Every week another team AquaRed team member will be writing a blog, with this week a contribution from Conrad Jacobs. Adanfo! Since we started with our blogs, we promised to update you every week on our adventures. Because we have had quite an impetuous week, we haven’t been able to keep our promise. It turns out we made a ‘Ghanian promise’ before we even knew what it meant. So let’s get right to it. Last week (13-19 July) saw the departure of Koen and a substantial progress regarding our objectives. Conrad and Caroline took a two day trip around town to meet up with as much distributors as possible, primarily to collect/inform about the outstanding debts, but also for informative meetings to hear their input on AquaReds operations. Meanwhile Laura and Michiel worked hard on our ‘final document’, an all-encompassing paper summarizing AquaRed’s operations and a detailed plan-of-action for the coming months. However, things haven’t gone as well as we hoped on campus. We ran into a substantial obstacle: because the University has planned to produce its own water in the near future, they are unwilling to cooperate. Currently we are trying to arrange a meeting with a high placed official, the Registrar, to discuss this obstacle. As our loyal readers may have picked up, we also try to visit a lot as Ghana as possible. We mostly work 5 to 6 days every week, and in our days we take off we try to stay active. This weekend we met up with Hannah (our coach) again, and payed a visit to Busua. Known as West-Africa’s best surfing beach, we took some lessons from a local who was very keen on reminding us to promote his business (Kofi’s Surf Spot). At the end of the day Michiel was baptized ‘the wizard’ by the local Ghanaians: we don’t know what he did on that board, but it was certainly entertaining. We arrived back in Accra, ready to start our fifth week (20-26 July). However, things went differently as anticipated, as do so much things in Africa. Whilst enjoying a deserved nights rest, Michiel began to feel very sick, and seemed to have a very high fever. Thinking it was Malaria, we immediately rushed to the hospital, where he was admitted immediately. Fortunately, it turned out that his fever wasn’t caused by Malaria, but rather by an infected wound on his upper leg. The hospital has been taking good care of Michiel, partially because the Belgian Embassy, the Red Cross, high-placed University professors and the health insurance agency all have put pressure on the hospital to deliver the best care. We hope he’ll get well soon. Last week (20-26 July) we did realise, next to our obligation to look after our sick team member, a number of things. Conrad continued the trip to the distributors, and eventually ended up loading a ‘Rhino’ (truck) with AquaRed personnel. On campus we paid visits to canteens, markets, Halls and a supermarket to spread the word of AquaRed and convince the small retailers. This has gone surprisingly well, although most small retailers opted to wait till the 10th of August, when school starts and sales increase.
So this week we haven’t been able to book as much progress as we wanted, and even though we keep trying, our commitment doesn’t always directly translate to progress. Very frequent power cuts, appointments that never go through, team members getting sick: it is sometimes a lot harder than we imagined. But well, T.I.A: This is Africa. Sometimes it is very useful to just take a step back and simply take everything in. Having social impact is not only about the impact you leave behind in the South, but also about the impact the South has on you. This will be my final blog, as I will be leaving on the 29th of August. I hoped you enjoyed our blogs, and thank you so much for reading. Conrad Jacobs