Thursday, December 12, 2013


My last full day in the village the Blessing Basket Craft Center gave me a going away party.  I have been so lucky to have so many people that were so welcoming to me.  The village must have gotten together to make sure they were teasing me, catching up to me when I was "lost" and guiding me back, "disturbing" me when I failed in my Fra Fra language and teaching me about their culture.  I hope they all know how much I appreciate them.
Here are the ladies that have learned about Americans being on time.  I thank them for being right on time and being patient waiting for others to show including my Peace Corps friends that enjoying the Ghanaian way of showing up when you are ready.

I was so lucky to have so many families share their children and their lives with me. 

 These are a few of the men who do the leather on the baskets and Sam on the right that does the dying of the reeds.  They definitely liked to tease me and fuss because I did not get the language.

  Abdulai is the director of the Craft Center and he was very generous with his time to teach much about the baskets.

Here are a few of the women who are part of the clubs that make up the Blessing Baskets weavers.

My "speech" with my PCV friends supporting me.  My time in Ghana would have been much harder without the friends I had in the Peace Corps.

 A Toast to my friends in Nyariga, Ghana, Upper East.  THANK YOU!!!!
 I have loved this mat since I first came to the village. They know I love pink so they had this made for me. 
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 James, a teacher at one of the schools, presented me a basket from the PTA at the school.


 I can't tell you how wonderful these baskets are but they are special because they made them for me.  Then it is time for the real party.  The singing and dancing was wonderful.  Thank you so much for this wonderful day.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hard to Leave after 2 years

Never in my wildest dreams when I came to learn a culture and try to help out would I have thought so much

of myself would be in this little village.  As I pack my bags with all the Ghanaian things I am taking home I look

at the 2 years in the things I have learned.

I met people who have worked so hard just to put food on the table and get their kids in school in the hopes of a

“better life” for their families while doing it with a smile and a song.  The culture dictates they take care of each

other and they take that to heart.  You never see someone eating that they don’t say “You are invited”.  The children

have a small cracker they will share in small pieces with the other children.  The woman always come to help another

lift a heavy bucket of water to her head.  The children learn early they work with the family by helping to get a meal,

get water, or clean the dishes.   Families and friends work together to get the ground nuts or maize in from the fields,

and daughters and wives at home making HUGE pots of food for them to feed them when they come in with the crops.

P1010837The children love to read books                P1060063Making Ground Nut Soup of the helpers in the field

The children all want to go to school but it is not easy in Ghana.  In primary and Junior High School you have to have a uniform,

shoes, paper and pens.  To get into Senior High you have to pass a test at the end of JHS and wait for sometimes up to a year

for your grades to come back.  Then you again have to pay to go to Senior High School.  Next step you have to have good grades,

a little luck, and the help of someone that has influence to get you through to a college, or technical school.  Young people take

time to “friend” others and encourage them to stay in school and keep trying when things get in their way.  Many of the adults who

have jobs help with fees and encouragement because they know how it made a difference in their lives. 

Who would have dreamed the people would be so welcoming.  They would greet me with a smile and want to tease a “white” lady that

has come to make a home in their village.  When I came to the village they would look in amazement when they find out I am here to stay

for 2 years, and so sad when I say the 2 years are up and I have to go. 

P1020800Ladies at the Micro loan meeting   P1060088Using a scanner to count basket headed to Blessing Baskets


Yet in two years I have seen growth in so many places.  They can take a small loan, 100 Gh cedis (about $50) and turn it into a fowl or two,

seeds for the farm, and reeds for a basket, the beginnings of a small business and they come in every two weeks with their money to repay

the loan.  Here in Nyariga it is seldom you see a child not in school.  We have more small businesses in the village, more animals, more places

to sell their baskets, more children going to private schools, a computer lab for the girls school, and that is in the two years I have been here. 

The possibilities are endless as they are seeing the rewards for their hard work.

This village has been fortunate to have a few volunteers over the last 5 years, and community leaders that listened to the village about their needs. 


Leaving the village is exciting because I can’t wait to be with my family again and it is also exciting because I know this one village in Ghana for sure

has the right leadership, right attitude about education and the willingness to do what needs to be done.

Peace Corps says that this will be the hardest job you will ever love and that pretty well says what my two years was.









Sunday, October 20, 2013

Last Shipment to Blessing Baskets for Me

When I first came to live in my village I was involved in a

shipment of baskets for Blessing Baskets.  We had a scanner

and new tags to try and make sense of for all those that work

here in Ghana.

Now two years later and it is my last one. 

We worked 7 am to 7 pm (okay the guys spent

the night finishing up the leather while I slept and

I went home when they started loading the truck)

but I was there and working!!!

