Thursday, January 30, 2014

Slow Progress, Pizza & Johan Cruyff: the Mandem get Philosophical.

We had been warned in our pre-departure training that after the initial euphoria of arriving and settling into our new adopted country, we may suffer from a loss of morale as the reality sinks in, aspects of home-life become more sorely missed, and the novelty of life in the tropics becomes routine.

Thankfully, it’s safe to say that this phenomenon has not affected the Sandem Mandem, at least not yet. Thanks in large part must go to Joyce at Konifah Guest House, who, as the owner of the only oven in town, has been able to sustain us with delicious pizza, which is a welcome break from the staple, albeit tasty, dish of rice and stew.

Nevertheless, not everything has been plain sailing. Although we have taken some important steps forward with the New Era soap production business, such as designing a spreadsheet to calculate profit margins and account for sales and expenses, delivering a health and safety briefing to the New Era employees, and providing them with safety equipment such as gloves, goggles and masks, we have all expressed frustration with the pace of progress. The fundamental truth remains that the business is losing money at an alarming rate and our efforts to source cheaper raw materials are taking much longer than we expected.

However, in the words of the great Johan Cruyff, “every disadvantage has its advantage” and so we have decided to expand the horizons of our project so as to fully make the most of the various impasses while we wait for issues with New Era to be resolved.

Consequently, Rob has launched into his efforts to establish martial arts classes in local schools, where he hopes his students will have fun, keep fit, and learn basic self-defence. Ollie Buxton has decided to organise an exhibition football match between the Gbeogo School for the Deaf and the able-bodied Nyaasa Football Club, as part of the program of festivities for Ghanaian Independence Day on March 6th. Meanwhile, Liam has been working hard to compile a series of short interviews with clients and members of the DPO, and Ollie Ashmore is putting his performing arts skills to good use, producing a theatrical piece centred on the historic defeat of the Babatu and Samori slave-raids, which the Feok Festival celebrates annually.

In other news, big plans are afoot this weekend, with some of our ICS friends from Tamale and Bolgatanga making the trek to Sandema, Ghana versus Libya in the final of the Championship of African Nations to look forward to, and plenty of pork and a live guinea fowl purchased from the market for roasting over a bonfire, under the stars.

Our post-arrival depression can wait another week, I reckon.

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