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Thursday, March 29, 2012

From Northern Ghana and the Gushie Women's Shea Nut Collective (Part 2 of 3) by Wickham Boyle

Building a Future

Once there, we were excited to see that the women of the Gushie Collective had been busy making cement bricks by hand. There was a field of bricks and the outline of an amazing storage building, 16' by 60'. OK, the roof was open to the elements, there was no front door, but we nearly wept when we drove up and saw the reality of what we have been plotting and planning for months. We got to work to insure that before we left there would be a place where the women could store their crops and lock the door to keep them in.
Why is this important? I have explained it, the notion of regularizing a supply chain, as allowing the harvesters to capture better moments in a fluctuating market. We all know how wonderful and inexpensive peaches are in August, and how much we have to pay for them if we want one in February. Well the shea nut harvesters, because they had no place to store their crops, sold everything as the lowest point, when the market was flooded with crops from every small village dotting the roads in Ghana. Now with a barn they will be able to sell their crops piece by piece taking advantage of higher prices later in the season. A powerful change for rural women.
What I saw with these women was an endless ability to multi-task with no notion as to the amazing varied work they were doing. When we held the meeting to discuss who would run the building, and how fees would be assessed, the fifty or so women all came with children in tow, and benches on their heads. The voices rose and chattered as our translator and on the ground, the organizational wizard Mohammad Zakariah translated. Babies were at breasts or sitting in trees watching quietly as their mothers ruled the day. Everyone voted, many participated in the lively discussion and then after elections were held they put their seats on their heads and headed home.
Everyday at the construction site Danielle and I received a noontime meal brought by children carried on their heads. It came in a large enameled metal pot decorated with red flowers and green leaves. It was always a rice dish, adorned with spicy tomato sauce or guinea fowl and onions. There were many spoons stuck inside and we all ate silently slurping filtered water from plastic bags ubiquitously sold at roadsides. The men plastering, or tinning the roof and mixing cement stopped and ate their lunches under trees or napped under trucks until the work hive came alive again.
----------------More, next blog part 3 of 3 ----------------

If you would like to purchase Just Shea products please visit
If you would like to donate to complete the barn or buy equipment for the harvesters please visit Global Giving, here is our direct link.

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