It was hard to catch good shots at night in the crowds, but Patrick did manage to snap a few pictures of Ghanaian citizens celebrating their team’s World Cup win.
Patrick is in Ghana!!
Patrick Farley, the owner of Watershed Architects and Sunflower Solar, is touring Ghana on business and last night sent back the first photos and reporting of his trip. We’ll be posting his emailed blog entries and photos as they come in.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Survived a trip that began with an unexpected somewhat historic event. Unbeknownst to any of us, we had the distinct honor of being guests on the inaugural flight of United Airlines to Ghana; in the past the rare few flights had to route through a Euro or Northern African country, which was 2x the time and cost. There was a big celebration & ribbon cutting at Dulles, we met the Ambassador of Ghana and hung with a local favorite son.
See attached for image of yours truly [all attached images are posted below and on our Flickr and Facebook sites] with a relatively well-known recording artist (at least around Richmond or otherwise for American idol fans); he was part of the United Airlines celebration and was in Ghana on a short humanitarian mission (www.malarianomore.org), so I had a few opportunities to hang out with him (he was a fellow camper at the holiday inn). He’s a really good guy, down to earth and genuinely committed to causes outside of his career.
The majority of our time was spent meeting with the various ministers of the government (these are similar to the various cabinets of the U.S. system) as well as several agency directors to garner interest and support for our proposal. We were very well received across the board but, due to the preliminary and sensitive nature of the meetings, I cannot yet elaborate on the specifics. Hopefully, at some point in the relative near future, we will be at a place whereby we can fully share the experience.
On a purely social note, last night we were hosted by a local Lebanese businessman to watch the Ghana-Germany world cup match. Germany won, but Ghana nonetheless earned a spot in the final 16 with U.S. being its next opponent (Saturday). Needless to say, this makes for interesting conversation around here. This was a very entertaining event, met a number of very interesting people, including the ambassador to Ghana who turned out to be a fellow UVA grad who was only 3 years ahead of me.
We have really enjoyed getting acquainted with the Ghanaians and have found them to be some of the most friendly, happy people around. They are also very proud, sophisticated and inquisitive and genuinely interested in getting to know us. The fact that these people are culturally biased to smiling almost constantly doesn’t seem to comport with the fact that Ghana is reportedly the 9th poorest country on Earth, but of course it’s so American to equate positive energy with material wealth. Nonetheless, while I have experienced the 3rd world a few times in the past, I have to emphasize that this trip has greatly expanded my perspective on what true material poverty looks like.
Though we’ve so far had relatively limited direct contact with the ‘real’ people, every day we have to weave our way through the throngs of street vendors (meaning literally in the road with the traffic) to and from meetings (in an SUV of course). Panhandling here makes Richmond look like child’s play; people are literally banging on your windows begging for whatever, and they are all peddling something – - most of it useless trinkets, but some handmade art and other creative output. We’ve also joked that the main drag is like taking the contents of a walgreens and stretching it out over 5 miles of street frontage because one could literally buy anything from A – Z without leaving the vehicle, sort of like a drive-thru for junk shopping. In fact, in this context, one of the most interesting observations that I have to share is that Ghana is old school on shipping container conversion. Almost everywhere you turn are street vendor shanties made of various ISO boxes as well as all kinds of low grade service buildings and such – - it would not at all be an exaggeration to say that ISBU’s are rampant here to point of being commonplace. Nothing fancy, but they have clearly been at this for many years.
I will send a few representative images after this, separately due to file size and limited ISP. Will try to send more prior to departure, otherwise should be back in sometime Monday.
Hope all is sane in the office,