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An Idiot Abroad

Ghana: A Country of Contrast

GHANA | Sunday, 10 August 2014 | Views [311]

I was scrolling through pictures on Facebook reminiscing old times, and I came across some from my trip to Ghana last year. I thought I'd combine my nostalgia for the past with my passion for both travelling and writing, and so have decided to kick this journal off with a post about my Ghanaian adventure. I took part in a volunteering project for 2 weeks, before spending a recreational week travelling around the country in celebration of completing the project. The difference in lifestyle that I noticed having experienced both sides of the country - wealthy and non-wealthy - was incredible, and that's what I've decided to focus this post on.
It was late at night when we finally arrived at Accra Airport. A stuffy, humid heat lingered in the dark night sky. We were met by Fred, a Ghanaian native who works for the company with which we were volunteering. Nothing could prepare us for his driving. Nothing at all.
There’s hustle and bustle, and then there’s Accra. I was genuinely fearing for my safety on the drive to the hotel where we were staying overnight – the roads were absolutely manic! Not only were they full of pot-holes and the like, there was just cars literally everywhere - I've never seen so many at any one time! And to make things worse, the concept of road safety seemed to be non-existent here. People were overtaking and swerving like there was no tomorrow, and women were casually walking in between cars attempting to sell goods, as though there life wasn’t at all at risk.
So that’s Accra. And then there’s Nsuta. Nsuta is a far cry from the wealth and stability that was evident in Accra. The modern, towering buildings dotted around the capital city had been replaced by streams of slummy and dingy excuses of buildings. Various animals roamed the streets aimlessly, and the roadsides were full of piled waste. I’d never seen anything like it, and I couldn’t help but stare in shock and disbelief. The only resemblance between Nsuta and Accra was the rough terrain down which we were driving. The division of wealth and difference of lifestyle couldn’t be any more obvious.
After a long drive, we finally arrived at the village where we’d be staying/building the school. I stepped out of the vehicle and saw nothing but grass, dirt and trees. Oh, and the odd “house”, if you could even call it that, each of which was home to at least ten people. These houses were very flimsy and cramped; they lacked doors and a sufficient roof. The people literally slept on the floor with nothing but a thin blanket to shelter and protect them from the masses of mosquitos that ravished in the hot Ghanaian air. They had to trek miles for water and slave away on surrounding farms just to be able to eat and survive. I was overridden by guilt when I thought of the comfort of the hotel we’d stayed in less than 24 hours ago. There’s me with a bed, a hot shower, food given to me, and then there’s these people with, well, nothing.
 Left: This picture perfectly depicts the barrenness of the land, and the place the villagers call home
The children were ridiculously malnourished, so thin yet so swollen. Their big eyes twinkled, and their smile was golden. They seemed so happy. Though their life is beyond basic and very impoverished, no one here shows any signs of worry or pain. Among them, happiness and love is rife. Sadly, this life is all they know.
 Left: A group of local children posing for a photo
Away from both the business of Accra and the somewhat emptiness of Nsuta is the region of Cape Coast, where we spent the last couple of days of our travelling week. Stretches of golden sand are complimented by the rippling waves crashing against the rocks – the only source of noise here. It’s got a very desolate nature to it because there is barely anyone around, yet it doesn’t make you feel lonely. Instead, it offers a sense of peace and tranquillity. This place is one of sheer beauty, as proven by the picture below, in massive contrast to the ugliness of Nsuta.

Tags: cape coast, ghana, nsuta, volunteering

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