Saturday, February 11, 2012

More Progress!

Emmanuel sent us some great photos of the enclosure and well pump/line.  Wish we were there to see this happening in person!   Here is Emmanuel's update (edited for clarity):

Hi Steve,

How are things moving with you and Joss over there?, i hope not bad. We are also doing great here.

I Just want to draw your attention to what is going on with the antelope project, i mean the money spent and where we have gotten to.

1. I bought 20 piece of governess pipe for GHc 880.00, GHc 44.00 per one and GHc 30.00 for transportation.
2. 125 piece of pam branches mesh for GHc 750, GHc 6.00 each.
3. 28 piece of 1 and half inch PVC pipe for GHc 252.00, GHc 9.00 each.
4. Pumping Machine cost GHc 820.00 with transportation.
5. 25 bundles of budding wire cost GHc 300.00, GHc each.
6. Gate: 1 piece of 2 inch governess pipe cost GHc 48.00.
           3 piece of 1 and half inch governess pipe cost GHc 132.00.
           4 piece of 1 inch governess pipe cost GHc 120.00, GHc 30.00 each.
            Workmanship and transportation cost GHc 100.00.
In all, the gate cost GHc 400.00.
7. 2 watering tubes cost GHc 120.00.
8. 2 sprinklers cost GHc 90.00
9. GHc 500.00 for workmanship.
10.I gave GHc 100.00 to Christian to help them rent a pick up truck to carry the net to the bush and back.
The grand total is GHc 4,212.00

The money you sent was $ 4,300.00 (minus the 900 Joss sent for her December/January lessons) so we have $ 3,400.00 for the project.
That came up to be GHc 5,440.00.
                           -GHc  4,212.00.
We have a balance of GHc 1,228.00 which i'm holding on to now as money to buy the antelopes.

Right now we are done with the fence, we have planted some trees, we have been watering the place twice a day to help grow fresh grass.

There are two more things i need to do at the site then i will say we are done for now.

1. Making some 5 small hurts at the site to keep shade for them for now until the trees we planted become mother plant.

2. A water pond for their drinking water.

My plan is that as soon as i'm done with these last two, i will start to travel from place to place where i can find the antelopes.

I wish we can get help some where as a donation to buy the truck to push things more easier and less expensive, we are still praying and working hard.

 The barbed security wire at the top of the enclosure fence.

 The front gate of the enclosure.

 The piping and water hosing from the well system.

The well sprinklers doing their work.

A view of the inside of the enclosure.

 A view from outside the enclosure - note the privacy screen lining the fence to prevent stress on the antelope.

The well pump (remember the photo of the well diggers making a 40 foot hole?)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Yes, things are still moving - and quickly!

So the last posts you saw from Steve and I were during our last day or so in Kopeyia.

At that point, we had procured much of the material for fencing and well construction, broken ground on the building site and had many hunters and other local community members out looking to procure antelope.  As any of you who have traveled in this way are aware, things move on their own time.  We were hoping to have the first antelope into the enclosure before we left, but many aspects of the construction took longer than planned.

We flew back to the U.S. on Jan. 3rd, and had a total of five days at home before leaving for another month to teach an intensive undergraduate course out in Colorado.  Since then, we've been here monitoring progress and communicating with Emmanuel.   After some additional needed funding came through, we received this news directly from Emmanuel (today):

I have started moving things. I got the pumping machine [well pump - J.], we have laid the pipes from the well to the site.

From next week we will be finishing the fence and we will start planting the trees, pond and the other things that will be needed around the enclosure.

The hunters are finding it hard to move the net to the bush. so, we had to rent a truck to help them move the net to the bush. That is making it more difficult and more expensive to work with, but i'm managing it and i think we need to get some funds and buy the truck to make it easier and less expensive.

During our youths inauguration which we had on the 14th of this Month, Torgbui Fitsi the paramount chief of the Aflao area came around and saw the site and asked questions.  I told him what we are doing. He was soo happy about it and even said he will give us a bigger place when things work out well and we need a bigger place.

I know we are going to get there. I will keep you in touch.


Saturday, December 31, 2011

Gratitude for all that's come

As Joss posted, today is our last full day in Kopeyia. Tomorrow we must go to Accra to prepare for our departure back to the U.S. on Monday. The last three weeks have brought great progress on the Dagbe Antelope Project, leaving me greatly impressed with the abilities of the Ewe people to move a project forward quickly and effectively. Three weeks ago, all that existed of the project were many ideas and plans; now, the hunters have a net and are already in the bush working to capture animals, and the enclosure is rapidly growing.

