, they will have completed their yield analysis. But even now it is clear – the soil is completely drained. It lacks all the essential minerals, especially phosphate. The Anoshe Women Project relies on this land, and immediate action is needed, if we want to women to be able to survive of their land also in ten years time. We will need your help again.

 

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450 women from five villages participate in the Anoshe Women project: Nansoni, Chere-Nakaku, Ando-Kajura, Bunburiga, Kpaboku.

 

reiseblog-nansoni-chiefOur mission: To accompany the women in the cultivation of field crops, mainly soy. But before we visit the women, we quickly pass by to say hello to the Chief of Nansoni.

 

reiseblog-nansoni2The lady in the back is the representative of the village. She explains that the women of Nansoni are very worried. Their fields saw far more rain than the other years and they anticipate a good harvest, but at the same time the market price for soybeans is dropping so fast that they can no longer generate the same income as before – even with a higher harvest. A real problem. But what to do?

 

reiseblog-diskussionWe had much to talk…

 

reiseblog-nansoni1…and laugh about.

 

reiseblog-sojaernetSome of the women still have the work ahead of them. Other families already harvested their crops store them in the courtyard of their houses.

 

reiseblog-maisNot soy but corn. A beautiful picture – the bright corn in front of the green wall. But if you imagine that this is the stock for the Chief and his family for an entire year, your feel a little bit unease.

 

reiseblog-projektleiterProject manager Nicolas (left) and Akor in action. Meeting with the participants of the Small Business project.

 

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We wanted to hear how the project and their business were going. Can all of them pay back their installments on time?

 

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Yes! All ten of the Small Business participants were able to repay their installments on time and run a successful business. From the owner of a gas station to breaking bread, the small business loans have helped everyone find their niche. Keep up the good work!

 

reiseblog-smallbusiness-funnyBest picture! This is the lovely Nafoe.

 

reiseblog-sojaaktion3One of the best moments: The food-processing-workshop mit den Anoshe Angels.

 

reiseblog-soja1…together with the representatives of the villages, we tried to see what we were able to make from one kilo of soy beans…

 

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… always keeping in mind that the goal should always be, how to generate the maximum income with the resources available to the women.

 

reiseblog-tofuThe result: YUMMY! From one kilo soybeans and water we were able to make about 2 kilos of tofu and fried snacks. We definately added value. Maybe a new business idea for one of the women?

 

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Visit to the chief of Chere (the man in white robe). Always at our side, the chief of Chereponi (in the dark robe), affectionately called “Chief Chief”, and one of our closest confidants. He has made the work of Sabab Lou his own mission and is very committed to promoting our work outside of his community. A great man.

There is one thing that deeply concerns me. While in Germany we often discuss climate change in a very theoretical way, people here in the north of Ghana actually suffer from the consequences. With every degree of temperature rises, the access to clean drinking water becomes worse: the hand pumps no longer reach the ground water. Whole lakes are drying out.

 

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The villagers of Chere are having a particularly hard time. There is no hand pump in their village. Every day the women have to walk over half an hour to the nearest lake to get dirty water – water that they use to wash, cook and for drinking. Sometimes they have to make the trip several times a day.

 

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According to the Chief of Chere there have been a couple of NGOs that attempted to find clean water for the community. But they all left and never came back. The challenge was just too great.

 

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We wanted to know what it means to have to fetch water every morning. So, one morning, we accompanied some of the women on their journey.

 

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This is the kind-hearted Tietie. A truly remarkable women.

 

Last stop: A short visit to our Partnerorganisation, the First Step Foundation, in Offinso – the proud result of our 2009 So Memu project.

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Many of the First Step Foundation borrowers sell their goods here.

 

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Together with ASA scholar Chris, we visited some of the borrowers at the market.

 

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We have already told you about Ama Konadu on Facebook. With the loan of the First Step Foundation Ama was able to break free from her former employer and is now her own entrepreneur. Nice to meet the faces behind the project.

 

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To sum up this blog, one last picture of us all.
From left to right:

Chris: Volonteer at the First Step Foundation.
Martina: Board member Sabab Lou.
Theresa: Assistant of the First Step Foundation
Lawrence: Director of the First Step Foundation
Edith: Board member Sabab Lou
Friedrich: Founder Sabab Lou
And all the way to the right, that’s me, Mandavi

It was a great journey, with a great team. A journey full of wonderful encounters that I will not forget so quickly. A journey full of colors and stories, that we absolutely want to share with you. Very soon.

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