Monday, July 27, 2009

This was in Kpetoe, the world is a small place.

One of the small rubbish bins and all my buds that helped.
The basketball court is off to a great start with $600+! Thanks so much to all that have donated already.
Things have been happening at site and any one of them used to be the highlight of the week for me. We’re having another record month of tourists, 53 so far, had lights installed in the weaving centre, been posted on BBC’s “Save our Sounds”, and installed the towns first 23 rubbish bins.
The lights in the weaving centre are overall a great thing. The lighting in there just isn’t very good all the time and sometimes the weavers just need more time. I just hope they don’t work too long as they already work more than anyone else in town.
BBC is doing a “Save our Sounds” campaign that you send in a sound that is in danger of being lost or sums up a lifestyle. I think the clicks and clatters of the weavers is an awesome sound and really sums up what it’s like here in Kpetoe. When I went to the website the only sound they had for Ghana was an old school modem, lame. I sat between 2 weavers, recorded and sent it in. They said describe it the best you can so I wrote like a few paragraphs. We got posted! They also copied the entire email I sent and put it with the sound. The link is
Who’d have thought rubbish bins were so cool? NCRC (Nature Conservation Research Centre) is one of the main NGO’s that I work with. They promote eco-tourism and really do amazing things for our community. The next step for Kpetoe after finishing our constitution was placing rubbish bins throughout town. This not only makes a town more tourism friendly but also makes it much more sanitary. We did a few write-ups and picked the locations for the bins and last week 10 large bins on wheels and 13 standing ones arrived!
This was the first lasting physical influence that I have helped bring to my community. The brand new District Chief Executive (remember elections in December? Ya, he just got here) came out to thank us complete with press coverage. I had just gone to introduce myself to him the day before so now he probably thinks I can do things like this easily. He forgot my name so I was just “white man” in all his quotes; least they’ll spell it right. The day before my crew of weavers (Bright, Francis, Joshua and co.) had filled bags with sand and gravel as prep so after the ceremony we installed the first one at the District Assembly before dark.
Mr. Agba then said that we should meet at 5 the next morning to dig the holes for the standing bins. Joshua and I said that was too early but everyone else said that was fine. 5:15 rolls around and it’s only Joshua and I sitting on a log. The digging didn’t take long but the walking and the debates over placement once people woke up did. The district environmental officer left his office for the first time in a year and decided he should have the biggest say in where they went. It was sad to see how surprised he was at the state of our sanitation here. Everyone in town wanted one near them, especially the big men. During one debate Joshua, Bright, and I had a Guinness; I don’t like arguments. 8 am is a new record for first of the day, well here at least. Everyone thought a white guy riding around later in the back of a pickup and doing manual labor was hilarious. Bright couldn’t believe that I’d roofed for 5 years and was used to it, they think I’m some professional.
After we installed all of them I went to the NCRC construction manager to apologize about the debates. Before I started he told me this was the easiest installation they ever had. The holes were already dug and the fighting was nothing compared to most communities apparently. Now it’s tremendous to see people actually using them and they already want to start a Phase II of bins.
The easy part was the installations though, picking locations, determining how they will be emptied, and who maintains them wasn’t fun. Thanks to NCRC I’ve done my first sanitation project in the community and it’s pretty popular already.
This no football stuff stinks; I not only found but actually listened to the track meet in London on my radio..

Friday, July 17, 2009

a summer volunteer weaving compared to my boy Bright

The sales of most of the stationery are going to pay for the bricks of Bright's first house. He was orphaned and had to drop out of secondary school to support himself by weaving. So basically my mom's idea is building him his first house, attagirl ma.
Great news! My basketball court proposal was finally posted on the Peace Corps website. That means that now it's up to my family and friends to fill it.
The link is:
Or you can go to the PC website, donate now, and search for Vainner.
I know it's a lot of money especially with the state of the economy but I really want to give this to Kpetoe. Any money spent on me should instead be put towards this. That means no packages or anything of the sort! We can't get any of the money donated until the entire $5,000 is received. Donations are completely tax deductible. Every small donation helps!

Other news, the AP picture made the homepage of the PC website, Alan texted me, "Dan, you are on the PC homepage and your basketball court is listed." Good way to start the day eh? The picture changes each time you go to it but if you refresh it enough you'll see me.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Jacquelyn found this on the web!

