Greetings, everyone. I’m writing this email from my guest bedroom/office in my new house. I’m at site, and while I still have quite a few things to do before it’s actually livable for long periods of time, it already feels like home.
That’s right, I have a house. With multiple bedrooms. To myself. I know what you’re thinking — sometimes, this Peace Corps gig can be really rough.
First, a description of where I am. My site is in the community of Seikwa, in the Brong-Ahafo region of Ghana. Seikwa is a small, rural town that is about 90 kilometers from the regional capital of Sunyani. The nearest large towns are Sampa (the border town — I’m within a good day’s hike of Cote d’Ivoire) and Berekum, but my best guess is that Seikwa itself is home to around 1,000 – 1,500 people. They have their own market, police station, fire station, and full-service transit station, as well as a full primary school, junior high, and (my new place of employment) senior high school.
My house is located on the grounds of the local health center — in lieu of a full hospital, my community has a clinic and basic pharmacy, and provides housing for health workers that travel around the area to provide services and education. (I know some of you are likely interested in how this scheme works — I’ll let you know as I have more information.) Because the health center is about 200 yards from the school campus, and because the school campus has no housing for teachers, I get the benefit of having a quiet, private home within walking distance of my school.
The structure itself is similar to a single-story duplex — there are two homes per building, and each home has the following: enclosed courtyard, 2 bedrooms, sitting room, indoor kitchen, bathroom, and pit latrine. There is a small indoor hallway connecting all of the rooms, and there is also a small back porch which looks out onto the forest behind me. As far as size goes, it’s plenty for one person — I’m guessing that the indoor area is about 280-300 square meters (850-900 square feet), and the main courtyard is about 30 square meters (100 square feet). I do have electricity, but no running water. The nearest borehole (public well) is at the school, and I do have a large aluminum cistern for collecting rainwater, but I’ll be in the business of fetching water from here on out.
With regards to furniture, I have a desk and chair, a full-sized bed, a bookshelf, a large sitting/lounge chair, 1 kitchen-style chair, a couch, a large banquet-type table, and a small cooking table on which to prepare meals. Both bedrooms have built-in closets, which is a definite improvement from storing my clothing in Space Bags. I still need to buy things like cooking utensils, buckets extra chairs for guests, a mattress or some kind of padding for the guest bed, and
I spent most of Saturday cleaning, doing laundry (by hand — no Whirlpool appliances), arranging furniture, and unpacking. It surprised me how quickly I slid back into the routine of being “at home” — after a month and a half of eating whatever was put in front of me, it felt really good to cook and eat a meal of my own choosing, even if that meal was only baked beans from a can and toast made over the gas burner. One of my goals for Sunday and Monday is to scout the markets in the neighboring towns to see what I can find for fresh produce and household supplies. Market day here in Seikwa is on Fridays, and the market is very sizable; however, I will need to figure out where I can buy fresh vegetables throughout the rest of the week.
I’m only here for a week. I go back to Old Tafo on Thursday, and I’m there until 19 August, when I swear in and become a Peace Corps Volunteer in earnest. After swearing-in, I make my way back here in a slow, leisurely fashion to make my home more… home-like. In the meantime, I’m going to have a walk around and see about fetching some water.