Saturday, May 26, 2007

New Blood, Big Challenges

We now have 16 new EWB volunteers in Ghana. They’ve arrived, fresh faced and excited, from Canada as part of the Junior Fellowship in International Development program.

Kristy, Gwen and I met them in Accra earlier this month, and we immediately sent them out to town to begin exploration. This was, perhaps, not fair given that none of them is working in Accra, and it really is a world apart from northern Ghana (where 14 of them are based). But they were very keen, and threw themselves enthusiastically into the transport yard near the hotel.

If you imagine any of the chaos I’ve described about Tamale, multiply it by roughly 20 and add in 6-lane roads, massive traffic circles, huge modern buildings, choking pollution, near-constant humidity, hoards of street vendors, beautiful cars, fashionable men and women, sprawling slums – then you’ll have some picture of Accra.

One comment several of our new volunteers mentioned is that they hadn’t realized how “modern” Accra looks – at least, parts of it.

From what I gather, African capitals almost always represent the disparity in wealth that exists in this continent. Huge, modern office buildings coexist alongside shanty towns in Accra. Certain neighbourhoods in Accra are indistinguishable from the nicest areas in Ontario. Others are unfathomable even in our poorest ghettos.

Money that makes its way into this continent (for instance, through foreign investment), and that is generated from within (for instance, in Ghana’s gold industry) proceeds directly along a hugely asymmetrical path, speeding past the poor, jumping over a non-existent middle class, and falling into the hands of a privileged few.

There’s a dual economy driven by these elite, as well as by foreigners: diplomats, business people and aid workers. Even Tamale has this dual economy, with several nice hotels and restaurants catering primarily to the ex-pat crowd.

Those who visit “Africa” and spend their time in the beautiful hotels along Accra’s beaches, who dine in the foreign-owned restaurants, who drive about in air-conditioned vehicles with the windows firmly clamped shut, will certainly not understand that just outside the city limits – indeed, often just outside the neighbourhood limits – the truer face of Ghana lies.

This face of Ghana is the millions living on less than a dollar a day. Of subsistence farmers who can’t get their produce to market because irrational, absurd and often vicious outside forces have conspired against them (e.g. trade barriers, foreign agricultural subsidies). Of the people whose lives are so intricately and delicately tied to the rains.

Too often foreign development workers and diplomats skip over this truer face.

I remember visiting Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkia Faso, last year. New ministerial buildings were being erected: huge, incredible-looking glass structures. This is in a country that is almost at the very bottom of the UN’s Human Development Index. I remember commenting to EWBer Guillaume Simard that I couldn’t imagine anyone governing a country from those buildings, given how disconnected they were from the realities of the country’s poor.

Guillaume responded that his bigger concern was for the children of the elite. At least the current ministers had come from small towns or villages, and had some conception of poverty. The children of these ministers, who would in all likelihood be running the country in a few years, had been largely born into this fantasy world in Ouagadougou. They would likely never truly know what the rural areas are like.
I’ll step down from my soap box now. In short: Accra is intense, and a reminder of the complexity of the system here. Africa is not uniformly poor, despite what World Vision television advertisements might imply. There is wealth; it just exists in incredible disparity.

This is just another one of the complexities that will certainly jump out at our 16 junior fellows over the course of their four months here.

15 comments:

Sarah said...

Is that the House of Lords I see?? I hope no one locked their passports in the drawer this year!

Jim said...

Excellent post, Luke.

Rev. Francis Adonteng said...

I wish to get some people who can come to Ghana and help me to do a farm to help needy kids in some villages i do go.Anyone who is happy about what am saying should let me know.God bless you. email pastfans@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Good day !.
You may , probably curious to know how one can make real money .
There is no need to invest much at first. You may begin to receive yields with as small sum of money as 20-100 dollars.

AimTrust is what you thought of all the time
The firm represents an offshore structure with advanced asset management technologies in production and delivery of pipes for oil and gas.

