“On the ground” with Expo’s communication manager
Back in Denmark, I dreaded the sound of my alarm going off in the morning, always snoozing it, always looking out of the window before getting dressed in order to see if I needed to put on my big rubber boots and bring my umbrella and a large sweater to be able to go out in the cold rainy weather, which you will find in Denmark probably 9 out of 12 months. In Ghana, I rarely set an alarm, mostly waking up before 6 am to the sound of women fetching water, or waiting to hear the sound of power to get back on and my fan finally blowing some cold air into the hot room. When I first got here I thought it was peculiar how everyone would get up hours before dawn, washing, doing laundry or house chores. Why did everyone get up so damn early?
But having lived here for 3 months, I have realized it is in fact much easier to do it the Ghanaian way. So I now also get up to do many of the house chores and my laundry at 6 am. Not at least because it is so much cooler in the morning, but that way I also beat traffic by leaving the house early and actually making sure to get to work on time instead of being stuck in traffic for hours on end. As a communication manager for Exponential Education, I spend a lot of time on trotros (small local buses, often vans from Europe that through mysterious ways have ended up in Ghana, and who never would be allowed in Europe for security reasons). I get to see more parts of Kumasi than many locals as I go on my daily adventures on trotros in the hot sun from the house in Odoum to Tech, Kejtetia, Adum, Suame, Ejisu, and Antoa. And it is really quite adventurous since I stick out with my blond hair and blue eyes giving me lots of attention. Ghanaians are truly curious to find out where this “obruni” (white/foreigner) comes from and what on earth she is doing in Ghana. After the formal introductions of ete sen (how are you?), wo din de sen (what’s your name), wo ko hen? (Where are you going?), the conversation can easily get personal. A typical conversation on a trotro would be to talk about marital status as well as religious beliefs and most important of all, securing that I am well fed and not the least that I like Ghana. Ghanaians care a lot about foreigners and the last thing they want is a bad reputation of their country.
I also have the privilege of visiting all of Expo's partner schools and thereby meeting and interviewing all the wonderful students and tutors that are connected to Expo. I get to hear their inspiring stories and all their future dreams. They are ambitious and all aspire to changing the status quo in Ghana. Whether by being a human rights lawyer, ending injustices, an economist putting an end to inequality or becoming the first female president in Ghana.
Every Monday, I venture out to the village of Antoa to assist my colleagues Taylor and Grace with the Girls Leadership Program at the Antoa Senior High School. It is a lot of fun and not least rewarding to see how the girls are growing. Even the most shy girls, are now talking confidently in front of class and running for the program’s secretary.
Hearing the students screaming “picture me, picture me”, when taking pictures in class, seeing their excitement, is by far my most favorite part of visiting all the schools and the long and hot ride there is forgotten instantly. I really get to see what impact Expo has on students and tutors, sharing priceless moments with them like when being there when they are awarded the Expo scholarship, seeing them mature and becoming leaders in their communities.