guinea fowl

•January 22, 2011 • 1 Comment

we got this guinea fowl from the best guinea fowl bbq joint in tamale – a bit of a local secret that our colleague from undp recommended.  tastes kinda like chicken.


roadside vegetables

•January 22, 2011 • Leave a Comment

so i haven’t had too much time to be a tourist in ghana.  most of my days have been tied up in interviews and background reading, or stuck in a car on the way to meet with some government official.  the car rides have afforded me a welcome glimpse of the ghanaian countryside – palm trees and banana plantations in the south, open savannah in the north.  it’s tricky to take pictures from a moving vehicle, but my driver likes to stop to buy vegetables from roadside stands.  each time he stops, i get out and take a few photos.  i give you: still life with roadside vegetables.

the view from the road is rather scenic once you’re out of the city.  too bad i don’t have time to visit the parks or hang out in the village.  traveling by car is pleasant, but it makes me feel removed from everything.  i remember in rwanda i used to deride those aid workers who traveled around in land cruisers – now i’m one of them.  i peer through the windows, hidden behind sunglasses and the undp logo on the car door.  i am not squished into a minibus, shoulder to shoulder, sweating in the heat, with chickens and babies and bags of rice crammed in the back.  and i miss it.  who would have thought i’d miss that?

krokobite beach

•January 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

on saturday the team took a much-needed day-off and headed for krokobite beach about an hour outside of accra.  after the intense week of interviews we’d had, it was nice to get out of the city and smell some fresh air.

this little girl was a show-stopper.  she had everyone on the beach wrapped around her finger.  we also had some fun with kids and photos.  the ones with them doing flips and gymnastics didn’t come out so well…

team ghana

•January 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

the wonderful the fabulous the nyu capstone team ghana.  in action.  here we are at the beach outside accra on saturday, waiting for tilapia and taking in the sun and sand.  then in the unicef office in tamale today after a workshop activity with field staff and agency focal points from the u.n. joint program on human security.

update from ghana

•January 15, 2011 • Leave a Comment

we’re wrapping up a week of intensive interviews with various UN agency staff working on the human security project.  on sunday we’ll take a ten-hour trip up north to tamale for interviews with field staff and national partners.  the work has been very intense – we spent the weekend hashing out the details of our interview questionnaire (to the point that the security guards at undp forgot we were here and were thrown off-guard – no pun intended – when we emerged after 9pm on sunday night, exhausted and hungry, from our office on the third floor).

in addition to interviewing staff at various levels in various agencies, we sat in on a few key meetings, and ran a participatory workshop activity to draw out ideas for improving the program.  our client seems pleased with our work so far.

we haven’t had much time to see accra, but yesterday ventured out to osu, a street with restaurants and foreigners not too far away from where we’re staying.  we found a fantastic free-trade handicrafts shop ( and i got a few dresses.  the trip north will be a welcome opportunity to see some of the country-side and get out of the city.  look for pictures soon.

back in africa

•January 8, 2011 • 3 Comments

i am in ghana for a few weeks, working on a consulting project as part of my capstone project for my masters degree.  we’re looking at joint programs that bring together multiple UN agencies in efforts at increased efficiency and harmonization of aid activities.  i won’t be able to go into much detail here, because our work is ‘for internal use only’, but i’ll share what i can.

this is my first trip back to the continent since leaving rwanda in 2008.  as different as each african country is from one another, some of the sights and smells are the same and bring back fond memories.  there’s something about the red dirt in my sandals, the way people say ‘you are welcome’, the smell of charcoal and sweat and street meat.  i’m happy to be back, and at the same time frustrated that i don’t know where things are or how much things cost or what the local customs are.  there’s a false sense of homecoming and a sense of being one of those foreigners i used to deride in rwanda for driving around in aid agency vehicles and staying in air-conditioned hotels.  but the work i’m doing here – as a consultant rather than a volunteer – requires those trappings.  i look forward to our field visit to the north next week.

streets in brooklyn – unplowed four days after the blizzard

•January 8, 2011 • 1 Comment

these were taken a couple weeks ago, after new york was hit with 18 inches of snow.  i was in rhinebeck for my mother’s birthday when the blizzard hit.  my father, snow-hardy and stubborn, insisted on taking his wife out for dinner-and-a-movie in the middle of the storm.  we all bundled into the car, with brother luke in the trunk, scraped 6 inches of snow off the windshield and drove slowly into town to the only restaurant with doors still open for brave and hungry souls.  two hours later we piled back in the car, scraped another 3 inches of snow of the windshield and drove more slowly to the movie theatre for the latest angelina jolie flick.  we had the theatre to ourselves.  two hours after that we piled back in the car, scraped even more snow off, drove even more slowly home.  the snow was so thick my father, telling snow-driving horror stories the whole way, could barely tell where we were – even on roads he’s driven every day for the last 40 years.  we almost missed the road for our house.  it was unplowed and essentially a field of snow, making it difficult to determine the difference between on-the-road and off-the-road.  i sat in the passenger seat and yelled mailbox! when the car strayed too far right, and stone-wall! when it strayed too far left.  we nearly hit both.

back in brooklyn a few days later, many streets were still unplowed.  snow-mountains hid parked cars, and those who spent hours shoveling their car out could claim a sort of igloo-garage for themselves.  others just parked in the middle of the road.  the pictures are really taken too late to do the chaos justice, but you can get a sense of it.