Wednesday, May 22, we woke up and got ready to go to visit the Ceciyaa Foundation’s experimental farm. They have another larger farm, where the greatest quantities of crops are grown, but it was located a 3 hour drive from where we were, so it was beyond the possibility we had on this trip to visit it. I had also wanted to see other projects, but it turned out that with just 2-3 days to spend, we could only see this one location. Ethel, our guide from Ceciyaa, told me that to see more of what they do, we would have to spend a week traveling around the region.
Lesson in African travel (which is obvious to anyone who has already been in Africa): you CAN’T go as far, as fast as we do here in the States. This I should have figured out ahead of time. But I didn’t fully realize the extent of difficulty of travel until I experienced it myself! The bus ride to Kumasi was a piece of cake compared to the 40-minute drive beyond Kumasi to get to the farm. If other rural areas are as hard to reach as here, I would’ve been fortunate to see one additional project per day… if that.
So, if I ever return to Ghana and want to travel outside Accra, NOW I KNOW.
Before we left the hotel, we got to speak with the manager. She was the lady who had come out from the dark the evening before to give us keys to our rooms. On this particular morning we noticed she was helping a small school-aged boy to complete some work in the lobby before he went off to class. We asked her about him. Turns out, she is helping the boy because he doesn’t have parents. This lady, named Regina, wore a head scarf permanently to cover the scar from brain surgery. Three years ago, she had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and her father had sold the Christian school he owned which was next door to the hotel so he could pay for her operation. She now needs scans every 3 months to see if she’s still well.
We just stood in the lobby and chatted for a little while, wanting to encourage this woman who had such a desire to love and serve God and others despite her own serious illness. It seems this was one reason why God gave me such peace the evening before – we were with one of His precious servants. It was so beautiful to make a human connection on a deep level in just a few minutes because we were each involved in similar work of caring for children in need, so close to God’s heart.
Here we are at Ceciyaa Foundation’s Experimental Farm. http://www.ceciyaafoundation.org
The vegetables being tried above are growing from seed that was sent from the USA. They are experimenting to see what grows best and produces good yields here in Ghana.
Here’s the chicken farming operation:
This area is work-intensive but yields a good amount of food. They lay eggs from the age of about 16-18 weeks until 18 months. The eggs can be sold to the nearby community or shipped a bit further away. After the chickens get older, they are sold away from the farm for meat. People like to cook with chicken here! Roosters are used for meat in soup or stew, after they have served their “purpose” (of helping create a new laying flock)… if new hens are desired, all they have to do is stop collecting the eggs for a few days and let the hens sit on what is laid. Voila – a new flock. They can also serve as a hatchery, selling young newly hatched chicks to people who want to raise chickens of their own.
One of the most important things Ceciyaa Foundation is involved in doing is providing tables and chairs for school classrooms around Ghana. They plan ahead with a community to help provide these things. They make a schedule, then travel to the community to fell trees. The wood is sawn into boards and left to dry for several weeks.
When it’s time to actually make the furniture, they come back to the village. They bring a kit of power tools that they will use to prepare the seats and tables. The new Ryobi power tools have been sent over to Ghana by Francis, the founder. This carpentry work used to require a more work-intensive model where they had to transport the lumber itself back to their workshop to do all the sawing, sanding, etc., then transport all the wood pieces (seats, chair legs, etc.) back to the village to assemble. But now the power tools will be fully mobile. This speeds up the process considerably.
Once the pieces of tables and chairs have been prepared, they conduct a workshop with adults and older children to teach them how to assemble the tables and chairs.
Guys, prepare to drool – these are some really cool tools.
Here’s lead carpenter Michael explaining what they do (and why):
And finally, the Community Library Program:
Ethel is the coordinator of this aspect of Ceciyaa’s work. Here she is explaining what they do to create opportunities for children to learn to read, and older kids & adults to become more literate. It requires a lot of buy-in from a community to get a library:
At first we thought we’d stay a second night here, but realizing we had accomplished most of what we came to learn at the farm, we decided to return that same evening to Accra (since the third day would not provide us opportunity to travel further).
This post is long enough already. I wish I had time to tell you about the adventures we had re-tracing our steps over the crazy dirt road, through Kumasi, onto a second bus to take us back to Accra, and arriving in the busy bus station once more but this time at 11:30 pm. :-0 It’s not a part of the trip I’d like to repeat, but thank God that He did keep us safe even as we arrived back at the Asare’s home around 1:00 am.
I think the most important thing to take away about Ceciyaa is that everything they are doing has the aim of serving the poorest people in the country and bringing them opportunities, in order to introduce the the gospel of the Savior, Jesus Christ, and his love for them. There’s a lot of gospel “talk” in Ghana but sometimes you have to go far out into the bush to see the gospel in action. That’s exactly what we found out here.