Will you leave your family and friends during your vacation to put smiles on the faces of strangers?
Are you willing to embrace a different culture?
Will you go on a 12 hour bus ride with me?
This is an interview with Yaa via mail unfortunately we couldn’t meet up when she was in Ghana but we managed to put this together.
1.Who is Nyamekye Yaa Kwakwa?
I go to Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. I’m known as Yaa on campus,more nicely pronounced than Nyamekye(a Ghanaian name). I’m in my last semester of college majoring in Chemistry and minoring in Mathematics.I’m trying to enjoy my last months here before real adulting begins.
2.How has the Chemistry journey been so far?
I just fell into Chemistry. I was not adventurous enough to explore other courses like Music or Geology. But really Chemistry is a field with endless opportunities in manufacturing, research and development, entrepreneurship. At this point, I really love food science and I hope to work in the food industry but I’m not tied to food alone. The cosmetic industry looks promising. Maybe L’oreal or Lush cosmetics will need my services sometime soon.
3.What brought you to Ghana during the vacation?
I applied to be a water field representative for Saha Global’s leadership program and I was accepted. Saha Global (sahaglobal.org) is an NGO based in Tamale, Northern Region. Saha Global’s aim is to get every village clean drinking water and since 2008, 53,450 people have access to coliform-free and e.coli-free water.
My Chemistry Professor forwarded Chemistry Majors the Saha Global email asking for prospective field reps. I had checked out their site the year before but I did not apply since I stayed on campus that winter break. This time I had already bought my ticket to Ghana for Christmas and the thought of not being “productive” was daunting so I shot my shot. To someone, sleeping all day is productive but I did not want to be my own version of a couch potato and going to Tamale was a wonderful idea (I had never been prior to December 2017). I asked one of my friends who had been to Tamale and who is into Environmental studies if she thought it was a great project to do and she said “It’s lit!” I asked my parents too just in case they said no.
I applied two days to the deadline and had to wait 10 days to get the acceptance email.
4. Why Tamale?
I’ve participated in a few community projects but all were in the Greater Accra Region so I thought it’ll be an experience doing one in a place I had never been before – I got to explore Tamale and live in a different culture for three weeks and work with a village to have their own water treatment center.
5.How was the bus trip to Tamale?(all the highs and lows.)
The longest bus ride I had done was 7 hours. This was 13 hours. The entire Saha group, 17 of us were supposed to fly from Accra to Tamale but that did not happen so one of the coordinators got us a VVIP bus. We left Accra at 13 hrs GMT. What a time to start a long ride. The bus was generally very comfortable and the temperature was just right for the most part. There was no need to layer up so much, just a cardigan was enough.
There were 3 stops: Linda D’or Rest Stop at Bunso, Nsutem – We bought our main lunch/dinner there,the next stop was at Kintampo and finally,a filling station two hours away from Tamale.
6.What was the scenery like?
The bus ride showed the different vegetations in the regions. The southern regions (Greater Accra, Eastern, Ashanti) were definitely greener with so many forests and as we went through Kintampo and Techiman, the forests got thinner and soon, more shrubs, huge termite hills, shea butter trees, mango trees took over.
At Kumasi, it was around 20 hrs GMT and the traffic was quite unbearable and it had gotten too dark to appreciate nature at its best. In the Northern Region, there were very few road users and almost scary to be driving in between large expanses of farmland. Crossing the Yapei bridge gave me hope that we were close to our destination.
Even though the ride was long, the roads were not as bad as I’d expected.
We got to our guest house in Tamale around 2:30 am. I went to bed. Straight up!
Yaa continues her story in the next blog post. I hope this inspires you.
Thank you for reading and thank you for collaborating with me to do this on the blog.