"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." -Margaret Mead

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day 25 – 16 June 2012


Saturday was the big day. Today we would be introducing our project to the community. Not that we they didn’t already know about it, but it was the official handing over of the project from the hands of the student team to the community.

We arrived on site early to find Francis already in the production room making more sachets. We tasted one of the newer sachets and decided that it tasted better, but still had a familiar taste from yesterday. Of course not everyone shared my opinion. Gordon tasted the water couldn’t taste anything bad. We decided to leave it up to Nana Kontihene to decide if the sachets were acceptable to give away at the opening ceremony.  We thought if he liked them, everyone else would have to like them.  We gave him a sachet, he tasted it, and approved. We decided to pull aside the sachets from Friday night and produce more to replace them. We put them in a closet so that no one would mix them with the good sachets. We then flushed the machine one final time and produced about five more large bags of sachets and put them in a refrigerator so they would be cold for the ceremony.

We then continued to help clean the building and the site so that the property would look nice for the ceremony. They brought in a few canopies, about one hundred chairs, and a sound system. A DJ began playing some fun music for the kids to Azonto (a new style of dance popular in Ghana). The ceremony began around 11 am.

The ceremony was very traditional. It started with the elders and special guests paraded in and led to their seats. Nana Kontihene was dressed in a royal fabric, with articles of gold (probably not real gold) jewelry and crown on his head. A man followed him holding an umbrella above his head. After everyone was seated, an elder poured a glass of some kind of drink and began pouring it out on the ground. This tradition was to honor the ancestors. He would say a name and then pour out a little, offering a drink to those in the grave. Next, everyone stood up, and pastor led us all in prayer. Next several different people came to the front to give their remarks about the project, including members from our own group.

After a few speeches, we gave a tour of the building. We ran the machine and handed out a few sachets. Everyone was impressed with the machine and thanked us for our work. After the quick tour, everyone returned to their seats and proceeded with the ceremony. This time women were passing around the cold sachets to the congregation. Everyone was pleased with the sachet water. I tried another and could no longer taste the funky cardboard flavor. After a few more speeches, Pastor Kofi said a final prayer and the ceremony was adjourned for refreshments (soda and crackers).

After the ceremony, we were invited to have lunch at the palace with the elders. It was here that I had my second try at eating fufu. This time around I was prepared and had a better idea of how to eat it. I enjoyed this fufu more than the first bowl I had nearly a month ago at the restaurant, probably because I had grown accustomed to Ghanaian food.

After lunch, we returned to PPF to help clean up the site after the ceremony. We hung around there for a few hours until dinner time when we had a special dinner with the board. After dinner we had a quick board meeting to reflect on the day, and talk about our accomplishments on the project throughout the summer.

Overall, I consider our project to be a success. The ceremony was well received by the community. We had finally produced some quality sachets and completed most of the construction of the facilities. Our primarily task was complete. Secondly, we had prepared the business for the final stage of the start-up. We are confident that the foundation is in good hands with Degraft and the board of directors, and the business consultant will be a huge asset in starting our non-profit business.

That’s all for Saturday. I hope to post this soon. I still have to recall our final days in Patriensa; so, stay connected.


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