How and Why?
Simply said, I love Ghana!!!... let me explain.
Earlier this year my husband and I returned to Australia after spending 18 months in Ghana, West Africa. We took a sabbatical from our jobs and volunteered to serve a full-time faith based humanitarian mission; based in Accra.
I vividly recall stepping out of our air-conditioned aircraft, down an airstair on to the tarmac and being engulfed by scorching heat. It was as if we had stepped into a hot oven. Suffocatingly high temperatures are befitting a country just 5 degrees north of the equator and it was unlike anything we had previously experienced. There was heavy rainfall from June to September (rainy season), and overcast skies for 4-6 weeks during ‘harmattan’ from December to January. Regardless of the season, the temperatures were hot to very hot.
Being a third-world country, Ghana is very much a hussle society where many locals work today to eat today. If they have one meal a day, it’s a good day. If they have two meals a day, it’s a great day. Approximately only 30 percent of the population is employed. There simply aren’t enough jobs. That leaves 70 percent of the population to be industrious and resourceful.
Meeting, getting acquainted and working alongside the locals was a pleasure. They are beautiful, grateful human beings. What they lack in physical possessions they are boundless in goodness, positive attitude and hope for better things. I fell in love with the people.
Ghanians are a God fearing, church going nation. Families dress in their Sunday best and walk to the local church to honour God and celebrate life. It is marvellous to see. They sing with gusto, and full energy of heart because they are happy, believe in a greater power than man, believing with faith and grateful hearts. One would never know of their daily struggle to get food on the table. These scenes took me back to my childhood when our family walked to Church on Sundays. It struck a cord.
Ghanaians are hard-working and entrepreneurial by nature. Many make-a-means by street hawking or trading in cottage industries. Others are skilled artisans in wood carving, bead-making, designing unique batik fabric and then there is kente-cloth weaving. Each craft is intriguing to witness. Then there's my personal favourite… basket weaving.
Each basket is hand woven using moistened elephant grass (pennistum purpureum) commonly found in Ghana’s northern region of Bolgatanga. Basket weaving is a way of life. The region is renowned for their exquisite weaving techniques, passed down from generation to generation. I was gob-smacked that first day, to see beautiful coloured baskets hanging from branches of a tree along the road and right next to a shopping centre. The baskets are intricately designed and beautifully hand-woven. Each is unique. Natural plant and non-toxic dyes provide a broad colour choice. Some baskets are finished in leather and double woven. They are durable, versatile and come in many creative shapes and sizes.
Entire family groups weave baskets, men, women and children. Some artisans work within village communities, some weave at home, some belong to specific co-operatives through the Bolgatanga region so that when their baskets are completed, they are taken to markets and sold. The income supports these village communities.
I am committed to empowering the artisans to build on their natural resources and talents; by supporting the family representatives of the Bolgatanga region currently living in Accra. Purchasing a basket means you and I are able to contribute in a small way in ensuring the longevity of their craft, to encourage self-reliance in order to establish greater quality of life.
Simply stated, I love Ghana and its people and its crafts.