Nzulezu Stilt Village, Western Region, Ghana

•June 6, 2009 • 6 Comments

Nzuelzu is a small village, started over 500 years ago and situated in the middle of Lake Amansuri. It is supported entirely by stilts made of central wood with a raffia walkway. To get to and from Nzulezu you must travel via canoe from a small dock in the village of Beyin, one hour away. The population of Nzulezu is roughly 500 men, women and children, governed by a village chief and a handful of village elders. Although the town is very small, with only one “main street,” there are two churches (Pentecostal and Catholic) that stand side by side. There is one school, grades K-6 and if the children plan to go further in their education they must enroll at the public school in Beyin and commute via canoe everyday. The “school yard” consists of four logs, two per side on the “field”, making up football goals as they stick out of the shallow areas of the lake. Although they live on water, their main source of income is agriculture. They own some land 1 km north of the lake where they grow a variety of vegetables and fruit which they sell in Beyin and the surrounding areas. There is also little exposure to the outside world with no television and poor radio reception. Also, they generally do not like the tourists who visit their village. My colleague Tre and I ventured to Nzulezu together and spent quality time with the elders, who ultimately granted us access into the community and we took some photographs, promising to send them copies, of course. Our tour guide was shocked by their openness and kindness towards us, which is apparently a very rare occurrence. The photos below are from Beyin, where we stayed the night, and Nzulezu images follow.

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Beyin, Western Region, Ghana

•June 6, 2009 • 1 Comment

With two days free during my first weekend in Ghana, my colleague Tre and I set off for an adventure in the Western Region. It took us seven hours to get to Beyin, riding in three different tro tros, making it to the village early enough to catch some rays on a clean beach, something fairly difficult to find here in Ghana. There is no good trash disposal program so you can find plastic and wrappers scattered on the ground, and even some in the ocean. Not only was the white sand relatively clean and soft here, for the first time I experienced the Atlantic as a warm body of water. This is far from the harsh cold water I remember on the New York side of this ocean. The beauty of Beyin cannot be expressed in words, so here are a couple of photographs.

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Child Slavery on Lake Volta

•May 20, 2009 • 5 Comments

A couple of months ago a woman named Pam Cope contacted me. She had heard about my experiences in Ghana last year and my plan to return and bring the gift of clean water to a school of children. She also feels connected to the children of Ghana, but her cause is far scarier than mine. She learned about the child trafficking and indentured servitude of thousands of children on Lake Volta (in the Volta Region in Eastern Ghana). Many of these kids were sold by their parents and relatives to lake masters who exploit them and use them as extremely cheap labor in the thriving fishing industry here in Ghana. Children as young as five are sold into this slavery, working on canoes, detangling nets and other dangerous tasks below the surface of the lake’s cloudy water. Many do not return to the surface, disappearing forever. They are also beaten severely and starved of basic human necessities, such as food, sleep, proper hygiene and education. Pam Copes organization, Touch of Life Foundation saves these children and takes some of them to this home, The Freedom Center, where they get the opportunity to experience freedom and real childhood. They not only offer them a home to stay in, but a chance to catch up on education that they missed out on, while on the lake. Because many of these children were sold by their parents, it is incomprehensible to think of returning them to their families, at the risk of being sold again. Touch of Life continues to raise money to save these children and provide them with a new chance at a normal life. To read more and/or to donate, check out their website- http://www.touchalifekids.org. After learning of this organization, I wanted to help in whatever way I could, and offered to take portraits of the children they had saved. Some of these are posted here.

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The Famous Black Rasta

•May 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

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This is the famous Reggae artist known as Black Rasta. We saw him perform at the Labadi Beach celebration of Bob Marley’s life (the anniversary of his death just passed). Hundreds of people showed up to the event and he seemed to be the big name on the ticket, as everyone was on the sand in front of the stage, dancing and singing (and drinking and smoking) into the late hours of the night.

The Water Situation

•May 19, 2009 • 1 Comment

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Upon arriving at my first home in Labone, a place called Abafun, I planned to take a quick shower before heading out and starting my work here. I turned on the tap and this is what came out. It is probably the result of dirt build up in the pipes and nothing more, but it was a reminder of one of the main reasons that I am here- to give the gift of clean water to the Triumph International School, where I was teaching a year ago. I will be overseeing the construction of  a mechanical well at the school in two weeks and will keep the blog updated. Stay tuned.

Hello from Ghana!…again

•May 15, 2009 • 2 Comments
Lebone, my new home

Labone, my new home

The area selected, Labone, is my new home for the next three weeks. I will be living here, working for NYU’s special highschool visual literacy program, teaching photography to high school teachers in Accra, Ghana. I will also be assisting them with the upcoming 4th annual Ghana Documentary Film Festival. After this, I will be heading to Kumasi to oversee the construction of the well at the Triumph International School as well as participate in the well maintenance training that will be held for eight women from the village. Without the generous donations of many, this would not be possible…so Medasse! and thank you!

U.S.A

•June 12, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Many of the children ran around in what looked like old hand-me-down shirts. I loved finding American paraphernalia all over Ghana.