The rainy season in Tamale is in full effect. Perhaps it should not come as a surprise that such a religious country would suffer from rains of such biblical proportions. The rain can be as merciless as it is surprising, cutting off power, destroying roads, and claiming lives in the process. However, the past two weeks have not at all been reflected by the weather; birthdays and project work have provided a deluge of opportunities to laugh and learn.
The realization has also struck that living in Tamale will always be a learning experience for an outsider. However, whilst societal norms vary wildly between Britain and Ghana, one thing that has become abundantly clear is the overwhelmingly welcoming nature of the locals. Greetings are exchanged between complete strangers, as if they were lifelong friends, a concept that is sadly now alien to most Westerners.
The RAINS team have been hard at work, our planning phase is now complete, and we have swung into the meat of the project with a renewed passion. Already we have had meetings with local reproductive health organizations and community members, and our first community entry begins next week. Special mention must be made to individuals in the team who have persevered through illness and homesickness, and still have the strength to contribute with enthusiasm and care, they are a testament to themselves, and to the programme as a whole.
The quartet of birthdays have been a blessing amongst the project and the weather, featuring homemade cakes, party games, and a lot of dancing! It has been lovely to relax, unwind, and to watch people from entirely different cultures celebrate in unison. Parties in Ghana are often whole family affairs, and regularly end in someone being soaked in water. Music is an essential part of the experience, and it appears that louder equals better is the general rule of thumb. Interspersed between important project work, these parties have been a true gift.
So much has happened in the past two weeks that it feels futile to try and condense the experiences down into a single blog post; it has been a whirlwind of elements, people, noise, and joy, but to sign off for the week, here is a photo of us having a swim in the rain.