06 July 2006

African yuck

Remember how I told you food had been sparse at the house over the weekend? I managed to find plenty of food Tuesday to sort of make up for this, but that was apparently a bad idea. Let's just say that Tuesday night and all Wednesday were a waste. I'm back on schedule today, but I'm still generally avoiding anything other than basic starches.

I'm continuing to settle in at the house, though there are some unique things that I wasn't really expecting. Primarily, I'm still unused to chasing chickens and goats out of the house. But ultimately, I guess we're all adaptable.

I will primarily be working with the peace cell project. There are currently 10 active cells, covering 10 of the 12 zones in camp. Each cell meets every two weeks. There is a monthly topic under a six month theme. Right now, the theme is transitional justice, and in July we're discussing Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). I've been to one cell meeting, which was mostly encouraging, but I've found that some of the local facilitators are still unfamiliar with the topic at hand. I know they got some training last week sometime, but I feel like we need a refresher. They keep confusing the TRC with a court, which in turn confuses the locals. In addition to that, I'm going to do a weekly peace education class at the PCO mother training center.

Generally I can handle things like African time and disorganization. The sexism found within PCO's leadership is harder to swallow. They claim gender equality in their leadership, but it's clearly just tokenism. The man who heads the mother's center (yeah, the man) also has this weird "I am your father and husband" saying that really creeps me out. Emmanuel, the PCO director, is very excited to have me around, since I'm involved in peace studies in the US and he wants to make connections there. Nicole (the George Mason PhD student) tells though that Emmanuel has also showed an unwillingness to deal with African experts in the field. Because he can't really travel (getting visas is painful), he's basically just isolated himself and the organization. I had already planned to visit some peacebuilding organizations in Accra that I've learned about, but I think now I'll try to bring Emmanuel with me. He can't keep relying on the varying expertise levels of the international volunteers. Nicole thinks I'll have a better chance getting these things through to him because I'm a man. Again with the sexism...

I realize this post isn't terribly positive. As always, things are fine. When it comes down to it, I'm adaptable. It's just been a rough couple of days.


laura said...

hey bubbie -

let me know where to ship the peanut butter and oreos. seriously. :)

with love from the valley (and yes, im really looking for housing in "the valley" and yes i'll then be a real "valley girl" oy.)


nii adom said...

About working with African experts - It is a problem that cuts across all fields. My best guess is that its some psychological effect from the slavery days. Whatever it is, there is a need to stamp it out. Some african experts are definitely not worth their salt but then its not like western experts have always been dependable...

Sorry to rant on your blog. Its just one of those topics that irks me.

Good posts though. Hope you get to enjoy some of the good things in Ghana.

nii adom said...

@laura - umm, he can easily get fresh,"organic" peanut butter from the market - and prolly oreos too but like they say its the thought that counts.

laura said...

@ nii - yeah inside joke - in college while jason was on study abroad and i came to visit i was instructed to bring peanut butter and oreos from greensboro.