Fodome Kordjeto-Rural Village

Hohoe Travel Blog

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Ho Hoe/Fodome Kordjeto


Last year my stay in the Volta region was brief but nearly perfect.  I met my travel buddy Kate in Ho Hoe (where I’m now staying doing research), went and stood under the most amazing waterfall I’ve ever seen, tried cocoa for the first, had the sickest day of my stay and decided to go home, saw Kate’s orphanage for all but five minutes and wanted to take home 8 babies…it was bliss.  Nothing terrible could’ve happened.  But come to think of it, nothing terrible happened in Ghana period, so what am I talking about?


Everyday I’m here, no matter where I am, I’m reminded every ten minutes of how FRIENDLY people are!  I really can not get over it.  It’s amazing that something as simple as someone greeting you truly does brighten your day!  There were three German girls at a hotel today and I introduced myself and asked them a few questions and they were less than pleasant.  They weren’t terrible but you can really see the difference between our western worlds and places like Ghana.  Even when we were in Kakum…we met the minister of finance for China and his translator.  Before we even knew who this guy was (we assumed they were just two Chinese tourists), they were buying us coconuts and sharing their cocoa they were trying without even knowing our names.  It seems the rest of the world operates on the theme of community and in the US it seems to only really kick in when there’s a disaster.  Now I’m not saying that we don’t have that sense of community within us, but I am saying it’s quickly disappearing.  We still care about friends and family but often times it seems a hassle to even go visit someone who is 10 minutes away, nevertheless greet them.  When you ask a child how many brothers and sisters they have they will often come up with a number such as 8 or 14.  Why?  Because they include their cousins as their brothers and sisters because it’s not just your immediate family but rather your whole family.  The family operates as a nuclear family, not a species of it’s own.


Today we went to two rural villages to do research for Global Brigades.  Only 6 miles out of Ho Hoe, it is a world apart from the somewhat developed area of Ho Hoe.  By car it takes 30-45 minutes depending on which village and if you were to walk, 45 minutes to an hour and fifteen minutes.  The road is a dirt road in shockingly good condition for dirt roads in Ghana, but still full of dodgy potholes and dips that seem impossible to pass if you don’t want your bumper ripped off.


The first village we came to, Fodome Kordjeto, is a village of 500 people.  There isn’t a single toilet, pit latrine, or KVIP toilet in the entire community.  When I asked the community leader why they wanted toilets (they identified this as their greatest need), the response was that they wanted to avoid snake bites and getting poked in the butt by sticks (they currently just go in the bush aka forest/brush/etc).  It’s funny but it’s also sad because I dug as hard as I could and they did not make one mention reasoning sanitation and health.  Orion would have a field day with his water program here as the two villages only have a simple bore hole which I wonder the safety of it or whether the community is getting their water somewhere else and not saying because typhoid, cholera and parasites are still common illnesses.  They do have a primary school with a population of 52 students and 4 teachers, only one of which they feel is actually knowledgeable.  The primary school is not even an enclosed building but rather an open space, divided by 4 walls to form 4 classrooms, and a roof.  There are no sides to the building or even shelves to store the textbooks on.  To top it off, the Ghana Education Service sector built this for them!  It’s basically a wall with a chalkboard and a roof and some simple desks that are rotting and need to be repaired.  When I asked the community leader if he knew what dehydration or malnutrition was, he had no idea.  Further on, they identified malaria as the number one cause of illness stating each family member gets malaria generally at least twice per month!  And even still there are no mosquito nets because the family brings in just 20 Cedis per month ($18 US) and a mosquito net costs $10.  The community works as farmers and because there is no transportation, the women will put a 50-75 pound bag of vegetables on their heads and walk an hour or more to the market in Ho Hoe to bring in an income of just 5 cedis per week ($4.50) for the whole families hard work.  Their homes were made of crumbling clay and the kitchens were outdoors.  But yet, they were still such happy people and so welcoming, offering whatever they could.  It’s so strange that just a thirty minute car ride away, the world is developing while they only glimpse this act for one day a week and even then they are in the market all day and do not really see the way of life in Ho Hoe.


