Tuesday, September 26, 2006

To Manga and Back

I’ve just returned from 6 days in the village of Manga. I’ll give a bit of background on the community in this post, and some pictures. Then in a future posts I’ll describe some of my specific experiences.

Manga is a small community of around 450 people, located about a 40-minute motorcycle ride away from Walewale down barely passable dirt roads. Isolation is one major cause of rural deprivation – it makes it a lot harder to get produce to and from the community, it’s tougher to contact the outside world, harder to get electricity in, harder to access health services, schooling, etc.

However, Manga is situated in an area of fertile soil. So long as the rains cooperate, they should be able to produce quite a lot of the local crops: groundnuts, pepper, cotton, yams, millet, shea nuts, cowpeas, soy beans tomatoes, green pepper. If the rains fail, though, the crops won’t grow, and people will be left to scrape by on meagre savings from the past year, and whatever they can coax from the parched ground.

Thankfully, Manga had clean water: two boreholes provide enough potable water for the entire community. They also had latrines, which can have an incredible impact on the health of a village (the number one health enemy to a village is disease passed through fecal matter, so controlling this is pivotal).

I stayed with a farmer named Seini Nicholas. He is respected in the community – he’s literate and has completed secondary school. He’s also travelled outside the community to Kumasi, among other places, and he’s the head of the water and sanitation committee in Manga. He’s also the grandson of Manga’s former chief.

So for 6 days I slept on the floor in Nicholas’ room in his family compound, headed out to the farm to help him weed and collect peppers, carried water on my head, and played barefoot soccer with the local kids.

I was an enriching experience, to say the least. Stay tuned for the details.

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Laura said...

wow luke, everything you're doing sounds incredible. keep up the life-changing selfless work.

and have fun playing with the kids. do they say soccer or football there?

Luke Brown said...

Hey Laura,

Thanks very much for the post!

They usually say football, but sometimes soccer is heard.

Hope Cambridge is treating you well.

Anonymous said...

Hey luke do you have to eat with your hands? I went to one of your links and a the girl was eating with her hands. And if so do you have to use your right hand even though you are left handed?

Luke Brown said...

Yep I eat most of my meals with my hands (except for rice dishes, although some people eat those with their hands too). And yes, I do have to use my right hand! It took a bit of getting used to, but I use my right hand for pretty much everything now. I'm now adept at handing over money and receiving something from a shopkeeper -- at the same time, using only my right hand.

Anonymous said...

What happens if you use your left hand for all those things? Just really offensive?

Luke Brown said...

Yeah it's pretty taboo. People will scowl. My Ghanaian sister gave me a stern talking to for sweeping my room using my left hand.