While Larbi and his colleague installed the RACHEL server and networked the computer lab, I spent the afternoon trying to get my internet modem to work in Wechiau. Walking around the grounds of the Wechiau Health Center carrying my cell phone and open laptop and searching for a place with phone and internet reception, I felt like that guy from the Verizon commercial…except the answer to his “can you hear me now?” question was unfortunately, always “no.”
On one of my last nights in Wechiau, Sinae and I walking to the health center, chatting about the cultural differences between the US and Ghana and the situations/conversations that we experience in Ghana that would be viewed as absolutely ridiculous in the US. With sitcom-like timing, we ended our conversation just minutes before we met the health center staff for an evening of “interesting” socializing. Sitting in a circle of plastic chairs in the shade of a huge tree, our conversation soon dissolved into a bizarre African version of a reality TV dating show….with each “eligible bachelor” standing in the center of the circle, professing his love for me, and explaining why he would be my ideal husband. It culminated into a show down between the HIV, TB and Malaria Officer and the Information Officer....each joined by their “campaign manager” who argued their desirable qualities, like their motorbikes, their HIV status, and the amount of fufu they could eat ☺.
Although the evening crossed so many lines of (my own American-produced perceptions of) appropriateness, it was all in good fun and I laughed so hard that I cried. At the end of the night, the director of the health center presented me with a traditional woven dress, which was beautiful and such a kind gesture. I had a wonderful time working in Wechiau, thanks to the hospitality and generosity of Sinae, the health staff, and the community as a whole—I hope to return to Wechiau soon in efforts to build a continuing partnership!