Its head office is in Panama with affiliates around the world.
Do you want to become an affluent person?
That`s your chance That`s what you desire!

I feel good, I started to get income with the help of this company,
and I invite you to do the same. It`s all about how to choose a proper companion who uses your savings in a right way - that`s AimTrust!.
I earn US$2,000 per day, and my first deposit was 1 grand only!
It`s easy to get involved , just click this link http://vufikylyl.100megsfree5.com/pihylyh.html
and lucky you`re! Let`s take our chance together to feel the smell of real money

Anonymous said...

Good day !.
You re, I guess , probably curious to know how one can make real money .
There is no need to invest much at first. You may commense to receive yields with as small sum of money as 20-100 dollars.

AimTrust is what you haven`t ever dreamt of such a chance to become rich
The firm incorporates an offshore structure with advanced asset management technologies in production and delivery of pipes for oil and gas.

Its head office is in Panama with offices around the world.
Do you want to become a happy investor?
That`s your choice That`s what you desire!

I`m happy and lucky, I started to get real money with the help of this company,
and I invite you to do the same. It`s all about how to choose a correct companion who uses your money in a right way - that`s it!.
I earn US$2,000 per day, and what I started with was a funny sum of 500 bucks!
It`s easy to join , just click this link http://vifoqeduq.lookseekpages.com/xujyrybe.html
and lucky you`re! Let`s take this option together to become rich

Anonymous said...

Hello!
You may probably be very curious to know how one can manage to receive high yields on investments.
There is no need to invest much at first.
You may commense to get income with a sum that usually goes
for daily food, that's 20-100 dollars.
I have been participating in one company's work for several years,
and I'll be glad to let you know my secrets at my blog.

Please visit blog and send me private message to get the info.

P.S. I make 1000-2000 per daily now.

[url=http://theblogmoney.com] Online investment blog[/url]

Anonymous said...

Good day, sun shines!
There have were times of hardship when I felt unhappy missing knowledge about opportunities of getting high yields on investments. I was a dump and downright stupid person.
I have never imagined that there weren't any need in large initial investment.
Nowadays, I feel good, I begin to get real money.
It's all about how to select a proper companion who uses your funds in a right way - that is incorporate it in real deals, and shares the profit with me.

You can get interested, if there are such firms? I'm obliged to tell the truth, YES, there are. Please be informed of one of them:
http://theinvestblog.com [url=http://theinvestblog.com]Online Investment Blog[/url]

Anonymous said...

tired of comments like "You don`t say so! " or buy antibiotics online. Then write to me at icq 75949683256...

Anonymous said...

It can really be so.
---------------------------------------------------------
Signature:buy levitra professional online yzl

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry.
---------------------------------------------------------
Signature:order lipitor nircq
lexapro 10mg errsz

Anonymous said...

Glad to greet you, ladies and gentlemen!

We are not acquainted yet? It’s easy to fix,
my name is Nikolas.
Generally I’m a venturesome gambler. for a long time I’m keen on online-casino and poker.
Not long time ago I started my own blog, where I describe my virtual adventures.
Probably, it will be interesting for you to find out my particular opinion on famous gambling projects.
Please visit my diary. http://allbestcasino.com I’ll be interested on your opinion..

Anonymous said...

Keep up the comfy text, inserted to my ie rss.

cheap allergy pills said...

Hello!
I was interested know about it.
You may probably be very curious to know how one can manage to receive high yields on investments.

Anonymous said...

I appear forward to coming back to read your "New Blood, Big Challenges" post also.
--------------------------
Visit my web: Poker sans depot & Poker Bonos & Bonus ohne einzahlung & Bonus senza deposito

Poker said...

The beauty of this I'll Alight at the This Thing (Luke in Malawi) website online is amazed. I like your blog.
--------------------------
Link to my site: No Deposit Poker Bonuses for Poker rooms.