Tuesday, July 7, 2009

D Day (-1) - Akwaaba Participants!

The last day of planning before any conference begins is always a frenzied one and IDDS 2009 was no exception in this regard. We had to make sure that the participants who had already arrived were settled in well, without forgetting that we have an international development summit beginning tomorrow at 9am! We had a trial run of registration with the few new participants this morning and this happily went off without a hitch A couple of us organized a quick soccer game while Hayley and Jess took them on a tour of the campus and gave them a brief introduction to the local markets, Tech Junction and the Commercial Centre.

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Rajnish and Chanchal take some time out during registration

Some of the Indian participants take in the hectic atmosphere of Tech Junction

Shaibu at the commercial centre

Eyes on the prize...

Mid-afternoon we had the arrival of some of our Ghanaian participants. I am fortunate enough to be rooming with Benjamin, a farmer who lives in New Longoro, the village where George Fuachie also comes from. The pastor himself is also in my suite and it was great to see an old friend again. Last summer in MIT we took a walk into town to source a football that George could buy for his son and as soon as he arrived in Kumasi he informed me that his son had been playing “every day since”. George’s project from last year, the Educational TV-Computer, has also had some significant developments since we last crossed paths. His team has set up a website, www.playpower.org , and George is also trying out a number of the computers with children from the village of New Longoro. The rest of the Ghanaian arrivals got in a couple of hours later and we made sure they felt welcome by providing some of their favorites, Palava sauce and Jollof Rice! Meanwhile, in Accra, Miguel and Joe lay in wait for our participants at the arrivals lounge…

A welcome sight for participants after a long plane journey

After a brief check in meeting in the early evening it was time to prepare for the absolute bedlam that would be forty or so participants arriving on the same bus load from Accra. We decided to go for an airport feel welcome and we each had a sign with three or four people on it, which we duly held above our heads with pride. As the bus pulled up and they were greeted by about twenty strangers shouting and waving signs over their heads, I’m sure a couple of the participants were having second thoughts about this IDDS business that they had gotten themselves involved in! Once everyone got off the bus though, we were free to bring our ‘buddies’ up to their rooms and show them around the hostel.

This may have been a little bit overwhelming!

We then set about cooking a meal together, which was a good way to get to know each other. Prince Hormenoo and Joseph Kisyoky soon learned that it would be wise to consign me to simply chopping up vegetables and Prince then set about making some Ghanaian fried rice. Have to hand it to him, he knows his way around the kitchen! I shouldn’t be surprised really, given that he is Crossman’s son, himself a master at preparing Red-Red. Crossman has been involved heavily in IDDS since the very first summit and as such it’s great to see that the wider Hormernoo family are jumping aboard the IDDS bandwagon. The suite I was cooking with also had students from Brazil, Canada and even a Malaysian studying in Australia. It seems Prince’s rice is universally accepted though, as everyone made short work of what had been cooked. Joseph has promised us all that tomorrow we’ll see a real meal, some Tanzanian rice!

Twi phrase of the day:

Wofiri he? – Where do you come from?

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