This is the second in a series of Blogs that will go through in detail what our first ever project achieved, how we set it up, who we worked with, problems we faced, lessons we learned, personal memories and more.
As I sit on a nice relaxing weekend break in Amsterdam, I’m able to take some time and reflect from a position of comfort, with Stroop Waffles to hand on the way the team and myself lived in Ghana, and hopefully give out some ‘life saving’ survival tips for anyone looking to travel to Ghana/ Africa at some point!
Ghana is a tough country to operate in effectively, this - more than anything is because of the 40-degree heat (104 Fahrenheit) that is a constant presence in daily life. On one of the days the whole team visited four of the schools we work with that are situated about 45 minutes from the town of Mpraeso. By the end of a day of viewing all the schools, meeting hundreds of excited children, presenting the tournament to the teachers and generally moving about playing games and being active, every one of the team was left ruined, both mentally and physically! Camera man Thom deserves the most credit for these excursions, heroically running around capturing all our visits with his heavy camera equipment. This leads me to Kicking Off’s first travel tip…
Travel Tip 1: Always pack Alka-Seltzer or some form of rehydration sachets, they help replace the essential ingredients your body has lost during a long hard day of sun/ being ill (see below). These sachets certainly kept me from becoming tired/ effected by the constant onslaught of unbelievably hot weather.
As a team we were lucky to have Hattie and Thom for sustenance. They are a couple who are incredibly passionate about cooking. Throughout the week, they scoured the local shops and markets for all the different ingredients to ensure the whole team was eating well. They even somehow managed to find Tesco Baked Beans in a small little shop which certainly made me happy! When we weren’t eating their amazing adlibbed cooking, we lived from the street food available in Mpraeso. This street food included local foods like Jolof (Tomato based rice dish) and Fufu (a dish of unknown origin, but apparently, the secret to its preparation is to pound it well), also classics from home including Egg Noodles, Omelettes, deep fried doughnut ball things and Chicken and Rice.
When you add the unrelenting heat to the different food and levels of hygiene in some places in Mpraeso it is unsurprising that most of the team (other than me, woo!) at some point or other in the week capitulated to some form of illness. This leads me to my second survival tip…
Survival Tip 2: When travelling to Ghana, ensure you pack some emergency food. When several of the team fell ill they raided our small supply of home comfort foods in a bid to recover. These included quick cook pasta sachets and noodles. Sometimes when you travel, you need to escape from local food!
The final thing I’ll quickly mention in this blog is bugs. Africa doesn’t really have bugs like in the UK. Imagine that every one of the bugs you know and love in the UK has a super sized/ super dangerous African cousin! Whilst weirdly, you don’t find yourself being bitten too badly at night, there are still some monster critters out there. On my first visit to Ghana in 2010 the group I stayed with and I stopped at a hotel in central Ghana. The evening at the hotel was going really well when one of the girls had a deadly scorpion fall down the back of her shorts! On Kicking Off’s trip the rough, tough Sophie took some interest in a Praying Mantis that was lurking by her bedroom. The scream that followed the praying mantis jumping towards her from the wall was deafening, and certainly unbecoming of one of the strongest of ladies! This leads me to my final survival tip of this Blog.
Survival tip 3: Don’t get to close to a Praying Mantis!!