P1060080The leather men were

working hard to get the handles finished on the bags as

I got there that morning.

P1060088Here is a beautiful

basket, scanner in hand and look at all those behind me I

still have to scan (oh alright I had a helper).

P1060090As we were going

through the baskets a SECOND TIME I thought if I scanned

myself it could just quit, did not work.  When I complained

that we were scanning a second time to find missing baskets

Abdulai the director said hey you white people made the computer

and we can’t help it if it does not work.  Oh what can you say when

he is right he is right!!!

P1060084It is dark outside

and we have scanned all of these.  The truck is outside

but to dark to take pictures.  I was so tired, dirty and hungry

but I knew it was another last for me. 

30 more Days!!!!

My last Feast in Ghana


My last Feast in Ghana

P1060060Mercy and JaLem making rice balls for the ground nut soupl


P1060063Papee  is making the ground nut soup.


P1060072Field has just been picked and

corn dropped off so the men get together and shuck the corn.  That is

my bedroom window where the green leaves and ground nuts are stacked.

My room smelled good when I went inside.

P1060062Corn corn they will dry it in the sun

then they will push the kernels off then it will go to mill to make flour.

P1060071Parents are busy so we will take water

sachets fill our mouths full of water and spit at you.  See the cooler in the back

that will be full of food for the feast when they finish cooking.

P1060075Everyone in the kitchen waiting to

eat and sneaking bites.  Sounds like Thanksgiving at home.

P1060076Kids waiting for dinner

to be ready.  Peter in back got food somewhere but they did

not want him to share they were waiting……

Everyone had a wonderful Sallah and my last. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Keeping Busy until the day of departure!!!

P1060027   What do you do when you only have 40 days left in Country.

Paint Maps on School walls sooo… Olivia and I started She lead, I was “gofer” since she has done

this so many time.  This is at one of our JHS in our village.                                                                             


P1060029Here is the primary school on the complete other side of the village.  Master

James has helped us get this together.  Our work platform did not show so here we are getting Olivia safely up into the

air..but since she could only reach so far we were not able to make as big of a map as we wanted.  This is Ghana also.


P1060032Getting lots of volunteers to help paint at JHS.  Did I mention it was

unbelievably hot today.  I know we were in the 100’s with humidity at 96 we sweated and were so hot that

we just ate a kind bar until we quit for the day and had a bath. 


P1060039Master James younger brother wanted to help

so we got a chair for each of them and they started going.  We ask him to take off his shirt

because he has just come from Church and we did not want it to get ruined.  He helped with

the WHOLE Map of Ghana.



P1060041This young boy came up.  He had made himself

a hat out of liquor sachets.  I was laughing so hard he started to leave but I told him I

was not laughing at him and the older kids told him it was okay that I take a picture.  Nothing

goes to waste it is either made into a toy, tool, or something to read!!!


We have another couple days of work especially on the world map.  If you do Facebook you

can see the beginnings

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Oktober Fest

Won’t write much as you can see it was a very successful day.  Face paint took a while to get started

so I did it too.  Peace Corps girls were so wonderful in doing this.  Baskets, kente cloth from the kids
vocational class at the Deaf School in Volta Region where Kyndra volunteered at booth,

Food, (Allison and Dwayne my wonderful friends and family in Accra),  drummers, David with small
coin purses I bought, children learning how to play African

instruments.  My baskets craft men were very pleased with the days work, Scott from the School for the deaf, and Allison were very pleased with the turn out.

400+ people showed up.  Was well worth all the work they did and I was so pleased to be involved in the setting up.  We are all tired but very happy. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Hey What have you been up to Barbara?

First Day of School!!!Walking to Craft Center to get a ride and here is Cullen

on his first day of school so proud!!!

P1050900Started working.  Here is the basket Leslie designed

and Tahiru had made for her.  It is huge sort of square and really beautiful.


P1050899         P1050898

2nd Stop we went to see Sofia.  She has started

helping women learn to weave with Junk that she has cleaned disinfected and they make

these beautiful baskets.  Hopefully we can find her a market.

P1050897Now this is a basket I think a baby could sleep in it.

P1050917Here is 3rd stop of day at a women’s group having a

meeting and we were invited.  They greeted Leslie told a little about herself, then ask them to

ask her questions.  They wanted to know why Americans buy their baskets!!! Same question always!!!

P1050923Oh yes I have to go to work with Mom and yes she makes me

sit in a box so I will stay put.

P1050907Because it is growing season there is no dance, or singing but

in our honor they did not get to loud but they clapped and sang for us.  So sweet so risk their crops just

to say good bye to us!!