Friday, January 8, 2010

The Market

My foot is doing well. Very sore but it is good.

Today I slept in and just relaxed before our big bus ride. Friday movie night and pizza at the Jacksons. Anna, Mary Kay and I make pizza from scratch, even the flower.

Went to the market to exchange American money to Ghana Cedis. Then I got a cell phone and a wallet.

Ok a little about Accra. There are very few traffic lights and the ones that are here often do not work; during rush hour the police manage the traffic. Really you just have to be aggressive to get where you need to go. Jasper often honks the horn to tell people he is coming. He honks to keep them safe because every one is just walking all over the place.

People selling things will come up right to your window and ask you to buy what they are selling. If you do not want to buy it you continue doing what you are doing, even if that means staring off into space. That is hard for me, I at least want to say 'no thank you' or something but everyone here just continues to go about their business. These vendors are very persistent. Often they are women and young girls with big bowls filled with things on their heads. They young girls look very sad so you will buy from them. When we were on the trotro one girl even started to bang on the side of the bus to get myattention so I would look at her to say I was interested in buying a bag of water.

Oh here one thing that is most commonly sold is little waters in a bag. You buy it for about $.5, bite off a corner and drink the water.

So there are people carring things on their heads trying to sell it to you every where. Down town Accra has a big open sewer right next to the road and you have to literally jump it to get to the sidewalk. Once on the sidewalk there are just vendors lined up, one on top of another; selling anything you can imagine, things like tire, shoes, computers, chickens, rear view mirrors, food, clothing, children toys, chairs, phone chargers, anything. There are even little stands where you can buy more minutes for your phone.

They also make good use of wheelbarrows here. That is where I found my wallet. There was a man pushing a wheelbarrow with a mound of all sorts of things bungee corded together. I asked if he had a wallet and he pulled out two different types. He really encouraged me to get the cameo, US wallet. He said it was 3 Ghana Cedis and Anna (another intern) said no 2 Ghana Cedis. After a little going back and forth I payed 2 Ghana Cedis for the wallet.

Then I realized I had just exchanged my money so only had big bills and not have exact change and here in Ghana they want exact change. I did have 1 Ghana Cedi and Jasper had 1 Cedi as well so I was able to get the wallet.

I sure hope I will get good at bargaining soon. I also need to pick up this accent so people can understand me and I can start to understand them better. I am sure it will be a little different accent in Wa so I hope I learn that one.


  1. Maddy, your story of the market reminds me of my trip to Nicaragua a few years ago. Constantly being approached by women and children selling anything they had to sell: food, crafts, scraps, water, whatever. Hours and hours a day they spent walking around from street to street selling. I remember thinking ‘what a difficult life this must be.’ In a country where jobs are not readily available and where few social service agencies/non-profits exist to help meet mountainous needs, one must rely on what can be scavenged, grown or made to sell for livelihood and existence. One woman approached me near an outdoor market and my heart broke for her.

    She was probably in her 30’s but the hardness of her life aged her to her 60’s. She was carrying a basket of carved wooden turtles and smaller animals. They were so beautiful. I can only imagine the time spent carving and creating these treasures. She initiated the bidding process at $5.00. She lowered the price every time I shook my head and apologetically noted I did not have any money. Her base price: $1.00. She was so desperate for money, no doubt for expenses for caring for the three young children keeping short distance behind her. What struck me in that moment, as I looked into her eyes and saw the brokenness within this woman, was the hopelessness that had settled within her as a result of living in this level of poverty. Not only was she underselling her livelihood by desperately bargaining her beautiful handicrafts away, she was, in essence, undercutting her spirit, her self-esteem, her sense of value as a member of the human family and a child of God.

    I thought about how this type of extreme existence affects her understanding of God: is there a God? where is God? how can God allow this level of suffering to happen to me, to my children, to others? is God some distant, far off being who watches, uninvolved with hands-off as life’s events unfold? Over and over I thought to myself: does she know how much God loves her, cares for her, values her? The depth of sadness and hopelessness I saw in her eyes indicated she did not. And my heart broke for her. If only she knew how much God loves her. If only she knew that seeing her suffer breaks His heart too. If only she knew that God is waiting for His people to rise up, take notice and become His hands and feet by acting on His behalf to end suffering like this.

    Maddy, I want to encourage you to be that light to those you encounter. Keep your spirit open (and yielding) to the people God will lead you to who desperately need to know how much He loves them and then be (and show) that love: a simple smile, a heartfelt hug, eye contact that shows them you see them and validate them as the wonderful creation God has made them to be, or whatever the situation calls for. You will encounter hundreds of opportunities to pray for people throughout the course of each day. Take notice. What an exciting time for you.

  2. Maddy - I know you will connect with the people in WA - I have seen your compassion for those in Chicago that are homeless - I have seen you pray with them and I how you are comfortable laying hands on a man; broken and lost, laying on the side of a building, a man who has not showered in who knows how long, hungry and smelly - he was embarrassed by his sins and situation and you did not judge him but show him God's Love and compassion - praying with him and watching him as you pray release his fear, anxiety, anger and be grateful that someone was not afraid of him and not afraid to touch him and love him - for God Loves him and you conveyed that.

    Be Steadfast - Safe and most of all Yourself!

    By the time you get this you will have traveled 18 hours to WA - long day with lots of baggage - Thanks to Anna for being with you and helping you with the gifts to the School for the Blind. Looking forward to hearing about the bus and roads and hope you see some Animals along the Way!!!

    Oh and I know you have your Grandma and Mom in you and will learn to barter - very Quickly!

    Sending Hugs and Lots of Love - Mom

  3. Maddy Ann, I'm trying this, but I'm not sure I'm doing this right. I'll keep trying just tolet you know we LOVE YOU.........G-MA &G-PA

  4. Dear Maddy, This will be our first attempt at sending you a message and I sure do hope that we can do it. We are so very happy that you arrived in Africa safely and hope and pray that your bus ride to Wa, will be very pleasent. Love,Kisses and loads of prayers, Grandma and Grandpa Manden