Tuesday, December 07, 2004

I was at my wit's end this weeekend. School didn't meet on Friday because of Farmer's Day and it seemed as though I couldn't waiste time fast enought. You would think that Africa would be teeming with diversity and culture and in some ways it is. However, the constant struggle with poverty leaves little time or money for extra flourishes like parks, libraries, cultural centers or museums for tourists like me. In my free time(which I have a lot of) I have braved the horendous traffic, heat, and should of Obruni and ventured to several villages. Needless to say, if you've seen one, you've seen them all. Crooked shacks housing salons, stationary shops, chop bars, curio shops, taylors and convience goods line the streets. Every village has a market and taxi/tro tro station and besides tightly packed laundry strewn neighborhoods, there is nothing else. I guess the refreshing thing about this is that there is not a commercialized coffee shop on every corner. America should follow Ghana's example of establishing small private businesses.
The idea of starting my own business has been swimming around in my mind for some time and Saturday, I decided to give it a go in Ghana. The main income source in the villages comes from selling chop(food) on the roadside and armed with plastic bags, a serated knife, groundnut paste, bananas, brown bread, and paper signs declaring my wares, I set out to join the venders. My main challange was finding an empty table that I could set up on. But finally a man named Sam running a lotto booth at a popular road junction in Adenta(about 20 min walk from where I stay) let me use and empty table in front of him. I drew quite a crowd as I set up my signs and started making a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Several Ghanaians caught on to the foreign concept of sandwich and started calling out to passerbyers to try my American sandwich. Finally, a brave soul in the crowd bought a sandwich and I soon finished my one loaf of bread. I decided to continue selling so I packed up( I didn't want to leave my things set up while shopping for more supplies) and went in search of more bread and groundnun paste(across the street and down a bit). There was a banana table right next to my table. My main clientel seemed to be young men mainly interested in marrying my, but some older women were brave enought to try the new chop. Most people walked by staring and once past, broke into laughter. At the end of the day (3:00) I had sold 21 sandwiches at 2000c each. My profits: 21000c or 2.50 dollars. As I walked home, I felt strangly satisfied but even more mystified by how thse people survive. The average Ghanaian makes about 330 dollars a year. Granted my fellow sellers were selling staple foods and for a much longer period druing the day, so hopefully make more but the comme center to my left and the banana table on my right did less business than I did.
This brings me to Melinda, the level one teacher in my school. She is 25 and has a 7 month old daughter. She assures me that they have everything they need in their school. I am amazed at this assertion. However, I guess that we have so much in our schools in America that we are blinded by our excess. I have been thinking about some of your offers to send supplies or money. I think it would be best to send money to my mother and she will deposite it in my account. Then I can buy supplies here. A pack of crayons costs about 25 cents and a note book around 16 cents. Also if you have any fun games or songs that don't take a lot of suggestions could you pass them on. I have taught them the hokey pokey and the ants go marching and bingo and the itsy bitsy spider. Any suggestion would be welcome. My mom's address is Stacey Miller 2252 Westfield Court Missoula Montana 59801.

Dan's cellphone is working again!

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