As with all projects of this nature, much remains to be done, both here in Ghana and in the U.S. Joss and I will continue to raise funds for the project once we get home, and Emmanuel and his staff will continue to build and arrange for the antelope. But I am not daunted by the work that remains. If anything, what has taken place her over the last three weeks has given me more energy than ever.

Happy New Year. Long life and prosperity to you and your families.

Pre-Departure Update

Somehow three weeks have flown by, and we are scheduled to leave for Accra tomorrow, and will fly out on Monday.  So much has been accomplished - we have procured a net for the hunters, almost 200 feet long, which will be used to corral them in the bush.  Had we acquired it earlier in the trip perhaps we'd already have antelope waiting in the temporary enclosure, but things move here as they will.  But we're excited to know that at any moment, we could get news of our first antelope.  Who knows, maybe we'll see one before heading out!

In addition to the net, the mason (Moses) has finished forming the additional blocks needed for the foundation, and the crew has begun laying them out into the trenches that were dug over the past week.  Soon the other cement and gravel will fill in and create the base for the chain link fence - although we'll have to arrange for more funding to purchase the needed metal piping for the supports once we get home.

Today we met with the chief of Kopeyia, Torgbui, at his palace home on the other side of Kopeyia.  Kopeyia isn't just a small village - it's a conglomeration of compounds and smaller village-areas, and he is the head of the whole area.  He is an avid supporter of science education and is enthusiastic to help us succeed in our project, for which we are quite grateful.  After our discussion, Torgbui took us on a walking tour of his village area, which is where the Ewe initially settled 600 years ago - there is a mango tree there that is said to be that old, and seeing its size, I believe it!

If we are able to get online in Accra we'll post further, but for now, this might be the last until we arrive home and can more easily post video, pictures, and a fuller story.  We hope you've enjoyed the ride, it certainly has been amazing for us!  More soon, Akpe!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Photos of construction

Trenches dug!  And, the local school's soccer team came this morning and moved all the blocks (a lot.  of blocks!)  Here are 2 photos of the beginning of construction.

Ruben pouring libations into the ground.

Christian and Moses survey the land after the first level of ground was broken
(note the 2 intersecting lines meeting)

We'll be posting photos of some similar structures soon so you can get a sense of what the overall gestalt is for the fencing - meanwhile, today we procured a net for the hunters!  Who knows, maybe we'll luck out and an antelope will be procured before we leave.  Doubtful, but regardless the endeavor feels successful and we both feel great about progress.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Construction begins

Yesterday we began construction on the enclosure. The cement blocks made last week were now finally dry enough to be used to build the foundation, and so on the day after Christmas, work began. The first step, of course, was to pour libations to ask the ancestors for their blessing and on-going engagement in the project. Reuben Agbeli, senior member of the Agbeli family, presided over the ceremony, and all of the staff of the Dagbe Center participated. During the ceremony, Joss and I read out the names of the major donors to the project so far, and they were thanked by Reuben and the staff for their vital participation in the project.

After libations, the hard work began. We marked out the lines for the foundation, which will create an enclosure that is 100 x 100 feet. With machetes, we cleared the vegetation along the lines, and then Moses, the primary mason directing this part of the project, marked out the dimensions for the trenches that need to be cut for the cement blocks: about 14 inches wide. With picks and shovels, the Dagbe staff, Joss, and I began the task of cutting the trenches to a depth of about 18 inches. I cannot possibly describe completely how hard the ground is, baked by the sun and bone dry in this season of no rain. All of the work here is done manually (which is a subject I want to explore on this blog at a future time); while in the States we would be looking to rent mechanical devices to do the trenching and stump removal, here in Ghana, such devices are unavailable or priced out of the reach of projects such as this. We do the work by hand, or it doesn't get done at all.

By the end of the day yesterday we had one side completely trenched, and today we completed two more sides. I anticipate that we'll complete the trenching by tomorrow if we can get an early enough start. (Today we began at about 7:30 in the morning, but by 11:00 it was way too hot to continue; by the time we stopped, my clothes were completely drenched and I was beginning to feel a little light-headed.) Then we have a few stumps to remove, after which I think we'll be ready for the cement blocks.

As soon as I can, I will upload photos of this process, but right now I am not able to establish a secure enough link to the 'net to handle the upload. But trust me, the photos make clear that the people involved in the project here at the Dagbe Center are totally committed to bringing this to life ... as are Joss and I.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Photos for you

A Maxwell's Duiker, one of the most common antelope sold as bushmeat 
in Ghanaian Markets.  We photographed this one in Ho - didn't see any others.

We did, however, see plenty of grass-cutters (Greater Cane Rats) for sale.
And we bought one for dinner.

Men making the first batch of cement blocks for the construction of the base of the antelope enclosure.

Sand and cement for the blocks.