The next village, Fodome Henu, is just a ten minute drive up the road and has a population of 1,500 people.  For this village, there is just one KVIP toilet at the primary school.  The rest of the population uses the bush as well.  This was shockingly one of the cleaner places I’ve seen in Ghana and the chiefs even mentioned that cleaning and sweeping the village would be one of the ways they would help to prevent illness.  They have a school for each level but the older you get, the greater the enrollment rates drop.  The government built the school in 1949 and has made no renovations since.  There is only one textbook for every 4-6 children and not all the children have uniforms which makes the poor kids stand out from the better off kids and adds to personal embarrassments at school that they can’t be like the rest of their classmates.  We spent a good hour and a half speaking with the village chiefs and they were very concerned and grateful for me to be there.  But again, they had no idea what things like malnutrition and dehydration were.  They said they one day hope to have mosquito nets for the whole village to reduce the rates of malaria.  They are also short on teachers (again the government doesn’t provide the necessary amount) so they are extremely open to the idea of volunteers which I think would really add to their economy in helping to assist in buying necessary tools for farming equipment and a truck so that they could take more goods to the market and bring in a greater profit.  I think I’ll go back to this village and spend a day at the school and speaking with the local women.  I’m not sure they’ve seen many white people there…there is only one other NGO to ever have worked there and it’s not exactly a “passing through” town.


Today was really just an eye opener.  Global Brigades could easily start any one of their programs here and it would launch with great success.  Certain things seem so much like common sense and I realized that these problems exist in the world because much of the world simply hasn’t heard about the developments in the world such as health and sanitation.  Things are simply a way of life and there is nothing more to it.  They thoroughly enjoy farming and wouldn’t change what they do.  I think my laptop may have been the first computer that they had ever seen yet they have heard of the benefits of such things because they both said they would rather have a computer lab over a library.  The first village said a library would be of no use to them while the second said they would be overjoyed to have a library. 


Global Brigades impact here I believe would be overwhelming.  The community leaders are in full support of any help that should come and though they can’t offer much help financially they freely offer land and help in the construction process of anything we might like to build.  They lack so much basic knowledge that I think it would be very easy to teach them as they all stated they would love to learn more by either taking workshops on health and sanitation, water, first aid, and even adult education classes assuming it was free of course because their 20 dollars a month doesn’t stretch that far especially when you have five children.  They have little to no water resources.  Their structures are made from crumbling clay.  Not a single person has seen a dentist (even most of the people in Accra).  Their schools are not fully built or are falling apart, poorly stocked, and have teachers that skip out on class.  The chiefs I spoke with said they believe this is a divine intervention and that I was sent there for a reason, to save them from their extreme poverty and even if we could not assist, it was a blessing that I came to their village.  What happens when 20-60 students come?!  I really hope that we can help this community but there will still be much work to do. 


I think I might start my own organization in Ghana doing volunteer placement and may add volunteers to these areas to give volunteers a truly influential experience and to help raise awareness and funding for the community.  Global Brigades can bring in all these programs but there is such a lack of funding in the community I’m afraid some of the programs might flounder afterwards unless we can come up with a good source of funding hopefully from the community.  They have a sort of program set up with certain things where it’s not for profit but for the community benefit but I’m not sure that would be enough for some ideas I have, but you never know.  Having just one volunteer per month could bring in enough money to pay 4-6 teachers at the school plus offer one free teacher (the volunteer).  I think it may be worth a shot.  Plus, there are two waterfalls, the highest mountain in Ghana, and many kente weaving places in the area for personal recreation.


How amazing is it that there are so many different cultures, languages and ways of life in this world and yet so few of us yearn to experience it?  I can’t comprehend how people don’t have this desire that I have.  To see is the most powerful education you could ever receive.  To understand and empathize not sympathize is the strongest quality a person could possess.  And to smile…now THAT is a beautiful thing.  And in Ghana, I smile all day long.


Emmanuel is out and about speaking with the people in the community to figure out what other communities are in need that we might visit tomorrow.  I want to go back to Fodome Henu by myself at least for a few hours to really understand.  I realized that I like being on my own while traveling or with other people who have no idea what they’re doing because it forces you to talk to people, to learn the area, the language, etc.  Emmanuel is truly wonderful and a blessing to have met with powerful connections and he is saving me a LOT of time especially acting as a translator, but I don’t get a chance to get to know the people as he does most of the talking.  Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing but the biggest thing I love about travelling is this part of it.  And if we’re going to be bringing Global Brigades here, I want to KNOW the people not just know OF the people.


I know Ghana is not for everyone but it’s the only place I’ve ever been able to just relax.  Though it’s dirty and often times smelly from car exhaust, open sewers and fish, the color of the red dirt roads, the somehow pearly white, straight smiling teeth beaming across the faces of the people here and the glimmer that seems to fill every child’s eyes, is enough to spin me into euphoria.  While Los Angeles is getting ready for their fancy dinners at places like Beso, I’m here in a shabby hotel room with dim lights ready for a peaceful sleep.  And when I wake, the sun will be shining as it always is, the humidity will start to creep under my skin and when I step outside I’ll be greeted with a number of “Good Morning, How are you’s?”  I’ll take a deep sigh as a giant smile will soon beam across my face and it will be yet another day in Ghana.

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photo by: RachaelKing