The joys of business, education and travel
Posted by Kevin Salwen on 07.15.2010Share
It's inspiring to see people take steps to improve their lives of struggle, lives that they often have been born into. We had a day of inspiration today, our final day in the villages.

Iin the tiny village of Besease, a new kindergarten opens this week, complete with pre-K grades too. It's not just a big deal because it will house dozens of kids as they step on the ladder of education. It's a truly big deal because the villagers paid for much of it themselves using the proceeds from a palm oil pressing facility they built several years back.

The rudimentary oil press is typically run by women in Besease and farmers from seven other villages and dozens of hamlets bring their palm nuts to be pressed for cooking oil. As Nana Owusu Kyere II, the village chief, told me, "We had nothing. We were very poor. But now (thanks to the press and the villagers' work to build their business) we are progressing." In addition to the school building, the community has paid to help bring power lines to the villages.

The people of Besease are energized, they are hopeful, they see a brighter future. Why should we care? Because our global community needs success stories, ones we can share as evidence that the next generation will wake up with more opportunity.

That was our morning. In the afternoon, we headed for Darmang, another rural community about 20 kilometers away. 

That's where our travel adventures got more wacky.  On the way along the unpaved, unimproved roads, the rains had turned the dirt to mud. Our bus driver, Manuel, decided to give one uber-steep, rutted section a try. One run, no go. A second run, we began sliding sideways. A third run, we were solidly in a ditch. We were stuck.

Soon, a dozen villagers had appeared from farms along the road that we hadn't even seen for all the jungle-like vegetation. 

In a series of efforts to extricate our bus, they pushed, added dirt, macheted palm branches to put under the tires. Debating, collaborating, trying. Finally, they decided to call a tow truck, but sent us ahead because chiefs and community leaders were waiting for our family and Hunger Project teammates in Darmang. The villagers had already gathered there to show off the work they had done (their new library, food bank, community farm, nurses clinic and more).

So, 12 of us climbed into a pickup truck that our Hunger Project friend Isaac called, standing and sitting in the bed.  For the next 15 minutes, we bounced over the horrible roads, waving at kids running from the village huts that lined the road. "Obruni, obruni," they yelled with squeals of delight, waving with big grins. We waved back eagerly with one hand, holding on for dear life with the other.  

It was, as Hannah said, the most fun we had traveling since the car wreck in Nsawam two years ago.

Thanks, Kelly, they are. It's funny how sometimes things that go wrong become the most memorable.
Posted by Kevin at 12:55pm on 07.18.2010

Sounds like memoies are being made and many opportunities are being awakened.
Posted by Kelly at 08:06am on 07.16.2010