Barack, BARACK, Barack, Obama

Lots going on at site but everything got put on hold for OBAMA!!
PC told us that we had been invited to come to Accra on Saturday to see Obama speak. They kinda made it sound like he was just going to be talking to us and that none of the trip expenses would be covered and most hotel rooms were booked. Would PCV's take off for the capital city where things are expensive, crime is high, and not many hotel rooms available to see the leader of the Free World? Is the Pope Catholic? I just left most valuables behind in case I had to sleep on the streets with friends.
Getting ready in my village to go see Obama was like a redneck going to prom. Everyone helped out. Matthew washed my good shirt and pants up because he know I'm not very good at hand washing. Bright went all around trying to find me shoes and kept asking if I had enough money. Emmanuel polished up his best pair of shoes for me (Adidas sandals just wouldn't do). Mr. Agba did a little dance and gave me the kente to make the vest for Obama. My tailor worked overtime and early the morning I left to get it done in time. I also might add that my last haircut was via Leatherman by Julie.
PCV's traveled by bus all night from all corners of Ghana, we slept 6 to a bed at a shady hotel, met at the embassy and waited hours in lines. The event ended up being his departure from Ghana! There were about 3000 tickets issued and PCV's got VIP tickets. VERY High Security, so high that I left the kente vest behind (will mail it to him). I had one short girl in front of me and then it was just 15 feet from the podium!!! Obama and his entire family were coming from the slave fort in Cape Coast and were flown in via helicopter, awesome, snipers and secret service and all. The president of Ghana joined him on stage and spoke first.
Obama gave a short speech on Ghana (link below) and talked about the PC a few times!! The first time he mentioned us we went CRAZY. Most of my pictures didn't turn out too great cause I was shaking so much. After national anthems Obama, Michelle, Atta Mills (Ghana President), and Teitelbaum (US Ambassador) walked around and shook the hands of people in the front rows. When he shook mine he looked at me (probably thought I was an idiot for my kente vest but little does he know he's getting one too) and said "You're doing a great job." I didn't know he's been to Kpetoe!! After that Michelle was doing a kinda shaking 2 hands at once thing and so we had an awkward backwards left hand shake. She did touch PCV Mikey on the cheek and say "What you're doing is amazing." Which was matched in class when PCV Marcus gripped Michelle's hand like they were gonna arm wrestle and screamed, "You are SOOO BEAUTIFUL!"
Then they flew off in Air Force One. I will never forget how much pride I had in my fellow PCV's, Ghana, and America.
Most my village was watching and saw me on Tv, they were so excited.

"I want to recognize our PCV who are here.....(cheering for at least 25 seconds) You know Ghana, Ghana was the very first nation to host young people from the Peace Corp and for decades our two nations have formed vital partnerships & lasting friendships because of this program. So all of you in the Peace Corps you are doing an outstanding job & we're proud of you". Barack Obama

"Young people of Africa ...... serve like these PC people, serve in communities, and harvest your energy & education to renew & build connections between the world."

Entire Speech. (if it still works)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009

I’ve been so busy lately that my list of things to do has reached 2 pages. Remember accomplishing one thing a day is a success here so it’ll take a while to get it back down. Definitely not complaining however, it’s been great. The rubbish bins will be installed July 16th, out constitution is finally completely complete, and they said the basketball court proposal should be filed in like a week.
We ended June with 52 guests and over a 42 day stretch had 75 guests. We had 8 in January and February combined. This is the peak of summer volunteers but even the weavers have said this has been a great summer. Bright was down to 6 strips left to sell last week, that’s a good thing.
A group of students from Ohio State was in Ho and their supervisors wanted Julie to talk to them about PC. Julie didn’t want to do it alone and knows I love a reason to go to Ho so had me come too. They bought us dinner, a beer, and then we talked and answered questions for like an hour. After basically talking about how much we love our lives they handed us an envelope for coming. They gave us each 30 cedi which is like 5 days pay for us! Be great if it ended there but 2 days later they called me back via my business cards that other PCVs tease me about (they work though, instant Big Man status if you have them). “Can you bring like a lot of kente to sell to us?” Is the Pope Catholic? Julie brought the necklaces she sells and I brought an entire “Ghana Gucci” (cheap bag the size of a suitcase) full of kente. Kente sales alone were over 200 cedi. The weavers were so happy when I came back that night; they took me out for a beer and then bought me pasta, tomatoes, and onions because they know that I love to make pasta. That they trusted me enough to take basically their entire inventories/savings meant a lot to me. As I was finishing up packing up each weaver’s best stuff a van of 10 tourists pulled up so we had to hang everything back up and ended up having to redo the inventory too, the gusy thought that was really funny.
My buddy Benchy from back home sent me a Chelsea package including a scarf, real replica Essien (Ghana’s best player) jersey and a tote bag. People shouldn’t spend money on me, wait until the basketball court gets approved and give to that if you have to, but I’ll admit this package was the talk of Kpetoe. No one has ever seen a jersey of that quality, like the letters stay on after you wash it! So many people felt its quality. It was Republic Day and Mukaila had come over to tell me they needed a program made up for the presentation that started in an hour (we got them made up just in time) when he saw the stuff. Mukaila, like 98% of Ghanaians, LOVES Chelsea so I wanted to give him something. He sure as heck wasn’t getting the jersey or scarf though so I parted with the Chelsea tote bag. I should have had my camera at the presentation; there in the middle of the front table was the District Chief Executive and District Director in suits and Mukaila in shirt, tie, and Chelsea tote bag.